Tag Archives: Christine Valentine-Owsik

Bending back the sword of fear

With the long-held American tenet of separation of church and state, it would seem that wearing one’s faith on his sleeve in business might be ‘imprudent.’ After all, by the late 19th century, non-Catholic governments became the norm in Europe and in the Americas – and certain principles were instilled to keep Catholics ‘in line’ with dictates of civil authority. Catholicism and its unique teachings were to be granted no special treatment. And so an intolerable intimidation has trickled down to this day.

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It is the sword of fear pointed particularly at Catholics – in business, in government, in education, in everything.

The virtue of fortitude lets an executive act unapologetically and with confidence that God has his back. It’s the grit that lets him follow Divine instinct. It’s what prompts the CEO, judge, university professor, or administrative assistant to state plainly what he or she personifies as a Catholic – whether derided for it or not. High-octane guts trump human respect, and make some of the greatest leaders what they are.

But fear is the great underminer of fortitude, and there are reasons why.

Living in a continual state of moral compromise gives rise to fear – leading to heightened anxiety about others’ opinions or of being exposed. It’s been said the more one runs from God, the greater his unrest.

Next, the Church today is less likely to have her princes and shepherds draw clear boundaries clarifying longstanding right and wrong. Rather, many clerics pursue affirmation of the culture. The perception of losing centuries-old Church support makes Catholics more fearful, and more lax.

Third, among man’s deepest instincts is self-preservation, which kicks into high gear amid fear of loss – of business, income, stature, loved ones, health – even death. It takes supernatural muscle to go beyond the limitations of self-preservation and forge ahead for the selfless purposes of God.

Fourth, many contemporary Catholics recoil from living sacrificially or embracing hardship – errantly perceiving it as a lack of self-sufficiency. This exacerbates their fear of pain or even mild discomfort – making them ‘soft,’ less able to stand immovably firm on the tougher aspects of faith.

Finally, a close ‘relative’ of fear is uncertainty – which makes people queasy about circumstances and imagined outcomes. It keeps them inert, unable to take bold steps. The early 20th-century communists and Nazis exploited uncertainty, and kept people in constant suspicion of each other so they’d remain fearful and easily controlled.

Years ago when I was a legal writer, the attorney who owned the firm hosted Christmas parties at his spectacular country estate. He was devout Greek Orthodox, and one year gave us a special house tour. Matter-of-factly, he led us into a glorious room with a large spotlighted Bible on an ornate brass bookstand, flanked with candles in gilded holders, fresh poinsettias, and a spectacular gold-carved cross. Illuminated paintings of Christ and saints’ icons lined the walls. His wife led us in religious Christmas carols around their piano.

A godly leader, he made his faith evident in every setting. Many of us are still affirmed by his example.

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s editor.

“Blessed is the one who takes no offense at Me”

Here is a more unfamiliar beatitude, a jarring statement of Christ found in the Gospel of Matthew (Matt 11:6), apart from Eight Beatitudes given during His Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5).

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Right now, much of what Catholicism teaches – and none of it is new – is taken with great offense. Not from those outside the Church, but those Catholics seeing themselves as ‘sensitized’ to the modern human condition. The warm blanket of false compassion is everywhere, yet the reality is, it ultimately leaves souls out in the cold.

An acquaintance recently told me she didn’t call a priest to see her dying father because she didn’t want to scare him. Several cousins did the same thing – skipping the Last Rites to ‘keep their parents comfortable’ and unstressed. The parents were daily Communicants, and practiced their faith devoutly for 80+ years. They footed the tab for the kids to attend Catholic school. To deny them final sacraments was a spiritual act of betrayal. The kids even skipped having a Catholic funeral Mass. But the afterparty? Yep, went off without a hitch.

The deeper reality is, when people rebuff the teachings of God – teachings they have been raised in, but of late decide to defer to ‘keeping people comfortable’ over extending proper spiritual works of mercy — it’s like a spiritual hate-crime.

This past fall, a phone interruption I almost left for voice mail ended up being a major surprise. A long-ago friend from high school whom I had dated called out of the blue, to talk about his endstage cancer. I knew immediately that he wanted to talk seriously, and that he was scared. We hadn’t spoken more than a few times in almost 40 years. I left my office and went outside with the phone.

