Friday, March 19, 2004
Feast Day! When I was preparing for baptism in 1970, Father McCarthy, our pastor, asked me about a baptismal name. "Todd" wasn't a saint's name, so I would need a new name for baptism. He suggested "Thomas," because it was close in sound to my given name. I can't remember what inspired me to say I wanted "Joseph" instead. I was happy to discover later I actually had three feast days: today, May 1, and Holy Family. Years later, my friend Deni preached on St Joseph, noting that like his Old Testament namesake, he was a dreamer. (Go, go, go, Joe!) He also was silent. Not a spoken word in the gospels. Needless to say, that's a far harder quality to emulate. On my baptism day (The Feast of the Queenship of Mary) in 1970, I was disappointed that the water trickled across my forehead was going to be wiped off. I wanted it to stay until it evaporated. (To this day, I still have a negative reaction when the drying towel is so quick on the scene at this sacrament. Thankfully Brittany was baptized in a full font, so it took her much longer to dry off.) However, I also saw the virtue in permitting the water to be wiped off. I was a Catholic Christian now; my life had to be different than it was before. Frequently, it seems my life takes unexpected turns and I end up doing things and going places I would never have dreamed of. I still have my own dreams, but as I sit in my mid-forties now, I must come to terms with the likelihood that most of "my" dreams will not be realized. Rather than feel sad about it, I see that the really important dream is God's dream. God's dream led me to find a ministry I had not expected, a wife and child I had not expected, a way of life I would not have expected to have on my baptism day. Though I find obedience tedious and overrated as a virtue, I accede to God's will as much as I can. I try to stay attuned to God's dream, and though I don't often go silently, I try to emulate the model of my patron as best I can.