I'll See Her One Day

June 28, 2018

“Aunt Katie, you just went to the Ordination of the Centennial Seven, four first Masses of Thanksgiving, and six receptions in 29 hours, what are you going to do now?” Not going to Disney World… there’s no need. Our Lady of Wisdom Church and Catholic Student Center was the happiest place on earth this weekend! We in the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana, are still floating from so many sacraments and celebrations. On Saturday, June 23, 2018, seven men were ordained to be priests of Jesus Christ! My eyes are still leaking, and my face is still shining like Moses on Mount Sinai.

 

This weekend brings #blessed to a new level,

Aunt Katie

After several failed attempts at putting my feelings about this incredible weekend into words, here is where I have landed. I have no words. But I do have a song stuck in my head… J’irai la voir un jour. It’s not even stuck. It is as if I am being haunted by its beauty. This French lullaby was sung as a communion meditation at three of the first Masses of Thanksgiving following Saturday’s Ordination.

 

While it is a hymn I have heard people speak about, I had never heard it sung… and once I did, I couldn’t get it out of my mind… I don’t even know French.

 

Have a listen to Patty Griffin's rendition…

 

J'irai la voir un jour,

Au ciel, dans la patrie,

ui j'irai voir Marie,

Ma joie et mon amour.

 

Au ciel, au ciel, au ciel,

j'irai la voir un jour.

Au ciel, au ciel, au ciel,

j'irai la voir un jour.

 

J'irai la voir un jour

J'irai mourir aux anges

Pour chanter ses louanges

Et pour former sa cour

 

J'irai la voir un jour

Cette vierge si belle

Bientôt j'irai près d'elle

Lui dire mon amour

 

The hymn was composed by 19th century French Marist priest, Father Pierre Janin. Father Janin had been healed by Our Lady in La Salette and wrote the hymn in praise of her. It was believed to be one of Saint Zelie Martin’s favorites. Let that sink in… It often blows my mind to think of saints enjoying art and music that we still enjoy today. Praying the same prayers… Have you ever paused to contemplate the Blessed Mother saying the Our Father? ::mindblown::

 

Here is a translation I found of the first few stanzas. I did not take French in school, much to my disappointment as an adult (and I’m sure my grandmother’s!) I’m tempted to take it up now.

 

I'll see her one day

In Heaven, the Fatherland

Yes I will see Mary

My joy and my love

 

In Heaven, in Heaven, in Heaven

I'll see her one day

 

I'll see her one day

I'll join the angels

To sing her praises

And form her court

 

I'll see her one day

This so beautiful Virgin

Soon I'll be near her

To say my love

 

So why this song as part of a Mass of Thanksgiving? Particularly a song so often used at funerals… I don’t know. I haven’t had a chance to talk to my newly-priested friends about why specifically, but I will share with you what the song meant to me.

 

Here we are, in the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana, celebrating our Centennial, and while our diocese may be only 100 years old, the Catholic faith has been integral to the fabric of Southern Louisiana culture for over 250 years. Our Acadian ancestors, much like the patroness of their homeland, St. Jeanne d’Arc, had the courage (and hard-headedness--a Cajun staple) to stand up to their English overlords. Refusing allegiance to an English crown that would require a renunciation of their Catholic faith, the Acadian people were exiled and expelled--many landing in the swampy, unwanted, live oak-dotted lands we now call Acadiana. The Cajun people brought their Catholicism with them to this land 2.5 centuries ago… and last Saturday seven native sons were ordained to be priests of Jesus Christ.

 

The first mournful notes of the violin brought tears to my eyes as I thought of what courage, strength, and trust it took for our ancestors to come to this new and foreign land. Only the divine gifts given by the Holy Spirit could explain that kind of fortitude, that kind of hope… families were separated, many died… and yet, we can celebrate a faith that is rich and alive today in Southern Louisiana. What a juxtaposition! Hope despite such suffering! I had spent so much time lately avoiding vicious political and moral debates on social media, only to be interrupted by headlines about the latest local or celebrity suicide. Sitting in the Church listening to this French lullaby, I was struck by the general hopelessness that today’s world seems smothered in, the idea of Hope has become almost foreign as the epidemic of despair and apathy have taken over.

 

What is Hope?

 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines Hope as “the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit (CCC 1817).” Which means hope is not only about looking forward but surrendering in the now--denying our favorite vice of self-reliance… to the point of actually seeking the help of the Holy Spirit.

 

J’irai la voir un jour is a song about hope--specifically, the hope of making it to Heaven to see the Blessed Mother, but for me it has taken hope to a new level because I will never be able to separate its message of hope from the joy of witnessing the ordination celebrations unfold. On Saturday I watched these seven men lay face-down on the floor of the beautiful St. John’s Cathedral sanctuary, surrendering their lives to this very hope… this hope of heaven. And not only the personal hope they feel for their own individual salvation, but that they could become mediators to help get us all there too!

 

I wept, watching as they placed not only their trust but their very lives in the hands of Mother Church--offering up a sacrifice not only of forgoing marriage and children but making a promise of obedience… that their desires no longer come first. That emptying of self is only possible by the grace of the Holy Spirit. That surrender is only possible through Hope. There they lay full of the same Spirit, the same fortitude, the same courage, the same zeal, as not only our Cajun fathers in faith, but Christians who have come before us for the last two thousand years.

 

Jesus promised that even though His Passion was imminent, He would not abandon us: “I will not leave you orphans…” John 14:18. He establishes the priesthood of the New Covenant and sends the Advocate! And we see this Holy Spirit particularly active as the Father keeps calling forth men to be Alter Christus. God calls ordinary men to lay down their lives in sacrifice and service to His Bride the Church. And these men, while some of my favorite humans, are in many ways very ordinary.  And I know this because a number of these men are my dear friends. We go fishing, drink bourbon, and dominate at trivia nights at some of the local watering holes. Due to this extraordinary call they received and the resounding (even if delayed) YES! that each man gave in return, their ordinary lives are ordinary no longer.  Their hands are now consecrated and can turn bread and wine into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ, remove sin from my soul, and confer sacramental grace on their flocks. It cannot help but give us hope.

 

And while our eyes brimmed with tears on Saturday and Sunday as we were overwhelmed by beauty, joy, and hope, we listened to the sweet refrain of Au Ciel Au Ciel Au Ciel. I was more convicted than ever that we must share the reason for our hope--we must shout it from the rooftops! And we must be praying for these men and for all priests...and for our Church, and our world--which so desperately needs HOPE.

 

 

Dear Jesus,

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Protect these newly ordained priests. Help them to never lose hope. Help them to be joyful witnesses. Inspire their activities and purify their hearts. Keep them from being discouraged, feeling abandoned, or experiencing loneliness. Preserve them from selfishness and lead them to the happiness that flows from charity. Show us how we, the laity, can help lift them up. Continue to call good and holy men that are men after your Sacred Heart. Strengthen our families. Help us to be a welcoming Church that radiates your love and mercy. Help us to speak up in courage, to bask in your beauty, and to remember to be childlike in our wonder.

Restore our hope as a nation, as a Church, and as your people.

Until that day…

Amen.

 


For more on the Centennial Seven:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Please reload

Please reload