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Sexagesima

zelusdomustuae
Bishop’s Corner
I can’t help but see some spiritual symbolism in these dark February days. The shortest month has been all struggle, hasn’t it? Spring, promised at the Purification, has been waiting in the wings week after week, with its new life and warmth all wrapped up. But storm after storm distracts us, and delays Spring’s start. Never mind, nothing can stop the light and new life Christ brings. He comes again this Spring to conquer death.

In the meantime, death has claimed this Winter two fine Catholic men, who each in his own way “made” St. Gertrude to be what it still is today. Ernie died in January, and Bernie in February. The former, a man seemingly without position or power or money, influenced us all to the good, and prays for us still. The latter poured out all of his considerable means at the feet of Christ over the course of a generation. Like Ernie, Bernie died a poor man, but wealthy beyond all telling. We mourn and miss them both.

For almost thirty years, Bernie’s loyalty, good example, great generosity and daily prayerful presence at St. Gertrude the Great literally “edified” us, that is to say, built us up into what we are today. We are profoundly grateful.

That Our Lord should have decided in His ineffable wisdom, to finish Bernie’s life and crown his works with heavy and almost incomprehensible crosses, detracts nothing from God (for His ways are not man’s ways) nor from this man, his life and legacy.

May our persevering and grateful prayers conduct him to everlasting rest, “for his works follow him.”

Perhaps it is not overly optimistic to see in the very sad circumstances of his funeral an example of this. In the last year of his life, Bernie more than once expressed his wish to be buried from St. Gertrude the Great. He was buried instead from Immaculate Conception, although he once so opposed this group’s scandalous inception in 1989, as to forbid discussion of the very subject in his home.

Since then, of course, other splits have occurred and other schisms arisen. How sad a sight is the torn robe of Christ in Cincinnati! Still, prayers matter, and God hears them.

Are we now witnessing an example of answered prayers, or at least the beginning of such a long-desired answer? For years, Fr. Jenkins and his Society of St. Pius V have claimed that the “Thuc line” priests and bishops (who trace their apostolic succession to the holy former Archbishop of Hué, a truly good and humble man of the Church) were invalid and non-Catholic. Anyone who attended their Masses was deemed a public sinner and denied Holy Communion at Immaculate Conception — and this in spite of the fact that Fr. Jenkins could never cite a single church law to justify his position. Public sinners are in any case denied church burial as well.

Now, Bernie Brueggemann has charitably lodged in his own house in Independence just such a “Thuc-line” priest, Father Thielen, well known for his charity to the sick and dying. Bernie would regularly attend Mass with and receive Communion from Fr. Thielen. Perhaps, by God’s grace, he even did so on the day of his sudden death, Our Lady’s Saturday last week. How then could Fr. Jenkins bury him from his church?

Let us hope that Bernie’s entrance into eternity is already being marked by his intercession to heal some of the divisions which still sting after so many years, schisms both old and new, which offend charity as well as justice. Let us ask Bernie to pray for us as we do for him.

For the rest, let us strive to be ever discreet, kindly, forgiving and prayerful concerning the situation of the Church in our midst today. Perhaps with a positive attitude and much prayer on our part, good priests such as Fr. Jenkins and Fr. Thielen may be encouraged, and these painful divisions may begin to heal.

In any case, do pray for Bernie Brueggemann as you would for a very great friend and benefactor, positioned still to help us, whether it be from Purgatory or Heaven, for so he is. Let us not leave him, should he be in need. Be sure he will not leave us in ours.

With every blessing in the Sacred Heart of Jesus,
Bishop Dolan