Two weeks ago on a Friday I received a text from my aunt stating that my uncle who was suffering from a very rare form of an aggressive cancer was not going to live long enough to reach the goal of attending his birthday celebration the following Wednesday. My husband, mother, and myself immediately packed the car and embarked on the five hour trip to say our last goodbyes.
I was blessed to keep an all night vigil with my godfather, listening to his very labored breathing and praying the rosary with him. These were such incredible and surreal moments as my brain kept flashing questions like, Is he aware that I’m here? What do you say to God when you’re dying? What do you know of God when you’re so close to the end and your body starts to shut down but your soul lives on? I prayed the last half of the Hail Mary very slowly as I contemplated, Pray for us now and at the hour of our death, Amen. I wondered what it felt like for him to know that his mission on earth was nearly complete.
A priest that is a family friend says that at the end of our lives when we see God face to face, we will be asked two questions. The first is, “Do you love me?”. He explains that this is not a simple yes or no answer, but an account, rather, of how we’ve lived our entire lives. The second question is “Where are your children?”. This refers not only to our biological children, but also our spiritual children. Who did you bring to heaven with you?
On the 4th of July, I was blessed to attend the wedding of my niece. Something very unique and beautiful happened during the wedding ceremony. After the final blessing, the priest encouraged the couple to pray before the crucifix every single day, when good things happen and also when sufferings and sacrifices happen. The priest then turned around, picked up a large crucifix, and explained that entering into the sacrament of Matrimony means picking up your cross and accepting it. He handed the cross to the couple saying, “Here is your cross!” He then explained that the groom had hand carved this cross for his bride as her wedding gift from wood he obtained from the place where they got engaged. It would be difficult to put into words how beautiful this moment was for everyone in attendance! What an incredible example this beautiful young couple was to all of us!
In a very short period of time, God provided some wonderful opportunities for me to witness both a beginning of a mission and an end to one. A huge part of our mission in bringing others to Christ is accepting those everyday crosses that are sent our way with interior peace and total faith in God, something that can be extremely difficult at times. But with God all things are possible! When we see the face of Jesus, we want to be able say as did St. Paul, that we have fought the good fight, we have won the race, we have kept the faith. As Mother Angelica said, “You have all eternity to experience the presence of God but you have a very short time to do something for him”.