Friday, November 27, 2009


The Office of Readings in the Breviary for today featured an excerpt from a sermon by St. Cyprian (3rd century bishop of Carthage and martyr). The gist: if we really sincerely pray “Thy Kingdom come,” why are we afraid to leave this world to enter the Kingdom? The saints are waiting to welcome us!

So I thought: what’s my list for those I would long to meet and spend time with? I will admit up front that there are those whom I pray will be in Paradise, but I hope they’ll be on the other side from me! Besides them, there are of course the “main players” that EVERYONE would want to spend time with: Blessed Mother, Mary Magdalene, Peter and Paul, James and John, Ignatius Loyola, Thomas More, Francis of Assisi… There will be long lines to see them (but thankfully in eternity the concept of ‘waiting’ will be non-existent).

What about family? I surely would want to spend time with my Mom and Dad, but they would be #2 on my list here. I’d first of all want to spend time with my baby brother who died when he was six months old (and I was 8). I’d want to ask him, “How are you?” and “Who are you?” I guess I’d have, at least to some extent, Eric Clapton’s Tears in Heaven in my mind…
Also, I’d want to spend time with my maternal grandmother—she tried to say things in the last years in the nursing home, but no teeth, speaking softly, very slowly, and half in English, half in Slovak, I could understand nothing. I would want to ask, “Grandma, what were you trying to tell us?”
I’d love to talk with my paternal grandfather, too: I never knew him since he died before my Mom and Dad got married. “Who were you, Grandpa T.?”

Then there are the folks in history that have always intrigued me. I would love to spend time with my hero, Bl. Cardinal Newman (“Were you secretly angry that it took so long for ‘the cloud to be lifted’?”). And I would want to be able to be with Bl. Charles de Foucauld (“Why North Africa? You could have been a ‘universal brother’ in so many other places?”), Cardinal Bellarmine (“What did you really think about Galileo?”), Pope Gregory the Great (“Was the public administration dumped on you your greatest frustration as Pope?”), and perhaps also Bertrand Russell, the great atheistic philosopher (“Yes, I know you rejected belief in God because you found no evidence; now that you have plenty of it, let’s put that to one side and discuss philosophy…”). Sure, Russell was a reprobate, but a delightful one, and I want to believe it wasn’t too late for him…

Who are you longing to meet and spend time with? Who are your "5++ people"? Are you ready? I hope and pray that I am…

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