by Ken Rolheiser
Grandfathers, priests and choosing the Lord

It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon, sunny and breezy. My wife and I had been strolling down Main Street enjoying antique cars and street markets when we decided to stop for a soft ice cream. That is when it happened.

I had just sat down at the table when I noticed I had been splashed by water. The top of my pants pocket was soaked, with water on the surface so much so that the napkin in my hand became soggy. The water soaked through to my leg.

It was a mystery! There was no water on the bench, no water on the sun umbrella above us. The table was dry. We checked everything several times. There was no apparent natural cause for the splash. I decided to reflect on this later.

In Abundant Gifts Diane Ebele recounts that when she was a student at college God touched her directly on a Massachusetts beach. She was feeling melancholy and walking alone one star lit night, avoiding the water because of the chilly air, when out of no where a wave came up to her, swirled water around her feet and disappeared.

She was twenty feet from the water’s edge and no other waves were near. “I stared at the sky and ocean…tears in my eyes and a smile on my face. I had been kissed by God.”

The love of God is with us in sad times and in happy times. If we are open to his love, we can often enjoy the little miracles of beauty in nature put there sometimes just for us. We may not think we are worthy of God’s special attention, but God thinks we are.

Earlier on this Saturday described above I had been meeting with our Knights of Columbus State Deputy and in conversation I discovered that his grandfather was a Roman Catholic priest. After his wife died, John Riffel became Father John Riffel. The vision of our grandparents has major impact on our spiritual choices. 

I have shared the story of my Grandfather George who wanted to become a priest back in Russia. His father told him, “You are strong. You can work.” And that was that. But Grandfather kept the faith and brought it with him to Canada.

Later he met with his grandson who was in the novitiate studying to become a priest. He asked him, “Will you become a priest?” My brother replied, “It looks promising.” My grandfather turned aside and wept. Two days later he died rather suddenly.

The grand parents of Mary, Sts Joachim and Anna, prayed for God’s blessings when they were barren. Offerings and prayers in the temple were eventually rewarded with fertility. Faith and prayer bore fruit in God’s plan.

In Joshua 24 we see the challenge for us to choose to follow the Lord. “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Let us not be the “later generation” that drifts from the Lord’s way. Honor your grandparents in the faith: Sunday morning was church time, summer and winter, seeding and harvesting. The Lord’s Day was sacred.

The key to the culture and values of my grandparents was in the Christian Faith they passed on in prayer, song and traditions.

Grandfather Great Spirit
Fill us with the light.
Give us the strength to understand,
And the eyes to see.
Teach us to walk the soft Earth
As relatives to all that live.
(from “Grandfather Great Spirit”)

(582 words)