Wednesday, December 31, 2014


During Christmas while Midnight Mass was being celebrated by the members of his community – and further west where I live over 2,000 miles away I was just preparing for Mass – a most beloved friend, brother priest, mentor was literally taken by the hand, by Our Lady I am sure, and brought into heaven to meet the Holy Child in person.

More than 40 years this priest was in my life here on earth teaching me much about interior silence, holy conversation, the preciousness of every human life and of every moment of each life.

Tonight, this end of one chronological year and the threshold of the 15th year of this first century of the third millennium since the Holy Child Jesus was born in chronological time, inspired both by the life of my priest-brother and a musical written by Jonathan Larson, who lived for fewer years than the forty plus of the fraternity with Father, I find myself asking: do I get the preciousness of every human life, of every person?

Do I get the preciousness of every moment of life, for all is gift, all is grace.

Larson lived, struggled, suffered for his art and in his relationships and died suddenly the morning of the first preview performance Off Broadway of his semi-autobiographical musical RENT.

The story begins with the principal characters singing the dominate question flowing from a simple mathematical fact of how many minutes there are in a year: Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes!

The opening lyrics repeat the phrase: Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes, three times and then the question is posed: how do you measure, measure a year?

The media in their year end measuring tend to focus on the past year’s disasters, scandals, mass murders, acts of terrorism, weather extremes, and epidemics. Sometimes they throw in one or two cute stories so we don’t all end the year totally depressed and hopeless.

Larson has his actors respond to the question with:

“In daylights, in sunsets

In midnights, in cups of coffee

In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife

In five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes

How do you measure, a year in the life?”

How do I, how do you, how do we measure the past year of grace?

Larson then in the next verse three times asks: How about love? How about love? How about love?

Larson’s answer:  Measure in love.

Father, to the best of my knowledge, never ‘measured’ in love: he simply loved.

Loved Jesus, loved our Blessed Mother, loved everyone, especially the poor, the needy, the seekers, the wounded, the confused, the frightened.

True love is not what I seek from another but what I can gift to the other.

True love never counts the cost.

True love never compromises the truth but is able to witness to the truth without diluting the love.

Likewise authentic love never dilutes truth.

Absolute life-giving, truth-bearing love is the Child in the Manger become the Man on the Cross who dwells in the Holy Eucharist that our beings might be permeated by Him; who walks with us as surely and as intimately as He walked with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, listening to our confusions and fears, hopes, dreams, sorrows, needs and lavishing Himself upon us.

Frankly rather than take the measure of the five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes of the past year, which I leave to Divine Mercy, Father’s life and teaching, his love, and yes Larson’s question, moves my heart to look forward, to make a simple resolution for the five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes of 2015: to love-truly and truly-love.