As the visions during the night continued, I saw one like a Son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven; when he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him, the one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship; all peoples, nations, and languages serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away; his kingship shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14)
The past few days have brought clouds of sadness to St. Dominic’s. From the terror in Paris, to the death of our own Fr Felix, a real sense of grief and loss has permeated the parish. In this midst of such darkness, it is helpful to remember how our faith helps us to process grief and connect with the strength of God’s presence. One way we do this is through sharing stories. I have been edified by those who have shared their own “Fr. Felix stories” with me. Recalling the blessings that we’ve experienced through loved ones expands our hearts with gratitude and plants the seeds of hope in our heart.
As part of my own personal spiritual life, I belong to a prayer group which emails novena prayers nine days before the celebration of major feasts. On the morning of Fr. Felix’s death, as I was emailing for the practical purposes of arranging funeral services, an email for novena prayers for the feast of Christ the King popped up in my inbox. For me, it highlighted a connection between Fr. Felix’s life and legacy with today’s feast. This celebration of Christ the King comes within the context of the end of time. The readings of this past month are full of images of the end of the world and the final judgment. Now reflecting on the end of the world, particularly the idea of the Final Judgment, often evokes frightening images of terror and fear. But for those who believe, meditating on the end is not a morbid exercise, but rather, a spiritual practice meant to awaken the virtue of hope. Sadness and loss is a reality. We all know: our life will end. Yet when Christ comes again, he will restore all things in himself. All wrongs will be righted, all wounds healed, every tear wiped away. Certainly thinking about our end and experiencing the loss of loved ones evokes sadness, but our great hope is in Christ the King who will bring eternal life.
This sense of joyful hope was characteristic of Fr. Felix. He would often greet me in the morning by saying “It’s so good to see you” and, after brief but relevant repartee, depart with “I know you’ll do great.” It was a daily reminder that, whatever challenges and blessings the day brought, God is ultimately in control. This is what Christ the King is all about. As people of faith, we confidently approach even death and judgment with the hope that our earthly end will be beginning of everlasting joy.
Fr. Felix was also so solicitous towards those in need. A fellow Dominican was recalling a story when, as pastor in Reno, Fr. Felix took a detour from the sacristy to prepare for Mass in order to get some food for a homeless person in need. The start of Mass was a bit tardy that day! This legacy of his service continues here at St. Dominic’s. Through our Community Services, led by our own Sister Colleen, we will provide a Thanksgiving meal and groceries for 250 families. Many thanks to all who helped this become a reality. From the grocery bags donated by Trader Joe’s and Mollie Stone to the food donations given by Safeway Marina and La Boulangerie de San Francisco, we are grateful for the local businesses which extend a helping hand. Also, a great big thank you to David Joy, Thanksgiving Once-a-Month and the students and families from Mission Dolores Academy. Finally, to all those who donated food during our Food Drive, to those who helped organize and gave of their time, including our own St. Dominic’s youth. Because of you those in need will have a brighter Thanksgiving. May Christ our King dwell in our hearts and give you the joy of his presence!
~ Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.