UBI CARITAS ET AMOR. DEUS IBI EST.
UBI CARITAS ET AMOR. DEUS IBI EST.
Thursday, 27 June 2019
Coming To Terms
It had been a horrible gray day, with dark skies and continuous light drizzly rain as you often get in England. A very soft freezing wind blew gently from the North; the kind of gentle wind which would hardly make a leaf tremble yet it could go right through you chilling your every bone.
Father Ignatius was in church. He stood by the doorway and looked at the rain and thought of his childhood. His mother used to say when it drizzled like today that it was the angels crying because of the many sins in this world. He said a silent prayer for his parents now long gone.
Every now and then, the cold wind carried with it a sweet sugary smell from the brewery nearby. The aroma of caramel or syrup, or was it malt, thought the priest, enveloped the whole church and Parish House.
Eventually, Father Ignatius locked the church door and crossed the car park in the gentle rain as he made his way towards the Parish House.
As he entered the house, closing the door behind him, the phone rang and he was asked to go to the hospital.
Half-an-hour later he was at the bedside of Isabelle Bennett.
Isabelle was a lively 28 years old, always cheerful and laughing enthusiastically as she spread happiness to everyone she knew. Father Ignatius had known her for some years now as well as her young husband Martin. They were both members of the Parish Council and took part in many church activities and events.
Then suddenly, about a month ago, Isabelle was taken seriously ill and admitted to hospital where she remained ever since. She was not getting any better and the doctors had given up hope.
She smiled feebly as Father Ignatius entered the hospital room where she was lying in bed. Her face ashen in colour and her beautiful blue eyes very tired from the many injections and pain-killers she’d received. Her husband sat by her side Rosary beads in hand holding her hand gently.
The nurse brought in another chair which she placed on the other side of the bed; and Father Ignatius sat down.
“Are you in pain?” he asked her gently.
She shook her head. Her husband raised the hand he was holding to his lips and kissed her.
Father Ignatius started praying quietly as the nurse left the room. He gave Isabelle Holy Communion and then sat down beside her.
“Can we recite the Rosary Father?” she asked softly.
And for the next few minutes the priest and her husband recited the Rosary together whilst her lips moved gently as they prayed.
When they had finished praying she asked him how he was, and made small conversation. Her voice was soft and somewhat laboured as she drifted in and out of consciousness. One moment she was talking about church matters and the next she was asleep, then awake once again.
At these moments of silence Father Ignatius sat quietly and prayed silently.
She moved her other hand towards him and held his hand. Holding her husband and her priest in each hand.
Suddenly, she squeezed the priest’s hand tightly and said: “Don’t look so miserable Father. I’ll be seeing Jesus before you.”
Father Ignatius moved a little forward and kissed her on the forehead.
About twenty minutes later she passed away peacefully.
The funeral was very emotional. The church was full to capacity with friends and relatives coming to mourn the loss of such a young and vivacious life.
Her husband Martin was totally devastated to have lost his young wife within seven months of marriage.
Father Ignatius prayed for him and the whole family who found it very difficult to come to terms with such an early death.
He explained that in a way a funeral is like a ship sailing away from the harbour. As they were all gathered there saying goodbye to Isabelle they can imagine standing by the sea shore as the ship sails away. As they wave their goodbyes and the ship gets smaller and smaller as it reaches the horizon and they can see it no longer; there on the other side are her friends and relatives long gone before her waiting by the sea shore to welcome her with Jesus into a new world.
A few weeks later, the priest witnessed the first signs of renewal when young Martin phoned him one morning.
“Father,” he said, “I will inscribe what she said on her tombstone.
“It will read: Don’t look so miserable. I’ll be seeing Jesus before you.”
Three years later … and Martin is studying for the priesthood.