Friday, August 12, 2011
Angels Are With You
When I arrived home from my pilgrimage to Our Lady of Good Help Shrine last Sunday, I was greeted by my husband and sons with loving embraces, but I was also greeted with several urgent messages. It seemed that I had missed a few important phone calls and emails while I was gone and they all pertained to the same news: a man named George had passed away, and although I knew the name, I had never met George in person. But now, through the mysterious workings of God, I have been brought to friendship with George through his death.
George was a founding member and current trustee of Roses for Our Lady , the lay apostolate for which I had become president last January. In the few months that I have been associated with Roses, I had never met George, because he had been very ill with heart disease and was confined to his home. All of the messages that were waiting for me when I came home from my pilgrimage were asking me to spread the word, to let others know that George had passed into eternal life. The message I received from his wife, Carol, was especially touching:
"...on Wednesday George had a massive heart attack. At first there was some hope but by morning we knew how serious it was. Fr. John Burns blessed him and gave him all of the rites of the Church. Friday, with his mother, all of our children, and myself praying the rosary and his favorite prayers, he very peacefully drifted off. We are sad but the beautiful gentleness with which Jesus called him to Himself was a blessing to all of us."
So I gladly honored Carol's request to spread the word and was pleased that there was a good representation of Roses for Our Lady members at his funeral where we were blessed to lead the rosary before Mass. During the three hours that I my son John and I (my children rarely allow me to leave the house unchaperoned) were at the funeral, I quickly came to realize that George was a beautiful and holy family man.
During his funeral homily, the priest mentioned that George would greet his children each morning by telling them who the saint of the day was. I just had to smile, realizing that I share this very same habit (and here I give a nod to the saint of the day, one of my favorites, St. Jane de Chantal.) After the Mass one of his daughters shared some touching stories about George's life. She mentioned that he would always remind his children that the angels were with them, and as she finished her remarks she looked to heaven and told the angels and saints that they were very lucky to have George there with them now and then she told everyone gathered in the church that the angels were with us. Down came the tears...from my eyes, anyway. And then the beautiful sounds of the organ and violin playing the Ave Maria gave everyone a chance to recollect their composure and focus on the Blessed Mother to whom George was deeply devoted.
I may never have met George in this life, but I know that I would have liked him very much and would have considered him to have been a dear friend. I believe that in the Communion of Saints I've now got one more saint praying for me as I pray for him and we are united in the friendship of our angels who are always with us.
The messages that were on his remembrance card and order of worship were:
George wished his epitaph to read: "I want to be remembered as the man who taught my children how to pray,"
and "George sincerely loved Jesus and Mary with all of his heart and had a special devotion to the angels and saints. He prayed daily for the souls in purgatory. Please honor him by praying for him."
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May George's soul and all of the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.