Solanus Casey

Almost one week down and three to go before Christmas. Today is a big feast day, the birthday and feast of friends of Jim Morrison and also a big feast in the Church. When I was younger it was one of the Holy Days of Obligation which meant you had to go to Mass on that day or be stoking the fires in hell for all eternity. Just as an aside, doesn’t “all of eternity” sound redundant. I mean does eternity even have a time limit? I better stop now, because I am getting a headache. Anyway it is a big feast. We celebrate this to remind us of the Virgin pregnancy. We didn’t cover this in biology class but it is part of the belief system. God became man. What does this have to do with new beginnings that this first week in Advent supposedly talks about? I guess it has to do with how closely we are related to the Creator, however you conceive it to exist. We have something the rest of creation does not have, the ability to choose to love or not to love. So in my imperfect brain then, choosing to love is divine. It certainly isn’t intelligence. I know a lot of smart people who are really, really dumb.  Speaking of smarts…

Fun fact for today – On this date in 1896 a former prison guard and lumberjack (even back then people had to work two jobs to make ends meet) by the name of Barney Casey began a novena. (nine days of prayer). He felt that something was missing in his life and wanted to quiet himself so he could listen to the whispers of the Spirit. Well he decided to become a priest and started in a seminary. His superiors felt it was too hard for him and told him to leave. Bummer! But Barney didn’t give up. In the silence of his disappointment heard an odd statement “Go to Detroit” which he promptly did. Once there he entered the Bonaventure Monastery and took the name “Solanus” after a Spanish Franciscan missionary to South America. Seems that Solanus like Barney both loved music and played the violin. After his ordination, his superiors did not allow him to preach formal sermons or to hear confessions… He became a porter in Detroit (someone who answers the door) he was happy and had found his calling. His humble job started his reputation as someone who was holy. He was not “out there” but quietly living out his chosen life with great humility. By Christmas of 1956 he had become weak and spent his free time playing the violin next to the Christmas scene in the chapel. He finally died that same year on the 31st of July. In 1995 he was declared “venerable” by the Vatican, the first U.S. born male to be so honored.

The reading today is from Luke (Luke 1:26-38)

And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.

Mary received a different kind of message like Fr. Solanus and she went with it. Sometimes the spirit comes in dramatic form and other times in the quiet of a whisper. Bottom line is, we are not alone. We are all connected. We all share the same spirit. Some of us can actually hear it, some of us hear white noise instead. The revelation that came to Mary was in the quiet and in private. Little did she know that her “yes” would change the face of the world. I wonder if Fr. Solanus knew his quiet humble life would change the lives of the people with whom he came into contact. We never know what quiet acts of kindness and just plain “yes” decisions have on others. But keep doing the good stuff, keep listening, talk with others. And while you’re at it…remember to save electricity (and your sanity) and turn off Fox News…

and so it goes…