I saw this news on a blog I follow. Father Kauffmann brought me into the Catholic Church. He wrote my marriage annulment petitions that were accepted within a year, near record time in the world of annulments. He died a few minutes ago.
His most recent blog posts recorded a pilgrimage he made following the footsteps of St Francis of Assisi through Umbria and Tuscany.
Hello, Jane Dudley, the blog editor here, passing along a message from Saint Bede Catholic Church in Williamsburg. Father Kauffmann is gravely ill. Please pray. Thank you. A MESSAGE FROM MONSIGNOR TIMOTHY E. KEENEY It is with a very heavy heart, Monsignor Keeney informs us that our very own Father James Kauffmann has been diagnosed […]
Well, not literally. As water goes, I’ve been swimming fairly consistently. I have swum for the last four days, 2500 meters each day, a total of a little over six miles. The opportunity to exercise is the best aspect of retirement for me. I would have made a marvelous English gentleman of La Belle Epoque . They made an art of not working, a worthy avocation if there ever was one.
I have a fruit salad to make this morning to bring to my Thomistic Philosophy discussion group at Church. Bananas, pineapple, strawberries, and maybe a pear or two, should make a tasty treat. I’m so tempted to say “Eff-it!” and go buy some donuts, but this is the wiser course of action.
Mrs CorC? and I will attend the Easter Vigil Mass. It has a quiet dignity that is quite compelling. Maybe, if we are lucky, the choir will chant the Litany of Loretto, in Latin. Tomorrow we will go to brunch at the local Maggiano’s. We have gotten out of the habit of elaborate family get-togethers at Easter and Christmas because my sister, a church musician, has a pretty demanding schedule.
My dream is to have the family here. That would require that we get the house presentable. Mrs CorC? has given no indication that this is a priority for her. To be quite frank, I consider her reticence a lack of interest in my family and my needs. And I am hurt. Communicating my needs is a fruitless activity, I’ve learned.
My needs. Every damn day, I long for affection, sexual intimacy, a little politically incorrect banter. However, I have the relationship/marriage that I have. Any change will have to spring from both her and my own personal transformation. Dammit.
I have a confession to make. I am an enormous sentimental slob. I love passionate over-the-top operatic duets. I just finished listening to Luciano Pavarotti and Maria Guleghina sing the finalé duet of Giordano’s masterpiece Andrea Chenier, Vicino A Té . I cried, emotionally overwhelmed. I defy you not to cry.
Truth be told, we need this catharsis. The characters in the story are sacrificing their lives for others in that orgy of violence, The Reign of Terror that ended The French Revolution. Every time I turn on the TV, a movie saturated with violence, a vulgar, comic-book violence, is promoted. The news? Brutality. We have become inured to brutality. We all have.
We Christians are approaching the critical event of our Faith, the Passion and Crucifixion of Our Lord. I’ve heard the Passion Story countless times and I am still haunted by the sheer ruthlessness and brutality of it. It doesn’t fit well with the Gospel of Nice. Human beings don’t come off particularly well. Even Jesus’s friends abandon Him. We prefer not to think of the evil we are capable of and we are quick to say “Not me. I’m not a party to this atrocity, this execution, this abortion, this genocide.” And maybe not. Until. Until we get to dispatch someone we truly loathe or we think “deserves what’s coming to him.” Until we decide that that particular war, in Syria, or Yemen, or Nigeria, or Sudan, or Darfur, or Chechnya, or Kurdistan, or Afghanistan isn’t our problem, just as our grandparents or great-grandparents thought the wars in Manchuria or Ethiopia or Spain weren’t theirs.
We see the killing every damn day and we bottle the grief up. The rage is fine. We get to be enraged and let that out, part of the unisex Machismo we all can claim, embrace, and revel in.
The tears I cry when Chenier and Maddalena face death, buttressed by their love, arise because I know that some things are greater than the offerings of this world. And that even when Love appears to lose, it wins.
Even though I am retired, I still believe I have to be doing something “useful”. There was this block on the report card in elementary school that said “Uses Time Wisely”. I knew that one better be checked or there would be adverse outcomes at home. Last night, I was tired, fell asleep next to MrsCorC?, while Christopher Guest’s Best In Show was on. I love that film, but I dozed off anyway. At its conclusion, Mrs CorC? announced that Downton Abbey would resume in the DVD player. I was now awake, unable to resume my sleep. I got up to brush my teeth. While brushing, I realized I had yet to pray The Rosary today. I blew that off with an “Oh well”, then started my flossing.
