We set a time for my father-in-law’s funeral: 3:00 p.m. this Friday, September 21, 2018.
The last I heard, all but one of his children have been told about his death. The one remaining has been, I understand, somewhere in Spain. I hope she gets one of the messages that have been sent to places where she’s likely to check in.
Contacting everyone involved, coordinating preparations, and dealing with my father-in-law’s household effects is a logistical exercise I’ve been very glad to have in other hands. That sort of thing is very much not my area of expertise.
Neither, I find, is summarizing my father-in-law’s life. This is his home area, and he’s been part of Sauk Centre’s doings for many decades. His obituary covers a few of the highlights:
- Obituary for Deacon Lawrence N. Kaas
December 9, 1933 – September 14, 2018
Sauk Centre, Minnesota | Age 84
Patton-Schad Funeral & Cremation Services, Sauk Centre, Minnesota
One sentence, the one about “his shop,” describes a familiar part of Main Street’s 500 block:
“…He opened his shop, and over the years was known for fixing first typewriters and office machines, then sewing machines, canvas work, woodworking, clocks and even violins….”
(Obituary for Deacon Lawrence N. Kaas, Patton-Shad)
The L. N. Kaas Company is now part of Sauk Centre’s history.
I don’t know what will happen to the signs.
The house, with its shop and clock museum that wrapped around the front and north side, will almost certainly be sold. My household isn’t in a position to take over upkeep of the family place, I don’t know that anyone in the immediate family is. We’re going to miss it, but we have memories. Lots of them.
Christmas displays in Sauk Centre will be different, too.
The local Knights of Columbus council have had their Creche set up on the front lawn each year for a long time now. It’s possible that new owners will let that custom continue, but the K of C may be looking for a new location. Time will tell.
One of my father-in-law’s main interests was the Divine Mercy devotion.
There’s a story or two about the carving he made for the local Divine Mercy outfit: which will wait for another time.
I’ve also talked about mercy and our Lord’s death. I think mercy is important, so I’ll go over pretty much the same stuff again.
I’ve got a very personal interest in mercy. Without it, I’d be toast.
Not that I’m a particularly bad person, or guilty of some outstandingly heinous crime.
The problem is that I’m not a perfectly perfect person either. Not even close.
It’s not my fault, not entirely. This world was messed up long before I came along.
I could say that I’m affected by original sin, and leave it at that. Problem is, I’m a Catholic living in America.
I like being an American, for the most part; but my homeland’s traditional spiritual ideas aren’t entirely consistent with mine.
What I mean by “original sin” is not the familiar notion that we’re garbage, or that there’s something basically wrong with being human. I suspect at least some of our restlessness comes from realizing that we could be doing a lot better than we are. As it is – – –
We’re also material beings. That makes us significantly different from the angels. We’re spiritual beings, with God’s “breath of life” — and with a body made from the stuff of this world. (Genesis 1:26–27, 2:7; Catechism, 325–348, 355–370)
Having a body isn’t a problem. God didn’t make a colossal mistake by creating a material world and putting humans in it. Like I keep saying: God doesn’t make junk.
Something went wrong. Anyone who reads the news, or knows other humans for that matter, has most likely noticed our problems. It doesn’t take much self-awareness to realize that I’m flawed too.
Again, it’s not entirely my fault.
Trouble started when an angel decided that doing what God wants didn’t outweigh personal interests. That angel became something of a celebrity, acquired a following and chucked citizenship in Heaven. (Catechism, 391–395)
I’m over-simplifying, of course.
The first of us made pretty much the same decision. They decided, with a little nudge, to do what they liked — not what God wanted. When it started going wrong, the man tried blaming his wife. And God. (Genesis 3:1–12)
Original sin, the Catholic view, is that we’re still made “in the divine image.” We made a huge mistake when we got started. That decision affected what we have been doing ever since. The harmony we had with ourselves, with the world, and with God has been broken. (Genesis 1:27, Genesis 3:5–3:13; Catechism, 400)
Can’t we just decide to start being nice, acting as if human history never happened?
I don’t think so. But it’s a nice idea.
