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Official Website of the
Catholic Diocese of Little Rock
Published: September 22, 2019
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor preached the following homily during the wake service for his father, Basil H. Taylor, at Trout Funeral Home Chapel in Ponca City, Oklahoma on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019.
The Scripture passage most often chosen for weddings — and possibly at Mom and Dad’s own wedding — is St. Paul’s great passage in first Corinthians about the theological virtues of faith, hope and love.
You know the passage: “Love is patient, love is kind … it does not put on airs … there is no limit to love’s forbearance, to its trust, its hope, its power to endure … there are in the end three things that last: faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love.” And doesn’t that describe our Dad!
Our Dad was a man of faith. The greatest predictor of whether a child — and especially a boy — will embrace the faith as an adult is if his father truly lived the faith himself. Mothers are so important too, but boys especially tend to model themselves on their dad, and if there is anything false or fake or not totally sincere, the kids will pick up on it right away.
Dad was so patient and so loyal because he was a man not only of faith, but also a man of hope; he never gave up on any of us. He trusted that the Lord would see us through … that the Lord would provide. And the Lord always did.
Our Dad was a man of faith, and the impact of his faith and Mom’s faith on our lives is undeniable. All seven of us siblings are active, faithful Catholics and all 16 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren are faithful, active followers of Jesus Christ — mostly as Catholics, but even the non-Catholics have a living relationship with Jesus. Forty-one believers whose roots in the Lord go back to a wedding that took place 66 years ago on July 18, 1953.
My earliest memories include going to Mass with my Dad. Probably none of you remember this bit of Ponca City trivia: My Dad was the first layperson to serve as a lector at Mass when this change for greater lay participation in the Mass was implemented following Vatican II. There were other first-time lectors in other Masses that Sunday, but he was the first because we went to the 6:30 a.m. Mass, which was obviously the first Mass of the day — and there was no Saturday vigil Mass yet.
Do you remember all those five-Taylor Masses? The four oldest Taylor boys as altar servers and Dad as lector, Mom in one of the pews near the front with the three little kids? Or times when our nine-member family occupied an entire pew near the front on the right-hand side? Mom and Dad were consistent people of faith throughout all the years.
After retirement Dad’s routine became to start the day spending an hour with what he called his “readings” and then another extended time with his “readings” before going to bed. Anyone else would call these times of prayer, in which in recent years he used his monthly Magnificat booklet to meditate on the Scriptures for that day and to pray that version of the Liturgy of the Hours. I think he called them “readings” because he would have thought it pretentious to call it a twice-daily holy hour, but that is sort of what it was.
Dad was a man of faith, but part of what made his faith so fruitful was that he was also a man of hope and love, the greatest gift of all. Each of us has gone through times that were difficult in our own personal life and sometimes we were not much fun to be around. But Dad was so patient and so loyal because he was a man not only of faith, but also a man of hope; he never gave up on any of us. He trusted that the Lord would see us through … that the Lord would provide. And the Lord always did.
And of course, as St. Paul says, the greatest of the Lord’s gifts is the gift of love, which in the case of my Dad was the foundation on which all of the rest was built: his marriage to our Mom, who he has missed intensely these last three years. My last activity with Dad was to place flowers on her grave the day after we celebrated his 90th birthday.
And then also his love for his family, we who are the fruit of his marriage with Mom. I know that others of my brothers and sisters are undoubtedly going to speak about their love, so for now I will just leave it there. “There are in the end three things that last: faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love."