On November 14, I had just come home from a long day at work. We had an in-service that afternoon and my head was pounding with a headache. Before making dinner, I checked my phone: no messages. In the five minutes it took to warm up my dinner and sit down, a voicemail had come through. It was an urgent message from family telling me that there was an emergency. Nothing could have prepared me for what came next.
I had to dial twice before I was able to get through. I received the word that my nephew had been called from this life into eternity. I sat in my chair, stunned. I think I asked for the news to be repeated. My mother was sobbing in the background and could barely speak at first. This is a woman who is no stranger to pain and suffering and was now preparing to bury her grandchild. In the normal course of life, you go to God first and the younger generation(s) bury you. It was odd, knowing that the roles were now going to be reversed.
At the funeral on November 22, different people got up to remember my nephew. I heard from many people what he meant to them. They all said the exact same thing: how he was a caring individual who had an exceptional ability to talk about something mundane for about 2 hours and make it sound important or exciting. He made people feel loved, even if he himself was not particularly feeling too well that day. Hearing these things has made me reflect upon my own life.
My formation in the Benedictine monastic tradition has instilled within me many values that I hold near and dear to my heart. The first word of the Holy Rule of St. Benedict is ausculta, listen. I strive to be open to what people say, and not just their literal words but beyond them to what is in the heart. My presence, for example, at the debate this past October was about demonstrating that I hear the concerns over the third part of the secret. I wanted to share my findings with others who also care and hopefully begin to heal a terrible division that has arisen.
In this life, friends, we need to be mindful of what is important: God—family—friends. In that order. We know not the day nor the hour when we shall be called from this life into eternity. When it happens, all that we take with us is the record of our life. If we have done the will of the Eternal Father, we shall be saved. As we continue in this Advent season, preparing ourselves for the coming of Christ, I am going to try and follow the example of my nephew and be more caring to people.