This last day of the year is a solemn day of fast and retreat as we thank God for all the graces of the year and ask His forgiveness for all our sins and failings, too. We continue to plead with the Lord for mercy for all those affected by the devastation in Southeast Asia and we pray for eternal happiness for all who have died. We don't watch TV so we aren't bombarded with visual images but the photos of the devastation on sites like yahoo news are mindboggling enough! Our prayers are also with those trying to get help to the survivors.
New Year's Eve often brings to mind an amusing story one of our young priests told us while we were going home from the visit with the Holy Father at Sacred Heart Basilica in 1995. The story was told complete with JPII's accent.
Shortly after Fr. Lipari was ordained to the priesthood he and his mother attended one of the Holy Father's early morning masses and of course, met with him afterward. The Holy Father asked Fr. Lipari where he was from.
"Hoboken, Your Holiness," he responded.
"Hoboken, " repeated JPII, wrinkling his forehead and trying to remember where a place like Hoboken could be.
"Is that near New York?" he asked Fr. Lipari.
"Yes, right across the river."
The Holy Father's eyes lit up and there was a twinkle.
"Fr. Lipari, I tell you what. Someday, I come and stay with you. I come incognito. How do you say it? In blue jeans! I stay with you for New Year's and we'll go to Times Square together and watch the ball come down. What do you think?"
Of course, Fr. Lipari thought it was a great idea...and who knows?