Wednesday, May 6th
Good morning, Good morning,
There are occasions when I assume the right to change the context of my intended homilies, on the way to the pulpit from my chair on the altar. I don’t do it often but when I do it is usually affected by a current event in the parish or in the world beyond our parish.
I recall the 6:30 Mass one morning where it was announced a certain pro-abortion Catholic politician had died during the night. I simply said, “Now he knows if he was politically correct.” And that was all I said. One of my shortest homilies that lasted a mere moment. A sobering thought, rarely reflected upon by those in robust health, that what is applicable to the Catholic politician is applicable to any Catholic constituent. As death is only a heartbeat away from God’s judgment we should consider the accountability of our lifestyle and livelihood much more seriously. As we pray for one another let us pray for our Catholic politicians.
As I come to write these parish letters I am left to myself at night, looking at the ceiling of my room, lost in ideas bantering about in my mind. For example, soon I will write about two of the great priests of the South during the Civil War. Neither made monsignor nor rose to the rank of a bishop. Each was a man’s man and a priest’s priest. But their stories are left to another day. There is another idea on what may be the most expensive car in Northern Virginia. The value of the vehicle is not as important as the German heritage that brought it to our local area in Middleburg.
Today is the story of the Choctaw Indians and their generosity to the Irish in the Potato famine, one hundred and seventy five years ago. The tribe raised $147.00 ($20,000.00 in today’s economy) for the Irish during their famine, 1845-49. A people who knew great suffering reached out to people they most likely never knew nor would ever meet. And today, by way of Twitter and “Go Fund Me,” a response is offered from today’s Celts from the distant shores to the tribes wrapped in the Coronavirus. Projections for donations to the tribes from the folks in Ireland may well rise above a million dollars. Perhaps the story will become a movie one day or perhaps lost to the forgotten annals of history. Whatever the case the story was enough to have me change my intended letter for this day. I am most grateful to my good friend, Joseph Volpe, for bringing it to my attention. In my last assignment we were weekly companions to visit the prisoners of the Fauquier County Jail. This letter is dedicated to him.
The Kindred Spirits Choctaw Monument in Midleton, Ireland (County Cork)
Before there was an American Civil War in 1861 there was almost a Civil War in 1830, following the 1828 Georgia God Rush. It was the time when the five “Civilized” Nations of Southeastern America were forced to relocate to lands West of the Mississippi River. The greatest proponent for the forced relocation was President Andrew Jackson with, The Indian Removal Act, of 1830. In fact, Jackson was a proponent of the idea before he was president. He found opposition from the distinguished senator from Tennessee, Davey Crocket. He also found a somber support in Supreme Court Justice, John Marshall. Enclosed are the stats of the five civilized nations removed against their will.
Words cannot adequately describe the suffering and death that was brought to the Indians in their walk to what is today identified as Oklahoma. Exposure, disease, and starvation were common experiences with the five nations on their travels to the West.
Fr. Heisler, true to form, spoke up at the breakfast table today mentioning his visit to Donegal Castle in Northwestern Ireland and finding the image below. It is a recent painting offered by one of the Choctaw Indians who was visiting Ireland. The painting depicts the relationship the Irish and Indians have just rekindled with the recent discovery of the Choctaw donation became public.
The mural depicted a Choctaw Indian woman holding an Irish Baby, with illustrations of Food and Irish Famine Victims, symbolizing the connection of the Choctaw Nation and the Irish.
And somehow in all of those sufferings and hardships with injustice of their removal from their homeland the Choctaw Indians found within themselves the spirit of generosity for the starving people in Ireland. Again the quote from James Michener, “Where do we get such people?” Such examples of generosity in the shadow of overwhelming fateful suffering. God bless the Indians, those they helped and those who respond to them in the current pandemic. Let us pray for one another.
Many thanks to all of you for your financial donations to the parish. I would like to think we are in our final weeks of the pandemic and will soon join with each other at Mass. I want you to see the great work that has been done with the Angel Statue. The Confessionals are coming along and won’t be available until after the pandemic. Mrs. Dianne Waller is almost finished with her painting of the Divine Mercy to replace the current poster in the Divine Mercy Shrine. And when we are back a flagpole will be set in the circle of grass out in front of the Academic Center. Fr. Heisler has worked the magic of his computer to figure out all the details. He is the best.
And when we come back to life all are invited to affiliate with the Knights of Columbus, Legion of Mary, the Divine Mercy Devotions, the Charismatic Community, the Women’s Prayer Group, and That Man is You Program.
It will be nice to have the sound of the choir practices filling the church once again. God bless the CCD Teachers who have risen to the occasion of teaching on line… and never one complaint from students or teachers. The sacrifice and generosity offered by the CCD teachers will be one of our greatest memories of the Lockdown. God bless one and all.
Coming events: We need a high school CCD program in place. I will teach the 9-10 grade classes at 4 PM on Sunday as well as 5 and 7 on Monday. The same class three times. Fr. Heisler has the option for the 11-12th grades for a time yet to be determined.
Fr. Heisler will continue his adult education program on Tuesday nights and make it flexible so you can sit in the classroom with him or watch on line from the comfort of home. Please stay tuned.
It won’t be long until the CHRSM kids are back in action for the Fall semester. The American Heritage Girls should be on the go. And, I appeal to the men of the parish to help put a Trail Life Troop together. Please do your best with the young ones. I especially want the kids to learn land navigation… without a GPS.
When all is said and done we may want to have a late night prayer service in the parking lot and “Light up the Buildings,” coming to life.
Let us pray for one another.
Our Lady of Czestochowa. Help to establish a new Poland… Help us in this pandemic.