Monday of Holy Week I gave a talk at the PRO (Parents’ Resource Organization) Meeting in Faustina, which is the cafeteria and all purpose room in the Corpus Christi building. Though the talk had a Lenten theme, I think it applies to Mercy Sunday as well, so I am going to post it here. Before I do that, I want to encourage you to come to Seton’s Gala on May 24th. The information for the Gala is posted elsewhere on Our Seton. We’ll be honoring Col. Jones, Mrs. O’Herron, Mrs. Parriott and Mrs. Dial who are retiring from teaching at the end of this school year. It should be a fun night celebrating 40 years of Seton and Mrs. Carroll’s teaching and direction. Alumnus Pat Haggerty will be taking us on a virtual tour of the new chapel which is being constructed as I type, and alumnus Sean O’Hare will be MC-ing the event. In addition, Seton’s spring musical opens this Friday night. It should be a great show. You can call the office (703-368-3220) for more information and to reserve tickets. Now here’s the talk:
A call came in from Tim [the PRO President] just after the Angelus Bell rang. He asked if I could speak at the PRO Meeting. My question was, “What day is the meeting?” His answer, “Today.” Lest you think that I am a last minute fill-in, a desperation replacement, I want you to know that it was after the noon Angelus, not the 6 p.m. Angelus, that I got Tim’s call. Tim did go the extra-mile and suggested two topics for me to speak on. I took this as a sign he had little confidence in me being able to come up with a topic on my own.
Being asked to speak on short notice has given me a brief chance to practice a couple spiritual works of mercy: forgive all injuries to my ego and bear Pro-wrongs patiently. Really, it is easy to forgive Tim since he spent more than half of last weekend putting the stage together for the spring musical.
Tim suggested I talk on what I was doing the last seven years or on what it was like coming back to Seton after seven years away. Here’s what I am actually going to talk about. I am going to take both of Tim’s suggestions and weave something about Holy Week into it. That sounds long, but it isn’t.
What was I doing the last seven years? It’s a good question. I was asked it often while I was in the midst of the seven years. I started telling people that I was a stay-at-home son. I would have gotten a better response if I had said that I was inciting riots and looting businesses. During those seven years I was told a couple things often that I would like to declare false. First: Alzheimer’s is death in slow motion. That is false. Alzheimer’s is life in slow motion. We live to die, and then death comes, no matter how expected, in an instant. The second is a wrong piece of advice: Take care of yourself first. I’m sure that was Mother Teresa’s motto. We don’t have to be told to take care of ourselves first. We find it very easy to do that. We have to fight against the temptation to take care of ourselves first.
It had been seven years since I had gone to a dentist – maybe I wasn’t taking great care of my teeth. But I went to the dentist and had zero cavities. [Silence.] I think that deserves a round of applause. [Dutiful round of applause.] You didn’t have to clap for that. I had zero cavities and I think the x-ray technician had an interest in me. (I debated whether I should tell you that.) But we wouldn’t have been a good match – I was old enough to be her father, and she had perfect teeth.
Three days in Holy Week have special names other than “holy”. Good Friday, of course. Do you know what Wednesday is called? Right – Spy Wednesday. And Thursday? Your children had trouble with this one too. Right! It is Maundy Thursday. It comes from the Latin mandatum which means “commandment” because it was on Maundy Thursday that Our Lord gave the commandment that we love one another as He has loved us. The foot washing also took place on Maundy Thursday. Peter’s feet became prominent among the Twelve because he had protested that Our Lord would never wash his feet, and then wanted Our Lord to wash his hands and head as well. When else were Peter’s feet prominent? When he walked on water is a good answer. Another? Right! When he was crucified upside-down.
Peter at one time showed great knowledge – He said that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God. But later his knowledge seemed to have failed him when he said by that charcoal fire, “I do not know the man.” But in death Peter had it right – he died with his heart above his head.
Since returning to Seton it has been remarkable. Time seems to be on fast-forward, and I cannot believe that I’ve been here for a quarter of the school year already. Things are better than ever. After my five non-Virginia siblings had returned from Dr. Carroll’s funeral, they must have told me 20 times in the first 30 minutes that everyone out there was so nice. I told them that I knew that. And I had tried to tell them that before, but you have to experience Seton to know Seton. I know that I have taught better before, but your children are more than forgiving, and they are a credit to you.
St. Peter got it right at the end – his heart was in the right place. And it is great to be back because you all have your hearts above your head as well. We are all trying to follow that Holy Thursday command: to love one another as Our Lord loves us. To be back among you is a great blessing.

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