By Barb Arland-Fye
“Listen to this prayer,” Bishop Martin Amos said as he began his homily inside cozy St. Patrick Catholic Church in Melrose. “Dearest Lord Jesus, Savior and Friend; three things I pray. To see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, follow thee more nearly, day by day.”
Where does the prayer come from? Bishop Amos asked all of us in the congregation May 30. He responded, “Many might say it is the song ‘Day by Day’ from the 1970 musical Godspell. That would be partly right. It was written by an English saint of the 13th century named Richard Chichester. The writers of Godspell simply lifted his prayer and put it to music.”
Bishop Amos cited St. Richard’s prayer to provide some insights as we celebrated the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. The bishop connected “seeing thee more clearly” to God the Father, “loving thee more dearly” to God the Son, and “following thee more nearly” to the work of the Holy Spirit.
As I sat in the pew with my husband Steve, I thought of the couple whose 40th wedding anniversary the congregation was celebrating that evening and other individuals whose lives manifested St. Richard’s prayer. The anniversary couple, Deacon Ed and Jane Kamerick, had been classmates with me in the Master of Pastoral Theology program. Their witness to the sacrament of marriage inspired me. They gave me a Christian Prayer book so that I could pray Liturgy of the Hours with our class. In the beginning, they guided me to the correct pages when I got lost. Their love for God translates into their care for God’s people.
Earlier that day on May 30 I attended a Memorial Mass for Pauline Moench, 92, at Our Lady of the River Catholic Church in LeClaire. Pauline was “Our” Lady of the River, a woman of deep faith and a mother to all, in addition to her own eight children. “She called me her adopted daughter,” recalled parishioner Molly Jungk. “She said, ‘What’s one more?’” As Molly’s own mother faded away into Alzheimer’s disease, “Pauline became like a second mother. In fact, Pauline ‘adopted’ a lot of people,” Molly said.
Bishop Amos observed in his homily in Melrose that sometimes we need “glasses” to see God more clearly, the improved vision that comes from reading Scripture, praying and seeing God in all things. That’s what Pauline did.
The weekend before, I attended the funeral Mass of a prayer partner, 51-year-old Melissa Steinke, whose steadfast faith in Jesus Christ before and during her painful journey with cancer put me in awe. When mourners arrived for the funeral Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Bettendorf we received a Mass Journal with a pen, some prayer materials and the funeral program tucked inside. Melissa kept a Mass Journal.
“Melissa believed that God is constantly speaking to us, through people and events, through the Scriptures and the Church,” a note pasted on the inside cover read. “Each Sunday we have an intimate encounter with God in the Mass. Perhaps here more than anywhere else, God wants to speak to you. If you believed God was going to speak to you at Mass, I suspect you would bring pen and paper.…”
Later that day I attended Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport, followed by celebration of the 90th birthday of parishioner Mary Costello who radiates the joy of her faith. A daily Mass attendee, she leads the vocation committee with great devotion, serves on Altar & Rosary Society and is a Communion minister, her pastor, Father Rich Adam says.
To see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, follow thee more nearly, day by day — these are three things I, too, pray.