Saturday, September 25, 2010

A night with Fr. Groeschel

On Thursday Rocky and I went to the Institute of Catholic Culture event featuring Fr. Groeschel. There were 1,100 or so people in attendance so Father's talk was at St. Thomas More Cathedral. I saw Pauline sisters, Poor Sisters of St. Joseph, four diocesan priests, two Byzantine priests -- they look really snappy in their cassocks, two Franciscan monks who came with Father, and I think I saw a Vietnamese Dominican sister. When Fr. Groeschel was helped into the church I caught my breath. He is very frail. Physically, he's as delicate as onion skin paper or two hundred year old lace. But then he spoke and you actually forgot what he looks like. Inside he's still the same tough minded, wise cracking New York boy he ever was.

His topic was the afterlife. He made us laugh when he told us that Americans are so afraid of death that we pretty it up --- Uncle Vinny in his casket looks sweeter than he ever did in life. Instead of praying for Vinnie's soul knowing full well that the last time anyone saw him express religious fervour was at his First Communion, we canonize him and blandly assume that he's in heaven. Or we go goth and glamorize death. We thrash about wildly and fail to see the great beauty, the great joy of making a good death and seeing the Holy Face.

Will there be sex in heaven? No, Fr. told us and I swear some of the older (?) folks looked disappointed. Sex is for reproduction and in heaven that won't be needed. Will we have wings and sit around on clouds looking smug and plucking harps? No, Father told us. He also added that to his mind that sounded a bit like hell which got a hearty laugh. Will we all go to heaven? No, of course not. He ended his talk with a blessing and one of the sturdy young monks that came with him and a layman helped him up and to the elevator. There was a reception and book signing afterwards but St. Thomas More has steep steps. Rocky's knee didn't need the pain and since I sprained my ankle I didn't need it either. So we went home and prayed that Fr. Groeschel have a safe, uneventful trip back to New York.


Terry Nelson said...

I love Fr. Benedict - I'm so happy you got to see him. I was fortunate to meet him and speak privately with him many years ago. I'm convinced he will be canonized one day. I pray for him every day. Thanks for posting this account.

Lola said...

Thank you for sharing your evening and Fr. Groeschel highlights.

Your description of his fraility is beautiful!

"he's as delicate as onion skin paper or two hundred year old lace"
What poetry!

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

"What poetry!"

I recall describing a teacher (when I was a two month substitute) as the old man with wrinkles like a shriveled apple.

I meant it like a description (this type of wrinkle being only him) and I was admonished by a pupil who thought I was sneering at him because he was older.

I wasn't.

Would I had had Lola around to say "like a shriveled apple, what poetry"!

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

(Not grudging you to have her, of course!)