19 February 2010

Reprint from Deus Providebit

This post is a reprint of the blog post that I recently made for the new blog designed for the Student Brothers of the Western Dominican Province.

Joy in Sorrow

After Christmas, I arrived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for my yearly home visit to find both my grandmother and great grandmother in the hospital. Immediately, I went to see my grandmother released and then we both went to see her mother. I then spent the next two weeks sleeping on the floor of the hospital next to my great grandmother's bed until her death--for which I was present. This was not the first family death I had experienced, but it was the first death of a family member since I became a Dominican friar. Being a consecrated religious radically changed this joyful tragedy for me. I was given the opportunity, by Christ, to be a witness to His promises simply by being present as a religious, leading prayer with and for my family.

During her convalescence the whole family and many friends came to visit my great grandmother in the hospital. Each occasion was filled with great grace. The most painful, but also the most beautiful, was when my great grandfather, her husband, was brought to visit her each day. We all shared moments of deep sorrow, but the time was mostly filled with the joy of being together. It was almost like a two-week long birthday party with great food and great company. We were so happy to be together that the nursing staff had to chastise us for our raucous behavior multiple times. Watching my family come together for this difficult moment in my great grandmother's life was its own blessing. Yet, because I was a religious, my family was not satisfied with me just "hanging out" with them. I was brought aside many times to give council on major issues and decisions. Many asked me the questions about the faith that they had always wanted to know. Some were able to get frustrations with the Church "off their chest" that they had been carrying around for years, or even decades. All this was accomplished because God had graced me with the gift of being a Dominican friar for my family--His family. For the moment, my hands were His hands and my tears were His tears.

The timing was perfect. It was God's providence this happened while I was visiting my home. It was God's mercy that my Order granted me all the time I needed with my family. It was through His abundant grace that I was a Dominican friar when this happened. And, it was an act of His infinite love that I was present to witness her last fully conscience moments and her soul's departure. This single opportunity, to be an instrument of God's love and mercy, has given my vows an unquantifiable value. On account of this I will be forever grateful to the Lord and my brother Dominicans for the grace of the Dominican life. If I accomplish nothing else in life as a Dominican, it will all have been worth this single, most sacred experience.

In your mercy remember the soul of Mary Agnes Alarid in your prayers. She had 93 earthly years. She was a wife for 78 years, an auxiliary of the Legion of Mary for 69 years, a mother of 4, grandmother, great grandmother, and great great grandmother. She died a faithful daughter of Holy Mother Church on 5 January 2010, the anniversary of the death of her first daughter, after receiving the Last Rites and the Apostolic Pardon.

No comments: