Wednesday, May 16, 2012
To begin I must tell you that I buried my mother, Joan, on Saturday May 28. She was 84 and her health had not been great for some time. It was not an easy time for my brother, sister and myself. Thanks be to God we had support from family and friends. We were with when she went. I offered the funeral Mass and prayers. I did what she asked of me and sent her off properly and in the Catholic way. Now she is in the mercy of God with my father. The loss of both parents is never easy, especially within a year of each other. It is not something I would wish on anyone. At least we had them for many years unlike those who lose them when they are young. Neither did they die suddenly. There was no knock at the door or phone call urging us to hurry to the hospital. We were all there with them when they went and they went consoled by our presence and the Sacraments of the Church. I anointed them both and buried them both. I remember them at Mass. Outside my prayers and sacrifices there is not much more that I can do save trying to get to heaven myself. The hard part is not knowing. I believe in the mercy of God and that they are in safe hands. I believe that He will remember their long years of faith, forgive their sins and failings, and keep His promise that those who believe and are faithful will be welcome in His Kingdom. That said it would be nice to know they are safe. It would be a consolation to know that my parents go on and are in heaven. Instead I stand in faith. I believe, I don't know. My faith that is a kind of seeing, a kind of knowing when it comes to God can give no such certainty when it comes to them. Instead I trust in Him and in His promises. My day will come to leave this world and until then my task is to prepare for that day as they did. It is when I look back that it strikes me how fast time is passing by. We have the phrases that we all use: "how time flies!" and "`where has the time gone?" but still we live in the blind illusion that there is plenty of time ahead. The deaths of my parents have been like sudden immersions in cold water or like the driver on the motorway who suddenly realises as he flashes past a stationary object just how fast he is travelling. It is a moment of sobriety. I am hurtling through since I came into existence and what have I done with it? Do not get me wrong. I am not questioning my vocation as either a religious or a priest. Celebrating Mass or Confession is enough to affirm the extraordinary gift of the priesthood. It is a questioning of my living of that vocation and a realisation that I do not have much time. That is part of the 'dark gift' of bereavement. Now I must reevaluate my living of the Christian life, of the Capuchin way of life, of my priesthood and of my familial life. Now I can clearly see that I only have my own two feet to stand on even though I must lean on the Lord.