Monday, November 24, 2014


This was today's Morning Offering:

"Crosses release us from this world and by doing so bind us to God."
— Blessed Charles de Foucauld

An excellent prelude to the day. This morning I took #1 and #2 to attend the funeral of the mother of #1's classmate. She was 42 and had just ended her 7 year battle with breast cancer. It was a blessing for me to take these two and wade in amongst the other mourners. It was impressive to see the sheer number of people, equivalent to a Christmas Mass, who showed up to pay their respects. I didn't know Colleen well but it is clear that she had touched many lives.

I'm not sure if it's a bad thing or not (I was also paying attention to the Mass) but I have to look around and see the reactions. Having trained to study people, it's what I do.  Catholic funeral Masses are the most interesting to me. There is such a collision between sadness for losing someone on this earth and understanding that they have finally shaken off this world to earn their eternal reward. I call the former "selfishness" when I'm talking about myself to my kids, i.e., "if you were to die, I would be sad because I would want to keep you here with me but that is a little selfish on my part because you would be going to be with God forever". It's not a bad reaction, this selfish sorrow. Nor is the sadness that comes with watching a young father heard his young children up the aisle. It is sad to think that such a big part of their life is gone. It is human to think about all the difficult times that they will likely face. Still, it would be wrong, as a Catholic, to spend a long time being overcome with this grief. We know that there is more.

There are always at least a few at each funeral who, while I'm sure grieving the loss, don't break down openly. Perhaps that is just a personality thing (the public sorrow). Today I had the opportunity to witness the reaction of my #1 and a nun who was sitting one pew in front of us. Both showed ample respect for the dead and the mourners but neither were openly weeping. This was especially interesting to me because a group of girls my daughter's age were behind us sobbing a good deal of the time (so much so that I wanted to rock them for a while - the heartbreak was palpable). I'm never sure how people around us would react to my daughter in this instance, maybe no one saw her, but it's clear to me what's happening in her brain (especially since I asked her after the fact). She is sorry for her friend and sorry that the mother is no longer with her babies but she understands that Colleen is now on her journey to rest with God. After all the trials she faced in this life, she is in her final stretch. That is a good thing. We were driving a bit later this afternoon and I told them to look for rainbows (the weather is windy/rainy and very unsettled). We came over a hill in the town where Colleen (and we) lived and there it was. #1 quietly said, "you know mom, I think that is God welcoming Mrs. Pasquale home." I couldn't agree more.

Why does she have this insight? I think it is helpful that it wasn't her mother. I would like to believe she would have been openly sorrowful if it were me (although after saying what a nice first reading they chose, she turned to me and said, "maybe we can read it at your death."). Whatever reason God gave her this bit of wisdom, it is good that she is here with me. She teaches me a lot about the bigger picture.

I pray that all of those who were there today and who are deep in grief will one day, with time and distance, change perspective and rejoice in their wife/daughter/mother's arrival in her heavenly home. I don't know what the time period is. I still have moments when I am caught short by the thought of not seeing my dad again here. That makes it even more amazing to me when I read the blog of a mother who just lost her son to a 4 year battle with cancer (he was 6) and see that she has clarity this early in the process:

If sadness is my burden that I carry, then JOY is my strength.  
Why did God allow him to have cancer?  Why did he survive so long with it when other kids do not?  Why were we chosen to walk this journey?  We may never fully know the answers on this side of heaven...and that's okay.  It's not our job to know all these would be too much for us to know.  So I take comfort in knowing that God is in control and that He is good all the time.

In time, I will put down this blanket of sadness.  But, the great news???

The JOY will still be here!  

Amazing. What grace has been given to this woman. "He is good all the time"! Wow. We all need to strive for this. If a loved one is ill or has died, it's important to feel sorrow but not sorrow alone. And not for so long that we lose the opportunity to bind our cross to Christ or to bring about mercy. The death and the suffering are that person's cross but they can be our opportunity. From Saint John Paul the Great:
"Only later did I begin to grasp the profound meaning of the mystery of human suffering. In the weakness of the sick, I saw emerging ever more clearly a new sense of strength - the strength of mercy. In a sense, the sick provoke mercy...By their illness and suffering they call forth acts of mercy and create the possibility for accomplishing them"
We are blessed. Let us thank God in all things and remember that we are in community. Share the blessings and burdens you have with others and let them walk with you as you in turn share theirs. What a joyous thought for the coming season.

1 comment:

  1. What a touching post for one who seems to have touched so many lives during her time here. And that daughter of yours is very wise.
    Offering up prayers for the repose of Colleen's soul and her family...