The priest who gave me my first parish job – straight out of grad school when I had no idea what I was doing! – was not known for his social graces or tactful conversation. But he preached like a true man of God. At his mother’s funeral, I wondered what kind of homily he would give. He loved his mother very much, and she may have been the last person left on earth who loved him unconditionally. But he did not focus on his own loss, and in Mass and homily he sent her on to the next life with dignity and love. One thing he said about her in the homily has always remained with me. After telling stories about fish on Fridays and mandatory early morning acolyting for her sons, he summed up her life: “Catholic was the way she saw the world.” Catholic was the way she saw the world. You didn’t even have to think about what he meant. You just knew.
I owe that priest (who passed away several years ago) a debt of gratitude – not only for hiring me and believing in me – but for this tribute to his mother which unearthed a wise gem of truth. Catholicism is not just a religion. It is a perspective on life.