Butterflies blossom forth from the soul that is close to the living God. This act of worship – the essence of our eternal life – nevertheless can only ever be the result of a slow and long process of dying to self where that ugly caterpillar spins its own deathbed. Enveloping its entire being, the cocoon indeed is a self-emptying project which demands the worm’s entire energy, effort and focus. Only when all things have been consumed in this single-minded undertaking, is the death final enough for some new and unexpected life to begin. Though we are built for a butterflied way of being, how easy it is to not complete the cocooning process! There are relationships we simply care not to examine, certain habits we never allow ourselves to be conscious of, and attachments that we cannot bear the thought of relinquishing. Yet, the message is unambiguous, the tomb that lets in even the slightest amount of light will spoil the brilliant colors and the glorious emergence of the new creature. Let’s therefore not be afraid to go all the way and ensure that everything is covered in silk. Then, out of this dark and narrow place, that same everything shall taste life for the first time. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
BROTHER THEODORE (DAVID) KAPES, C.S.C. (1901-1995)
P.O.W. WORLD WAR II
Brother Theodore was born in Pennsylvania and at the age of 16 convinced his family that he wanted to join the Holy Cross Brothers. He entered the Congregation in 1924 and taught one year in the States after which he was assigned to Bengal where he taught at St. Gregory High School in Dhaka (Dacca) for ten years. He was a missionary’s missionary: master of all things Bengali. In 1945 he wrote “Memories of Bengal – 1930-1940” and in the Preface he states that “The following collection of incidents, experiences, letters and articles was written in Bengal, India, and they were originally published in The Bengalese. The Diocese embraces a vast territory, including diverse races, tribes, languages and dialects.” The Table of Contents includes 51 entries with articles on everything from jungle trails, monsoon days, “Missionaries are Human,” snakes, Indian music, Bengal’s pagan noises and “The Missionary with His Camera.”
In 1940 he came back to the States for a year of study, and then while heading back to Bengal in 1941 was one of the nineteen CSCs who were interred for four years by the Japanese in Manila. Brother Rex Hennel, one of the missionaries, recalled that in December of 1941, just a month before the formal internment, “Brother Theodore was going along his merry way, making history for all of us. Teddy had obtained a movie camera before we had left on our journey, and he wanted pictures of everything. It so happened that while we were in Manila, he decided to take some pictures of the boat on which we were traveling. That would have been fine, except that the spot he chose to take the pictures was just below a large sign reading Taking pictures in this area is absolutely forbidden. Teddy got the pictures, but the police got him. How Teddy got away with keeping his camera, we do not know. He would not talk about the matter. But he was arrested and did lose the precious pictures he was taking.”
After a year of recuperation upon returning to the States, he went back to Bengal (Bangladesh) for another eight years, and then back to the States for a 34-year assignment at the Ave Maria Press. In 1990 he retired to Columba Hall where he was noted for his continuous work ethic. Not being able to work disturbed him. Gardening was his favorite pastime. He would shuffle around the house or grounds singing to himself or whistling. Although he was very hard of hearing, he always managed to know exactly what was going on. This inveterate missionary was always soliciting money for the missions, collecting stamps to be sold for mission funds, and gathering many things (some not his to give away) to send to the missions. Toward the end of his 94-years he looked very frail as he pushed a wheeled cart around the grounds picking up twigs, but he had the strength of heart to outlast a man 50 years younger.
Hallelujah! O death, where is thy sting? Hallelujah! Why do you seek the living among the dead? Hallelujah! I have seen the Lord! Hallelujah! Horse and chariot he has cast into the sea! Hallelujah! Their eyes were opened at the breaking of the bread! Hallelujah! Now have salvation and power come! Hallelujah! My Lord and my God! Hallelujah! I have been crucified with Christ! Hallelujah! Even if I walk in the dark valley, I shall not fear! Hallelujah! The wedding feast of the lamb has begun! Hallelujah! The Lord is my light and my salvation! Hallelujah! This is the night! Hallelujah! Peace be with you! Hallelujah! Do not be afraid! Hallelujah! He is not here! Hallelujah! He has risen just as he said he would! Hallelujah! Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever! Hallelujah! In the twinkling of an eye! Hallelujah! Who can separate us from the love of God! Hallelujah! Every knee shall bend and every tongue confess! Hallelujah! He has been raised from the dead! Hallelujah! Jesus, remember me! Hallelujah! Love is patient! Hallelujah! The Lord is my shepherd! Hallelujah! I am the resurrection and the life! Hallelujah! Ave Crux, Spes Unica! Hallelujah!