Dear Third Church Friends,

You will not be surprised when I say that I learned a lot of things getting close to forty years ago when I met Patricia Tillou, the brilliant, beautiful, boundless-in-energy young woman who would become my wife. I had not been long in my first pastor position down in the Hudson Valley. She had already proven her business acumen by establishing a flourishing chiropractic practice…in a village of maybe three-hundred people. We came from quite different family settings, though both of our growing up years were economically challenged (poor!). One other major difference: I was (and am) proudly 100% Dutch. She? Half Italian—the bigger half! When I would visit my platoons of Dutch relatives, a vigorous handshake was about as expressive as we got. Patricia’s 100% Italians aunts who never saw me before in their lives? Uh, not so much!!  I learned quickly how to hug and kiss (appropriately, of course) when coming and going and maybe in between. I survived to tell about the smothering I regularly received.

I also learned a lot about Roman Catholic traditions. O, I knew about them academically. I began to experience them through the life of one who grew up with them and, after a time away from “the Church,” wandered back to a place of love for the Lord and for the Catholic faith building blocks in her life. Saturday night Mass (I worked Sunday mornings), became a pretty regular part of our shared lives.

I was a Protestant raised in an age when Protestant/Catholic marriages were considered “mixed.”  After I met (then married) Patricia, Roman Catholic teachings and traditions began to season my faith life in a fresh and wonderful way. Like an openness to the wonderful lessons Jesus’ mother, Mary, had to offer us. I don’t venerate Mary in the way some of her followers do; but I value her more now than before being touched by the life of my dear wife (a graduate of Marist College).  In the rather conservative Reformed church of my youth, anything that smacked of Catholicism, though not demeaned (as in some traditions),wasn’t encouraged, either. I treasure my almost forty-year old new appreciation of Mary’s role in God’s salvation history.

This Sunday is Mary’s Sunday. I will share a little more of my thinking on Mary’s contribution to our lives in the present time. The music will be Mary-focused. We will share an element of Roman Catholic tradition that will bring a tear or two to the eyes of the former Catholics among us. We will add our acts of gratitude to billions of folks through the ages who lift up their voices in praise and thanksgiving for the terrified, courageous girl. She set an eternal standard for saying “Yes” to God’s claim on her life when every wise, rational, reasonable person might have said, “Are you kidding me?!?” I don’t have all the theological intricacies worked out; neither will I ever. But I do revere Mary all the more. Thanks in no small part to my wife, Patricia Marie.

Thanks be to God!

Pastor Zomermaand
pastorz@thirdpresbyterian.org
Office: 585-271-6513, ext. 105; Cell: 618-606-1053 (after hours; emergencies)