I am writing this on Friday as we await news on a former pastor, Father James.
He is in a coma in ICU and expected to die soon.
The news is heartbreaking.
I am not heartbroken for him, as he will be released from suffering and dwelling in God who is Eternal Love.
I am heartbroken for his family and friends and all his former parishioners who will miss his care, concern, sense of humor, and gentleness. Although he was retired, he said Mass at local parishes. Just in the last few weeks, I attended a couple of Masses at which he presided.
He was the pastor of a church I attended for over twenty years. He was the pastor for both of my daughters’ baptisms and first communions, as well as my elder daughter’s confirmation. I served on liturgy committee for him for many years, as well as participating in music ministry with my daughters.
After he retired, our parish, which I had known as a welcoming home, ran into major difficulties and eventually disintegrated. That is still heartbreaking.
It is also heartbreaking that the church building that we had renovated under his leadership is no longer a Catholic church. After being damaged in a second major flood, it was closed and, years later, sold to a nearby Christian college. They have recently re-opened it as their chapel, but it is no longer the place we built together. Even the stained glass windows had been removed.
We will lay him to rest from his boyhood church, though, which is fitting. That church is also the mother church in our area, meaning it is the oldest congregation.
One of his favorite Bible verses was from Micah 6:8: “And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
And he showed us how to do that.
Another passage is also coming to mind for me, from Matthew 25:21: “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
I am also thinking of a setting of the final commendation, which is a prayer at the end of Catholic funerals, that we used to sing in Resurrection Choir when Father James would be presiding at parish funerals. The setting was done by Ernest Sands and used this refrain: “May the choirs of angels come to greet you. May they speed you to paradise. May the Lord enfold you in His mercy. May you find eternal life.”
Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “break/brake.” Join us! Find out how here: https://lindaghill.com/2016/05/20/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-may-2116/ .