Before I packed a bag, filled the gas tank and made the trip from Missouri to northeast Iowa, I knew I was about to meet someone very special. Days before the trip, the parish secretary sent me an email that began like this: I need to tell you a little bit about the woman you will be staying with while you are here.
God constantly amazes me with moments of grace that combine disparate elements in our lives. How about a lovely couple from Dixon, Ill., who touched many lives, especially those of their grandchildren, a hospital corridor in Chicago, a Dominican friar and the baseball Cardinals?
In 1963 my mom was a second-grader at St. Joseph School in West St. Paul, Minn., when Sister Marie Pauline asked her to stay after school. The petite, habited teacher held a lined sheet of paper bearing the mandated header JMJ in No. 2 pencil. It was Mom's penmanship exercise. Then she turned the sheet over and pointed to the bottom third, which was blank.
"I think you should pray about not being wasteful," Sister Marie Pauline said.
My sense is that few of us remember with detail what movie won the Oscar for the best motion picture of the year or who was recognized as the best supporting actor or actress. As for recalling the best musical score, only the die-hard Hollywood fans would be ready to answer this and similar questions. Truth be told, there are always a few in our midst who are very good at remembering.
There can be no explanation, and no excuse, for the senseless violence recently in Aurora, Colo. Violence — the unjustified use of physical force — is always senseless. It accomplishes no good. It only causes harm, often deadly, without serving any useful purpose.
The Year of Faith is a celebration by the entire Catholic Church that begins October 1, 2012 -- the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church -- and concludes Nov. 14, 2013, the feast of Christ the King. Pope Benedict XVI announced the Year of Faith to confront secularism and other challenges faced by our Church and to encourage Catholics to rediscover the faith and the "joy and enthusiasm of the encounter with Christ."