Every person has some dates in their life which are markers: dates that are defining: dates that mark a time in their life where they experienced a new direction in their life; a time when they experienced the presence of God and the Holy Spirit in a new and challenging way. 40 years ago today May 31st 1969 I knelt before Bishop Arthur Joseph O'Neill and he laid his hands on my head ordaining me a priest---a priest forever. I had known from about my freshman year in high school that Jesus had called me to priesthood. From that day 40 years ago I have never turned my back on the call from Jesus to priesthood. My ministry as priest has taken me down many diverse paths; from teaching at a Central High School; to Chaplain ministry; through marriage, the birth of our 2 children and the death of my wife. Jesus has blessed me in those 40 years of ministry in ways one could never imagine.
Jesus had called me to receive yet another sacrament-that of marriage. July 28, 1973 Jean and I responded YES to the call to receive this sacrament. At our wedding at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Aurora Jean and I both preached the homily. During Jean's homily she held up a crystal sugar bowl which we had received as a wedding gift. She explained how the sun shine flowing through the crystal bowl revealed the multifaceted light; how each beam of the sun light was as radiant as the other; how no 2 shafts of light out shown the other but together they made up the total beam of light. From the time I first met Jean until her last breath her belief was that we are all connected as one. No person is better than another as the Spirit of God shines in each person making us all one. On this Feast of Pentecost we continue to celebrate the oneness of God. With God there are no barriers or fear. People make artificial barriers out of their own fear. Never act out of fear as you may be interrupting the presence of God in your life.
Jean and I lived life to the fullest way we possibly could. We shared deeply in all facets of our marriage---each having its own radiant light. As Jean lived her life she was totally present to the moment: whether it was visiting an elderly woman she cared for; preparing for a homily at JOS; preparing for her psychosynthesis group she attended for the last 5 years; sharing in our marital love for each other. We shared deeply in every decision we made.
When we knew she would not survive this :her 4th cancer-we had time to discus her death and her funeral. She would say to me: "Bob we have been blessed in so many ways." "We have had a wonderful, full marriage." "We have given everything to each other." In the final days before she could not talk, she would repeat 2 things. "It is time." "Take me quickly." I would repeat these making it our prayer mantra. For the 2 days before Jean died and she was unable to talk I kept watch over her and when the frown on her forehead was deep I assumed the pain was great. I would give her another dose of Morphine, Ativan, and Haldol at night. On April 30th at 11:11 a.m. she took her last breath as I held her hand in prayer.
Our son Dave is very intuitive and connected to the spirit world. The evening before Jean died I was up stairs in the prayer room and Dave was by Jean's side. He told me the room was filled with the presence of angels. The energy in the room was vibrating at a very high pitch. Surely the angels were there to take Jean home.
For our entire marriage I would from time to time say to Jean, "I will do anything for you". During Jean's prior cancers I did try to "do" whatever needed to be done: arranging treatments; taking her to her chemo and radiation; buying turbans when she had lost all her hair; getting her medicines; whatever I could "do". A month before Jean died I realized there was nothing else I could "do" but rather simply "be". I needed to stop "doing" and start "being" and the "being" was to allow the presence of God to be manifested in me. When I got out of the way and allowed God to work through me everything fell into place. Pentecost is like that. We need to get out of the way and allow the Spirit of God to be manifested in us and in every person. It is much better when we stop worrying about our agenda and allow God's agenda to take over.
During my reflections at her funeral liturgy, I referred to her as "St. Jean of Aurora." My definition of a saint is a person who radiates the presence of God within in a way all can see. Jean certainly meets that definition.
Pentecost is a defining date in the annual church calendar. It is the date we claim as the founding of the church-the date we claim the Holy Spirit was sent by God to all God's people. In the first reading from St. Paul we hear again proclaimed that the followers---once having received the Holy Spirit could then understand each other---they could understand the Spirit of God within-all the preconceived barriers-represented by their own "foreign language" were removed and they could see and experience the presence of God within each person. Is not that what the Holy Spirit gives to each of us-the ability to see and understand the presence of God in each person. Many people speak of Unity and Oneness but operate out of fear. When a person operates out of fear---it is not the Holy Spirit who is guiding them but fear and preconceived barriers. The Holy Spirit of God will unchain you, remove the cataracts from your eyes; open your ears; fill your heart with love and acceptance.
It was always a blessing for me to SEE the presence of God in Jean; to EXPERIENCE the presence of God in Jean; to SHARE IN MARITAL LOVE with Jean the presence of God.
God blessed me with 36 years of sharing the presence of God with Jean and our life together. The Holy Spirit blows where she will. The Holy Spirit empowers and frees us to see and experience God all around us and in all of creation. The Holy Spirit removes the human barriers we have placed in the way of experiencing God. Jean's final words to me after 36 years of marriage were: "Bob we have been so blessed by God." As usual Jean was right.