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 And the Greatest of These is Love!

Chapter One


Looking Back (A Changing People)



I wanted to share something different with you this week, something a bit different than the usual scripture readings, maybe because I wanted not to think so much about all that is going on in our world and in our country these days.  This may or may not have any meaning for you, I will leave that up to God.  I want to share with you the beginning of the first chapter of a book that I wrote back in 2000.  The title of the book is “And The Greatest of These is Love.”  And for the most part there is much about my extended family in this writing.  So, here goes.  I pray that perhaps it may stir something in you that you might want to look back on your life, as I do in this particular writing.  



"I'm staring out our dinning room window this morning, our dog Sam laying in the front yard taking in the sun despite the bitter cold and blistering wind. Our black lab has no idea of what's going on in the world, the human world that is. She is too busy keeping other intruding animals at bay, not wanting to give up her cozy little patch of dried grass. If only our life could be as simple as Sam’s.
The doves are not on the power lines this morning. I can't blame them. It's too cold and windy up there. They should stay in the trees.

Looking out there in that big yard; what memories begin to unfold? But I can't deal with that right now. There are more pressing issues that need my thoughts, consideration, and even prayers. My dad is in the hospital in St. Louis, dying of cancer. We wait, from day to day, of news of his condition. It's been over a year since he was first diagnosed of the lung cancer, and now it's moving rapidly, encompassing his whole body. We have no ideal how much longer he has to live. My hope is that he can come home to die. Others in the family are trying to cope with their feelings about his impeding departure from this life. Of course I am too. I'm sure we all agree, meaning family members, that God has a place for him in heaven. He's lived a long life, considering how he has had to live that life, marred by the pain of suffering disabling injuries in World War II, namely the lost of his right foot, a shattered left ankle, and the impeding depression, panic disorder, and alcoholism that followed. His was by no means an easy life, as he now clings to what remains of it, or rather is trying to let go of it for that better place to come. No one will ever really know what he has gone through except for mom. She knows all too well, for she too has carried his burden, along with hers, and in the final analysis, hers will probably have been the greater load to carry. This is no ordinary family by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, most people would not be able to comprehend the breath and depth and scope of this tremendously large clan of sixteen children, seventy-one grandchildren, and may some day reach well over 100 great-grandchildren, and great great-grandchildren many of the names that not even I can remember. Wow! The Politte name will surely go on forever, all because of the love of two very special people who loved God and each other and put that love first, before material possessions and money; who trusted in God and themselves, that they, Edwin and Catherine Politte, would make a difference in this world. And they have . . . . . . .!

In this family, we are all so fortunate to have parents with such great love who lived it and shared it and passed it on to us, and the tremendous faith that has been born from that love, a faith that I am grateful to have been blessed with. And it is with this thought in mind that I stare out this window reflecting on the many years ago from which it was received by me, with my baptism into our Catholic Faith, a faith heritage that goes back many generations before my time.

I suppose that many people don’t like to look back in time because of the many troubled relationships and hurts they encountered, and the difficulties and struggles of growing up in times of turmoil, conflict, and war. However, looking back at any past, one will encounter these events and the affects that it has had on their life today. When I think of all the Jewish people who survived the holocaust, I can understand the tremendous burden it must be to look back, especially at the brutal and horrific suffering, pain, and death that was inflicted upon their families, neighbors, and friends; the useless loss of so many millions of lives simply because they were Jews. And yet, looking back in time, the past, remembering the vast wonderment of all that it can tell us about the present, and perhaps even the future, is perhaps a tremendous part of the total person that we are today. Every period of time has it’s ups and downs, and somehow seems to serve a purpose despite the situations and circumstances that were encountered. It is no wonder that St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians concerning love can be understood in so many life situations because it reflects the message of love that Jesus taught on his journey to Jerusalem, in both the ordinary and the extraordinary events that we encounter in our journey toward Jerusalem, toward our Good Friday, ending in our Resurrection of eternal life. And those events are usually just the events of everyday living, the moral values, the traditions, and the prayerful experiences that we encounter, as most often realized in the people we have met or will meet on life’s journey. Such has been my experience, which has enhanced and reaffirmed my faith and relationship with God. I have discovered that in my own ventures, that awareness has been and continues to be reinforced by the people who have been a part of life in either the past, the present, and the days to come And so, with that in mind, I look back in time to the memories that connect me to the past and the dreams of what the future would be. Either way, life goes on.

I remember when I was about six years of age, my grandma Boyer, on my mother’s side, passed away. I wasn’t really swept away with grief because I really didn’t know her that well, aside from the stories told about her. She spoke much French and sometimes of course I couldn’t understand anything she said. I do remember her as a very hard working woman, with wrinkled hands and her gray hair in a bun. She seemed to work in the kitchen all the time over a very hot wood stove, both in the winter as well as in the summer. She provided the most delicious meals, everything home grown of course in her huge garden. Grandma Boyer was also a very spiritual person. She lived her life in service to God, not in any dramatic way, but just in the everyday ordinary things she did, in a quiet and humble way. She had a very strong devotion to the Blessed Mother as she constantly said the rosary, as it was a requirement that all family members and even visitors knelt down with her each evening to pray that very special prayer. Though I don’t have many memories of her, the ones I do have are certainly lasting ones as I witnessed how much she loved God.

