I was able this past week to spend a couple of days back in Springfield, Ill., being present to participate in the jubilee celebrations of the Hospital Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis. Several of the jubilarians have been good friends and co-workers in ministry these many years.
I was also able to spend some time with my sister Mary Therese (M.T.) and visit the family home at 849 S. Douglas. My sister deserves recognition and a “medal of honor” for caring for my parents, and working to ready the house on South Douglas that we occupied since l967 for resale. That meant going through years and years of many things accumulated by my parents, especially my mother. Many things have already been taken out of the home and distributed, but I went one last time through every room of the house and even the attic.
As I went up and down the stairs I thought of and remembered the example of my mother and father and how they lived the sacrament of marriage. I saw the window in the attic where we used to throw snowballs at the passing cars. I went through the rooms on the second floor and could almost hear my father saying, “You people get up…can’t get you to bed at night and can’t get you up in the morning!” I saw the phone where my mother often spent hours keeping in touch with her family and friends. I also found two wax Christmas figures that had belonged to my grandparents, Les and Mary Jones, and these wax figures were old. I used to put them on my grandparents mantle every Christmas. The house and rooms and what was left spoke of marriage and family and how my mother and father lived out the God-given gift of the sacrament of marriage.
I went one more time back to the attic, and it was already getting hot—more than 90 degrees. Summer in Illinois was coming on, and I remember how hot this attic used to get. I did find several boxes of my seminary and Canon Law notes. In one box were the notes from my days at the Angelicum studying Canon Law. In the heat and the emptiness of the attic, I read my notes that were made during the time of the preparation for the revised Code of Canon Law. In the emptiness and memories of the attic, the words of the drafts of the canons on marriage, which became Canon 1055, ring true and prophetically in today’s challenging culture:
“Canon 1055—Par. 1. The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring, has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament between the baptized.”
May the Lord guide us, bless us and always keep us in his care.
The Most Rev. Kevin W. Vann, Bishop of Orange