Death Clarifies What We Love

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Christmas Morning, 2017
There is a kind of theology that is not written in words, but written in lives. It is a type of religious reflection, not the reflection on religion of lettered men and women, but the reflection of religion through the performance of active love. If both are indispensable to the Christian tradition, it is also clear that they are neither equivalent nor, perhaps, equally important. It is the latter task: the daily, difficult, and often unremarkable practice of being in the world as a Christian that is the material of Christian life.
Rosemary Therese was that kind of Christian. The oldest daughter of a Polish father and an Irish mother, she grew up in an age when that arrangement was not yet unremarkable nor, amidst cultural and financial pressures, unremarked upon. By certain lights her life was a humble one. As the oldest child, she was not to go to college, but to care for her parents, which she did until the end of their lives. (She once told me she thought she would have studied English.) She married and had seven children of her own. They in turn, signaling further indications of further changes, were given away in marriage to other Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses and one son to the Church. They had children of their own, and now those children have begun to have children themselves. Across her heart, and that of many a homemaker, ran the crossroads of one world, with its local communities, values, and corner bakeries, and its strange successor . . .


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