by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann
During the last two weeks of August, my mother was able to visit me.
In my residence, there is a suite of rooms that was designed with the idea of a resident housekeeper. Located on the first floor, they are ideal for my mother because she does not have to negotiate any steps.
On Friday, Aug. 20, I had a series of meetings during the day. In the evening, I was at the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center chapel leading a Holy Hour of eucharistic adoration with four men whom I had the privilege of ordaining to the diaconate the next day. Members of their religious community, the Apostles of the Interior Life, as well as their families and friends, gathered to pray with them as they prepared to accept the call of the church to serve as ordained ministers.
Since I was not going to be around much of the day, my mother accepted an invitation to spend the afternoon and evening with my nephew and his family in Lee’s Summit. My mother loves to spend time with Dee Dee and David and their four children, who are full of life and the source of great entertainment to all the family.
I arrived at my nephew’s home around 9 p.m. If you recall, we had a series of severe thunderstorms throughout the late afternoon and evening of that day. A little after 10 p.m., the power went out at my nephew’s house. This was a clear sign that it was time to head home.
On the drive back to Kansas City, I was preparing myself mentally for coping with the probability that the electricity would be out at my residence. As I approached the house, I was surprised to see a cherry picker in my driveway. Branches from the large trees that surround my house were down everywhere. The utility crew was attempting to get the branches off the power lines on 34th Street that runs along the east side of the house.
I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that the exterior lights were on at the residence. However, I was stunned when I opened the door to the bedroom where my mother sleeps to see the room filled with branches and leaves. The bed and the carpet were covered with shattered glass.
One of the tall trees on the west side of the house was either struck by lightning or the force of the wind snapped the top half of the tree. The wind had driven a large portion of the tree with great force into the window of the bedroom where my mother sleeps. I shuddered to think of what would have happened had my mother been in the bedroom at the moment the tree smashed the window. As I cleaned up the debris in the room, it sank in how fortunate it was that my mother had visited Dave and Dee Dee that day.
When you think about it, every day there are so many opportunities, except for the grace of God, that we or some family member or friend could be seriously injured. On Oct. 2, we celebrate the feast of the guardian angels. Most days, we take for granted the protective shield with which God guards us.
At the same time, we know that bad things do happen to good people. Just a couple of weeks ago the Sunday Gospel presented us with the words of Jesus to the crowds that were pursuing him: “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” Jesus does not promise his disciples that they will be immune to suffering. No, just the opposite: Jesus promises his followers a share in the cross. We know that discipleship means following Jesus all the way to Calvary.
Yet, the Lord, on a daily basis, also manifests his love for us. He shields us from so many potential tragedies. At those moments, when God does ask us to share in the cross, he promises us that we will not carry our burdens alone, but that he will be alongside assisting and comforting us.
If things are relatively serene in your life and the life of your family at this time, I encourage you to pause for a moment to recognize and thank God for his providential and protective love.
If, on the other hand, you or someone you love is experiencing the cross in some form at this moment, I urge you to draw near to Jesus, allowing him to lighten your burden and ease your suffering.