by Father Mark Goldasich
Some of the most cherished memories of my school days are the letters that I used to get from my dad. He was the correspondent in the family. As this was before email, his notes were handwritten. What made these letters unique were not only their frequency (he often wrote a couple of times a week) or their “newsiness,” but also the fact that sometimes they didn’t make much sense!
You see, my dad worked for over 30 years at the General Motors plant in Kansas City, Kan. Because his shift began at 6 a.m., by the time he got home from work and ate supper, he was pretty well beat. That did not, however, stop him from writing. Apparently, this was such a relaxing activity for him that he sometimes fell asleep while writing, causing his penmanship to get smaller and creep up the side of the page. While dozing, he’d write whatever was going on in his dreamy mind. Though often nonsensical, the letters were hilarious.
Now, as bizarre as Dad’s notes sometimes were, they couldn’t hold a candle to this doozey:
Dear Stella, I’m writing this letter slow because I know you can’t read fast. We don’t live where we did when you left home to go off to college. Your dad read in the newspaper that most accidents happen within twenty miles from your home, so we moved. This place is real nice. It even has a washing machine. I’m not sure it works too well, though. Last week I put a load in, pushed down the handle and haven’t seen them since.
The weather isn’t bad here. It only rained twice last week: the first time for three days and the second for four days.
John locked his keys in the car yesterday. We were worried because it took him two hours to get me and your father out of there.
Your sister had a baby this morning, but I haven’t found out what it is yet so I don’t know if you are an aunt or an uncle.
Uncle Ted fell in a whiskey vat last week. Some men tried to pull him out, but he fought them off and drowned. We had him cremated and he burned for three days. By the way, three of your friends went off a bridge in a pickup truck. Ralph was driving; he rolled down the window and swam to safety. Your other two friends were in back and drowned because they couldn’t get the tailgate down.
There isn’t any more news at this time. Nothing much has happened.
PS: I was going to send you some money but the envelope was already sealed. (Adapted from “Sower’s Seeds That Nurture Family Values,” by Brian Cavanaugh, TOR.)
Ah, what would we do without the written word? In addition to all of the other events in this month of February — Groundhog Day, the Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day, Presidents’ Day, Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday — these 29 days are dedicated to celebrating the Catholic press. Because we believe that our faith is living, we have an obligation to nurture it. Participating in the sacraments is obviously an excellent way, but we need to stretch our minds as well. There is such a diversity and wealth in our Catholic faith that no one can ever know it all. One of the best ways to explore those treasures of faith is through the Catholic press.
When did you last read a book concerning your faith — something on prayer and spirituality, the lives of the saints, or Catholic teachings? Do you subscribe to any Catholic magazines? Do you belong to a Catholic book club or Bible study where you can discuss your faith with others? If your “continuing” education hasn’t, this month is a great time to remove the cobwebs on your faith and let in some new light and fresh air.
Obviously, I encourage you, first and foremost, to read The Leaven each week. Branch out in your reading if you only regularly look at certain sections of the paper. Each week the hardworking staff here brings a variety of articles to your attention. Sometimes the stories are meant to instruct; other times, to inform. We try to give you a peek at the incredible range of good things that Catholics are doing in the archdiocese and beyond.
In this issue, for example, we take you through a day at a Catholic school as we celebrate Catholic Schools Week. The archbishop sheds light on what religious life means in the church today. We get to meet Father Jerry Spencer, an archdiocesan priest and hospital chaplain extraordinaire, as he looks back over his 44 years of work at KU Med Center. In this election year, the Catholic bishops of Kansas present the first of four articles helping voters to make informed choices at the polls. All this is in addition to our usual regular features.
And in this day and age, “press” doesn’t only mean the printed word on paper. The Leaven website — www.theleaven.com — has videos, links to other sources, a searchable archive (that we continue to tweak), and places to find other news that we couldn’t quite fit into our 16-page weekly edition.
But I’m still partial to this printed edition. You don’t need an Internet connection to read it, or a content filter to keep objectionable information from impressionable minds, or batteries or a recharger. It’s portable, quotable and we hope, above all else, useful and inspirational.
And with apologies to my dad and his long-ago missives, we at The Leaven will always strive to be letter-perfect.