Friday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
August 5, 2022
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings offer me an invitation to write a more personal reflection than usual.
Recently, our community has experienced the deaths of two dearly loved sisters. Readers might remember that I mentioned Margery’s funeral a few days ago. And just yesterday, Clare Miriam died. Each of them was an amazing minister of the Gospel and lover of God’s poor.
See, upon the mountains there advances
the bearer of good news,
Celebrate your feasts, O beloved,
fulfill your vows!
Because most of us live in communities – familial, social, and religious – we all move through ever-turning circles of hellos and good-byes. In those turnings, we touch one another’s lives in a thousand obvious and subtle ways, hopefully causing our own lives to spin ever closer to God.
Funerals – even though we don’t look forward to them – are times when the circling pauses. We see a beloved person’s complex and amazing existence like a still life masterpiece. We see the graceful details we may have overlooked or taken for granted. We appreciate the lights and shadows of their struggles and triumphs. We see God standing behind the easel of their story inviting us to deepen our own graces as we pray.
In a large and long-loved community like the Sisters of Mercy, we accompany one another through many funerals and many home-goings. It can feel a little heavy sometimes because of the love we bear another. But, oddly, it can also give an unexpected buoyancy to our hope and faith to honor these precious lives – one after another – so lovingly given, so faithfully lived, so beautifully completed.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,Matthew 16:25-27
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
Or what can one give in exchange for his life?
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory,
and then he will repay each according to his conduct.
After Margery’s funeral Mass, my friend turned to me and said, “What a tribute to a truly beautiful soul …. and we live in a community full of them!” Indeed, and now another, dear Clare has lifted her life up to God as the rest of us sing, “Brava! Alleluia! Amen!”
Whenever I attend one of our sister’s funerals, of course, I consider my own. Sometimes, while the soulful music plays, I design the Mass booklet in my mind and the cover says this:
Poetry: The Neophyte- Alice Meynell
Who knows what days I answer for to-day?
Giving the bud I give the flower. I bow
This yet unfaded and a faded brow;
Bending these knees and feeble knees, I pray.
Thoughts yet unripe in me I bend one way,
Give one repose to pain I know not now,
One check to joy that comes, I guess not how.
I dedicate my fields when Spring is grey.
O rash! (I smile) to pledge my hidden wheat.
I fold to-day at altars far apart
Hands trembling with what toils? In their retreat
I seal my love to-be, my folded art.
I light the tapers at my head and feet,
And lay the crucifix on this silent heart.
Music: The Circle of Mercy – Jeanette Goglia, RSM