Every day I pray my last two decades of the Rosary for the deceased. The last decade is for everyone I have known, and then I name one person in particular. Yesterday, during Adoration before seven a.m. Mass, a great uncle of mine named Samuel Mento winged into my thoughts. He died quite a while ago and hasn’t been on my mind in quite a while.
A veteran who saw three years of combat during World War Two, he owned a delicatessen in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and also had been a councilman; in his retirement years, to keep busy, he worked as a guide, taking visitors through the local newspaper. I grew up an eight-hour drive from him and so only saw him once a year, when he would visit Niagara Falls and his brother Domenic, who was my grandfather, as well as the rest of us.
I’ve never met a person who smiled or loved more.
Everyone got a special, authentic, deep hug. He was truly excited to see you, and wanted to know everything knew, as he held your hand. And he would arrive with two suitcases: one for his clothes, and the other filled with Tastykake cupcakes from his store (at the time, they were only available in the New York City-New Jersey area — and we relished them).
At any rate, Uncle Sam got that decade of the Rosary yesterday, and then shortly after, sorting through a mountain of old papers I have been taking time to file or purge, I came across something I forgot I’d even had. It was a typed five-page history of his (and thus my grandfather’s) family — when their parents came over from the general area of Catania in Sicily, how they had worked in the coal mines of Pennsylvania, and later owned stores in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the struggle during the famous flu pandemic of 1917 (that killed two of the three Fatima seers), the way life was when there was an out house way in the back and the difficulty when there was twenty inches of snow. He also described how, every night, the family would gather to pray together and tell stories and laugh.
The other details aren’t relevant to my point here. What is relevant is what I found at the very end of his five-page historical account. It was an intense prayer. I have copied it below. It requests so many of the things every family needs to request. I have no idea where he or whoever typed it obtained it. It certainly covers wide and deep territory. And I note that his side of the family never experienced raucous discord. It may be worth your praying. That’s up to you.
I loved my great-Uncle Sam. He was just that: a great uncle.
One other little note. Years ago, when I was giving a retreat in New Brunswick, I was walking through the lobby to my room during the lunch break when I saw a crowd milling about, waiting for a bus. My eyes settled immediately upon one man near the front desk, because though shorter, he was a dead-ringer (not to play on words) for my Uncle Sam — an identical twin. I just stared at him, and when he turned fully my way, I noticed that he was wearing a tie fashioned after the American flag, with stars and stripes, red white and blue. Like — yes, like that other, more famous Uncle Sam. I don’t believe in coincidence.
“Father God, in the mighty Name of the Lord of lords and King of kings, Your Son, Jesus Christ, please stand by us always, this day, tomorrow, next month, next year and the years after. Dear Jesus, touch us as we sleep, aid us in any illness, prevent any disease, and greet us upon death. Strengthen us spiritually, mentally, and physically. Lead us to the right prayers, Lord Jesus, and surround us and our family with Your angels. Take away all resentment and bitterness; all negative emotions we hereby release onto You.
“And please, dear Jesus, deliver our family —–(name)——— and permanently settle them.”