Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
There was a time in my life when it seemed I was bouncing from one crisis to another, from one tragedy to another. Often these were the deaths of friends or family, or the family of good friends. Because of my own losses, I became particularly sensitive to those of my friends, and there was a time when it seemed every email I sent out was a plea for prayers.
As many of my friends know, by the time I turned 21 I had experienced the death of 21 friends, family, and acquaintances – I had been to more funerals than weddings until sometime in my early or mid-20’s. I have learned (or, better, begun to learn) the importance of grieving, of celebrating life, and the reality that death is not the only way to lose someone – sometimes it is not even the most painful.
Whatever fear of death I may have had has long gone, though the fear the loss of people I love remains – but i know even the worst are only temporary. There is a reason for our hope in Christ, our belief in the resurrection and in the communion of saints, after all!
This has been a hard week for a number of people. I have specific prayer intentions that I want to share, but I do so with a certain caveat (or two).
First, by this small series of losses, I am overwhelmed again by the destruction in Haiti and the massive loss of life there, and the ongoing struggle for basic needs to be met in what has long been the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere. To steal from another commentator, what has happened there is not one huge tragedy, but the concentration of a million tragedies. The individual story should not be lost in the large numbers. For me, these few stories unrelated to the Haiti disaster have put it in stark relief, and refreshed my prayer for the people there.
Second, these are not self-interested intentions. My breath caught at reading one email, and I can relate to the people most affected, but I am not the one who has lost friends or family this week: So please do not pray for “AJ’s bad week”!
On Wednesday (24 Feb), Dr. Gail Walton, the longtime director of the liturgical Choir at Notre Dame’s Basilica of the Sacred Heart died after a long battle with cancer. I knew Gail personally from my four years at ND, as an altar server at the basilica during the same liturgy that her choir served. Several friends, including a couple among my closest at ND, were in the Liturgical Choir and are attending her funeral tomorrow. It is for them, and for Gail’s family and dearest friends that I ask prayers.
On Thursday (25 Feb) it was reported that an alumnus of my high school, Mt. Si in Snoqualmie, WA, was killed in action in Afghanistan. I did not know Eric Ward, as he graduated 12 years after me, but he is the first Mt. Si alumn killed in the war on terror, and I remember vividly how much death can impact the small community there.
On Friday, (26 Feb) one of my fellow Fellows, Fr. M. Thangaraj from Tamil Nadu, India sent a brief email letting us know that his brother, Irudayaraj had died the previous day and was being buried on Friday. Given such a quick burial, Thangaraj was not planning on heading back to India.
On Saturday, (27 Feb) as you all know an 8.8 earthquake hit Chile, the epicenter being not far from Concepción where new Lay Centre resident Claudio is from. He was eventually able to reach a cousin who had heard from his immediate family and assured him that they were OK, but as of yesterday he had not been able to talk to them directly through phone or Skype. Obviously this also reminded everyone of the recent quake in Haiti, where another intended Lay Centre resident, Luis, was working for the archdiocese.
Today (Monday, 1 March) I got another email from Val, our reluctant Fellowship go-to guy, who passed on word that Fr. Thangaraj’s mother had died as well – just a few days after her elder son. Given the loss of mother and brother within days of each other, Thangaraj is heading home to India.
For Thangaraj especially, but for all whose lives have been touched by death and disaster this week, please pray for healthy grief, for healing, for faith in times of trial, and for the perseverance of hope.
Out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice.
Let Your ears be attentive to my voice in supplication.
If You, O Lord, mark iniquities, Lord, who can stand?
But with You is forgiveness, that You may be revered.
I trust in the Lord; my soul trusts in His word.
My soul waits for the Lord more than sentinels wait for the dawn.
More than sentinels wait for the dawn, let Israel wait for the Lord,
For with the Lord is kindness and with Him is plenteous redemption;
And He will redeem Israel from all their iniquities.
(De Profundis, Psalm 130)