Today’s my birthday and it was a beautiful day indeed. The sky was blue with not a cloud in sight. Birthday’s are a time for reflection and gratitude. I’m grateful for my parents who made this day possible. I was their first born. I was the guinea pig. All first born children share that experience. Nothing in school or life ever really prepares you for being a parent. My mother had a tough time with the pregnancy. She was preeclamptic which severely complicated the pregnancy. I was delivered by my Uncle Eugene Rooney. It was Misericordia Hospital in Manhattan which no longer exists. I arrived at 5:55 AM according to a telegram my grandparents received to announce my birth.
My father was at the hospital but probably not allowed in the delivery room. That would have been unusual in those days. He sent the telegram to my grandparents upstate to announce my arrival. By all accounts I was a happy infant who once slept in a dresser drawer because there was no bassinet for me. That came later and we still have that item in our basement. It served for my brother and sister too.
I was blessed to be born on the 8th of December. It is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Mary the Mother of Jesus. I attended parochial schools as a child and young adult and always got the day off. We always went to Mass on my birthday. It was a holy day of obligation. I would like to have attended today but the pandemic and a shortage of priests made that impossible this year. Nonetheless, I was able to pray the rosary on my walk today and spend a few minutes in our grotto near St. Philomena’s RC Church today.
Blue is a Marian color. Today the sky was bright blue. I wore my blue jeans and a deep blue shirt. Maybe I over did it. In any event it was a beautiful day and one that invited me to be glad to be alive.
That’s not a long time for many, but it’s twelve more years than my father got and unless tonight is my last night I stand to have more time yet to live and make a difference. When I look around and steadily climbing energy prices and a government teetering on the brink of more tax relief for the rich and let the poor fend for themselves I’m inclined to give up. In the last fifty-eight years there have been a lot of changes. Most of them very good and a few maybe not so good, but on balance we’re better than we were before. I’m grateful to my Mom and Dad who made this opportunity possible and in the last week as I’ve thought about my birthday I’ve thought back and wondered what they might have been thinking in the first week of December 1952. They were both children of the Great Depression and my Dad was a veteran of World War II though he never saw any combat. Nonetheless, they lived through trying times. They were both twenty-six years old. A couple of kids I might call them now and I was their first child.
First born children are all a bit like guinea pigs. No one is ever adequately prepared by school or any other experience to raise children and the first one always bears the brunt of the ignorance. Despite all that I had a good life. December 8, 1952 was my special day and I arrived at 5:58 am according to the telegram my Dad sent. I was delivered by an uncle I never met in a hospital called Miserecordia in Manhattan. I was the first grandson in the family. I was preceded by three grand-daughters in two different families.
I’m hoping this year is a snow day. I used to get the day off automatically when I attended Catholic grammar school as it is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. I’ve always had an innate Marian devotion. Blue is my favorite color and Ave Maria is one of my favorite hymns. Forty years ago I registered for the draft and less than two years later I was in a United States Navy uniform. The only parts of my life I really disliked were the parts I was afraid of and when I got over my fear of them I enjoyed them too.
I have no way of knowing how many more days or hours I will have left but I know that even the hairs of my head are numbered in someone’s book. It’s cold outside tonight and the snow is falling just like it does most years in December, but I’m warm here in my own home and I am filled with gratitude for my parents, my family and my life.
Today is my birthday. It’s also the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Besides being my birthday which is an important event in my life I share this wonderful Marian feast. I don’t talk about her much, but Mary holds a special part in heart and it’s because of this feast I guess. My mother is the best model of Mary I have. Mom loves me more than anything else. She gave me life and on this day 57 years ago welcomed me into the world, her first born.
Mom made sure that I had a proper up-bringing and that included 9 years of Catholic primary school and a couple of years of Catholic high school. I don’t mean to imply that if you didn’t go to Catholic schools that you are somehow stunted because nothing could be further from the truth. But, giving her son those same chances she enjoyed and more were what was important in Mom’s life. Her devotion to Our Lady permeates her life and it touched mine too. Mary occupied an esteemed place in St. Francis of Assisi’s life too as the mother of Jesus. This prayer attributed to Francis bears that out.
Hail, holy Lady, most holy Queen,
Mary, Mother of God, ever Virgin.
You were chosen by the Most High Father in heaven,
consecrated by Him, with His most Holy Beloved Son and the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.
On you descended and still remains all the fullness of grace and every good.
Hail, His Palace.
Hail His Tabernacle.
Hail His Robe.
Hail His Handmaid.
Hail, His Mother.
and Hail, all holy Virtues, who, by grace and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, are poured into the hearts of the faithful so that from their faithless state, they may be made faithful servants of God through you.
Deo Gratias for 57 years of wonderful life and praise to the Holy Queen of Heaven.
Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. I read just yesterday that the feast began in 1854. Protestants and the Eastern Church don’t recognize the feast, but it’s dogma in the Roman Church. It’s too bad that the dogma of more Christian churches doesn’t include the Sermon on the Mount and the phrase, “love your enemies, do good to those who persecute you.” Somehow we’ve managed to excise that from dogma. It’s perfectly okay to kill your enemies as long as you observe dogma. The mother of Christ will always hold a special place in my heart, “the lady” as I call her always seems to intercede and there can be no doubt that Mary’s presence in the Roman Catholic Church reaffirms the sacred feminine, even if women are not allowed to be priests as they should be. Alas, that is more dogma.
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