Thursday, November 03, 2005

Rupert Mayer, Martin de Porres, a birthday and a funeral.

Today the Church remembers two extraordinary men who lived lives of devoted service to God's people. One of these is Bl. Rupert Mayer, a German Jesuit who spent the better part of his life as a parish priest in Munich, attracting a devoted following with his stirring preaching. Regarding Nazism and Catholicism as incompatible, Mayer was also a vocal opponent of Adolf Hitler. Unsurprisingly, Mayer's outspokenness got him into trouble with the authorities, and the frail priest (who had lost a leg in World War I) was jailed three times for criticizing the Nazi regime. His health broken by long periods of confinement, Mayer died in November 1945, living just long enough to see the collapse of the evil system that he so strongly opposed.

A very different example of Christian witness is offered by St. Martin de Porres, who we also remember today. Born in Peru in 1579, Martin entered a Dominican priory in Lima as a young man and devoted the rest of his life to serving the poor. Martin tirelessly nursed the sick, clothed the naked and fed the hungry, managing all the while to reserve several hours of each day for personal prayer and reflection. Though Martin de Porres' life and ministry differed markedly from that of Rupert Mayer, I like to think of the two men as co-laborers in the Lord's vineyard. Both are sterling examples of the faith that does justice - Martin through his direct engagement with the poorest of the poor, and Rupert through his tireless preaching against the forces of hatred. Martin de Porres and Rupert Mayer are two sides of the same coin; if we to reach out and serve others as Martin did, we must also be willing to put our lives on the line as Rupert did. It's highly appropriate that we remember both on the same day, as they illuminate different but equally essential aspects of the struggle for justice to which we are all called.

In other news, I'd like to wish my brother Ken a happy birthday. Ken, I hope you don't mind me publicizing the event on my blog for all the world to see. In doing so, I hope I can count on the loyal Novitiate Notes readers out there to all their good wishes to my own.

Wrapping up this post, I'd like to remember Chi Prov Jesuit Brother Paul Mattingly, who died Sunday and was buried today at Colombiere. I didn't know Brother Mattingly - in fact, I only met him once. Even so, I was deeply moved by his funeral, which offered a touching tribute to a gentle and generous Jesuit. It helped that Brother Mattingly had left detailed instructions for the event, selecting the music and naming the priest he wanted to give the homily. Though Brother Mattingly didn't specify the readings he wanted for the funeral Mass, the planners of the event took great care in selecting Scripture passages that reflected Paul's great love of nature - a very nice touch, I thought. All in all, a fine memorial. Ave atque vale, AMDG.


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