I am the resurrection and the life, and whoever… believes in me will never die. (John 11:26)
Nature, in beginning its annual liturgy of stripping down to the bare essentials, reminds us of the need to perform this same ritual in our own lives periodically. If we do not do it ourselves, it will probably happen to us anyway. Though this can be painful, it does not always have to be unhappy. I recall, for example, when my brother and I celebrated the funeral liturgy of our maternal aunt, our only immediate family relative at the time. I cannot remember any liturgy which brought such stirrings of faith. Though we did not know most of the people in attendance, since both of us lived elsewhere, the faith we reciprocated with them and the closeness we felt to our aunt, whose life was lived in faith, was extraordinary. A woman in no way extraordinary as far as notoriety in the usual sense, her life was not marked by great suffering, and she was not in “Who’s Who.” Nevertheless, everyone in the church, whether they knew each other or not, seemed joined together in a bondedness which said, “We are all giving our best to a great woman in her passing.” At the same time there was a tangible sentiment that she had only gone before us, and therefore it was not necessary to miss her too much right now. None of this is to say that, in attending other funerals, we did not experience faith in the resurrection. The difference, in the case of our aunt, was the degree of palpability in the experience. And though I choked up a bit during the first reading, I did not notice anyone shedding tears. On the contrary, I saw several bright, joy-filled smiles. It was the unique experience of things being pared down to the bare essentials of life-important things, a tasting of reality in its fullness.
Jesus, awaken us to the essential realities in life!
—Sister Mary E. Penrose, OSB
|Sister Mary E. Penrose is a Sister of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. She edits readings for the liturgical Hours and writes reflections for the Community. And she is a tutor for the African Sisters attending The College of St. Scholastica. She was editor of a journal, Spirit & Life, for 18 years.|