Humility, he said, was what he needed at that moment, and he certainly was given what he needed. In an interview with a new paper, Coach Mainieri reflected that external rewards could be fun, but what was most rewarding for him was trying to be the man God wanted him to be, which he believed was expressed in how good of a husband and father one was, before any career achievements. He said, "I'd much rather be known as a great father, husband, and Catholic...than a great baseball coach." He is a father of four children--ranging in age from 15 to 25--with his wife, Karen.
On this Feast of All-Saints, Our Lord asks us to reflect on the measuring stick by which He will gauge our readiness to come inside the Pearly Gates. You know those cute signs by the amusement park rides where they show the minimum height requirement for each ride? I wonder what kind of sign there will be right by the gates of Heaven to measure our minimum entry requirement. Certainly one important measure will be our humility. Yet, how will our humility be measured? Fr. Miles found a very interesting article on the Internet where a religious sister named Sr. Emmanuel interviewed a lay-woman named Maria Simma (http://www.holysoulscrusade.org/maria-simma1.html). Maria was a simple, country woman from Austria who since 1940, at the age of 25, was visited by souls in Purgatory who requested her prayers and for masses to be said for them to be released to Heaven. After many years of working on behalf of souls in Purgatory, Maria gained some insight about Purgatory.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, those "who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned...From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God. The Church also commends alms giving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead." (CCC# 1030-1032) Sr. Emmanuel asked Maria to explain about Purgatory, and Maria gave this analogy of us approaching the entrance of a house where God Himself opens the entrance door:
"Suppose that one day a door opens, and a splendid being appears, extremely beautiful, of a beauty that has never been seen on earth. You are fascinated, overwhelmed by this being of light and beauty, even more so that this being shows that he is madly in love with you -- you have never dreamed of being loved so much. You sense too that he has a great desire to draw you to him, to be one with you. And the fire of love which burns in your heart impels you to throw yourself into his arms. But wait -- you realize at this moment that you haven't washed for months and months, that you smell bad; you nose is running, your hair is greasy and matted, there are big dirty stains on your clothes, etc. So you say to yourself, "No, I just can't present myself in this state. First I must go and wash: a good shower, then straight away I'll come back."
But the love which has been born in your heart is so intense, so burning, so strong, that this delay for the shower is absolutely unbearable. And the pain of the absence, even if it only lasts for a couple of minutes, is an atrocious wound in the heart, proportional to the intensity of the revelation of the love -- it is a "love-wound". Purgatory is exactly this. It's a delay imposed by our impurity, a delay before God's embrace, a wound of love which causes intense suffering, a waiting, if you like, a nostalgia for love. It is precisely this burning, this longing which cleanses us of whatever is still impure in us. Purgatory is a place of desire, a made desire for God, desire for this God whom we already know, for we have seen him, but with whom we are not yet united."
In our gospel today, Our Lord gives the sign that describes minimum entry requirement to the gates of Heaven. "Blessed are those," or 'Happy are those' who are humble, meek, lowly, mourning, suffering, persecuted, and peace makers. The irony is that there will not be throngs of people here on earth who will line the LSU campus and the Alex Box Stadium to congratulate those who achieve these requirements. The reason for the Feast of All-Saints is to remind us that there will be throngs lining up the streets of Heaven to cheer and congratulate those of us who live the humble lives of Beatitudes of Jesus. At the award ceremony, I began the invocation with the following words:
"An hour ago, I was at a bed side of an elderly lady in her 90s who was recovering from a fall. Perhaps this was her last confession she would make on this earth. During the past year and a half as a newly ordained priest, I have done over 60 funerals and was present in the very rooms where souls expired to go from this world to the next. And I'm convinced of one thing. We go to the next world, empty handed. We cannot take any property with us. All I can take to the next world is that my daughter, my son, my husband, my siblings, all told me that they loved me."
Isn't that the heart of Jesus' Beatitudes? Humility and charity. Coach Mainieri summarized it best when he said, "With success come championships, awards and advancement. Those things come and go, though, and don’t mean as much as knowing you had a positive impact on a person’s life. For me, it is all about the relationships that are developed and knowing you have helped someone." And that's what we take to the Pearly Gates.