Sunday, July 24, 2016

Paul Bothwell, may he rest in peace.


Paul Bothwell      1941-2016

“If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself so that where I am you also may be.”

From my homily at the funeral Mass:   We all share our condolences with Ellie, with Bob and John and Don and all of Paul’s relatives and friends.   We praise God for this opportunity to be together in our sorrow....   

When Paul and I were both in middle school, Paul and his family moved to Horace Avenue in Abington just a stone’s throw from where I had lived since birth.    We attended the parochial school here at Our Lady Help of Christians and after graduation went to different high schools, Paul to LaSalle College High School and myself to St. Joseph’s Prep.   But during that time we rode our bikes around town, played some rough games of ball on a nearby vacant lot and listened to many a Phillies game while playing cards together.  We also enjoyed getting into trouble with other boys in the eighth grade.   On one particularly beautiful spring day we refused to return to class after noon recess. Paul and I got a special audience with the eighth grade nun after that prank.  Later while in high school there was joy-riding with an older friend who had a car.  

But in public we appeared more pious when serving Mass together in the auditorium structure where we gathered before this Church was built.  Despite the different obligations of our high schools, we continued serving Mass together.   As a younger kid I had other friends in my immediate neighborhood but they were Lutherans, Episcopalians and Presbyterians.   In those days I was not sure that I could count on them.   But Father Shallow could count on Paul and me to serve Mass and we could count on each other.  No one was surprised that we entered seminary at the same time, myself to the Jesuit novitiate and Paul to St. Charles to prepare for our continued service in the Church.   Despite our separate ways later in life --God leading us along different paths, Paul to a loving marriage-- service in the Church dominated the life paths that we each chose,  Paul and his dear wife Ellie fulfilling their service in all of the local parishes wherever they lived.....

When they returned here to Philadelphia last year I did not imagine that Paul’s time with us would be so short.  I looked forward to having them visit me at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville and even to going to a baseball game with them.  These things never happened.   But it did happen that the two of them became well known as a strong and faithful couple at Simpson House willing to help others and to assist in contributing to that faith community just as they had done wherever they lived.....

All of us, Ellie and his brothers and other relatives especially, have memories of Paul.    And we hold on to these memories today as a way of consoling us in our grief at the loss of a husband, a brother, an uncle, a cousin, a friend whom we loved.   We want, also, to consider how GOD remembers Paul, Paul’s own service on the altar, Paul’s own study and practice of prayer and of faith,  Paul’s generous sharing of life and service with Ellie,  Paul’s care for those in his family and for others.   These memories, even when some detail is lost can console us.   But in God’s heart these memories are vivid and strong, lively detailed images united with the images of God’s Son Jesus.   As God raises Jesus from the dead, so, too, God’s life-giving memory raises Paul to be with his Lord Jesus.  

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Sunny California

No ID needed

I spent my walk time walking through the Presidio Park instead of across this famous bridge.

Facade of St. Ignatius Church, San Francisco

These towers are not unlike some planning renditions for the towers on the 
Church of the Gesu in Philadelphia.   The upper story there was never built.

The Mission Church of Saint Clare of Assisi, Santa Clara University
Campus decor includes hundreds of rose bushes and very many older Fan Palms

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Flowers for the Living at Precious Blood Convent Shillington, PA

Sunday Altar at Precious Blood Convent 
(Nathan, the altar server, happy to pose!)

Years ago I said prayers at a church service for the funeral of an older woman whose husband flooded the church with a dozen banks of flowers like these.    But this one bank of flowers was created this weekend by sister sacristan.  She framed it beautifully for a sister celebrating her Jubilee.   The jubilarian, while sick and near death herself, got to enjoy this display in the company of her community.

Pink sky at night, retreatants' delight July 2, 2016

Looking Southwest

Looking Northeast

Friday, July 01, 2016

Say goodbye to the thunder clouds

Looking toward Reading from the east wing, July 1, 8 PM