Sunday, May 10, 2009

Grazie Mille

So, thanks to a goodly number of folks out there, I can breathe easier... well, OK, I can begin to.

After last night's disclosure statement, it was something of a relief to wake up and find enough in the box to settle up this month's phone bill and benefits (...and, on this Mother's Day, get Mom and the Boss some flowers -- because God knows they deserve 'em).

From $5 and $10 on up, I can't say enough how appreciated the help is. With the school loans still to chip away at and a Gotham Installation's worth of coverage-costs ($600 or so) still to pay down, suffice it to say, we've got some mountain left to climb, but to everyone who's gotten the path this far, all the thanks in the world; the daily feed owes its survival to you.

Along the way, a number of folks have written in to ask how they can lend a hand via snail-mail. While these'll join all the rest in getting a big thank you and the periodic behind-the-page e.mail for donors and friends, suffice it to say that the more check-friendly can beam 'em to PO Box 63890, Philadelphia PA 19147-7890. Even now, though, keep in mind that there remains no such thing as "Whispers, Inc." -- in other words, checks can be made out to yours truly.

(And for anyone out there who's sent a check over recent months, please drop an e.mail so you can get the notes sent your way, too, OK?)

That said, the ethical rule remains: no contributions from anyone within the "coverage range" (i.e. bishops, senior officials, etc.). While numerous attempts have been made over time -- always, always with the best and most genuine of intentions -- and I'll ever be grateful and stunned beyond words for the encouragement, there's a very good reason why sports writers aren't the richest people in any given newsroom, and the principle's wisdom holds water on this beat, too.

Again, forgive the alarm bell, but it's one of the many quandaries 'round these parts that real news in real time requires a real budget. If anyone knows a way of getting around that, let me know -- it'd be an enormous life-saver. More than anything else, though, please just keep a place for me in your prayers, as each and all of you, your loved ones, intentions and those you serve have mine every day and all the time.

And as it's Mother's Day, one final thought....

See, more than almost any other person, this wild ride of ours owes itself to my first teacher within the walls, 60 years a priest next month, who dedicated his ministry to "the church, our mother." Thanks to that, the concept of ecclesia mater -- mother church -- has always loomed especially large over my mind and heart.

But that's no empty word -- or at least, it shouldn't be. To keep making it real, however, we've always gotta ask ourselves what we look for and love in our Moms, or what qualities we'd want in -- to use the t-shirt phrase -- a "#1 Mom."

Either way, the list would probably end up with some mix of patience, generosity, compassion, forgiveness, gentleness, wisdom, heroism, an open heart for all -- in a word, everything that gives life... or, to steal a line from my uncle, a man of few words who's spent every day of the last several years going to a nursing home to sit with his Mom as she declines from Alzheimer's, "No matter how far you go or what you do in this world, no one'll love you like your mother"... and we've always gotta look deep inside to make sure that's the church we are, and do whatever it takes to restore it to that when we aren't.

Male and female, young and old, lay, professed and ordained, it's one of the greatest joys and gifts around to find this life-giving "mother" in so many folks all across the map, even as their work usually goes as unsung -- and stands as heroic -- as that of most of the mothers, our mothers, who make this world go 'round.

There's a very good reason we don't refer to "father church," gang, so to all our Moms and everyone out there who gives the church around them the face, voice, heart and hands of a true "mother" -- a "#1 Mom" -- every blessing, comfort and thanks on this Mother's Day and always.