Three years of intensive treatment had beaten him down; he was in organ failure. His typically robust voice was crackly and higher-pitched, and his tone somber. He talked of strengthened faith throughout his illness, and worried about the well-being of his wife and child, and how his business would be managed in his absence. I tried to offer suggestions.

But he needed more, and trusted me to be straight with him. I braced and began.

“You’re approaching the most important meeting of your life, and soon,” I said. “Have you seen a priest for your sacraments?” He was quiet.

“No.”

I took a big breath. This was surreal.

“Listen, I could say a lot of things, but here’s the bottom line: you’ve got the gift of time to prepare to meet Christ. You want to embrace Him wholeheartedly, right?”

“Well, yes.”

I continued. “Would you call your favorite priest, today, and make an appointment? You won’t be sorry, I promise.” He agreed. His tone lightened, and he took no offense at the suggestion, but thanked me for ‘being like he always remembered.’ He died peacefully on a First Friday a few weeks later.

And somehow, I sense, things are all right at last.

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s editor.

Toasting the testy guest

And now we venture into the most wonderful time of the year. But for some — we’re reminded again — it can still be the winter of discontent.

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Ah, the jovial scene: festooned home readied for guests, hearty food lavished on tables and counters, generous open bar, punctuated laughter, crackling fire, soft holiday jazz. This should be fun. People comment on hairstyles, outfits, recent relocations.

But there’s quicksand around the main table. It sits unsuspected as guests balance plates and drinks in search of seats and people to catch up with. The doorbell keeps chiming, the shindig is in full-throttle. Why don’t we do this more often?

At the packed table, political figures are nonchalantly mentioned. Someone barks “no religion or politics here!” But gasoline’s in the fire. People chew in measured silence as others leave the room. And then the blitzkrieg – with denunciations of ‘stupidity,’ ‘idiocy,’ ‘racism,’ slams on Catholicism – peppered with repugnant profanity. Whoa. Anyone choking down food is now getting pulled in, willing or not. Those in adjoining rooms pretend not to hear.

It happens at many gatherings, incensed antagonists ambushing the same targets. Contending with a rapacious adversary is a lifetime training exercise, usually with zero popup warning. Harmless discourse can instantly booby-trap into war.

“The single greatest cause of conflicts – especially in the family – is envy,” says the late Father John Hardon, “and envy of character is the worst kind.” One might think it would be over economic problems, kids, estrangement, or care of elders. But simmering envy has no acceptable reason for its seat at the table; it marinates there … ever-primed to seize and suffocate the resented one. And one doesn’t have to stoke it … just amicably attend an occasion, engage others, and enjoy courteous exchange. Artfully evade talk of business or achievements. Reveal no plans, ideals, or triumphs.

“You’re Catholic, right!?” the table-prosecutor booms. So what about this, and this, and that! Zig-zagging all over the maps of history, religion, politics, and antiquity, depth-charging for an argument, the persona invidiosa throws insults and accusations, pushing for a flash-fight to sink his target into livid defense. The recipient is tempted to fling a knock-out punch, with embargoed counter-invectives no one’s yet heard – and wouldn’t soon forget.

But patient suspension is key.

Rather than an angry retort – which could be justified – a mannerly toast of preliminary listening and saying nothing is a fitting tribute to the snapper. No return smack-downs or sordid accusations. A soldier of Christ follows His example, beginning with patient pause.

The party quiets in anticipation. Then a calm explanation of Catholic teaching – perhaps buttressed by example – hushes it.

Christ has promised His faithful “ … for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict” (Luke 21:15). To make an apt answer is a joy for a man, and a word in season, how good it is! (Proverbs 15: 23)

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s editor.

Gorgeous music can beckon toward God

When I was a little girl about four, my parents and grandparents – after hours-long Sunday afternoon dinners with extended family – would gather us all to watch “The Ed Sullivan Show.” It was then that I first saw some amazing performers play brilliant piano and realized I wanted to learn it.

