Growing up in Canal Fulton, my mother would take us to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation at St. Francis de Sales. In doing so, we would often go to Fr. Byrider for confession. It served to be a beautiful time of encounter with our Lord. Oftentimes I would leave the celebration of Reconciliation with a deep sense of peace. Looking back on those days, I remember him giving me a couple items that still hold dear to me today.
I recall receiving something truly helpful during a time when I was anxious and worried about things. In that moment, he gave me a little card that had the 10 Commandments of Fr. Byrider: A Recipe for Peace of Soul and Happiness. The first stated: “Thou shalt not worry, for worry is the most unproductive of all human activities.” And the second: “Thou shalt not be fearful, for most of the things we fear never come to pass.” These truths were so helpful to me then and are still very helpful today.
Secondly, I remember him giving out hand size crucifixes during confession. They were beautiful to hold on to and to remember who Jesus was and is in our lives. I recently found out that he would give a prayer called “Your Cross” by St. Francis de Sales with this gift.
One day, Fr. Byrider gave me one of these crucifixes. Years later, I gave that away to someone in need. I mentioned this to Fr. Bline when I entered the seminary. In just a few weeks, I received a card from Fr. Schleicher with a crucifix in it. It was one of Fr. Byrider’s last crucifixes. I still have this one and probably won’t give it away. ?
Just this past week, on August 4, we celebrated the Feast Day of St. John Vianney. He was a saint who loved to offer God’s mercy and love through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. He would often spend up to 16 hours a day in the confessional. Like Fr. Byrider, St. John Vianney knew the importance of the cross in our lives, as he writes: “the saints all loved the cross and found in it their strength and their consolation.”
Perhaps you still have the 10 Commandments of Fr. Byrider or one of his crucifixes in your home? It may be a good time to find them and pray with them this week! Or maybe you could come to Mass on Saturday morning at 8:15 to not only celebrate the Feast of the Assumption, but also to pray for the repose of the soul of Fr. Byrider, who died on August 15, 1999.
God’s peace and joy be with you,