Category Archives: Doreen Salse

Laughing Our Way Into Eternity – by Doreen Salse

(This post was submitted by parishioner Doreen Salse. Her father, Lino Salse, died 4 years ago today.)

Just outside the Social Hall at here at St. Edward’s, there is a cart with books to borrow. A couple of years ago I found a great one called “Quotable Saints” by Ronda Chervin and took it home with me. In fact, I liked it so much that I guess I am still “borrowing” it.

All the quotes in that little book are excellent and uplifting, but my favorite one is:

Be merry, really merry. The life of a true Christian should be a perpetual jubilee, a prelude to the festivals of eternity. —Théophane Vénard.

I loved the idea that the celebration of life starts during our earthly journey and need not ever end. We are already stepping steadily into eternity.

The quote reminded me of my dad who always had a quick and merry comeback. He could joke about almost everything, including his long and lingering ill health. Once, when I visited him in California, he teased my mother until she finally said, “Keep it up! If you don’t stop I’m going to pack you up and send you to New York with your daughter.” He said, “Oh-Oh! I suppose my other choice is to remain here with you, heavily sedated.”

My father had a collection of one-liners gleaned from old-time comedians that made us roll our eyes and groan.

He died 4 years ago and I miss him every day. But not long ago he put in a special appearance, to tell me that there was truth to what Vénard referred to about the festivals of eternity; basically -“you ain’t seen nothing yet!”

Recently I dreamed that I was in the house where I grew up. I heard a man and a woman laughing – big, happy, belly laughter, the kind that comes from pure joy. I followed the sound to the front bedroom, opened the door and saw my dad sitting, propped up against a bunch of pillows, on the bed. My mother, young and beautiful, sat up next to him and they smiled when they saw me.

“There you are!” I said and pointed my finger. “Where have you been? I’ve been looking everywhere for you!”

“Me? I just flew in from Chicago. And boy, are my arms tired!”

“Ok, Henny Youngman!” I said, “You always did like the corniest jokes”.

He grinned and said, “Sure. Take my wife. Please”.

Relieved, I thought he never really left me and most likely he’d been hiding from me all these years. After a long look at that face I loved since the first time I saw it, I realized he was finally free of worry and pain.

“Pop! You look like you are happy, really happy.”

He said, “I am. I sure am”.

I believe we are visited in our dreams by those whom we have loved and lost. We glimpse them for a tiny hopeful moment, and if we are lucky, they leave us with a peek of the incredible happiness that awaits us.

My dad’s merry nature was a gift and an example to those of us lucky enough to have been pulled into his orbit. I’d like to think that now he is making the angels laugh, and maybe roll their eyes when my father says things like,  I once wanted to become an atheist, but I gave up – they have no holidays.”


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Easter – The Journey Continues, A Reflection by Doreen Salse

road-to-emmaus1Easter – the Journey Continues

By Doreen Salse

“Oops! Sorry, I guess I didn’t see you!. We probably have said this or a variation when we’ve looked up from the shopping cart at the grocery store or across the shelves at the library and saw someone insistently waving or smiling at us to get our attention.

The followers of Jesus seemed to be doing quite a bit of this during the Octave of Easter. These same people who had lived, eaten, traveled and prayed together with Christ didn’t recognize him until after He did something to get their attention. After all the years of listening to Him, the disciples still needed a sign. You might imagine them saying after He helped them pull in a net full of fish after a day of catching nothing and not knowing who He was until he invited them to breakfast -“Ah! Now recognize you”.

How different are we from the disciples? We have recently completed our Lenten journey, but where did that journey lead? Was it something to endure, a time to pack in a year’s worth of prayer, fasting and almsgiving? Did we cross off the days on a calendar thinking “only 20 days, 10 days, 5 days until Easter so that I can get back to enjoying the things I gave up?”

Perhaps after Easter we are a little like the travelers on the road to Emmaus. We’ve been through Holy Week hearing about the Passion of Christ. We may be contemplating what the empty tomb on Sunday morning really means, and wonder what changes it might bring for us.

Our focus should be on how the prayer, fasting, and almsgiving reshaped us during Lent. Were they instrumental in opening our eyes to see Christ among us in this Easter season and beyond? We had a forty-day opportunity to practice and improve our commitment to prayer and charity. Those forty days allowed us time to develop the desire to extend that commitment throughout our lives.