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One night, the guest pianist on the show was Liberace. This was prior to his glitzy flamboyant Vegas-style act; he was a young, handsome performer in a grey silk suit gliding across the floor toward the long concert grand. He briefly introduced the music, and my grandmother said, “You’ve just got to hear this man play.” He smiled as he began, the orchestra joining right in, and brought to life what was buried in the heart of a displaced Russian composer – lush, piano-driven full orchestral beauty so mystical and other-worldly. Like a mighty ocean, each spellbinding movement swelled and dipped, surged and slowed, led by resounding piano forte on an astounding voyage. I’ve loved the music and the great composer behind it ever since. It was Peter Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B Flat Minor, created in 1875.

To this day when I listen to it, I still think about the depth of soul Mr. Tchaikovsky must have had. His moving music and esteem didn’t compensate for his personal problems, depression, and suicidal tendencies. His compositions seem a raw reflection of heartbreak and disenchantment; grief over loss of traditional Russia as he knew it; yet somehow a keepsake of God’s promise and triumph sheltered secretly in his heart. His ethereal melodies and spectacular orchestrations cut to the bedrock of man’s awareness, bringing tears and joy at once – catapulting a listener right out of himself to something immeasurably higher.

The early lesson I learned, apart from being mesmerized by Liberace’s stunning talent and interpretation, is that gorgeous music can greatly elevate the heart and soul. I’d never heard music like that, and wanted to capture it.

Later my piano teacher – a displaced Catholic concert pianist from Hungary – taught me what was behind each composition he assigned of Bach, Mozart, Liszt, Handel, Schubert, Beethoven, and many others. Each composer had a story laced right into his music, and many were devout Catholics. Once I learned a bit about him, I had a much greater empathy for why a composer expressed himself as he did. It helped me play his music.

One afternoon, he played for me a piece by Franz Liszt, so I could hear how it should sound. It was the greatly emotive Consolations. Liszt, a mid-19th-century Hungarian composer, had wanted to become a priest, but his attempts were frustrated first by his parents, then his confessor. Thus he lived a life of writing some very wrenching music, but also of deep contemplation over a missed vocation. A sadness and abandonment to God seems embodied in Consolations.

On those pensive days when it seems like God is my sole confidante, I play that piece – just for Him.

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s editor.

Life is a terrible thing to waste

In our Lord’s short earthly life, not a moment was wasted. In imitation of Christ, we should make each day — every moment, every hour — something which continually consoles Him. No opportunity comes around twice, in exactly the same way. When we assume that, strange things happen — cars and computers fail, storms arrive, illness hits, jobs change. Our Lord has allotted each person specific gifts and an unrepeatable purpose — and a finite span in which to accomplish it. Each moment really matters.

Life is not for ‘having a good time.’ But you’d never know it, looking at what’s seemingly important to so many. In our region, highways to the beaches are jammed like panicked ant colonies each warm-weather weekend; once there, parking is impossible, restaurants are backed up, and crowds sprawl. Bars have standing room only, including straight out the door and down the sidewalk. Some spend entire days at the taproom. Sunday Mass there looks like a we-gotta-sit-foran-hour sacrifice, with most dressed in shorts, tank tops and sundresses — while hymns aren’t sung, prayers are mute, and people rub each other’s shoulders. Then the whole exercise repeats on Sunday night, with exit highways swarming in reverse with outbound traffic. But God’s a cool guy — he’ll understand. There’s other stuff to do…time is so short on precious weekends.

Life is a stewardship, given to each in exact measure — with talents, resources, people, work, and time to employ wisely. Our lives and our faith are serious business — for ourselves, for others in our stewardship, and for the ultimate ‘profits’ God expects in return. So if that’s the case, whittling away life — partying and carousing, avoiding duties, sloppy comportment, needless consumption, coarse conversation — has no place. They demean our purpose, and distract from crucial focus.

We might realize this at different junctures, but hopefully it eventually hits home. I remember when our eldest son was a baby – it was the first time I saw how much time and money I’d wasted previously. Suddenly it all counted, or else we’d miss getting a shower, being dressed properly, baby fed and cleaned up, and errands accomplished. Then, I had to be on a 7 a.m. train into the city on weekdays, which meant being up at 5, ready by 6, tending baby by 6:15, greeting babysitter at 6:30. Traveling for business made home hours even tighter.

Years later when the kids were almost grown, we cared for my elderly dad, and again there was a sobering time constraint, which red-lined the leisurely newspaper reading, sleeping in, or staying out late with friends. Empty nesting was on hold: Dad needed us and trusted us. We couldn’t fall down on the job.

