Brothers among brothers in Jesus Christ

By Father Dennis Meinen
View from the Scooter

One time, around 1992, I invited Father Harold Cooper (d. 9/01/2007) to participate in hearing confessions at Immaculate Conception Parish in Sioux City, where I was assistant pastor with Msgr. Thomas M. Donahoe.

On our way to the sacristy to get vested for the service, I told him I had been reading a book about Father Solanus Casey – known as “Detroit’s miracle worker” – and his intercessory power to bring healing to many who came to him. I mentioned that a brother priest had once asked him to intercede to God for him because of a persistent toothache. Father Solanus declined.

“Why not? You intercede for everyone else who comes to you!” the other priest complained.

Father Solanus quietly replied, “Because priests are called to suffer.”

Father Cooper smiled and said, “Thanks!”

I imagined him thinking, “Did you have to tell me that?”

On Nov. 6, 1999, Father Cooper fell after visiting someone. He suffered a traumatic brain injury and spent the last seven years of his life at Holy Spirit Retirement Home where I am chaplain. Although he could no longer talk or walk, he often seemed at peace, especially when he came to our chapel for Mass.

Father Solanus Casey died July 31, 1957. An estimated 20,000 people passed by his coffin before his burial in St. Bonaventure Church in Detroit. He was declared Venerable in 1995. I think Father Cooper and he would tell us that regardless of whether we are sick or healthy, God created us for a reason, and God will never abandon us in our trials.

I read what Pope Paul VI said on Dec. 7, 1965, in his “Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests”: “In a fraternal spirit, priests should extend hospitality, cultivate kindliness and share their goods in common. They should be particularly solicitous for the sick, the afflicted, those overburdened with work, the lonely. They should gladly and joyfully gather together for recreation, remembering Christ’s invitation to the weary apostles: ‘Come aside to a desert place, and rest awhile’ (Mark 6:31). For priests are brothers among brothers with all those who have been reborn at the baptismal font. They are all members of one and the same Body of Christ, the building up of which is required of everyone.”

I love the song “A Time Will Come For Singing,” based on Isaiah 35:5-6 and fulfilled in Jesus, Luke 7:21-22. And he said to them in reply, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.” This message of hope certainly will sustain the Christian who believes with resurrection faith.

“A time will come for singing when all your tears are shed, when sorrow’s chains are broken and broken hearts shall mend, the deaf will hear your singing when silent tongues are freed.  The lame will join your dancing when blind eyes learn to see.

“A time will come for singing when trees will raise their boughs, when men lay down their armor, and hammer their swords into plows, when beggars live as princes and orphans find their homes.  When prison cells are emptied and hatred has grown old.

“A time will come for singing a hymn by hearts foretold, that kings have sought for ages, and treasured more than gold. Its lyrics turn to silver when sung in harmony. The Lord of Love will teach us, to sing its melody.”

This song is by Dan Schutte, one of the founding members of the St. Louis Jesuits who popularized a contemporary style of church music set to sacred texts sung in English as a result of the liturgical reforms initiated by Vatican II. He continues to compose new music, write about spirituality and is an in-demand presenter on liturgy and the role of music as sung prayer.

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

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