This week I lost my second father, a friend, a Franciscan Friar, an instrumental person in my life. Though I haven’t seen Father Linus DeSantis in years, his words continue to nurture me, inspire me, and push me forward. His death has me rethinking the steps I took in my journey while he was ministering to me, while we were serving together, and since he left Atlanta in 2007 to serve at Syracuse University.
On a memorial page for Fr. Linus, a friend and employee of Fr. Linus remembered these words that Fr. Linus would tell those in mourning, “Think of the person you love who has passed and pick one characteristic, one virtue that inspires you, and adopt that as your own in their memory and honor.” As I think through his virtues, several emerge that I could really use to adopt. Choosing one may be impossible:
- Focused: In each moment, focused on a particular task, Fr. Linus took the time to zoom in to the person, sacrament, or situation and serve and be present.
- Present: I’ve never seen any other minister or priest so fully present to people as well as to God He never failed to meet me where I was and help me move forward.
- Resolute: The man was friend and priest and father and counselor to many. I don’t know how he did it. In his resolve to serve God, he managed to be instrumental in the lives of thousands, I am sure.
- Intentional: His time was planned and purposeful, and he seemed to go about each day purposeful in each moment, whether dining with college students, celebrating Mass, serving as spiritual director on TEC retreats, or hanging out with friends.
- Authentic: Even when arching an eyebrow at a behavior unfitting or an objective case pronoun misused, Fr. Linus was honest, true, and faithful.
- Prudent: Wisdom in action–Linus didn’t just say the words; he lived the words.
- Prayerful: When Fr. Linus spoke words of prayer to God aloud or silently, I could tell he had a special connection, and through his connection, I by virtue of occupying a space near him felt more connected.
- Inspiring: Each time I went to church where Fr. Linus presided, I felt close to God and connected to community. When I left Mass, I felt the challenge to be a better person, to live more fully with my God, to be more present to others, to serve more, to let go of my stuff.
- Encouraging: Even when holding me accountable, I felt encouraged and inspired. Fr. Linus made me want to be a better person. His words of wisdom encouraged me.
Other Words of Wisdom from Fr. Linus (some appear as photo captions):
Maya, when you’re everywhere, you are nowhere.
Maya, if you’re angry yell at God. Do what you need to do. Let Him know you’re still there. Just don’t quit talking to him.
Maya, if you are in the cesspool, take God there with you. When you’re down and discouraged, when you feel alone, don’t leave Him then. That’s when you need him most.
Maya, sometimes you don’t have to leave the country to go on a mission trip; sometimes your mission is to just be present to your family. They are your most important mission.
From a Lenten Mass: So you’re giving up chocolate or coffee for Lent–that’s great, but what are you going to do for God. How about you give up gossip? How about you give up picking on your sister? How about you give up judging others?
Goodbye Celebration for Father Linus Maya (2 weeks before Sarah was born), Fr. Linus, Michael, Mike