A touching tribute of a different kind

A touching tribute of a different kind

No doubt, there are many who believe that Catholic World News’s Diogenes is a cynic ... and they’d be right. But he’s not completely so, only when it comes to the powerful of this world, whether ecclesiastic or secular. But sometimes he touches right to the heart of the Gospel, and the beatitudes in particular: “Blessed are the poor in spirit .. the meek ... the peacemakers ...”

We see it in this tribute to an anonymous Down syndrome girl who Diogenes says represents all that was best in the pontificate of John Paul II.

In a curiously final way, most of what I consider noblest about the just-ended pontificate finds expression in your pleasingly unpleasing face.

For starters, you exist. That itself is no small achievement. There are a lot of very rich, very powerful, very intelligent people who would turn you into surgical waste with no more thought than putting down a kitten. Your life, in their eyes, is a life not worthy of living. You will accomplish none of the things that they value. You will win no prizes for cello or dance. You will pay no taxes. No Jesuit university president will congratulate you for staging The Vagina Monologues and challenging patriarchy. You’re a burden. That you’re alive at all is due to the belief that you’re more than a burden. Perhaps no man did more to diffuse that belief—in increasingly hostile territory—than the one you’re praying for.

Read the whole thing. It is perhaps the best tribute to John Paul I have seen and I think the Holy Father would have been pleased that the praise would come indirectly, by praising another who is “the least” among us. (In reality, isn’t she the greatest among us?)

  • Last Sunday at mass, I saw a couple in their mid sixties holding two young handicapped kids: a boy of about four who seemed to be retarded and a little girl of about two who was blind and retarded.  Perhaps they were foster kids as they looked nether like each other or like their guardians, but these holy people loved these children drearily and did not seem to mind that they were not responded to in kind.  To the heart wise in the love of God, such children are a grace and a blessing; their angels look upon the face of God indeed.

  • Downs Syndrome children are an ever-present contradiction to what we take to be important.  One was behind me in a checkout line not long ago.  She was a teenager, I presume, though it’s hard to tell.  On that particular day she was hugging everyone who came near and telling them she loved them.  There was no other possible response except to hug her back and tell her I loved her too.

    You can sum up all 800 pages of the CCC in that hug, and there was no denying the voice of God in her words.

    I saw a great many people on that shopping trip that I have completely forgotten.  It is only the Downs child that stays in my memory.


  • Amen to that. My daughter and I had a similar experience in a checkout line. The sweet girl complimented my daughter on her scarf – enthusiastically. It made my daughter’s day as well as mine.