By Deacon John De Gano
Do you remember where you were 50 years ago?
How about ten? Five? Last night?
As Catholics we celebrate time in many ways. We have the liturgical calendar, which records the seasons of the Church year, the special feast days and memorials associated with Jesus, Mary and the Saints; we put out the Advent wreath and count down the four weeks until Christmas; we reflect more deeply on our lives during the 40 days of Lent; and we honor our Church’s birthday with the Feast of Pentecost (a word that means 50 days) at the end of the Easter season.
Being aware of time grounds us in our faith (after all, we’re waiting for Jesus to return!) and provides a common thread or historical experience which unites us as a family, people and/or church.
For many my age, 50 years ago June 1 serves as a significant concretized moment in time because of the release of the immensely popular rock album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, by the Beatles. Later that summer, in San Francisco, more than 100,000 young people would descend upon that City by the Bay for what would be forever labeled the “Summer of Love” by its promoters.
My brother and I drove to San Francisco in the summer of 1969 to see what all the hoopla was about. We encountered a lot of young people hitchhiking (many carrying guitars) and everyone seemed to be excited to get there. What they expected I cannot say. We looked about, drove across the Golden Gate Bridge (to say we had done so), got something to eat and returned home unfazed.
For me it was not so much about the destination, but the journey; a chance to spend time with my older brother who was now in college. We would make several more trips together, but this stands out because it was our first.
Yet as exciting as this was, what made an even greater impression on me happened several years later when I (now in college myself) discovered St. Andrew Newman Center and had the opportunity to be an altar server for the very first time. It changed my life. It awakened in me a spiritual hunger and vocation to become a deacon. And just last month that joy came full circle when I was able to assist my Dominican priest and mentor, Father Albert, at the altar once again some 40 years later.
Just like the shape of the liturgical calendar on my wall, yet I am not the same person I was in college. None of us are, really. Our varied experiences help to define who we become.
God is the only constant in our lives. As the creator of time and by being outside of time, God can come and go without disrupting it.
Thus, Jesus appeared after the Resurrection to his disciples in many places at once and can appear to us today in our brother or sister, our parent or guardian, and even in the stranger at our door.
And He does this because God is love and when we open ourselves to encounter God in the coming months, seasons and years, His love is made manifest to us and through us and we shall share in God’s “Summer of Love for us.”
And those are dates truly worthy of remembering.
John De Gano is a deacon at St. Catherine of Alexandria parish in Riverside.