There’s a ‘Brodello’ in the Zenith CityI keep Christmas cards I receive in a basket and read them once more before recycling them either on the Feast of the Presentation, Feb. 2, or on Ash Wednesday. There is no religious significance to these dates for the disposal of the previous year’s cards; it’s just that both days remind me to take care of some clutter, both seasonal and domestic.
By: The Rev. William C. Graham, Duluth News Tribune
I keep Christmas cards I receive in a basket and read them once more before recycling them either on the Feast of the Presentation, Feb. 2, or on Ash Wednesday. There is no religious significance to these dates for the disposal of the previous year’s cards; it’s just that both days remind me to take care of some clutter, both seasonal and domestic.
One card I’ll keep this year came from a group of eight college seniors sharing an apartment and their lives as their college experiences come to conclusion. They are pictured standing on the stairs at home, lined up two on a step, posing happily. These guys look remarkably alike: tall, slender, handsome and happy. Actually, they look taller than they really are; a couple of them are short. Still, and really, they have lots to be happy about. The most difficult parts of their college careers have been completed; their summer internships went well; their grades are good; their friendships are fruitful; their job prospects are bright. I hope their dreams come true and they remain as happy as they were at the moment the camera flash captured for posterity their youthful vigor and joy.
They are pictured on the Christmas card under the title, “Brodello,” seeing themselves as a group of “bros,” or brothers. And they really are brothers, a true fraternity, having shared their lives and their hopes, some since early adolescence and the others since they came to campus as earnest but timid freshmen. And I know they feel terribly clever with the play on words with “Brodello,” their vision of “brotherhood” and “bordello,” a house of ill repute. I appreciate their ironic sensibility, as they are uncommonly virtuous young men.
They are ready now to meet careers and love lives and to do so with dash and well-earned and deserved confidence.
I have posted their picture on my office door and each time I enter give thanks for goodness and pray they live long and happily. Seeing them reminds me that sometimes our labors do bear rich fruit. I hope their parents, other professors and teachers, pastors, employers and mentors got the card and see the same.
The headline, “Brodello,” makes me smile. They take delight in their clever title. I like to muse that in a decade or two, some 8-year-old will find that card in one of Dad’s drawers, and ask, “What’s a Brodello?” Then she or he will go to Google or find Urban Dictionary definitions that are far more salacious than the lived experience of said Dad and the other bros who really are as upright as the day is long.
The bros have not yet anticipated the day when their young adult humor will come back to greet them in awkward exchanges with children they have hardly yet dreamed about. And we professors, pastors, moms and dads, if we are lucky enough to be alive and present to that moment, can say, as we might promise we will not, “I told you so.” But bros they are, and may they remain so enduringly.
Because the Twin Ports are college towns, there are loads of other houses of bros — and cisterns too (as I guess they would be called), who are our neighbors, a cloud of witnesses to human goodness. I have heard that on the occasional evening, some of them in some of our neighborhoods might drink more beer than is prudent, but still: We should see these neighbors as the face of hope and our great promise for tomorrow.
The Rev. William C. Graham, Ph.D., is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Duluth, a professor of historical theology, and director of the Braegelman Program in Catholic Studies at the College of St. Scholastica.