Archive for the ‘Special’ Category

Funeral Reflection for Hank Caruso

Friday, July 14th, 2017

Funeral Eulogy for Hank Caruso
Mt 5: 1-12a (Beatitudes)
Deacon Larry Brockman

It has been my pleasure to know Hank for over 12 years now. My wife Jane and I met the Curusos in Tennessee at St. Francis in Townsend while on vacation, and quickly learned of some common ground- our roots in Orlando and a common friend in the Diaconate. Hank and Jane were very helpful to Jane and me whenever we visited our place in Tennessee, right across the road from their house.
Hank was the middle son of an Italian immigrant and his second wife. Hank was born in 1939. He grew up going to school at St. James Cathedral and later Bishop Moore High School. After Hank married Jane, they settled along the South Florida Coast, but returned to the Orlando area a few years later, where Hank and Jane lived in Winter Park and raised their family for 36 years. Hank was a Corvette owner for over 20 years, an avid boat owner, and a water sports enthusiast. He worked as a Biomedical Engineer at Philips; but Hank was one of those people who worked to live; not lived to work. He rarely talked about his job in the time I knew him. But Hank took his Catholic faith seriously; he was a Eucharistic Minister and a very active member of the men’s club at Sts. Peter and Paul for many years.
Hank had a dream for when he retired. He wanted to live in the East Tennessee mountains, relax, hike a bit, and farm. So, in the 2003/2004 time frame, the Caruso’s left Orlando and built their retirement home halfway along the Foothills Parkway at some 2000 feet elevation in the Top of the World above Maryville Tennessee. It is 10 degrees cooler there than in Knoxville in the summer; and yet still relatively mild in the winter. Hank bought a tractor, and cleared enough land for a fair-sized garden. And so, Hank had a good 10 years to live his dream. Daily, he used his tractor and tended his land. I can remember tales of bumper crops of butternut squash, grapes, and tomatoes; and lots of hiking. Indeed, I remember a garage full of squash! And the Carusos took us along on some of those hikes. Hank also helped maintain order and peace in the Top of the World Community as an officer of the Homeowners Group.
Hank became a Reader at St. Francis, and a member of the Parish Finance Team. He was a key player in their effort to establish a parish there when St. Francis was a Mission church. Hank was also quite helpful to the Deacon there, Deacon Mike Nestor. Although Mike couldn’t be here today, he asked me to pass along his respects.
Jane and I really enjoyed the 10 years or so of visits to our vacation spot and Jane and Hanks company and hospitality. We hiked together, played together, and chewed the fat around our fire pit as retired folk do. We shared our family experiences; we relished in the photos of Hank and Janes tour of Sicily and the hospitality of his family; we watched how kind and generous Hank and Jane were in caring for Janes’s 90+ year old mom for many years. We were also witnesses to the onset of Hank’s Parkinson’s like disease. We watched it slowly but surely eat away at Hank’s vitality. We never heard Hank complain. Indeed, he endured his infirmity with the utmost of dignity. But we could feel the pain that they both experienced when it became clear they were going to have to leave their mountain home and retirement dream to return to Orlando and be close to family.
Over the last two years, we have remained close to the Carusos with frequent dinners out and evenings of cards. And in that time, we saw Hank maintain his spirit in the face of his terrible disease.
Our Gospel today talked about the Beatitudes. Life is all about learning to live the Beatitudes so that when we meet our Lord Jesus Christ, we will be ready for the Kingdom of God. It seems to me that Hank Caruso learned that lesson well. Time and circumstances led him to humble acceptance, generosity, mercifulness, peacemaking, and other aspects of the beatitudes. Rest in peace now Hank; enjoy your heavenly reward. We will all miss you.

Why Ash Wednesday and Lent?

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

Ash Wednesday Service

Joel 2: 12-18

Dc. Larry Brockman


Why Ash Wednesday?  Why Lent?  And just what are we supposed to do?

Well, in the early Christian Church, folks prayed, fasted, and renewed themselves spiritually as they prepared for Baptism into the Church on Easter.  After most people converted to Christianity, the Church recognized the need for the people to renew themselves spiritually each year as they prepared for Easter because the converts lost some of the enthusiasm for their faith and needed to be reminded of what it was all about.   

And so, way back in the fourth Century,  the Church instituted the season of Lent for fasting and penance to prepare spiritually for Easter.  What was earlier observed as a week-long fast was expanded to 40 days, because Jesus, after his Baptism by John, went away for 40 days in the desert and fasted and reflected on what God’s mission was for him.   

He emerged resolved to change his life from that of a carpenter to a preacher.  And that’s pretty much what we should do- reflect on how we should live the life God wants for us.  But how should we do it?   

There’s a saying used in 12 step addiction programs that I think gives us a big clue:  “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results”.  I think most of us are guilty of that.  We live our lives in a fixed pattern.  A change is hard for us.   

In a few minutes, you will receive ashes.  These ashes remind you that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.  Yes, indeed, as far as this life, you started out without the life force as “dust”, and some day you, as with all of us, will return to dust.   

But we all have the opportunity, shown to us through Jesus’ death and Resurrection at Easter, to live forever in the Kingdom of God.  And Jesus Gospel message was this- repent, believe, and follow me.  To make sure we are on the right course let’s all repent- which means ‘make a change’.     

The Church advises us to use fasting, prayer, and almsgiving during Lent as the tools for making a change.  First, let’s talk about fasting.  Rather than giving up chocolate or beer, ask yourself this question:  “What is it in my life that is interfering with my ability to use my time better?”  And then cut some of the time you spend on this. That should lead to some spare time for prayer. 

