Thursday, March 21, 2013

“Everything Matters” Dr. Scott Hahn and Mike Aquilina

J.M.J. + O.B.T. + M.G.R.*


In the year 2001, my firstborn son was fortunate to have met Dr. Scott Hahn. In a chance encounter that wasn’t arranged by man (a mutual friend, John Rees was the providential instrument of mediation) Scott Hahn happened to be at noon Mass at St. Michael’s Basilica in Pensacola, FL and John and I saw him as we passed to arrive at our pew about ten rows to his front.
At the end of Mass there was a moment of meeting and I will always fondly recall Scott’s exclamation as he picked up my little son and raised him heavenward. “John Michael!” he boomed with his tell-tale voice. For this new-be father, it seemed very much like Jesus’ encounter with Simeon, the Presentation in the Temple. At the time I surmised the Scott had heard (from John Rees) about John Michael’s Sacred Heart NICU experience (born at 1 lb 10 oz), his pure joy and his heroic passion for life. I remember how tall of a man Scott was and how small John looked in his hands. For these past 11 years the import of this meeting has remained obscured by a sweet cloud of mystery.
Well, yesterday the clouds parted enough to allow a beam of light to shine through.
We arrived at Whataburger Field early in the evening and patiently sat waiting an extra hour for Tim Tebow to arrive. His plane was late. My son John Michael has since grown up to be a man, and he so wanted to see his #1 sports hero, a man he has greatly admired these past five years. We could not miss this event at the home field of our Corpus Christi Hooksit was ordained to happen just this way it did with John Michael, his little brother Joe and me. And so it did, and Tim Tebow finally arrived.
Tim taught us about Philippians 4:13 and John 3:16 in a powerful talk that left us pondering three words of wisdom, “Passion, Be Different, and Perseverance.” He walked off to a standing ovation and we immediately ran outside to meet him, so that he might sign John’s prosthetic leg (complete with a Denver Bronco football helmet decal in his honor ) and a football that we also brought along. Well I thought we had a chance, that it might happen, especially when I was able to spy the limousine and the driver, and get a message to her. Then the mystery kicked in. It seems Tim skipped the ride, slipped through the fans and disappeared into the night. We kept watch for about twenty minutes, just in case he was delayed in the park.
I guess it was not meant to be.
My son John Michael was crestfallen, but we had taken Tim’s advice and persevered til the end. We finished strong. When we got back into our Uplander my two sons acknowledged my efforts….We tried.
As we drove away we snapped a photo of the Harbor Bridge and found that a Bridge Walk will occur on April 7th (more on this in a future blog entry).
We headed south on Ocean Drive to visit a dear family friend, Becky who had just been admitted into the Corpus Christ Medical Center, The Heart Hospital and was suffering from bronchitis. There was mystery when we arrived at the 4th floor because she was not in Rm 411. Then the station nurse informed us that she was discharged … Hmmm??? Well we persisted (persevered) and finally found that she was just around the corner in Rm 416.
At around 8:15 we entered her room. She was asleep and EWTN was on TV. I looked up at the screen and saw an image that I immediately recognized as the Sanctuaire Notre-Dame-du- at Cap-de-la- Madeleine in Quebec ( site of a miraculous ice bridge across the St. Lawrence River). I made a comment to my two boys that my dear departed Uncle Sivvy, Fr. Silvester Livolsi was there at the Dedication and Inaugural Mass in 1954. He was blessed to have preached a Triduum in English. (I was a pilgrim there on two separate occasions; once with my uncle and cousin as an eleven year old in 1970 and once with my fiancé, Jen just prior to our wedding in 1998). Curiously, earlier in the day I had come across the souvenir book for the Shrines of Quebec (featuring the Cap) as I was laboriously sorting through and ordering years of collected stuffstuff which I hadn’t looked at for many years).
Becky soon opened her eyes and I took her hand, We prayed a decade of the rosary and a Memorare for and with Becky (she had an oxygen mask on) and we were overjoyed that she was lucid and smiling. We saw that she needed rest so we bid farewell and departed after about 10 minutes.
We grabbed sandwiches at McAlisters as they were putting up chairs and about to close and we finally arrived home a little after 10:30 pm.
When I entered the living room there was Jen watching EWTN on the mini computer (a first as far as I can recall). Since Johnnette Benkovic was on with “Women of Grace” and since the subject was the Shroud of Turin I made a snap decision to plug the computer into the TV so that the whole family could watch.
And watch we did, Jen, John Michael, Joe and me (Gigi was already asleep and so Joe carried her off to bed).
The guest mentioned Ray Rogers a half dozen times and the gist of the program was that science is once again paying attention to the Shroud after the carbon 14 dating from 1988 was proven unfounded for it was based on a sample cut from a patch that was added in the Middle Ages. [NOTE: Ray Rogers died on my birthday in 2005…Maria Esperanza died on my wife’s birthday in 2004. Both are important to the story.]
When the program ended the announcement was made that Holy Mass (an encore of morning Mass at EWTN’s chapel) was Coming up Next.
All I can relate about this Mass is that I fell asleep and don’t even remember seeing the Intro which I love nor the opening Sign of the Cross. I was out like a light. That is until I awoke a little less than three hours later.
 “Swear to God” was now on EWTV…and it was compelling to say the least. There was Scott Hahn.
After about three minutes, during a commercial break, it hit me…I must record this on video...
So I dashed to the kitchen to get the digital camera (that I intended to use to snap a photo of John with Tim Tebow, the same camera that I used to photograph Corpus Christi’s Rainbow Harbor Bridge). I set up a stool in front of the TV, propped the camera on the stool and hit the record button. The program was all about matter and its importance to the Faith of our Fathers and to us today. Yes, everything matters (like the fact that matter is matter because it has mass) Even timing…
I was truly amazed at what happened next. Right after the program’s credits rolled (I needed to record them in case I desired to have a DVD of the program) the Dell Mini Inspiron 910 went to sleep (hibernation due to low battery power). This was the exact end of the program (as recorded at 13:30 in the .avi file) and simultaneously my Samsung SL805 digital camera ran out of memory. Incidentally, the reason why I have both the computer and camera is that they were part of a science grant for Texas teachers, a fine program that I was a member of in 2009.