Just as in the parable of the unjust steward, we will be called by Christ to give settlement of our accounts: every moment, every word, every gift, every action. A fruitful life is the greatest consolation we can offer Him — and then we will hear: “Well done, good and faithful servant… Enter into the joy of your master” (Mat 25:23).

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s editor.

Engendering wisdom beyond knowledge

If education’s purpose is to teach us how to think, a Catholic education is necessary for thinking in alignment with God – about one’s unique identity and purpose in this life, proper use of his talents, and the manner of his life-journey toward his ultimate meeting with God. That meeting is life’s most important one, called at a time we least expect.

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Today’s secular educational institutions have abandoned any sense of immutable Truth and reality – even in the natural realm, and replaced them with soft ideologies and ephemeral identity-politics. Reality of God is relegated to mythology. The kids don’t get authentic education, but indoctrination – which doesn’t teach them how to think or even how to learn. Indoctrination pushes thoughtless, baseless conformity for feel-good, popcult rewards. Such group-think is rampant at the most prized secular schools, and with the steepest of price tags.

But a proper education, a good Catholic one, trains the whole person (his intellect and his will), not just his mind alone. And it affords three incredible benefits.

First, it acquaints a student with real, unchanging Truth – about everything from science, to literature, to the study of mankind and of God. A student should realize why he is here on earth, where he is headed, and what the whole of his life means in that regard. Those who keep these in mind throughout life have stronger resolve, and don’t as easily fall prey to anxiety, fear, distraction, and despair.

“When we put truths into our minds, we … live out those truths in our lives. But if we put falsehood and vice into our minds, they [eventually] work themselves out into our lives,” said the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.

Second, there’s a correlation of studies in the student’s curriculum, among all branches of knowledge to which he’s exposed. Some courses are more overarching and substantive than others – and the truths of these serve to illuminate the teachings of the lower courses. But everything fits and synergizes.

Third – and of critical import – is the depth, the deepening knowledge a student realizes from his education. This is when he is able to construct a philosophy of life garnered from his learning. His philosophy of life will serve him for life – in times of abundance and hardship, emotional highs and duress, triumph and rejection, camaraderie and loneliness, busy-ness and languish, health and hospice, and ultimately to his last moment.

This is wisdom, which cannot be bought or faked.

Most secularized colleges stress freedom – from tradition, from social mores and morals, from parents, from laws, from anything. But freedom doesn’t comprise truth. Real freedom actually derives from Truth.

“For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and preserving the way of his saints” (Prov 2: 6-8).

Isn’t this the education we want for ourselves and our children?

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s editor.

Staying true to our Ultimate Leader

When many of us come to the mature realization that prioritizing our Catholic faith and God’s will for our lives is paramount, we don’t envision the pending fallout.

But the quiet seeds of opposition and pushback await – even among our ranks. As spiritual

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reading expands and prayer life deepens, we naively feel we’re ready for anything. The excitement and intrigue of learning more about God and the faith begun by Christ – perhaps accurately for the first time in our adult lives – blind us to certain potholes that can puncture our resolve.

Life is still comfortable – we’ve got businesses and careers humming along, enjoyable friends professionally and locally, plenty of hometown involvements, and a busy family – even a few grandkids. Heck, life is good.

Why not help more at the parish? RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) – for those converting to Catholicism – had sounded good. Our parish advertised for additional teachers, and the deacon running the program accepted my offer straightaway.

And then…

On the night of my overview of Catholic sacraments and what each means, one of the catechumens asked why the Church doesn’t sanction cohabitation before marriage. “I lived with my husband before marriage, and I don’t feel guilty about it. We just need our marriage blessed in the church,” she decreed. I began to explain, until I was sawed off mid-sentence by the sputtering deacon.

“Oh we don’t worry about that so much these days,” he chattered. “We see all kinds of couples in all kinds of situations.” He chuckled and told her not to sweat it, and said “we’ll get ya through, God embraces all,” and nervously motioned for me to continue on. Say what? 

I sensed he didn’t want me to explain why Catholics should approach marriage in the state of grace – to receive the intended benefit of the sacrament. I studied his expression, now contorted and disturbing. Since I’d just introduced Confession previously, I pulled a fast one and went back to it – reviewing the importance of receiving the Sacrament of Matrimony worthily. Now he was red-faced and scowling. Was this guy for real? 

