I don’t remember many of the books I read in high school, but one often comes to mind, “I Had to Know” by Gladys Baker. My then spiritual director (isn’t that something? —I had a spiritual director in high school—I’m so grateful) Fr. Randal Joyce, CP, suggested I read it. Gladys, as I recall, was a foreign correspondent who spent years traveling and reporting on world events, and at the same time searching for something more. She finally met up with Bishop Fulton J. Sheen who opened her heart to God, not a God who was aloof and mysterious, but as Bishop Sheen was so good at depicting, a God who was rooted in the everyday experience of life.
I sometimes think I’ve learned enough! I think: “Now, I can just spend the rest of my life sharing and passing on all the great knowledge I’ve acquired after my many years of study and prayer.” Then I wake up and find myself almost like a time traveler in a strange, alien world: a world where the civil dialog of ideas is only a memory; a world where lies are not only accepted but an expected form of discourse; a world of 24 hour-a-day news broadcasts and instant worldwide satellite communications.
Often I long to return to those more simpler days—days where people would practice strange other worldly habits, like going on a pilgrimage to visit a holy person like Gladys did. Often while on that journey they would say the rosary. Today we as a church celebrate the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. During the recital of rosary, we are encouraged to think about life’s mysteries, mysteries like, the birth of a God who took human form, or a young virgin who heard a message and dared to follow it with no science to tell her she made the right decision. A mystery like a god-man who chose to not fight back when accused of heresy and blasphemy, but to accept His fate, a cross to die on leading to an even more mysterious resurrection.
Yes, I’ve got more to learn and as Jesus prays in today’s gospel selection shows me an attitude, an attitude like Gladys’ that I think I’ll try to imitate:
“I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike.”(Luke 10: 23-24)
Dan O’Donnell is a Passionist Partner and a longtime friend of the Passionists. He lives in Chicago.