Now, the reason prayer is so important,  Is that it gives us the quiet time with God to reflect on what needs to change.  It is the key to identifying how we can expect different results.  So, use the time freed up by your “fasting”  to pray, maybe first thing in the morning; or last thing at night.  But in any event, find a half hour, or surely even just 10 minutes a day.  Go somewhere quiet, and reflect on your weaknesses.   

Reflect on the 7 deadly sins- Pride, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Laziness, Anger, and Envy.  Almost all of us are guilty of one of these.  Ask God to forgive you, and help you to make a change.  And then change your life to eliminate the bad habit or tendency   

Lastly, almsgiving.  Rather than dropping a few extra bucks in the collection box, think of almsgiving as a way to use the extra time and energy that you receive after you change one of those bad habits for doing something positive for someone else.   Do something that hurts a little bit, because it’s a stretch.   

Fasting, Prayer and Almsgiving.  Not only is it good for Lent, but it’s a way of life for continuous improvement!  It’s why we have Lent. 

Returning to the Lord

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Ash Wednesday Service

Joel 2: 12-18

Dc. Larry Brockman


“Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart”.  Yes indeed, it is never too late to turn back to the Lord.   

Today is an especially good day to begin that process because we will all receive ashes on our foreheads,  And as we receive them, we will hear the statement:  “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” to remind ourselves that life in this world is not what life is all about. It’s a somber reminder, but one that most of us in this hospital can understand.  Because many of us see life as we know it end here for a patient or a loved one. 

Just a month ago, my own Mom lay here just down the hall, a woman of 91 years, who had lived a full and vibrant life.  But it was clear that her life here was ending.  Was that all there was to life for her?  Was life ending, or was there something else just beginning?     

For those of us who are Christians, we know that there is more to life than life in this world.  But we have to be ready for it.  We have to recognize that God wants to be part of our lives, and that he has something special in mind for us in this life, something that will prepare us for the next life.  That’s what Lent is all about.  And that is what the Church is trying to do for the next 40 days, to get us all ready for the Resurrection and the promise of everlasting life that comes to us with Easter.   

Joel says it well.  “Proclaim a fast, gather an assembly, gather the people”.  And then:  “And say, spare, O Lord your people”.  Joel is asking the people to listen up, repent, and mend their ways.  And as the last sentence of the reading implies, the Lord was stirred to concern for His people.   

All of us are corrupted by the world.  It’s a fast moving lane that most of us live in.  We have many things to do and precious little time to stop and listen for God’s voice among the noise and clutter.  But we have to do it.  The season of Lent is the perfect time of year to do it. 

How?  Well, first fast from things of this world that clutter your mind and keep you from responding to God.  TV; the many obligations we book in our lives; and addictions to a person, a food, or an activity; be sensitive and respond to others in need- in other words, almsgiving.  Find some time to pray and also to just listen to God.  In other words:  “Take the time, and return to the Lord with your whole heart.” 

Understanding Suffering

Thursday, April 21st, 2011


Holy Thursday Reflection


Suffering!  Suffering is something that all of us avoid, and yet, none of us can avoid it totally, can we?  It can be physical suffering- an illness or operation; it can be emotional suffering- pressures by family or circumstances; or it can be any of the other forms that suffering takes.  And yet, when I listen to the passion of Christ, which we hear a couple of times during Holy Week, and which we commemorated in devotion through the Stations of the Scriptural Cross on all of the Fridays of Lent, it brings the suffering that Christ endured for the sins of the world into such clear focus.  It reminds me that no matter what I am called to suffer, it pales by comparison to the suffering of Jesus.  Jesus understood that His work, the work of salvation, would be made perfect as he subjugated His will to the will of the Father, even if that meant suffering humiliation and pain and torture and death- which it did.  That’s a lesson all of us need to learn.  That in the course of our lives, we will encounter suffering related to the will of God.  And our mission in life is to accept it, because it is part of what all of us need to do in being made perfect in the eyes of God.  Why?  Because just like Jesus, what awaits us if we are obedient is the glory that Jesus paved the way for all of us to receive as sons and daughter of God. 

Jesus True Sacrifice on the Cross

Friday, April 8th, 2011


April 8, 2011

Stations of the Cross Reflection

Dc. Larry Brockman

He was a man who endured much suffering.  Nothing could be clearer to us than that   After pondering the readings for each of the stations tonight, it is clear Jesus suffered in mind, body, and spirit.  He was falsely accused, betrayed, and misunderstood.  He was physically abused, taunted, and humiliated.  And finally, he was tortured and put to death in the most painful way the authorities knew of.  But something else was clear in the readings.  He was in love.  True God and True Man, Jesus loved His own creation, mankind, so much that he suffered for us, and took on our own infirmities.  Indeed, Jesus shows us the way.  Every human life, and that includes yours and mine, will experience suffering and pain.  The secret is to accept the pain and suffering that is part of our lives in the same spirit as Jesus accepted it.  Because our bodies are imperfect; our minds imperfect, and our world is imperfect, the consequences of living God’s will for us will always mean a mix of good times and bad times, of joy and suffering.  Jesus accepted his cross with love, and a sense of joy.  Yes, he was afraid- that was what Gethsemane was all about.  Yes, he was disappointed in his Apostles and followers-  they fell asleep while he prayed, and then abandoned him.  But it didn’t matter.  He accepted the cross out of love, love for all of creation.  The last couple of weeks of Lent are a good time for us to reflect on our own suffering.  We will experience it; it is part of life.  But, we need to accept it with the same spirit as the Lord did.  Illnesses, stress, bad breaks in the world, and stupid mistakes- these are a few of the things that cause us suffering.  What makes us truly Christian disciples of Jesus is our attitude towards them.  Can we love even when we are afflicted, as Jesus did?  Can we endure, even when we are in pain as Jesus did?  Yes we can; because we know that Jesus will always be there for us for ever and ever.