My dad’s mother, on the other hand, Grandma Politte, was a completely different person. She was a person who enjoyed a good time. She worked at a shirt factory, and often would bring home shirts that were irregular, most of which fit one of us fifteen brothers and sisters. It seemed like we went to Grandma Politte’s fairly often for Sunday dinner. What was so neat about that, aside from the good food and soda Gramps would always have waiting, was that after dinner, she would give all of us who wanted to go the movies just two blocks away, a quarter to get into the theater with and still have extra money to spend on candy, popcorn, and soda.
When Grandma Politte was in her mid fifties she had a stroke. I was then twelve years of age. She lived for another fourteen years before she passed on. She was always a happy person. She was not Catholic but read the bible every day. Grandma Politte was a very gentle woman, a person of faith. She was compassionate and kind and my treasured memories of her is her great gift of love to all.

Certainly the history of our ancestors in itself has affected the present day that it has become important for us to remember. The Bible for example, holds a wealth of information and experience. The New Testament alone, some two thousand years ago, has helped to develop or at least made us aware of the nature and the notion of a loving God, or whatever Deity he/she is to be called, that has led to thousands of religious faith expressions throughout the world reaffirming that the greatest gift is indeed the gift of love.

Because we have such a unique connection to the past via memories or whatever, we certainly have been affected by it all, and continue to be. In a very real sense we have also benefited by it. The nature by which we examine how we have been affected by the past, whether good or bad, is what I call change. Change constitutes the totality of all that the past expresses and helps us to cope with the present as we live it in our lives today, and touch the future as we dream it to become.

I suppose that many people are content with the past as it is, separated from the new time, but perhaps are not too content with the notion of change. Simply put, many people don’t like change, regardless of the circumstances or outcomes. I wonder if this isn’t especially true when it comes to the growth of so many faith expressions.. Though I see change as a necessary element toward growth in spiritual awareness, prayer, and faith development, some see it as a threat to the traditions they grew up with. But as a caterpillar emerges from it’s cocoon as a beautiful butterfly, isn’t it likely that we too, must emerge from that same state in order to grow in faith and love as Jesus taught us? Change is not stagnant. It is forever evolving toward greater understanding and fulfillment of our baptismal promises, or at least it should be if we are to reap it’s full potential to love God with our whole heart, our whole soul, and our whole minds, while loving our neighbors as we love ourselves. The essential message of what God’s love is all about does not change, but rather the many dimensions from which we are able to witness to that love and apply it to our way of life is extremely beneficial and rewarding, as we encompass the way of life that Jesus lived. As Christians, isn’t that our ultimate goal?

As I mentioned before, there were sixteen children in my family, eleven boys, and five girls. Over thirty years ago it was the vision of my brother Bill to come up with the idea of a “Family Newsletter.” The idea was that everyone of our brothers and sisters, and including the children, were to write about what was going on in each particular family, mail it to him, and presto!, a wealth of information was shared with the whole family via the newsletters. It was a great idea. We did this for many years, but as each family grew and grew, it seemed like it was almost impossible to keep up with the family newsletter, and so, in time, it faded away. I go back now and then and reread those old copies of the first “Politte Family Newsletter,” and relive the memories they once held in store. I know that they have changed my life for the better. I think of all the different situations and experiences we related to each other, a continual growing up in faith and love together, even as our ages became more seasoned. Now today we have our own “Politte Family Website.” The number of this Politte family is well into the hundreds I would suppose, and now we can share more than just news about our families, we can view photos, poems, inspirational material, jokes, post prayer request, and so many other things. This tool of communication has certainly brought us even closer together. It has become especially useful when illness befalls any one of us, to be able to post updates and pray for all the sick and suffering, not only in our family, but for our friends, parishioners, neighbors, etc. What a gift from God! A treasure of memories that will live on forever, memories of good times and bad, birthdays and anniversaries , new born babies, laughs and tears, all reinforced by our tremendous faith in and love of God no matter what faith expression we are, forever growing in this changing world. I believe that God made us a people of change so that we could grow ever so closer, even through the rough times, along with the good.

 I suppose it would only make sense they we have all been affected by our changing past to be prepared for the challenges of the now time and the years to come. There was one man who was born among us over two thousand years ago, who may have brought about the most significant change in the history of humankind. A man of love, compassion, understanding, knowledge, and divine grace. Some people called him ‘Teacher’, some ‘Rabbi’, some ‘Liberator’, and some called him ‘Master’. However, even to this day, most people call him Jesus. And indeed, his mission was to change the world, and amid the change that he brought, should we choose to follow him, we will be able to discover the Kingdom that will lead us to an everlasting peace with ourselves, our neighbor, and our God. Looking back to the past, and most certainly at our present situation, doesn’t that only make sense?"

Steve Politte
© 2000


The Edwin W. and Catherine Politte Family

The next photo is one of my extended family: L - R, Top:  Deacon Glen, Ed, Jerry, Bill (deceased), Russ, Jim, Steve, Joe, Dennis, David, Rick.  Bottom:  Jeannie, Mary Ann, Dad, Edwin W.(deceased), Mom, Mary Catherine (deceased), Cathy (deceased), and Monica.











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