A Grief Observed by a Catholic ~ Part 1
“Out of the depths I have cried to Thee O Lord” rose up from the Psalmist and daily rises up from our hearts and lips during our sojourn in this vale of tears. Whenever we hear of a soul departing from this world, we instinctively pray the De profundis - and how much more heartfelt this is when it is the death of a very close loved one!
May 3rd of this year, my mother (wife of Patrick Henry Omlor) peacefully passed into eternity, after a lifetime of diligently practising the Faith, fortified by the Sacraments, borne on a train of Holy Masses, with her adult children keeping round-the-clock prayer vigils for several days by her death-bedside. July 19th this year (yesterday, at the time of writing) my dear sister, who was among my recently-deceased-mother’s vigil keepers, died ever so much younger than she, in much more unexpected, nevertheless not altogether totally sudden, circumstances. Similarly, my sister passed into eternity after a lifetime of diligently practising the Faith, fortified by the Sacraments, with enough “notice” to have at least two Holy Masses offered the night before she died, for (the intention to aid) her to have a holy death, with her husband and seven children (not all adults yet) praying by her bedside. As you live so shall you die. Both these valiant women left this world clothed in the Brown Scapular of the Most Valiant of all Women.
So much sorrow of loss in so short a space of time for our extended family and close friends! Yet grieving takes time…and its toll. How many others are there who are currently feeling a similar pain of loss? How many more are now enduring and mourning, in the spiritual sense, the loss of being deprived of Mass and the Sacraments, and access to a priest, due to the nonsensical border-closures and lockdowns? How many are prevented from attending the funeral to assist at the Requiem Mass, pay their respects, and pray publicly for their faithful-just-departed because of these same crippling restrictions? How is the promise of the beatitude “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted” to be fulfilled for them, and for us?
Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D. in the Divine Intimacy tells us that:
"The Beatitude: ‘Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted’ (St Matthew: 5,5) corresponds to the gift of knowledge. Blessed are they who, thoroughly enlightened by the Holy Ghost as to the nothingness of creatures, weep for the time they have spent seeking them, and mourn over the energy and affection they have wasted on the vanities of the world… Blessed the soul who knows how to recognize all its miseries and weep for them, not with tears of discouragement or anxiety, but with tears of profound sorrow, which instead of contracting its heart in fear, will dilate it in repentant love, and cast it into God’s arms, with a heart renewed by love and sorrow.”
“Under the influence of the gift of knowledge, the soul understands the blessedness of tears, that is the blessedness of suffering embraced for the love of God. This gift does not make us insensible to physical and moral pain; so true is this that the beatitude speaks expressly of ‘tears’ but although it does not keep us from weeping it does sanctify our weeping and makes us more resigned to God’s will, preferring these tears to the vain joys of the world and regarding them as a means of becoming more like unto Christ crucified.”
St. Mary Magdalen dei Pazzi, prayed: “O Lord, the peace Thou givest us in this world is full of anxieties, tribulations, and persecutions; but then Thou bringest us to a quiet, tranquil peace. I can even say that in the midst of these difficulties Thou givest us Thy peace because the Spirit attests in this way that we are Thy children. This means, ‘Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.’ Not only will Thou comfort us in the future, but Thou turnest our very tears into consolation, and war itself into peace.”
But what more is to be understood of this moral pain, these tears and weeping? In Part 2 of this collection of words of consolation, that is dedicated in loving memory to my beloved mother and cherished sister, we observe the example of Our Lord, Himself, and continue with insights from the Saints and spiritual masters.