June 15, 2012

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

An interesting story about the meaning for our holy cross

Shirley Vogler MeisterThe gifts we receive in life are sometimes tangible items from a friend or family member.

And sometimes the gifts we receive are a moment or a belief shared by a friend or family member.

I received both types of gifts when our friends, Bob and Alice Arndt, came from our hometown of Belleville, Ill., to visit me and my husband, Paul.

During their visit, Alice gave us a gift that Bishop Stanley Schlarman had given to them—a gift that she wanted us to have.

The bishop had been Paul’s classmate and our friend for many years before he became a priest. He was a priest for the Diocese of Belleville, and later appointed as an auxiliary bishop of the diocese.

Eventually, he was appointed as the Bishop of the Diocese of Dodge City in Kansas, until he retired to our hometown.

What Alice gave us was an unusual piece of art on paper showing Jesus with his head hanging low after death. I could not see Christ’s face, but the Holy Spirit is hovering above him.

Through our friends, I received permission from Bishop Schlarman to share some of his comments about that piece of art.

“The sign of the cross makes kings of all of those reborn in Christ through being baptized and confirmed,” he said, sharing a statement from Pope St. Leo the Great.

Bishop Schlarman also noted that “the event of the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus remains with us forever and abides and draws everything toward life” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1085).

What we see in Jesus is the gift of God’s own self—the fullest possible love for us, even though we sin!

Obviously, I knew nothing of that when I was baptized as a baby and confirmed as a young girl.

During that time, my family lived in Overland, Mo., and our parish was far from where we lived. I was also going to a public school temporarily. Yet, Mom and Dad made sure that after Sunday Mass I took Catholic instruction. It was important to them for me to be confirmed.

My parents wanted me to have the gift of the Catholic faith.

As a child, I did not know that my father was once a Protestant but became a Catholic. I later learned that his parents and siblings did not approve of his decision.

Through the years, his family eventually realized that he did the right thing.

I was always “in seventh heaven” when we visited Dad’s parents and extended family. Also, my Grandma Vogler always had copies of National Geographic magazine for me to read.

Eventually, our family returned to Belleville, Ill., where Dad was promoted to manager of a Goodyear store. In Belleville, I attended Cathedral grade school and received a four-year scholarship to the Academy of Notre Dame.

Memories from the early years in our life are wonderful. So are the special gifts that we receive from our family and friends through the years.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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