Sunday, March 31, 2024

Messenger of Joy! (and hidden Easter Eggs)

In media, an Easter Egg is a message, image, or feature hidden in software, a video game, a film, or another — usually electronic — medium. The term used in this manner was coined around 1979 by Steve Wright, the then-Director of Software Development in the Atari Consumer Division, to describe a hidden message in the Atari video game Adventure, in reference to an Easter egg hunt.

You can Google Fr. John Catoir - Messenger of Joy! 

Here is one from 2017: God Really Loves You 

At one point in my life, I was "in formation" to become a Roman Catholic Deacon. Father John Catoir was my spiritual advisor. And, he became a mentor to me - and to my two sons.  When my youngest son Bobby wrote his college application essay way back in 2008 it was about his work with Father Catoir. 

Since my son Bobby made that public way back in 2008 (he sent applications to many colleges) I don't think I can get into trouble in 2024 for >>> reposting it here. { Proud Dad Alert } 

My friend Regina Brett wrote today (on Easter Sunday) about Joy. And it triggered me:

O send forth your light and your truth; Let these be my guide. Let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. And I will come to the altar of God, the God of my joy. - Psalm 43

That last line always blows me away. A God of joy?

For years I had a bogeyman God that I picked up in first grade at Immaculate Conception School where the catechism book showed how black your soul turned when you sinned. The illustration looked like a lung tarred by smoking but was allegedly a soul darkened by sin. I was a goner at 6.

The God I grew up believing in sent unbaptized babies to Limbo, good folks to Purgatory and everyone else to Hell for all eternity. Heaven was reserved for saints, mystics and martyrs who had visions, performed miracles or lost body parts on their flight to heaven.

For years I tried to be good enough to earn God’s love. I always failed. It was confirmed every Sunday at Mass when we said, “O Lord, I am not worthy to receive you.”

I drank to wash away that shame until a friend in recovery invited me to get a new God. She said, “I wouldn't want to have coffee with your God.” Me either.

She told me to stop trying to clean myself up to become worthy of God’s love. “Go to God dirty and messy,” she said. “God is the soap.” What a relief. God loves me as is. You, too.

I found a user-friendly God at the Jesuit Retreat House in Parma in 1981. A Jesuit priest named Joe Zubricky lent me his God. At first, I mistook Joe for the gardener. He wore a flannel shirt and work pants, had a hunchback, a big hook nose.

Father Joe gave a talk about the God who loved him. He painted a picture of unconditional love, deep peace, unwavering mercy. A God who had carved our name on the palm of His hand. A God who would never forget us, never forsake us.

We sang a song that weekend inspired by the words from Isaiah 49:16: Behold, I have inscribed you on the palm of my hand. I still sing it to myself:

I will never forget you my people,
I have carved you on the palm of My hand,
I will never forget you,
I will not leave you orphaned,
I will never forget my own

It’s like God has a tattoo with my name on it. Yours, too.

At that retreat house, I prayed in the chapel under the huge crucifix and invited Joe’s God to love me. When I looked up, I noticed the shadow of the cross. It reminded me of the other man on the cross, the man hanging next to Jesus who said, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

That’s all he asked, Remember me. For that, he was promised, “This day you will be with me in paradise.” Paradise. The man didn't have to give an accounting for everything he’d done wrong all his life. He didn't have to flog himself or serve one day in Purgatory, Limbo or Hell.

Remember me. What a powerful prayer. Even if you don’t ask, God remembers you. Even if you forget to pray, God remembers you. Even if you can’t find God, God remembers you. God is always right where you are.

Before leaving the retreat house, I knelt down beside my little twin bed and wept. I prayed that once my car pulled down the driveway back toward home, God would still remember me. And God has. God always remembered me.

You, too.

~ Regina Brett 

On this Easter Sunday, Regina Brett made me think of Father John Catoir, the Messenger of Joy. And media. And being a messenger. And the power of the Internet, and Social Media. And now my brain is jumping to Stan Lee of Marvel Comics fame, for "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility".

Media. Power. Responsibility.  I hope you will find the "hidden Easter Egg" in today's Easter Sunday blog. 

I never did become a Roman Catholic Deacon. At the time, my two sons were too young, and they needed me. My family needed me. So, after two years, I stopped my Roman Catholic Deacon formation, thinking that I would resume one day. 

The word deacon is derived from the Greek word diákonos (διάκονος), which is a standard ancient Greek word meaning "servant", "waiting-man", "minister", or "messenger". 

It's 2024 and I think it is time for me to become a Messenger again. Both of my sons are grown, married, and I'm a new Grandpa. Circle of Life and whatnot. 

We are (all of us) an Easter People.  Time to reboot Messenger of Joy. 

I think Father Catoir would approve. 

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