Saturday evening after a Thai dinner I was walking (and gawking) around my house with Abouna Sleman. In what used to be the room where my mother slept when she visited, I showed him the chair in which mom loved to sit when she prayed her morning prayers and her rosary. It is next to the window which looks out on the Mary grotto behind the rectory. I enjoyed going through my mom’s funeral program with him, showing him the pictures of the family and of some of the people and the things that were important to her. He smiled and reacted most when I turned around the Christmas ornament of my house that mom had painted for me, “Ahhh. Nice.” It was the grotto of Mary outside the window by which he was standing. On Sunday morning Abouna concelebrated the 11:00 a.m. Mass which included the baptism of baby Ryan Joseph. During the Eucharistic Prayer, at the consecration I stepped aside, so that Abouna could chant the words of Jesus in Arabic, as he lifted the bread and the chalice from the altar. Arabic is the language presently spoken that is closest to Aramaic, the language that Jesus spoke. We heard the words of consecration chanted in the tone and inflection close to what the apostles heard from the lips and heart of Jesus at the Last Supper. You can hear the at minute 47:00 at this link: Words of Jesus in Arabic.
This morning when Abouna was speaking to his mother on the phone before Mass, I wanted him to thank his mother for giving him to us. Her response? “I did not give him to you. I gave him to God … (pause) … God can give him to anyone He wants.”
After speaking with his mother Abouna was arguing on the phone with someone. When he hung up, I asked him what that was all about. It was his 8 year old sister, asking him over and over what he was going to bring back for her from America for Christmas. At the end of Mass, I asked the people to give him some ideas as to what he should take home to her. He was told about paints and markers and art books. He heard about teddy bears and dolls.
There was a lunch later in the church hall that was ready for his visit. The event was about peace, love and hope. And sure enough, in midafternoon, when we got back to the rectory from the luncheon, there was a bag hanging on the doorknob of breezeway door. One little girl, 8 year old Izzy, didn’t just give him an idea; she conned her dad to take her to buy something.
When I got back in the house I went directly to google “Daesh” and “Erbil and oil” to learn a little more than I had known before.
And then I turned on a football game and fell asleep.