Here is the video as I recorded it from EWTN:

Please watch and listen, for it is that important.

(The word power  is used 14 times;
energy, the source of power, is used is 0 times.)

So what does all this mean?

No to a Tim Tebow encounter…Yes to a Scott Hahn encounter.
No to a pop star’s photo for posterity…Yes Our Lady’s mysterious presence the Star of Evangelization for eternity.
Fast asleep during Holy Mass on EWTN…Wide awake for explanations of why mass matters and the Matter of Mass on EWTN.
Ray Rogers…the Shroud’s truth…the importance of science...the Holy Spirit acting to bring matter to life…it all fits, it all matters.

At least it does to me.
John 4:44 ... Well at least I was an Honor Rep at West Point 33 years ago.
Sincerely yours in Jesus and Mary,
Mike Rizzio

Imitate Mary
Become like Jesus
Live for the Triune God

Seek the Light of Our Lord Jesus Christ
See you on the High Ground!

* - J.M.J. + O.B.T. + M.G.R. stands for:
Jesus, Mary and Joseph;
O Beata Trinitas;
St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael


Anonymous said...

I had a similar electronic experience. As a lay scientismist, former dabbler in dialectal materialism, and uninspired artist searching for something in a serpentine OCD hell of my own devising, I was led in a trail of breadcrumbs of terrifying synchronicity to the image of the Sacred Heart, and it superseded all the brane cosmology and quantum chromodynamics into its proper place under the Moral Law of the universe. I was afraid I was going to have to tell someone about this science stuff for which I as an artist would lack real credibility or skill in mathematical and practical articulation, so its great to see this blog. I'll be reading.

Mike Rizzio said...

Thanks Anonymous!

When we come to the point of asking the question. "Did this really happen, or am I insane?" I think we are very close to God.