The Little Priest

My thoughts and prayers have been for the Barrett Family especially today, as this morning was the Funeral Mass. I can’t imagine what emotions the family is experiencing. To have to continue on with daily life with a family member suddenly gone — I know it would only be grace that could keep me going. I’m also praying for safe journeys for some friends who did get to attend the funeral.

I’ve been pondering Mary Ellen’s words about Ryan, and her article on A Vocation for Ryan. How beautiful a tribute to his priestly vocation to have A Bishop Shepherding His Flock.

I do know Mary Ellen, mostly online through working together on her O Night Divine Christmas blog and Catholic Cuisine and planning a conference, but I did get to meet in IRL twice. I’m so grateful that I was able to see her and her darling Brendan just last month at The Family-Centered Learning Conference.

But even if I had never met Mary Ellen, I know we are united through the Mystical Body. As Church Militant we know we can suffer and pray for each other. This week at Mass the priest has been using Eucharistic Prayer III, and I’ve been struck by the words:

Father, hear the prayers of the family you have gathered here before you. In mercy and love unite all your children wherever they may be.

Yes, the Barretts are family.

When I heard the news of Ryan, I had noted that it was the feast of St. John Berchmans on some calendars. He was a young saint, who died at age 21, and a patron saint of altar boys. I kept thinking how appropriate. August 13 was the day of his St. John Berchmans’ death, and birthday into the Church, according to the Roman Martyrology. St. John was a seminarian of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), but didn’t get to become a priest. His feast isn’t on the General Roman Calendar so not many books include him. His was a simple, hidden, ordinary life, like St. Therese. “If I do not become a saint when I am young”, he used to say “I shall never become one” (see Catholic Encyclopedia).

Some more information on this saint:
Father Hardon

And this little treasure: Manual of the St. John Berchmans’ Sanctuary Society: with a sketch of the saint’s life (1897). The little biography is wonderful, and what about having our sons practice some of these rules for this Altar Boy Society?

Since I went to a Church and school under his patronage when I was younger, I did hear about him frequently. We also visited the Shrine of St. John Berchmans in Grand Coteau, where the final miracle for his canonization took place. Our family met this wonderful sister who told us the whole story and gave us his motto. In all my searches I haven’t come across it in writing anywhere else. This has stayed with me for over 25 years:

Whatever I have to do, I do as well as I can, and with a great deal of love.

And I do think now that our Family of God has another little saint to intercede for us.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

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5 thoughts on “The Little Priest

  1. Oh Jenn, that was beautiful. Ryan’s death has been heartbreaking, but you gave me just the right things to ponder. Thank you.

  2. Jenn, I love the way you tied this all up in such a wonderful way. Thank you so much. You are truly an excellent writer.

  3. Pingback: Counting It All Joy — Heavy Heart Edition | Family in Feast and Feria

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