Many of us decide that we’ll try acting up to our ideals, not down to expectations.
Some of us make a little headway. Some of those folks get recognized as Saints, and that’s another topic. (September 4, 2016)
The way I see it, I’m like someone scraped out of a wrecked car and in the emergency room. Good news: I’m still alive. Not-so-good news: I’m in bad shape.
Concentrating on “still alive” and imagining that I don’t need help wouldn’t make sense.
Neither does imagining that I don’t need God’s mercy.
I’m a sinner — I’d better say what “sin” is.
That happens much more often than I like. (December 10, 2017)
When it does, I’ve got choices.
I could decide that I’m depraved, doomed to a life of wickedness and a future rife with woe and despair. Or that “sin” is a silly notion imagined by prudes who don’t enjoy life. Or that if I ignore my problems, they’ll go away. I’ve got a plethora of options along those lines.
I prefer trying to make sense. Once I calm down, at any rate.
What Jesus said was a big deal.
But it’s what our Lord did that got the attention of the surviving Apostles.
That, by any reasonable standard, is a big deal. It took a few meetings and a working lunch to convince the Apostles, particularly Thomas, that death hadn’t won. (July 2, 2017)
Since then, we’ve been passing along the best news humanity ever had.
Accepting God’s offer made sense to me. So does trying to act as I if take it seriously. That includes learning and accepting the family values.
On the ‘up’ side, what’s expected of me is quite simple.
I should love God and my neighbors. All my neighbors. Everyone, no matter who they are or where they live, no matter what they’ve done. No exceptions. (Matthew 5:43–44, 22:36–40; Mark 12:28–31; Luke 6:31 10:25–27, 29–37; Catechism, 1789)
Simple, and very far from easy. But I think trying makes sense.
How we express that faith — our habits and customs, laws and devotions — that’s changed as centuries and millennia passed. Some changes happened when different cultures added their traditions to our Tradition. (Catechism, 75–83, 172–175, 1200–1206)
The Divine Mercy devotion is quite new.
Sr. Faustina Kowalska’s diary, mostly entries from the 1930s, gave us the devotion’s ideas. Having a Pope who spoke Polish helped, and that’s yet again another topic.
She’s St. Faustina Kowalska now. Folks around the world practice the devotion. You’ll find an English-language approach at thedivinemercy.org: The Divine Mercy Message and Devotion and Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska.
I want to finish this post before starting my hour at the local Eucharistic Adoration chapel, so here’s a few quotes, a little more about Deacon L. N. Kaas’s work, and the usual link list:
“…‘Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his steadfast love endures for ever’ (Ps 118: 1). So the Church sings on the Octave of Easter, as if receiving from Christ’s lips these words of the Psalm; from the lips of the risen Christ, who bears the great message of divine mercy and entrusts its ministry to the Apostles in the Upper Room: ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you…. Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’ (Jn 20: 21–23).
“Before speaking these words, Jesus shows his hands and his side. He points, that is, to the wounds of the Passion, especially the wound in his heart, the source from which flows the great wave of mercy poured out on humanity. From that heart Sr Faustina Kowalska, the blessed whom from now on we will call a saint, will see two rays of light shining from that heart and illuminating the world: ‘The two rays’, Jesus himself explained to her one day, ‘represent blood and water’ (Diary, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, p. 132)….”
(“Canonization of Sr. Mary Faustina Kowalska,” Pope John Paul II (April 30, 2000) (Divine Mercy Sunday) [emphasis mine])
The big carving of Mary, next to the Divine Mercy devotion picture, is among the best pieces he’s done. My opinion.
Last Sunday I learned that it’ll be going to the Poor Clares, the Order of Saint Clare outfit that’s down the road from here.
I think giving it to the Poor Clares is a very good idea. They’re a Franciscan order, cloistered, and a good bunch of folks. I’m sure they’ll appreciate the gift and make good use of it.
Finally, the usual — inevitable? — links. And, today, something Deacon Kaas said at the end of many homilies: “…be Good, be Holy, preach the Gospel always and if necessary use words.”
- Homilies by Deacon L. N. Kaas
- My stuff