Monday, August 18, 2014


"Here's the latest note I received about our wonderful cousin, David."  (An email) 

First my introductory comment:

David is a person who is loved and respected by us all.  He is a polite, loving, gentle,quiet and resolute individual.  He has a wonderful wife and two marvelous children.  David will never be forgotten, neither by his relatives nor by the hundreds of people that he must have influenced somehow in his life.  

Now, the text of the "latest note"

"As promised, I have e (sic) went down Friday and just arrived home this (Sundayafternoon.  I said good bye for the last time and it was difficult to say the least.

"When we arrived, T... was there and had been for a few days helping
Veronica as much for support as for caring for Dave.  We relieved her 
for the night. Dave hadn't had any food (one spoonful) of pudding or drink

since last Monday and continues to have no nourishment.  He's on a morphine

drip which was increased a couple times while we were there to try to keep

him as comfortable as possible.  He's pretty much comatose 95% of the time,
coming around enough to know he realizes that he's being spoken to but try
as he might, he can't respond or, I think, focus on the person talking to
him or caring for him with the exception of once yesterday when he did
reach out enough to get Veronica and bring her in for a hug.
Continue your prayers for his release and strength for his family."

Upon reading this note, I was struck by the absence of the presence of God in the narrative.  I don't expect long meditations and reflections about life and death from people, not even those whom I know.  I know that expressing those Sentiments is "my job."  Still, I was shaken by the request for "...prayers for his release and strength for his family."
That's it?  Release from what?  From sharing pain and suffering with the One who suffered, died and resurrected for us?  I have not been praying for Dave's release.  I have been praying for him to remember us all in his moment of connection with the Suffering Christ.  Also praying for his proper preparation for the never ending celebration in the company of God and the Heavenly Hosts.  That's not a RElease, it is a REward and it is worth praying for.  I seem to be under the impression that Dave's life was more focused on the REward than on the RElease.
"...strength for his family."  Indeed, that has been my prayer and continues to be.  That strength comes from God above and it seems as though Dave has been liberally bathed in the fruits of that strength for a long time.  The strength that we are seeing now is the strength that took Dave and his beloved Veronica from the day that they stood before the altar to this point.  That is the strength that we are seeing.  That is the strength that is being harvested from the field of loyal matrimony and persevering, loving and generous parenthood.  The end of that is not RElease, it is the beginning of the REward, the celebration of True Life, the Life that we all prepare for while we walk in the Valley of Tears.  
Finally, we Catholics firmly believe that those who go first share the love and joy that they celebrate in the Eternal Presence of God, dancing around His Golden Throne, with us who stay behind for a while longer.  The pain and suffering that we shared with them while nursing them and caressing them lovingly through it all, is now turned to the joy of celestial happiness that they sprinkle upon us from on high.  Since they have come to be closer to the Father who created us and loves us enough to have us with Him for all Eternity, they have His permission to watch over us during the time that we have remaining before the Great Celebration of never ending Life.

This is what I have to say about what our family is experiencing at this time.  It is not a time for tears, it is a time to celebrate the glimpse of Eternity that God is giving us and to prepare for our own personal moment of "dying as we lived." As it says in the Gospel, "stay ready for you know not the day nor the hour."

So, that's my sermon.  I leave you with the constant reminder that no crying is allowed at my funeral.

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