November 10, 2013 A View from the Rectory Window

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The view from the rectory window is getting a little darker.

With the shortening of daylight hours and the ending of daylight savings time, I am having difficulty figuring out the timers for the parking lot lights at the Church of the Resurrection. Now I am not only leaving the 5:30pm Mass at Saint Casimir in the darkness, I am arriving for this Mass in the darkness.

I have a choice. I can focus on the darkness, or I can consider the headlights of cars that fill our parking lot every night until I figure out the timers. I can consider the darkness on my ride to and from Saint Casimir’s or consider the light and warmth I experience from within the church.

History records for us an interesting footnote. It was during the dark winter of 1864. In Petersburg, Virginia, the Confederate army of Robert E. Lee faced the Union divisions of General Ulysses S. Grant. The war was now three and a half years old and the glorious charge had long since given way to the muck and mud of trench warfare. Late one evening one of Lee’s generals, Major General George Pickett, received word that his wife had given birth to a beautiful baby boy. Up and down the line, the Southerners began building huge bonfires in celebration of the event. These fires did not go unnoticed in the Northern camps and soon a nervous Grant sent out a reconnaissance patrol to see what was going on. The scouts returned with the message that a son had been born to Pickett and these were celebratory fires. It so happened that Grant and Pickett had been contemporaries at West Point and knew one another well, so to honor the occasion Grant, too, ordered that bonfires should be built.

What a peculiar night it was. For miles on both sides of the lines, fires burned. No shots fired. No yelling back and forth. No war fought. Only light, celebrating the birth of a child. But it didn’t last forever. Soon the fires burned down and once again the darkness took over. The darkness of the night and the darkness of war. I am reminded, because of another child that we all have a choice.

Father Pete