Today we will once again process from our small chapel into the streets after Mass. We will again pray just two blocks from the sacred sanctuary to end the violence on our urban streets. John was murdered last Saturday evening on the corner of Davis and Sixth. I have not kept adequate records over the years, but I think John’s murder is the ninth time we have prayed as a community that violence be washed from the sidewalks and hatred be swept into the gutters for good.
We will pray in the heat of summer near midday for the people locked in violence and addictions in the dark of night. These holiday weekends bring even more terror than usual. People from the suburbs come to our neighborhood with time and money. People on social security and disability just received their monthly checks this weekend. Loss of jobs, hopelessness has compelled many to give up on sobriety. These are the issues for our continuing procession to the streets after our procession to the altar for communion.
Today also marks the seventh anniversary of my mother’s death. My mother, Rosemary would have been 90 years old this week on July 8. I am reminded today as well about an event that happened at the gravesite on the day of her burial.
After the closing prayers at her grave, a woman in a bright red dress ran up to me. She held my hand close to her breast. She told me she was a seer. She whispered to me that she felt my mother’s passing and that I did not need to know her name. She then proceeded to tell me that my mother wanted me to persevere in my priesthood. The older, kind woman still holding my hand also told me that my mother loved the white flowers we all had for her, but that she preferred pink. She then left without another word.
As I gazed down to the casket on the bright July morning, I saw the mound of white flowers from all the arrangements from relatives and friends. My only thought was that my mother’s favorite color was pink.
I cannot give up on my priesthood amid the violence, addictions and hatred on our streets even though I have no solid answers for any of the issues we face. My mother’s request is not just for me. Her request is for all of us not to give up on the faith that calls us from the safety of the sanctuary into the tragic events that claim our neighborhood. I will process with our community from the dimly lit chapel today mindful of my mother’s request to keep praying for all who suffer and for all who have died.
Rosemary, pray for us.
John, pray for us.