Because This May Be My Last Mass

Because This May Be My Last Mass November 30, 2009

Gulp . . . My eyes water, and I get a lump in my throat just looking at this photograph.

That is Our Lord on Iwo Jima, and a priest providing comfort and solace to the sheep of His flock. Young Marines in a crazy, mixed-up, madhouse of a world with death staring them right in the face. Death from a thousand angles, at any second, in diverse manners and forms, all of which are horrible.

How do they do it? I mean function in that environment? The same thing is going on in Kandahar today. How do they do it? I can’t put “it” into words that you would understand—not yet anyway.

One of my favorite Marines in the Marine Corps Roll of Honor is Sergeant Major Daniel Daly, winner of two Medals of Honor. He is famous for saying (as a Gunnery Sergeant) the following immortal phrase—”C’mon you sons-of-bitches! you wanna live forever?”—at the WW I Battle of Belleau Wood.

Looking at this photograph, whether you agree or disagree with the “reasons” for either World War (see our recent post), the Chaplain Corps provides much comfort to us troops. I wasn’t a Catholic when I was serving in the line as a Marine. (Wow, I would seriously recommend it now!) But many of us took advantage of the comfort the Padres provided.

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  • Webster Bull

    Frank, It's exciting to me to have your fresh perspective on this blog. I began asking myself Why I Am Catholic three and a half months ago (August 17 to be exact), and this space has featured my answers up to now, almost exclusively. But there is an infinite number of answers–good reasons to be Catholic. Asked how many paths there are to God, Pope Benedict replied, "As many people as there are seeking Him." I look forward to reading more about your path. Thanks for joining me! Webster

  • Permission to come aboard sir?(hint…the proper reply is "Permission Granted".

  • Daniel Daly on Wikipedia. He left the Corps after his distinguished career in 1929. He worked as a security guard in a bank after he retired from the Corps(you never know the back-stories of people you interact with). He died in 1937 peacefully.

  • Webster Bull

    Permission granted. You're a great addition to YIM Catholic, Frank.

  • as a convert, you would assume that it would be EASY to answer "why am i Catholic" but i find that it is an ongoing trip, not a destination.Why am I Catholic? i can speak to what brought me in (dragging my heels and whining the whole way), i can speak to what i have discovered since, and i can speak about the direction things appear to be going……. but in all i expect it is a question that must be asked continually.

  • Webster Bull

    Kirsten, I have experienced no dragging heels and little whining (I whine about other stuff), but I do agree that YIMC is a question "that must be asked continually." That is what I, and now Frank, am doing daily in this blog space. It's a great exercise. If you'd like to submit a guest post with your own series of questions (or mini-answers), we'd consider publishing it. Thanks, Webster

  • Frank and Webster!I really appreciate you posting this photo! It's one of my favorites, that and the one of Padre Pio kneeling to receive.I think…even YIMC's favorite pacifist Catholic, Dorothy Day, said seeing all classes of Catholic people fall to their knees to receive Jesus was what convinced her to become Catholic. I have to wonder if the modern Catholic church with its casual demeanor towards Jesus Christ, would have made such a stark impression on her.I wonder how many genuine conversions –as Day's certainly was– no longer take place because modern Catholics don't comport like they believe.k.c.

  • Webster Bull

    The posting and caption were all Frank's doing–and convinced me that I couldn't possibly find a better blogging partner, even though I've never met him and he's got a bizarre sense of humor. As I've posted elsewhere, k.c., I find Dorothy Day not "right" so much as absolutely compelling of interest: We have to take her seriously because she was such a serious and devout Catholic, and her total obedience to the Church led her to take the positions she took.