Last Weekend, a wonderful Priest, Fr. John Malloy of the Father's of Mercy, passed away. He was an Irish priest from Stanton Island, NY, who was always telling stories about his Irish New York City Cop of a dad who didn't tolerate no nonsense. He was a good man who never wanted to stop, and who wanted to "die with his boots on," and who blamed the poor nuns for keeping him from missionary work in the nursing home. Shortly after his 65th anniversary of being ordained to the priest hood, he passed away.
Some time in the past few years, my Dad gave Fr. Malloy a print of one of my paintings from 2004. I remember thinking that I was glad he did it, but I wasn't sure how much good it did- Fr. Malloy's memory was deteriorating and I didn't know if he even remembered who I was, or if the painting would have any meaning to him at all. I think that the day we gave him the print was the last time I saw him alive.
At the funeral, I had more than one person, including one of the nuns who took care of him, tell me that he actually was aware of the painting, that he was very proud of it, and that he had it with him within sight as he died. It was this painting that I did when I was about 15:
It's funny. Things like this always happen when I am doubting whether I am called to study art at all. I have tried and tried and tried since I was about 6 (ok, 14) to get into art school, and it just refuses to work out- at least so far. In Austria (I studied abroad there for about 3 months with Franciscan University), this was a huge issue for me... There I was, on my last semester with Franciscan, about to graduate and leave my friends, go into the world, surrounded by AMAZING art in many forms, etc, and all I could think of was how I no longer felt called to study art, because 1), I had no way in sight to do it, and 2) because I felt I could never paint anything like the masters did- I could never paint anything that would make a difference or mean anything. But, during the weeks that were particularly hellish in this way (and that is hardly an exaggeration- art was my life), some little nun on campus in Austria would whisper in the chapel, "keep drawing," or, "can I see what you've drawn recently!?" (it's always nuns.... watch those nuns!)
It's tough. You can't go to school to make yourself "useful," and you do blog posts of mice and spiders and dragons and Harry Potter. How on earth could God use that? And yet that's just it- I may be discouraged, but the fact is you just never know. The same day of the funeral, I read this in a little daily prayer book:
"For those who love God, all things work together unto good." Rom 8:28
Reflection: Those who love God are drawn nearer to the Father by every circumstance of daily life- joy brings them closer by ties of loving gratitude, and sorrow by the painful way of the Cross.
Those who do not love God become haughty and forget Him in the passing joys of this life and in sadness become bitter and desperate.
Prayer: "Lord, grant me Your true love. This is all I need."
This is why I LOVE BEING CATHOLIC SO MUCH! Jesus is good. As long as I strive to love and trust God more completely, to become a saint (A thought which nearly makes me laugh. Good thing God is ALL powerful.), everything is taken care of. I may have no idea what I am doing. I may not have known that a painting I did at 15 would mean so much to such a holy man during his last hours, but that didn't matter. I may never know of anything good I accomplish with my art ever again- but if I paint out of love, I can have complete confidence that it is doing something out there in time and eternity. St. Therese truly was such a gift. Her little way of trust in God's loving mercy applies to everything- so simple, yet all encompassing. I do not see how I could have made this far without her little way. If you have not read her Story of a Soul, fix that last year.
"Lord, grant me Your love. This is all I need."