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Magnificat is a spiritual guide to help you develop your prayer life, grow in your spiritual life, find a way to a more profound love for Christ, and participate in the holy Mass with greater fervor.
Magnificat is a monthly publication designed for daily use, to encourage both liturgical and personal prayer. It can be used to follow daily Mass and can also be read at home or wherever you find yourself for personal or family prayer.
Every day, in a convenient, pocket-sized format, Magnificat offers beautiful prayers for both morning and evening drawn from the treasures of the Liturgy of the Hours, the official texts of daily Mass, meditations written by spiritual giants of the Church and more contemporary authors, essays on the lives of the saints of today and yesterday, and articles giving valuable spiritual insight into masterpieces of sacred art.
The Most Beautiful of the Children of Men
by Pierre-Marie Dumont
The Conversion of Zacchaeus
by Bernardo Strozzi (1581–1644),
The editorial of the month
by Father Sebastian White, o.p.
Never will I forget the first funeral I celebrated as a priest, six years ago this month. The man being laid to rest was my grandfather on my mother’s side. Since I had been given his name, Robert, as my middle name, I have long felt an extra special connection to him. And though I have a new name “in religion,” as we say, my driver’s license still bears my legal name, so I think of him often.
For God and country
Robert John Rioux was born in 1927 in Waterville, Maine, where French Canadian families were (and are) abundant. To me he was always Pépère, a common Québécois word for “grandfather.” Even in old age, he and my Mémère Noella, to whom he was married for more than sixty years and who died in 2012, resorted to a French patois when saying something they didn’t think necessary for my ears.
Bob and Noella were part of what Tom Brokaw aptly dubbed “the greatest generation,” those born in the early 20th century and who survived—or in many cases did not—World War II. At seventeen, with a courage I could not have held a candle to at the same age, Pépère quit school to enlist in the Navy. He never spoke much about his time in the service, but one of the memories he did share was of his first Christmas at sea. Somewhere on the Pacific, lounging on the deck of their naval troop transport ship, the crew listened to Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” over the loudspeakers; there wasn’t a dry eye on board. He also shared that he had a few shifts in the “crow’s nest,” the basketlike structure at the top of the ship’s mast, where you keep an eye out for enemy planes.
Among my prized possessions as a kid (along with my baseball card collection) were two old naval manuals he gave me. One was a tattered paperback with pictures of the Navy’s fleet. The other was a thick hardcover, The Bluejacket’s Manual, basically a textbook with everything you needed to know about being a sailor. I didn’t understand all the terminology, but I must have leafed through those books a thousand times, imagining my grandfather at sea. To this day in my old bedroom hangs a panoramic photo of my grandfather’s ship, the USS Pitt, docked in San Francisco. ”PA223” is written in huge white letters on the hull, and the whole crew is gathered alongside her. Even in black and white, in the midst of a large crowd of sailors, and with all the differences in his appearance that fifty years made, I could easily pick him out. My mother had trained me to do so.
The triumph of grace
After the war, Robert returned to Maine, married Noella, and worked as a plumber. But he suffered from PTSD the rest of his life. Mémère once told us when he was out of earshot that he still had nightmares of people screaming in fear or pain. (He had been a gunner’s mate, which meant he had to feed ammunition into a blazing machine gun.) He also continued to fight another more personal battle against alcoholism. The drinking was a way of muting the memories, I suppose. By the time I knew him, he had, praise God, gotten sober and unwaveringly refused to drink. But my mother’s childhood was painful: she, her two brothers, and sister, had watched him become angry and mean when drinking. They knew it wasn’t “the real him,” I think, but it amazes me that they endured it. And though they carry their own wounds from those years, they are not bitter. Love and grace are the only explanation.
What made his funeral especially moving is that he died in the Church, which I had not taken for granted. Sometime in the 70s, he and Noella succumbed to some serious misunderstandings about the Catholic faith, got involved in a Protestant community, and developed an antipathy for the Church. But deep down the flame of their French Canadian Catholicism flickered still, and when I entered the Dominican Order in 2008 they were proud. Eventually, around 2010, after several years of my mother gently correcting their misunderstandings and asking if they would welcome a visit from a priest, they did! After decades away, on a day like any other in a nondescript room of a nursing home in Bangor, Maine, Bob and Noella Rioux were reconciled to the Church and received the sacraments. For the last few years of their lives, they prayed the rosary, watched EWTN, and received Communion from a parishioner who visited them.
A grateful nation, a grateful grandson
It was a bright, cold day when we buried my grandfather at the Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Augusta, the state capital. Few experiences on this earth are more moving than commending a soul to God while a uniformed member of the United States Armed Forces plays “Taps” on a trumpet. Two reservists folded a flag into a tight triangle and handed it to my mother. As they did so, one said: “On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States Navy, and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service.” I was overcome. The flag is in my parents’ living room now.
I cannot adequately express the gratitude I feel at being able to offer Mass for the faithful departed, especially my own loved ones. I pray that someday, when Masses have been offered for me, Pépère and I will be together in that great family reunion that is the Church Triumphant, when one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again (Is 2:4).(Read More)