I am sitting here at home on Good Friday evening, after having celebrated the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the Santa Clara Good Friday Prayer Breakfast, and the service of the Lord’s passion at Holy Family Cathedral in Orange. Tomorrow evening is Holy Saturday evening, the Third night of the “Triduum” – that is three days – which not only celebrate but bring us once more to live the “Paschal Mystery of Christ” – his suffering, death and Resurrection. We are reminded through the Word of God and the Sacramental symbols of the Church’s Liturgy how we participate in the very life, death and resurrection of Christ the Lord. It is particularly significant that the great servant of the Lord, Dr. Robert Schuller, went home to the Lord whom he loved and served at the beginning of these Holy Days. I wanted to write just a few more words to those thoughts and words that have already been added. The words “well done good and faithful servant” have been very aptly used to describe him. I have added the Latin word to that title, which means “again”. Thus, “Again, well done good and faithful servant.”
My first memories of Dr. Schuller go back to the early l960’s when my grandparents bought their first color television set! My parents still had a black and white set with three channels! In the amazement of those colors I would catch a glimpse and listen to Dr. Schuller all of the way from Southern California! At that same time, my grandmother would listen to Bishop Sheen in his program “Life is Worth Living”, and then all of the kids would crowd around the set on Sunday evenings for Walt Disney’s wonderful world of color! Another image of southern California, and I would wonder if I would ever get to see that faraway place with all of its attractions and beauty! Well, when through God’s providence I did come here to Southern California. I had the chance, then, just last year when I mentioned to Dr. Schuller that I had seen him on television, and his response was “Really ?”. I said that yes I had and his way of preaching reminded me of Bishop Sheen, and he replied that “he was a good friend of mine.”!
I was fortunate enough to see the video of Dr. Schuller’s words to the priests of Orange upon the acquisition of the Cathedral campus. He came to my installation in December of 2012 and I was fortunate to visit with him then, and since then. I would visit with him and Arvella on special occasions, and she and I would reflect on Christian hymns, music and Church organs.
It was a blessing for me to visit both he and Arvella in the hospital last year and pray with both of them. I asked him to pray with me also at that time, and it was humbling to hear his words for me as well. I am grateful that I visited with him last year at about this same time and could thank him for his faithful service of the Word of God, which lifted up and encouraged so many people here and around the world.
It was in those short meetings that I got a glimpse into a window that God had given me of Faith, the ministry of the Word, and the love that he and Arvella had for each other. I had but a glimpse of what others here had experienced for many years. But I am grateful to God for that glimpse. “Iterum – again”, truly, well done good and faithful servant, enter now in the joy of your Lord!
I would like to share , among the many tributes of these days to Dr. Schuller, the words of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano at last November’s meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:
“Turning to a brighter perspective, I recently, toward the beginning of the month, visited Bishop Vann in the Diocese of Orange. He asked me to bless the Tower of Hope, one of the beautiful buildings of the magnificent Christ Cathedral complex that the Diocese recently acquired from the great evangelical preacher, Fr. Robert Schuller. You are aware how, by complete dedication to his ministry, he moved countless numbers of people to a real conversion of heart – so many types of people who were willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of Jesus and his Gospel.”