Our Lady of the Airways – IN the World but not OF it

April 30, 2018 (Edward J. Barr – Guest Contributor) – The challenge of living IN the world without being OF the world is something I continue to struggle with on occasion.  This challenge doesn’t come when I am at home in my “comfort” zone of daily prayer, Mass, and spiritual readings.  It comes when my schedule is disrupted, usually by travel or work-related activities.  Then, I am thrust into the world where the culture of death reigns, where moral relativism is sacrosanct and all thoughts, images, and even insinuations of the Almighty are purged from the public square.  Or so I thought.

My work live involves interacting with different professional cultures, each with their own set of rules, norms, and unique language.  Each has a dominant culture that either limits, ignores, or sneers at the concept of a loving God.  Being immersed in these cultures for even a limited amount of time can distract me from my main job in life, to love the Lord with my whole heart, soul, and mind.  Just speaking the language of these cultures makes it easy to forget about the wonder of God’s creation and the love and beauty that is found in all his children.

I was aware of this shortcoming, so when I prepared for a business trip into the distorted and sadly morally bankrupt arena of academia I vowed to better prepare myself.  Organizing my daily prayers so that I could adjust to the work schedule, utilizing travel time to pray the rosary, and using the clock to remember to say short mental exhortations were part of my spiritual battle plan.  Over the next few days this plan proved solid. I was more aware of the divine in every facet of the conference I attended: even as I recognized that God was not a visible part of the conference I attended, I ensured that prayers would be offered throughout.  At the conference there were the traditional topics of finding meaning and balance of life for students and faculty, with all kinds of ideas and suggestions, except for seeking God.  All the focus was on the self, as a narcissistic litany of self-praise and glorification was deemed the holy grail for personal fulfillment.  In a feat of raucous rebellion, I put a “sticky” on the board that asked for ideas about how to balance one’s life. It said, “Keep Holy the Sabbath.”  Whether it gets into the official conference report time will tell.

Satisfied that I had remained true to the faith, I arrived at the airport.  After checking in I noticed that my flight was delayed for 4 hours.  I was incredulous!  Why hadn’t they notified me!  As my wife would tell you, patience is not one of my strong virtues, but quickly I felt that the Lord was trying to teach me a lesson.  Surprising myself, a feeling of calmness came over me, and I decided I would find some good use for my time waiting at Boston Logan Airport.

I lived in the Boston area for many years and I remembered that the chapel was located near my terminal.  Picking up my suitcase I heading to the Chapel, which is located between terminals B and C.  I walked down the stairs and immediately found an oasis of peace and tranquility amidst the chaos above.  Even better, there was Mass at noon!  It is held every Monday, Tuesday, and Friday and lucky for me I was there one of those days.  Rev. Richard A. Uftring has been serving at the chapel for 21 years, and gave a warm welcome to those of us who had found the Chapel that day.  He noted it was the first airport chapel in the world, but that wasn’t the more impressive aspect of the Chapel.  The most impressive feature is that the Chapel is a Catholic!  There are Stations of the Cross on the walls, Jesus on the Cross over the alter, and a statue of the Blessed Mother (Our Lady of the Airways) to the front left of the alter.  Having visited other non-descript airport chapels and attending stripped down chapels on military installations, to me this is a modern-day miracle (please don’t tell any of your secular friends).

The prayer of the Mass seemed so strong that day; there was a definite camaraderie between Father Uftring and the congregation, a small group of men whom he warmly greeted with a hug before Mass.  I was so thankful for the delayed flight, which gave me the opportunity to work on my patience and experience Holy Communion in a truly Holy site.  Then I received a text.  My flight was un-delayed!  I had never heard of the term, never mind having experienced it.  I thanked Father for the glorious Mass he had presided over, and told him that the prayers worked, as I my flight was back on schedule.  He hugged me again and told me to get to the plane.  I told him I would be back.  Refreshed and renew, I then returned to the world.

Edward J Barr is an attorney, a Marine, an intelligence officer, and a part-time university faculty member. He is a guest contributor to Roma Locuta Est.

 

 


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