Thought I would re post this from 2014, November 18th is the beatification of Solanus Casey!
I have to admit I was pretty bummed out when I realized I was not going to be able to attend the funeral of Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR. I had a prior commitment to lead an “Entering Canaan” Hope & Healing Retreat weekend in Michigan. I did consider cancelling, but I knew Fr. Benedict would not want me to do that, especially when I thought of the many participants who had been looking forward to this weekend for months. Still, I was very disappointed.
I had known Fr. Benedict for over 25 years, since praying with him in front of the abortion clinic in Dobbs Ferry, New York in the late 80’s. Since that time, I have been blessed to know him as an author and preacher, a good and holy priest, and as a friend. Good Fridays were always spent with him as he preached at Holy Trinity Parish in Mamaroneck, New York. The deeply spiritual and moving service became a tradition for many of us who were blessed to live in the area.
As an employee of Good Counsel Homes which he founded with Chris Bell, I also had his unfailing support of our work at Lumina. He was quick to have me on EWTN’s Sunday Night Live to speak of post abortion healing, and also generously offered Trinity Retreat House, where he resided, to host our men’s retreat days more than once.
It is hard to measure the influence he has had on my life or choose which stories he told or words he said that stuck with me most. One of them, without a doubt, was about an incident at Saint Bonaventure’s Monastery in Detroit, home to many Capuchin friars and where Fr. Benedict did his novitiate.
Unable to sleep one night, Father Benedict went down to the chapel to pray at about 3:00 a.m. When he turned on the lights, he saw Father Solanus Casey (currently venerable) kneeling before the tabernacle in ecstasy, his arms extended in prayer, unaware of his presence. Feeling like an intruder Fr. Benedict left the chapel, but it made a huge impact on him and over the years he often relayed the incident.
In the introduction to The Story of Solanus Casey by Catherine Odell, Father Benedict said, "To this day, having known a few such great people, I still think that Father Solanus was the saintliest person I ever knew." His devotion to Father Casey was immense and so it was no surprise when Father Glenn Sudano, CFR, requested prayers for Father Casey’s intercession after Fr. Benedict’s recent fall.
Well, the retreat went on, and was very blessed. I knew Fr. Benedict was with us in spirit. My host, Eileen Craig, knew that I loved Solanus Casey, so when we had booked the retreat she had made plans for us to visit St. Bonaventure’s in Detroit before I headed back to New York.
Knowing the rector of the shrine personally, upon hearing of Fr. Benedict’s death, Eileen called to ask if a mass could be said for his soul at the monastery. So, it was, that a group of us, through the generosity of the rector, Fr. Larry, were able to celebrate mass for Fr. Benedict in the private chapel where Father Benedict had seen Fr. Solanus in ecstasy.
There are no words to describe the sense of their presence I had while in the chapel. I was struck by the thought of the communion of saints, knowing, of course, that neither of them has been declared a saint by the church yet, but with certainty they will be in the future. I kept thinking of how God’s goodness will not be out done. In my having to sacrifice attending Fr. Benedict’s funeral in order to minister to those hurting and in pain from abortion, God blessed me more than I could express through the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in this place where heaven touched earth, not only through prayers and Father Solanus’ ecstasies, but in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
What began as a sacrifice turned into a great gift. I am certain Fr. Benedict had something to do with it all, and was smiling down on us, thanking us for this mass.
Thank you Fr. Benedict, for your love and fidelity. Thank you for your constant direction to us through so many avenues. As I spoke with Chris Bell yesterday, we recognized life will not be the same without him, but it will continue to be blessed because of him as we contemplate him interceding for us along with Venerable Solanus Casey before God .