After my dental hygiene ritual, I went to the other bedroom, put my jammies on and started Bach’s St Matthew Passion on the CD player. It was about 11:10 PM, at which point I said, “Just go pray The Rosary anyway. No way are you sleepy!”. Downstairs I went and began, contemplating the Fruits of each Glorious Mystery; The Resurrection-Faith, The Ascension-Hope, Descent of The Holy Spirit-Love of God, The Assumption-Grace of a Happy Death, The Coronation-Trust in Mary’s Intercession. Praying The Rosary gets me out of my head and my self-absorption. Prayer rekindles my love for humanity and my concern for God’s Creation.
So I’m finally tired enough to go to sleep. And sleep I do. Next thing I know it is 9:20 AM. MrsCorC? is getting ready for work and I am left wondering what to do with the day. Will I Use My Time Wisely, even though Mrs Shanholtz, my First Grade teacher, is not around to report on me?
I’m writing this blog post, perhaps going to an AA meeting, then I’m going swimming. There’s straightening to do in anticipation of the FIOS/Verizon guy coming on Wednesday. There is dinner to fix.
Busy. Busy. Busy. Who keeps score, now that Mrs Shanholtz isn’t around?
In my most recent post Alternative Healing, I mentioned I went to the Seven AM Daily Mass at Mary, Mother of the Church Abbey. I saw my friend Mike M, a local dentist and very active Catholic. When I came in to the Church in 2010, he led our RCIA ( Rite of Catholic Initiation for Adults) Class. After Mass we talked a bit. He told me he was praying The Rosary for a young man, who had just entered an alcoholism rehabilitation program. He asked that I pray The Rosary for this young man. All in all, it was an unremarkable conversation with a man whose life is about service to God, His Church, and his fellow human beings.
Last night, I was checking my e-mails when one titled In Memoriam caught my eye. Expecting the deceased to be one of several parishioners I knew to be in ill health, I was astonished to discover that Mike had died. Driving down to the Evening Mass for Candlemas, he felt ill, pulled off the road and dialed 911. Taken to hospital he died of a massive heart attack, his aorta irreparably damaged.
The old cliches’ took over “You never know”. “He looked fine when I last saw him.” You know them all. Mike was not quite 70. He leaves a widow, two children, four grandchildren. One of my most cherished memories of Mike was of him leading his grandchildren in Grace before they ate their Happy Meals at McDonald’s one Sunday afternoon. He showed them how to make the Sign of the Cross before the Blessing started.
His life was about doing what matters. We should all have such clarity and singleness of purpose.
May the souls of the Faithful Departed, especially Mike, by the Mercy of God, rest in Peace.
Yesterday was Friday. As a Penance, we refrain from eating meat. Penance involves an act which seeks to turn our thoughts and lives toward God. It is a challenge, but not so much for finding meatless alternatives. The challenge lies in choosing to not eat meat as a Penance in the first place. Vatican II said you could eat meat, right? Yes, it did, but one is obligated to choose another Penance as a substitute. Penance, to most people, Catholic or not, is a foreign concept. If one cynically reduces religious observance and the devout life into some sort of cosmic and existential board game , replete with rewards and penalties, it is merely an absurd gesture among many absurd gestures. I see it as something more; leave it at that for now.
Having set the context, the admonition from Mrs CorC? yesterday morning was “Don’t go out and spend money for food I might not want to eat when I get home from work.” Good point. What to fix then? I do a quick check of items on hand,and decide on a mushroom and cheddar quiche with fried apples on the side. All that’s missing are mushrooms.
After a noon AA meeting and a meandering drive, debating whether to go to the library or not, I head to the store, then home. I see a package of fresh mushrooms for $1.99. Mustering all the power of self-control a recovering alcoholic can possess, I pay for them, ignoring all else, especially the Thrift Bakery items. Total for trip is $2.04, with tax.
Upon arriving home, I get out the butter, lard and flour and prepare a pate’ brissee, from The Joy of Cooking. Making the dough went quite well and I was recollecting a wonderful exchange with another blogger I had about this recipe a few months ago. It needs to rest in the fridge for at least two hours, so I take this time to go for a four mile power walk around the neighborhood.
The walk went well. The shower felt great. I await Mrs CorC?’s return and finishing the meal prep. I read from Sometimes She Lets Me, (Cleis Press, Tristan Taormino, Editor) a collection of lesbian erotica. Lesbian erotic writing is plain old good writing and not an insult to the intelligence, unlike much other erotic writing. Upon arrival, she is tired and not completely unplugged from the work day. I leave her to chill and wait for her word to start supper.
Assembling the quiche was easy and fun. I made another major dent in the half gallon of milk I bought the other day, used up the shredded cheddar opened a couple of weeks ago, and got to use the white pepper I deemed an extravagance when I bought it. The fried apples kind of morphed from rings to apple sauce. I think the Cortland apples I used don’t cook well for that purpose, but they tasted great. Who cares, right?
My old friend back pain was there through most of yesterday. But Life is good.