University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame
Brother Aidan's Extracts

MATHIAS, BROTHER (John J. Riley -- Died February 12, 1939)

"To Good religious death is never an undesirable thing. It means stepping into the presence of God face-to-face, seeing Him whom you've thought of so much in life, known somewhat intimately even if imperfectly in meditation and prayer; it means knowing, loving, and serving God so much better. A good religious like Brother Matthias, rejoices that the veil of Faith is finally rent. Now he sees God, in all His glory, directly. 6:10 Sunday night for him was 'the end of a perfect day'.

"Two lessons he left you to learn. First: regularity. There he was 85 and still hopping out of his bed every morning at five, never missing meditation, examin, visits to the Blessed Sacrament, spiritual reading, the beads, and night prayer -- not even his meals. He never missed Holy Mass.

"That's why, one hour before his death, he was at the Holy Hour in memory of Pope Pius. Too many of your spry kids were downtown while this good Brother climbed the steps of the Grotto and slouched into a pew to show his love and admiration for the Holy Pontiff. He and Pope Pius and Christ together. How that "big company' must have delighted Brother Matthias.

"Lesson two: a sense of humor. You should have been acquainted with his sly chuckle. You should have watched him prayerfully keep the graves in the Community cemetery these last years. He would stop a minute (sometimes much longer) if you were passing by -- going to St. Mary's, for instance -- and rest his right side on a rake or spade. 'You know,' he would tell you, 'I'm a pretty important man. See how many men I have under me.' Then he grin, 'In fact, 'tis funny; I'm over my old superior now.' Balance and a habitual state of grace are prerequisites for good humor."

-- Religious Bulletin, February 14, 1939

‹— Brother Aidan's Extracts —›