Mice eyeing cats.
Anyway. My point, and I do have one, is that I just now started reading a few pages and really like Fr.'s witty and casual style of telling his tales. While it may not be the next classic in the sense of F. Scott Fitzgerald, I'm actually glad it's not. Instead, it's a very friendly and down-to-earth collection of personal stories. Most of all, I love the impression of his own habit of speaking that comes across - I've never heard or seen the man, but I can almost believe he is speaking these words to me as I read them. Take, for example, this little gem of an observation (remember, the good Father published this book in 1974):
..."While we were still residing on the Schumacher Place another member of the Schaefer tribe arrived. This was Marjorie Ursaline born on March 11, 1921. So it was evident that Ma wasn't practicing birth control, the big "virtue" of the sixties, and it looks like it's going to be worse in the seventies for a new human being to sneak into the world. But poor Ma, she never spaced her children but let the Lord do it and had five in a row. According to the modern experts she should have collapsed physically and mentally. Approaching eighty now, she is as healthy as a horse. On the other hand, some of our modern mothers are killing themselves with drugs, gadgets, and worry lest they give birth to another child and are about as happy as a mouse eyeing an oncoming cat."
"A mouse eyeing an oncoming cat." Yup, that about sizes it up I'd say, and sadly it didn't get any easier for new humans to "sneak into the world" in the eighties, nineties, or now in the oughts either...
..."Back beyond the trees clustering about the house and yard area was a small barn which could accommodate six cows and two horses. Above it was a small haymow into which was pitched a load of hay by hand on occasion. Although the Sisters in school put out a rather vivid account of what hell was like, it was in that haymow one day that we experienced hell first hand as we were ordered to pull the hay back when it was pitched in through that small door on a hot July day. With no semblance of a breeze, the heat-charged air was filled with choking dust to the point of almost suffocating this freely perspiring little saint in overalls. The suffering son of Adam could think of only one thing - hell - and he vowed he would never commit a mortal sin and take a chance of having to endure this for eternity. Rural life in the old days had moments admirably geared to inculcating real sanctity."
..."Also in the grove beyond the woodshed was a narrow tile structure of dull orange color like the hen house. This was the smoke house. Besides using it for flavoring the protein, we often used it as a pulpit. The hollow tile was open at the corners, and it was easy to mount to the gently arching cement roof. On this we stood and preached eloquently, or so we thought, to the sparrows, woodpeckers, squirrels or whatever wildlife happened to be occupying the area at the moment. Despite these efforts, which made Demosthenes a famous orator, we're told, we gained nothing from the practice, apparently. In fact, we became one of the world's worst pulpit orators in the Church."
With many more pages to go, I think I'm going to find a nice spot to curl up for a few hours once I post this!
After doing a bit of a search online, I discovered that Fr. Vernon Schaefer, of the Diocese of Winona, died on November 16, 2000. I pray for him today, may he be at peace with our Lord eternally, and I ask for his prayers for all of us!