And then I got it … this class wasn’t about imparting full truth of Catholicism. It was the bring-‘em-on-in-to-the-parish-in-numbers game. Make hard truths softer so they don’t prick sensitivities. And keep things moving. 

But I hung in for years. Every time I presented a provocative topic for which the Church had settled teaching – homosexuality, same-sex ‘marriage,’ gender identity, etc. – the deacon drove a tank through it. He was in greater opposition to Catholic doctrine than those attempting to learn it. One evening, one of the catechumens, a Lutheran attorney, stopped me afterward and said, “What you’re putting forth is interesting and astonishing, yet he won’t let you finish your sentences.” So I distributed detailed multi-page handouts to every person for each lecture, with full text as insurance (including a reading and reference list).

It was tempting to try and get along with him. But I opted for staying on the thinning team of Truth instead.

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s editor.

When the soldier is abandoned

In a recent meditation on Christ’s Passion, it became wrenchingly clear that His greatest torments weren’t the excruciating injuries from punches and thorns, His lacerating shoulder wound from the gash of the cross, torso tears from flagellation, or iron spikes plunged through His palms. His greatest sadness was the abandonment and betrayal by those to whom He was closest. He was fighting for their good, and was deserted in turn.

This renders a good soldier’s mission almost insurmountable.

Christ was left alone by 11 of His 12 apostles (two by direct betrayal), and all extended family and home towners except His mother and a few holy women. His mother’s support during His heartbreaking Passion must have been of great comfort to Him. Imagine His relief at seeing her face as He shouldered the crushing cross, exhausted and lampooned. A parent’s affirmation can sustain an inconceivable journey.

We are soldiers on the same mission. What He asks of us, in belief and through our life’s example, is frequently derided and invalidated, not just by nonbelievers – which we’d expect – but by family and friends, colleagues, even other Catholics.

How does it play out? Perhaps like this.

A parish school allows parents to preview an upcoming health presentation for fourth graders, which will include explicit sexual topics. When parents view the production, it’s clear that facets will compromise the innocence of kids; only one or two parents object. The rest go along for fear of appearing paranoid. The objectors are told by teachers they’re “doing their children a disservice,” and kids will be ostracized by classmates if they don’t attend. What’s really at stake – fitting in or safeguarding kids’ purity?

Or this.

In launching a product campaign, a corporate communications team meets with a TV network it hopes to include in its promotions – for possible commercials, sponsorships, and special events.

The network instead puts the client-company on the defensive by insisting the content of the ads and events include language pertinent to LGBT audiences and programming. Without such affirmative language, there will be no deal. The corporation’s Catholic CEO faces a big decision, which will invite flak either way.

Though the century is different, it’s really the same battle. At the end of the day, are we standing with Christ, or taking flight? There’s one Truth – at home, in our parishes, and in business. If we know what it is and deny it or deem it irrelevant, we’re abandoning Christ all over again.

But the good soldier, when he holds to Truth and perseveres through mutating battle, might be ditched by those who can’t tolerate his style. Others may still ‘Kiss Christ’ and profess their love for Him. But it takes graced fortitude, abiding love for Our Savior, and detachment from human reward to engage heroically on His behalf as authentic Catholics, come what may – whether in risk of relationships, profit, or life itself.

The 14th-century Crusade-fighting French knight, Geoffroi de Charny, proclaimed, “No one can excuse himself in bearing arms in a just cause, whether for his lord or for his lineage, or for himself, or for the Holy Church.”

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK  is Legatus magazine’s Editor.

Restoring decorum

Movies from the first half of the 20th century instill an awe for bygone norms — people walking the streets smartly dressed and neatly groomed, greeting others cordially, and exhibiting instinctive social and moral decency. Elders and authorities were honored, children (even as adults) respectful when questioned or corrected — even if unjustly. Okay, so they’re movies, but newsreels from that era show much of the same.

What a radical difference a century makes.

Decorum has taken a nosedive, and the repercussions are toxic. “As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world,” Pope St. John Paul II said in 1986.

