Wednesday, April 3, 2024

An Easter Week of Mourning Losses Past and Present

Me and my Dad, around 1979.

I miss my Dad, who died five years ago (on April 3, 2019). I have reflected much upon him on this blog and also about so many other events that have happened since that day. This year’s remembrance of his death, however, comes during Eastertide, and at a moment in which our local community continues to mourn the terrible loss of last week.

Jesus Christ is truly Risen, Alleluia! And He says to Doubting Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen, and have believed” (John 20:29). What a precious gift is our faith! But the obscurity of death — of the final passage from this life to the fulfillment of eternal life — remains difficult for us who continue our pilgrimage through this world. We need to help one another, console one another, and pray for those who have gone before us on that final journey, as God’s purifying mercy prepares them for the perfection of union with Him.

Our Easter joy struggles to “see” through the clouds and darkness that remain on our path, and sometimes the challenge is great. We may not feel joyful — indeed, other immediate circumstances of these days might pull our emotions in many directions. But our joy still has vitality. It can still be “lived” (regardless of how we “feel”) in our persistence of moving forward on the path of the good news of the resurrection. There is much we do not “see,” but faith and hope adhere to things beyond our sight, beyond our comprehension, and sometimes beyond bearing for our fragile human psychological and emotional structure.

When we can’t “keep it together” and are overwhelmed by the exhaustion of our poor humanity, then there is no shame in “falling apart”—but let us make even of this affliction a prayer full of the poverty that opens to God our Father in humility and hope.

While I still miss Dad (very much), the loss of him and my mother has grown more over time into an "acceptance." Their "not-being-around-anymore-on-earth" has taken shape in my life as part of the current terrain of my pilgrimage. I remember them every day and feel a new kind of closeness to them, among other things through the bond of praying for them every day. "Requiem Eternam…"

This Easter, I also pray for the repose of the soul of a young man whose body will be buried on Friday. And I pray for those who have been broken by his tragic death last week, that with God’s grace and in God’s time, peace and healing will come. At every moment, the Risen Jesus is with us. He draws all our broken pieces of humanity together in Himself. He redeems our sorrows and transforms our wounds. Still, they hurt terribly. Oh God, save us! Lord Jesus, have mercy on us all. It’s so hard.

I pray for — and have really begun to long for — that Final Day when we will all be together again, with all the tears wiped away. Until then, “we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience