Monday, October 13, 2008

Seattle, part II

My visit to Seattle concluded by attending the 9:00 AM Mass at Blessed Sacrament Parish yesterday morning before heading to the airport. It is a very vibrant community and very beautiful church. The Mass was presided over by Fr. Tom Kraft, OP. He is a dear friend, who was the associate pastor and chaplain of students while I was at the University of Utah. I had not seen or spoken to him during my visit. I was feeling guilty about it. I arrived at the church planning a visit to the priory after Mass, only to see Fr. Tom vested and standing on the church steps, in a truly Fr. Tom gesture, greeting people before Mass. Seeing him there in that moment was an answer to my prayer.
St. Dominic at the Cross

He is a dear friend and one who sealed the deal for me after I became Catholic by taking a personal interest in me, in my faith, in my struggles. It was with his encouragement and guidance that I began thinking about my vocation. He was more confident than I was that I actually had one. I explored the possibility of becoming a Dominican friar. He put me in touch with Fr. Anthony Rosevear, who was then the Western Dominican Province vocations director. Fr. Anthony helped me with my discernment. With Fr. Kraft's encouragement, I spent time at St. Albert's in Oakland, the Dominican house of formation, at the beginning of new novice class. I was not a novice, just an observer.

He witnessed our marriage and baptized our oldest son before going off to the Dominican mission in Mexicali, where he labored fruitfully for quite a few years. I commend him to your prayers as he continues his courageous struggle against cancer. His serenity, his humble trust in the goodness of God as shown forth in Jesus Christ, especially in the Eucharist, and his friendship with Sts. Dominic, Catherine of Siena, Francis, and Clare, is so beautiful.

On a related note, I cannot recommend too highly Fred's review of Frank Schaeffer's autobiography, Crazy for God. I was struck by a number of things that Fred wrote, but in a particular way by these words because they explain better than I am able the remarkable witness of Fr. Tom and others: "we should not act as if Christian ideas can save us from the sufferings and trials of human existence. This approach [is] triumphalist, dualistic, and reductionist". This way of looking at things is the ultimate abstraction. It is a lie about reality, about our experience. If our Lord himself was honest in these matters, not just in words, but in what he experienced, how can we justify not being honest? Such dishonesty is a betrayal of Christ and a denial of ourselves.

Hoping not to sound too trite or sentimental, I am thankful to Fr. Tom for showing me this truth by the honesty of his witness, by the way he bears his suffering and pain caused by cancer.

2 comments:

  1. Fr. Tom is starting his second set of chemo today. Please remember him in your prayers.

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  2. Along with you and I think many others, I am praying the novena to Bl. Teresa of Calcutta for him.

    Mother Teresa, we are asking you for a miracle, please pray for Fr. Tom!

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