We have experienced the power of what we practiced during Lent. We have no excuse to say as we look around us and see Jesus in the form of people who need a word of comfort, prayers, money, or food and say, “Sorry. I didn’t see you standing there.”

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January 8, 2013 – A Reflection by Doreen Salse

128828982.275.275For my extended family, 2011 was the year we were caught in a storm of sadness. For one cousin alone, the year brought the death of a husband from a long illness, her daughter was taken from her in a motorcycle accident and both my cousin and her son were diagnosed with kidney cancer. Breast cancer and ALS struck my own sisters and by December I was only too happy to see the end of the year approach.

Was my faith shaken? Not only shaken but stirred. Grief, and the anticipation of loss are at the same time universal and devastatingly personal. I knew in my heart that these events happen to the beloved of other people, but this time it was people I knew like I know myself.

I spent Christmas in the Keys that year. I guess, like Jonah, I wanted to get as far away as possible from what God was asking of us. No luck. At Mass at St. Peter’s church on Big Pine Key I spent a long time looking at the depiction behind the altar of a storm tossed boat and some very distressed disciples waking Jesus from his nap.

Every now and then, I marvel at the simple brilliance of the Gospel stories and how they show how the faith of the first followers is both overwhelming and fragile. One of my favorites is from Luke:

One day he got into a boat with his disciples and said to them, “Let us cross to the other side of the lake.” So they set sail, and while they were sailing he fell asleep.

They must have felt peaceful and tranquil and full of trust as they sailed in that little boat, secure that Jesus was with them. Just like me, I thought. My faith is pretty strong when the waters are calm.

And then as soon as the squall came and the boat rocked and started to take in water, the disciples went looking for Jesus in their terror. As though he wasn’t with them the entire time.

How different am I? In my sadness I look around to see if perhaps Jesus isn’t busy with something else or asleep or doing something that made him take his eyes off me for a second. I want to wake him up too.

Although Mark’s Gospel today is not the same story and Jesus is not asleep, he seems nonetheless to be taking a little break from his followers, leaving them to live what he has been trying to teach them. But he is never too far away to step in and remind them of his presence.

2011 is over and so is 2012. My sisters still struggle with the aftermath of their respective diagnoses. I pray and read from the Scripture with one of them over the phone several times a week – she listens because her disease has robbed her of her speech. Before we read from Luke we pray:

Dear Lord, as we meditate on these passages from Scripture, please help us to trust you with our whole being. We cannot know what you have in store for us, but allow us to live each day trusting that you will be there to hold out your hand to help us through the storm.

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Lenten Reflections – Tuesday of Holy Week by Doreen Salse

Reflection for Tuesday of Holy Week

Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, `Where I am going you cannot come.”

 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?”

Jesus answered, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now; but you shall follow afterward.”

One of the first memories I have is crying because my father left the house to move his car in front of our house and I wanted to go with him; I must have only been two or three years old.  I remember not being able to stop crying, even after he told me over and over again that I couldn’t come with him and that he would come back in just a little while.

I was a child and couldn’t understand why this man, whom I loved because he took care of me, played and laughed with me, would ever go away.  Years later, when he was dying, my father looked at me and said, “I want to go now.”  And again I couldn’t imagine how it would be without this man who watched over me and loved me unconditionally all my life.

Today’s Gospel is an example of the same simple trust, love and fear that the apostles had for Jesus. If I could feel such sadness at being separated from my father, so too the followers of Jesus must have felt sorrow and confusion at the nearing departure of their beloved friend.  How could He leave them alone and without direction?  How could they manage to exist, to do His work, without Him?

The promise He made to them, that they would, “follow afterward” was a reminder of the saving mission of Christ.  The faith of the disciples was tested well beyond they could ever have thought possible when they lived side by side with their gentle teacher and friend.  During the Triduum we will hear the story of just how unbelievable it must have been to watch the way in which their Jesus was to leave them.

If the story ended there, it would have been just another tragic event in the lives of a group of people who happened to share several years together. Without the sacrifice of Good Friday, we cannot have the promise of eternal life that is Easter.  Without the tears and the sense of loss of the first event – “where I am going you cannot come” – we cannot understand the glorious promise of the second.  The disciples did follow him and they did see their friend again, just as He promised to them and to all of us.

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