Junior Year-Missing the Ball or Hitting the Net

 After spending a year convalescing from the polio my being thirsted for involvement in everything that I could get into at Mendel.  I needed to make up for lost time.  Although the polio kept me from playing football I participated by going to the games.  During the second half of sophomore year I became buddies with Stan Kantor, an old rival from Burnside. Stan is one of the tough guys from Avalon Avenue who went to Perry School. He and his neighbors liked to think they were meaner and tougher than the rest of us on Avalon. We were about the same height and weight.  At Mendel, I learned that Stan was one of the nicest guys I ever met. He played quarterback position on the football team.

Father Theis started a booster club which I joined.  We designed and painted posters advertising the football games.  We hung the posters all around school to promote attendance at the games.  Some of my posters were good enough to hang in places where the hall traffic was the heaviest all day long.

My ability to do the posters got me recognized in the school club scene, and Father O’Neil invited me to join the year book staff as art editor.  On the yearbook I met some really nice guys who became great friends.  One of them is Jim Geil.  He and I became inseparable for several years after. Jim and I still correspond regularly by e-mail. because there are eighteen hundred miles between us.

The school dedicated a new chapel and monastery in time for the start of Junior year.  The monastery led me into a new opportunity.  One day, an announcement came over the PA about a job.  I applied, and got the job as the monastery phone receptionist.

In the new monastery, each priest had a room with a pager.  All of the calls came to a single phone in a small cell at the front door. The cell had a desk, a chair, a phone and a large light board on the wall. Each priest’s name was on the board.  If the priest was in, and the light next to his name was on, he took calls.  When the phone rang, I answered it, and determined who the caller wanted.  I placed the caller on hold, and buzzed the priest.  He answered and I announced which line his call was on. The priests let me know when they left the building, and I took messages.   The job required that I be on duty four hours a day from four until eight.  This meant that I got to screw-off after class until four.  Sometimes I walked up to Michigan Avenue.  Most of the time, I did homework, worked on a poster, or the year book.

In the spring, I tried out for baseball and made the fourth string.  Father Burns placed me at third base.  Throughout the time I played sandlot baseball, I always played second base. Third base was never my position but I was happy to play.  I fielded the ball very well; in fact, I robbed some hot-shot hitters of line drives by spearing the ball on the fly.  My reactions were very good.  unfortunately for me, I didn’t have the strength to throw the ball to first base on the fly.

I also tried out for the tennis and made that.  I often played against myself by stroking the ball against the wall of the handball court at Palmer Park. It was another way  to fill time after school before answering phones.  I never played a real game of tennis with anyone so when I joined the team I had to learn the rules as well as the strokes and the serve. That is when I met Jim Murphy.  We became lifetime friends, and roomed together in college. Jim also stood up at my wedding.

Although I played tennis well in practice I never won a match in competition. Years later I realized why.  During a match, I was so worried about making a mistake, I kept seeing myself missing the ball or hitting it into the net.  That problem stayed with me until my forties when I finally realized the power of positive visualization, that is, “see it in your mind and believe it”.  Why did it take me so long to realize that?

By the end of Junior year things were starting to come together for me.  The effects of the polio were still there, but my sports and weight lifting helped me overcome any handicap that I had.  Life was good.

A Lenten Prayer

I was baptized Catholic. I was raised Catholic. I was educated in Catholic schools for sixteen years. I still practice my religion. I am a Catholic. If this offends you, the choice is yours to proceed further.

One of my favorite practices during Lent is a prayer ceremony called The Way of the Cross. Every Catholic church has a set of fifteen scenes on the wall. They are spaced to form a circular journey around the perimeter of the church.

As a kid in a Catholic parochial school, we made the journey every Friday afternoon during Lent after class let out at three.  We assembled in church with our class, and waited for the priest to come accompanied by three altar servers. All of them were dressed in black cassocks and a white surplus. One of the boys carried a pole with a cross at the end.  The other two servers carried a candle stick with a flaming candle. The priest followed.

Usually the service began with the group assembled in the sanctuary at the foot of the altar. The priest read the opening prayer with a response from the congregation. Then the procession began to the first station. As they walked slowly to the first station of the cross, we sang a sorrowful hymn written expressly for this rite. ‘The object was to reflect on Jesus’ journey from his trial, up Calgary to be crucified, and ultimately his resurrection. 

 I clipped the prayer below from a Catholic website. My memory is not that good to be able to recall them here. The paintings are by a  Tucson artist. The originals moved me to tears, my pictures don’t have the same effect.

Pray with me. . .

1. Jesus Condemned

Pilate brought Jesus outside and said to the people, “Look at your king!”

At this they shouted, “Away with him! Crucify him!”

Then Pilate handed Jesus over to be crucified.

