17 February 2018

The Story of My Spiritual Director

The 'Catholic Encyclopedia'. 1913, defines 'spiritual direction' as, 
In the technical sense of the term, spiritual direction is that function of the sacred ministry by which the Church guides the faithful to the attainment of eternal happiness. It is part of the commission given to her in the words of Christ: "Going, therefore, teach ye all nations . . . teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19 sq.). She exercises this function both in her public teaching, whether in word or writing, and in the private guidance of souls according to their individual needs; but it is the private guidance that is generally understood by the term "spiritual direction".Catholic Encyclopedia, article 'Spiritual Direction.
It is not easy to find a Director. I was very lucky in finding mine, who has now passed (R+I+P), and I've been unable to find another. I worked in management in a major drug store chain when I lived in Kansas City, KS. I lived just a few blocks from one of the stores I was posted to. There were a number of Churches within walking distance of my house, including the Cathedral of St Peter directly across the street from my house, and Blessed Sacrament Parish which the Latin Mass Community of St Philippine Duchesne shared with the NO congregation.

I had a Priest as a customer, and as we chatted whilst he was shopping I discovered that he was extremely conservative for an NO Priest. I also discovered, from mentioning him at the TLM, that several of the men in the Community used him as their regular Confessor, which was high praise, indeed.

Since his Church was within easy walking distance of both my house and the store, and because his Saturday evening Vigil Mass was more convenient than the one at St Peter's, on weekends when I couldn't make it to the TLM because of working on Sunday, I started going to his Mass. In our conversations at the store, I had revealed that I was a Traditionalist, so when he gave me Holy Communion, he used the old Latin form of administration, and not the truncated 'Body of Christ' of the Novus Ordo. When I confessed to him, he also used the Latin absolution.

After a few weeks of confessing to him and attending his Masses, I asked him if he would be my Director. He agreed. We would meet as often as we felt it was needed, or when I felt a special need, to discuss my spiritual life. He helped me write a Rule of Life, based on my Rule as a Carmelite Tertiary, and heard the vow I took to observe it.

Whilst I did know something about his family, all I knew about him was that at one point in his life he had belonged to a Religious Institute or Order, and that he had been a Chaplain in the US Forces. I knew that his brother was a very liberal NO Priest, that he had a sister who was a nun, and that I had attended university with his niece, that my wife had gone to high school with his nephew, and that they and their parents, Father's brother and sister-in-law, attended the same Latin Mass Community I did. Family gatherings must have been interesting!

One day, after our direction session, we were sitting in the living room of his rectory, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes. He was under doctor's not to smoke, but he would 'bum' one from me when I stopped at the rectory to visit. I told him that I had heard that he had been a Religious and asked him which Order he had been in.

He replied, 'You don't know the Matt Horvat story? I'll tell you the Matt Horvat story!'

He had joined the Jesuit Order in 1947. The Jesuits have (had?) a very lengthy formation, and he was finally ordained in 1960. As the Vietnam War was heating up he requested, and received, permission from his Superiors to enlist as a chaplain in the US Military. When his enlistment was up, he returned to the States to discover that the Jesuits had become quite a different Order.

The Second Œcumenical Council of the Vatican had happened whilst he was in the military, with all the intendant 'reform' of Orders and Institutes. He took a look at what the Jesuits had become, said, 'This is not the Order I joined', and walked away! No laicisation or anything.

He 'married', invalidly, of course, since Canon Law absolutely forbids an ordained Priest, or those under a vow of perpetual chastity from attempting to contract marriage (Code of Canon Law, 1983, Can. 1087 Those in sacred orders invalidly attempt marriage, and Can. 1088 Those bound by a public perpetual vow of chastity in a religious institute invalidly attempt marriage.).

He had children, and a successful business career. When his children were grown, his 'wife' died, leaving him a widower. At some point after that, our Archbishop, whose Cathedral was across the street from my house, called him. As Father told the story, His Excellency said, 'Matt, don't you think it's about time to come home?'

A few months later, he was Pastor of St Mary-St Anthony Church in Kansas City, KS, where I met him. Father has passed way, and of your charity, I ask for your prayers for the repose of his soul.

Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that the soul of Thy servant Matthew, Thy priest, whom in this life Thou didst honor with the sacred office, may rejoice in the glory of heaven for evermore. Through our Lord. 

Memory Eternal!

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