Memories of happier times

By Father Dennis Meinen
View from the Scooter

Do you have a treasured item in your home which clings to you or you to it?

At my first memory stir, I was drawn to my closet where I have my Coast Guard dress blue uniform and white hat, and my high school jacket with the gold “H” for “Heelan” upon it. When I recovered my memory compass, I was pointed to the corner curio cabinet in the living room containing more valued items: a chalice, the Pieta, showing the Blessed Virgin and her crucified Son, her knees forming a loving, tender cradle for her Son, our Savior, a red glass statue of the Madonna, a statue of the Good Shepherd and many more religious items.

On the top of the cabinet I have two items which both speak of forgiveness: A wooden crucifix owned by one of our young priests, who died before his time, and a statue of St. Martin de Pores.

This young priest was gifted by God to teach, evangelize and become a wounded healer for many people. I talked to him a few days before he died. He told me how his last days were spent in intensive care, as a nurse held his hand and spoke soothing words, trying to calm his anxious, rapid breathing, as he endured the final crisis of his youthful years. He went back home and spent the last valuable few hours with his parents and family. I know this cross, an icon of forgiveness, became his heavenly tree of victory.

Another figure on the top of my curio case is St. Martin de Pores. Scripture and tradition speak of people who are obnoxious to many and why they were despised. St. Martin was born in Lima, Peru on Dec. 9, 1579, the illegitimate son of a Spanish gentlemen and a freed slave from Panama, of African or possibly Native American descent.

He was probably referred to as “Father unknown.” It is the cold legal phrase sometimes used on baptismal records. “Half-breed” or “war souvenir” is the cruel name inflicted by those of “pure” blood.

Like many others, Martin might have grown to be a bitter man, but he did not. It was said that even as a child he gave his heart and his goods to the poor and despised. One could hardly imagine a more fitting patron of Christian forgiveness than Martin de Pores.

I talked about priceless treasures – valuable or valued items which call to mind and heart happier times. We would do well to imitate people who are our priceless treasures and ask for a double share of their spirit.

At the end of your life, what or who will you say brought your heart blissful memories of happier times? Did you do the same for others?

Father Dennis Meinen serves as chaplain at Holy Spirit Retirement Home, Sioux City, for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in the diocese, and Faithful Friar of the Garrigan 4th Degree Assembly of the Knights of Columbus, Sioux City.

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