|Venerable Solanus Casey, “The Doorkeeper”|
The election season has fried my brain. The pundits, the commentators, the campaign officials, the editorial writers and, of course the candidates. My God, MASSIVE EGOS–everywhere. They are all experts in everything you can think of and they villify each other, name call, besmirch each other and even attack their opponent’s families. It had finally gotten to me. And then you hear this Machiavellian disclaimer, “Hey, that’s politics”. You know what, I have a different word for all of it, “DISGUSTING”. To the Point—–
As a Catholic I decided to check the Catholic Hall of Fame for someone “egoless”. You know them as saints but to me, they are the Catholic Hall of Famers. The best of the best, the creme de le creme. Let me tell you about one of them, a simple man who never aspired to be anything more than a simple priest. His name was Bernard Francis Casey and his family and friends called him Barney. There are many guys like Barney in our Catholic Hall of Fame and they, like Barney, probably never even knew what the word “ego”meant.
Barney was born in Oak Grove, Wisconsin back in 1870. He was the sixth of 16 kids of Irish immigrants. When Barney was a boy he contracted diptheria and it left him with a permanently raspy sounding voice. Barney would never have qualified for American Idol. Barney felt the call to the priesthood but his goal was detoured by jobs in Minnesota and Wisconsin as a lumberjack, a prison guard, a street car operator and a hospital orderly. Barney Casey always did whatever job he had to the best of his ability wanting to serve his God in all things. At the age of 21 he was able to enter St. Francis High School seminary in Milwaukee and spent five years there before being able to move on and join the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. Upon his acceptance he took the name of Solanus after St. Francis Solanus, a 17th century missionary.
Solanus Casey was finally ordained a priest at the age of 33. He had to study extremely hard to reach that goal and when he was finally ordained he was given the title “Sacerdos Simplex” which means “simple priest”and he was not permitted to preach or to hear confessions. He never complained and took joy in being a “simple priest”. Father Solanus Casey’s main job at the monastery where he lived in Detroit was that of “doorkeeper”. Father Casey was probably the finest doorkeeper that ever lived. He did this for well over 20 years and also became known for his service to the sick and the advice and consultations he would have with visitors. People began attributing cures and other blessings to his interaction with them or others.
So there it is. A man who opened and closed doors for people. A man who had no ego and was happy to serve God in the simplest of ways. He died in 1957. A man who, because miracles have been attributed to his intercession, was declared “Venerable” by Pope John Paul II in 1995. This is the first step toward canonization as a saint. He is the first man born in the USA to be on the road to full sainthood. And all he did was humbly and happily open doors for people and talk to them if they wanted. A Catholic Hall of Famer for sure and quite the contrast to the gaggle of egotists that bombard us daily with their “I think” wisdom. Solanus (Barney) Casey has re-charged me.