Pastor’s Pen – May 29, 2016 | St. Ann Catholic Church | St. Louis, MO

tableIn one of the more memorable songs from Fiddler on the Roof – Tevya asks his wife Golde: “Do you love me?” Her initial reaction is so human: “Do I WHAT?” After much protesting and going back and forth, listing every-thing she has done for him, Tevya asks again: “But, do you love me?” “I suppose I do.” And Tevya responds: “And I suppose I love you too.” They both sing: “It doesn’t change a thing, but even so, after twenty five years, it‟s nice to know…”

There is a wonderful book called The Five Love Languages. In it, the author says that humans have a preferred way to express love and a preferred way to receive love. Some express love through words of affirmation. Others express it best in gifts. Or quality time spent with the beloved. Others prefer physical touch. Finally, some express love best through acts of service.

My mom and dad best expressed their love through acts of service. I am very much their son in that regard. It is the language that I am most comfortable in – doing acts of service. So I shoveled the walks during winter time. (with a little help from my friends Gary Uthoff and Bob Reid.) And set up lights in the sanctuary for the liturgical seasons, and in the parish center for dinner dances. And ran internet lines through the school and pre-school nooks and crannies. And cooked auction thank-you dinners. And locked up the church on Sundays as I pray/sing for all the people I have interacted with that evening/morning. And cut grass at the Newman Center. In ways seen and perhaps not so visible, I have tried to say I love you by those simple acts of service.

And, in my secondary love language, I use words of affirmation to express who you are to me. Most people would call them homilies. I might call them love letters. Words and phrases that I struggled over to introduce you to the One whom I love the best. All crafted in the hopes that those images and thoughts and gospel questions might inflame in you what they set ablaze in me – a deep love for our Lord. That is what I most wanted you to know – that there is a love Who has known each of you from your mother‟s womb and Who has come, that you might have life and have it to the full.”

I hope you “heard” those words of affirmation and acts of service for what they were – my way of saying “I love you.” My way of expressing the joy in my soul for the gift and privilege of being among you. My way of putting into action (and words) the love that God has put into my heart to give to you. And though, in the words of Tevya and Golde, “it doesn’t change a thing.” But even so, after 16 years, hopefully, it is nice for you to know…

I do love you…