Tomorrow we will be taking my daughter Mary Kate to the airport, as she embarks on her new life with the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist community in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
We”ve seen this coming for awhile, but I”m not sure anyone is ever quite ready to have their teenage daughter do something like this. But make no mistake: Mary Kate is ready. As for my readiness, I haven”t been so sure!
Speaking of readiness, check out this recent interview given by one of the “oldtimers” entering the Dominican community this weekend–a 2010 summa cum laude Harvard graduate!
Anyway, last Sunday at Mass many emotions were running through my head. While I honestly can”t think of anything better she can do with her life–and I”m so proud of who she is and of her generous response to Our Lord”s call–I was still feeling a sense of loss.
Fr. Anthony chose Eucharistic Prayer III. I really like this particular Eucharistic Prayer. One phrase that has had rich meaning for me through the years is, “Father, hear the prayers of the family you have gathered here . . .” as I’2012-04-24 18:34:54′ve written frequently on the image of the Church as the “family of God,” as well as on the “parish family.”
But last Sunday it was the next line that really struck me:
“In mercy and love unite all your children wherever they may be.”
Even though Mary Kate will be in a cloister nearly a thousand miles away, we will still be united in God”s mercy and love, particularly through our participation in the Eucharist and in the life of the Church in general (a “communion of saints” thing). This is another one of those teachings to which we give notional assent, but every now and then we have moments in which a truth of the faith penetrates us in a more real, experiential way. I”m not really “losing” my dear Mary Kate at all!
Now, I”m the Dick Vermeil of Catholic fathers (I”ve cried all 23 times I”ve seen It”s a Wonderful Life, if that”s any indication), so I”m sure I”m going to shed some more tears. But they will be tears of joy and thanksgiving.
It”s all right here in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (nos. 2232-33):
“Family ties are important but not absolute. Just as the child grows to maturity and human and spiritual autonomy, so his unique vocation which comes from God asserts itself more clearly and forcefully. Parents should respect this call and encourage their children to follow it. They must be convinced that the first vocation of the Christian is to follow Jesus: “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37). . . .
“Parents should welcome and respect with joy and thanksgiving the Lord”s call to one of their children to follow him in virginity for the sake of the Kingdom in the consecrated life or in priestly ministry.”