“Behold your king,” says Pilate.
“Away with him,” the people shout.
And they sent you to your death.
Lord Jesus, Word made flesh,
Light for our dark world,
God come to save us,
may we never send you away.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

2. Jesus carries his cross

Jesus was led away,
and carrying the Cross by himself,
went out to what is called
the Place of the Skull, Golgotha.

You were led to Calvary, Lord,
carrying the cross by yourself.
Yet was the cross only yours,
or was it also mine you bore?
By your holy cross, O Jesus,
make me strong and able
to take up the cross I must bear.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

3. Jesus falls for the first time

Jesus emptied himself,
and took the form of a slave,
being born in the likeness of men.
He humbled himself,
to death and a Cross.

How strange to see you fall
as anyone does who cannot go on.
And yet you rise again
to take the few steps more you can.
By your first fall, O Jesus,
give your risen grace
to those who fall and cannot rise.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

4. Jesus meets his mother

Simeon said to Mary his mother: “This child is destined to be the downfall and the rise of many in Israel, a sign that will be opposed. And you yourself shall be pierced with a sword, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be laid bare.”

O Mother of my Savior,
you stand beside your Son.
With love beyond all telling,
you share his grief as one.
How shall I know your sorrow,
your tears beyond compare?
Deep in my heart stand watching,
and call my memory there.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

5. Simon Helps Carry the Cross

A man named Simon of Cyrene, was coming in from the fields, and they pressed him into service to carry the Cross.

Simon, coming in from the fields,
was pressed to carry your cross.
Did he come to know you, Lord,
walking by your side?
By your meeting with the Cyrenean,
may we find you in the stranger,
and in the needy we meet.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

6. Veronica wipes Jesus’ face

He who welcomes you welcomes me; and he who welcomes me, welcomes him who sent me. And I promise that whoever gives a cup of cold water will not want for a reward.

A woman named Veronica
kindly washed your face with a towel.
Such a simple thing!
A towel, a cup of water, a loving word.
By your meeting with Veronica, Lord,
help us value such small things,
so great when given in your name.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

 

7. Jesus falls the second time

But I am a worm and no man; the scorn of all, despised by the people. All who see me scoff at me.

Can God fall, a mighty God,
whose hands uphold all that is?
By your second fall, O Lord,
remember how weak we are,
remember our helplessness,
remember our human frailty,
and come to our assistance.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

8. Jesus meets the women

A great crowd of people followed him, including women who beat their breasts and lamented over him.

Women wept as you passed
and you said, “Weep not for me
but for your children.”
Keep the grace of this meeting
alive in our hearts, Lord.
Keep us concerned
for humanity’s children.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

9. Jesus falls the third time

I am like water poured out; all my bones are racked. You have brought me down to the dust of death.

Like water poured out,
your strength is gone.
You fall as if to the dust of death.
By your third fall, O Lord,
give us courage before our trials
and patience to go on.
Help us in our need.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

10. Jesus is stripped

They stripped off his clothes
and began to mock him saying:
“All hail, king of the Jews!”

They divided your garments
and cast lots for your clothes.
Stripped of all dignity,
you had nothing of your own.
By your despoilment, O Lord,
clothe us in your mercy
which is rich beyond words.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

11. Jesus is nailed to the cross

After carrying his Cross, Jesus came to the Place of the Skull (in Hebrew, Golgotha). There they crucified him and two others with him.

Nailed to the cross,
you know how many feel
who, bound by circumstance,
year by year get nowhere.
By your riven hands and feet, Lord,
help those fixed to a cross
by long illness or misfortune.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

12. Jesus dies

Jesus said, “I thirst!” and they gave him wine.

“It is finished”!” he cried, and gave up his spirit.

Once the prophet said:
“Who can believe our report?”
God’s Servant, crushed in sorrow,
pierced for our offenses!
Shall we not stand watching, Lord,
mourning the sins you bear,
rejoicing in the pardon you bestow?

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

13. Jesus is taken down from the cross

When the soldiers came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers thrust a lance into his side, and blood and water flowed out.

Resting in your mother’s arms
when taken from the cross,
you died trusting a Father’s care,
faithful unto death.
By your holy death, O Lord,
give us an unfailing trust in God,
commend us to your Father’s hands.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

14. Jesus is buried

Joseph of Arimethea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus, and wrapped it in perfumed oils. Then he buried Jesus in a tomb close at hand.

You were buried in a garden tomb,
like a seed fallen into the ground,
waiting to rise again.
Lord, help us rise again
after dying with you.
May all who have fallen asleep
rise again.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

Christ rises

On the third day he rose again.

Suddenly, without warning,
Jesus stood before them and said, “Peace!
Do not be afraid!
Go and carry the news to the others
that they are to go to Galilee
where they will see me.” Matthew 28

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