Many people leave this Earth each day. Unless we know them or see a news article or program, we seldom think about it. That is as it it should be I guess or we would be forever worrying about death and would miss the life that our Lord sent us here to live and enjoy.
Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Today, our pastor, Fr. Henry Kunkel, of St. Mary of the Assumption in Pylesville, MD lost his mother, Catherine. In a way, many of us lost a spiritual mother today. She was an important presence at our small, rural parish for many years as Father cared for her in the rectory where she made her home, until just a week ago when she went to the hospital.
Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Catherine was a spunky woman of Northern Italian heritage (she would want me to make sure you knew she was Northern Italian!) who lived life to its fullest. My fondest memories of her will be of the stories she told of her most treasured saint, St. Frances Cabrini. She relied on her in times of trouble to comfort her and bring the issues to the Lord for resolution. Her room at the rectory included a small shrine to this holy woman. Her stories of her time in Peru with her husband, Anthony, and Fr. Kunkle and his sister, Karen, were some of her favorite to tell and mine to listen to. She was an inspiration even when poor health kept her to a quieter pace.
Psalm 146:2 “I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.”
I had the honor to spend many hours with her in the past week as she allowed her last moments on Earth to pass. I am so grateful to Father and Karen for granting me this time. Witnessing Father’s tender words of release and love to her brought tears and an even deeper appreciation for the beauty of the relationship between this mother and her son.
Sitting with her as she became less in this world and more in her spiritual being so as to pass into the loving arms of God allowed me much time for thought and prayer. It was as if I could feel the gates of Heaven slowly opening a little more each day as she readied herself so graciously to be held in the arms of the Lord. The presence of God and his angels was palpable.
Ecclesiastes 12:7 “And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”
I thank you Lord for giving me this spiritual mother here on Earth to guide me. Maybe she and my earthly mother will meet in the heavens…of course after Ms. Catherine is finished chatting with St. Frances Cabrini and her husband, Anthony. Knowing her, probably in that order!
Until we meet again Ms. Catherine…I love you!