At a holiday party about 10 years ago, a guest asked her collegiate daughter a question about school, encouraging her to tell the others how her studies were progressing. Whoops, sinkhole. The girl took a wild turn, slewing vulgarity and curses at her mother for not keeping enough money in the kid’s bank account. Now the “young lady” had the full party’s attention. The mother — not known for reticence — fell silent, feigning normalcy. Then she promised to deposit money the next day. The girl stormed out, slamming the door.

Whah?

It was like a scene from The Bad Seed. Only worse.

Decorum, ‘close cousin’ to modesty, is an integral virtue for life, and has to be instilled early in the family. Without it, kids will emerge ‘undressed’ for what life inevitably unveils … sparking embarrassing and obscene tirades, early failure, depression, rebellion, depravity, and other destructive act-outs.

In the most difficult moments, a person’s true essence becomes apparent. It’s hard to be temperate, rational, and self-regulated in midst of uncertainty, disappointment, or rejection. But it’s possible with innate discipline and spiritual muscle. It’s what Christ meant when He said “Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart” (Mat 11:29)— that He could calmly withstand battering humiliation that might defeat even the most stalwart, but He would endure it with grace and fortitude, honoring His Father’s will. We see something similar in certain business situations — when successful executives remain cheerful and circumspect amid staff, investor or media hostility, exposition of personal crises, or publicized downturns. It sets a standard for subordinates.

But parents tolerating open interrogation from their kids, along with vulgarity and profanity, set themselves and their kids up for problems. Some senior professionals — including close friends — who wouldn’t stomach disrespect from their staffs, swallow it from their kids. “I gave my son everything,” one confided. “After he graduated, I gave him a job at my firm. He arrives late, complains, and makes excuses. I took him to lunch to discuss it, and instead he rebuked me in areas where he thinks I fall short as his father.”

If our children are our legacy, investing in their character and propriety will outrank their future stature or wealth. He who disciplines his son will profit by him … and will make his enemies envious. …The father may die, and yet he is not dead, for he has left behind one like himself (Sir 30: 2-4).

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK  is Legatus magazine’s Editor.

A father’s heart next to Christ’s

In a priest’s talk on fatherhood a few years ago, he’d said, “What a father is, his children will become. He will live in their memory, and his legacy will endure in their lives.” Indeed.

For the first time, I connected a father’s love for his children with that of Christ for His flock.

I think often of my father, who at 85 went to eternal life six summers ago. The longer he’s gone, the more we realize how he fortified us for the struggles of life. We still implore him.

Dad was the first to prepare a place for us, our home. It was a daily refuge like no other. “… I go and prepare a place for you … and will take you to myself” (John 14:3).

Respect for Mom was mandatory, or we’d answer imminently to Dad. “… it is a disgrace for children not to respect their mother” (Sir 3:11).

He disciplined us consistently, regardless of others’ opinions. “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline … for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights” (Prov 3: 11-12).

He personified a tireless work ethic and generosity. An engineer managing heavy construction projects, he drove to the site at 4 a.m., leaving us a fresh coffee, a quick omelet, and our school lunches packed. “The blessings of your father are mighty beyond the blessings of the eternal mountains” (Gen 49:26).

As his only daughter, there was no escaping Dad’s old-world modesty standard. It wasn’t always well-received, like the afternoon I didn’t see him at a traffic light, as I cycled by in my favorite short-shorts. A raucous horn-blast almost sent me over the handlebars, followed by his command to get home and change. “A daughter keeps her father secretly wakeful, and worry over her robs him of sleep” (Sir 42:9).

He inspired us with everyday closeness to God. Dad would leave the job site at 6 a.m. for daily Mass, then return to work for a long day. He kept his Roman Missal and Pocket Summa in the car, and rosary in his pocket. “And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love Him with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live” (Deut 30:6).

The sweetest recollections were of bringing him our failures and humiliations. That’s when we took great solace in Dad as our port in the world’s storms. He consoled, forgave and reaffirmed us. “… while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him” (Luke 15:20).

Caring for him in old age was a small return for his gifts of a lifetime. “… help your father in his old age, and do not grieve him as long as he lives” (Sir 3:12).

His sacrifices were many, like encouraging my discordant piano practicing, and my brother’s jarring drum solos. He didn’t leave home or lose himself in hobbies. Dad’s favorite pastime was us.

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK  is Legatus magazine’s Editor.