Archive for September, 2014

REFLECTION: Less we forget…

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

 

It’s been 8 days and so many things have taken place since, that it seems so long ago.  And yet, it was only 8 days ago and I had almost forgotten.

An e-mail had arrived on February 4th this year, asking for prayers.  He had been diagnosed with inoperable terminal cancer 5 days earlier and he was told he didn’t have much time left.  Many had stormed Heaven’s gate for him and our loving God gave him extra time.  I believe he referred to each additional day as EBD (extra bonus day) or something to that extent.  One EBD after another…which  added up to about 7 more extra months with him here on planet earth!

It was mentioned that not once did he complain nor did he question “why”.  At that thought, I shake my head, knowing that my faith is nothing compared to what he had.

I met his friend, Randy, after Mass on a Saturday, where I was informed of Eric’s passing.  He had mentioned that Eric still had the strength and the coherence to text him the day before.  What struck me the most about Erik’s passing was that he had taken a shower and he dressed himself before he passed.  Can you believe that?  He prepared himself physically to meet his maker!  I had confirmed this with his sister and she said the family had chatted with him when he returned to bed and later, while they gave him time alone to rest, Jesus had come to take Erik Home.

Although I didn’t know him, I choose not to forget and I pray I will not forget how Erik bravely lived his life after his cancer diagnosis.

Not long after, another who I knew as an acquaintance had also succumbed to cancer, exactly 3 weeks from the day she was diagnosed.  As with Eric, I attended her funeral, and God helped me remember how important it was to be ready.  Louise didn’t have much time, but somehow I know she had made peace with her Maker.

Standing with lighted candles on each side of the centre aisle of our parish Sanctuary, the CWL (Catholic Women’s League) ladies honoured Louise as her casket was rolled between us.  As her casket passed, I was reminded that we, her friends, were there bidding her farewell from planet earth, but we were also cheering her on as she began her new journey into her eternal Home…  resting in the loving arms of our wonderful, loving God.

Father God, we thank You for the life You’ve given us.  We often forget that without Your moment by moment grace, we would not be able to survive.  Forgive us Lord.  Father, from the moment we were born, our days here on earth are numbered.  We don’t know when, so we ask that You help us to always be ready for the day when You will bring us Home.  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – September 16, 2014

p.s. –

1)  A Letter to Our Brother  (copied from the back of the program)

To our dearest Eric

Words simply cannot soothe the sorrow in our hearts, now that you are no longer with us.  Instead, we trust in the wonderful promise of God and the hope of eternal life in Jesus.  This hope carries us as we humbly remember the life you lived so well.

January 30, 1960 was a special day, because you were born – the first and only son to your proud mother and father, and eventually a brother to four rambunctious sisters.  We are not too proud to admit that you were the cutest sibling, and your golden heart endeared you to all.  You were more than happy to pick up the slack in household chores, when each of your sisters asked you for favours.  You developed a willingness to help early in life that permeated your adult life as well.  Your believed in Jesus and the redeeming power of the cross was the firm foundation on which you based your principles.  Your child-like faith in God guided your life, and gave you strength and fortitude through life’s trying times, especially throughout your courageous battle with cancer during the last seven months of your life.

The principles you chose to guide your life give testimony to your integrity and character.  In the span of 54 years, you have touched the lives of so many people through your unconditional love for others, your devotion to your wife Melanie, your deep sense of filial loyalty, and the way you see the goodness of God in everyone you meet.  You were an extraordinary friend to so many, and you always treated the most unfortunate among us with the most utmost respect and generosity

While your sisters pursued musical studies, your interest in the arts was focused on drawing, design and architecture.  Even at a very young age, you would often be found in your room using toothpicks and glue to create intricate models and make miniature figures out of Plasticine.  As you grew older, you would spend countless hours in your garage building your own furniture and tenting to your 1996 Mercedes Benz (or as Melanie describes it, “your first wife”).

We are so proud of the man you became, and we are thankful to God for the 54 years we have had with you.  Your creativity, infinite compassion for others, and unwavering faith are the legacies you leave behind for your sisters, nieces and nephews, and all who loved you.

Til we meet again,

Your loving sisters.

2)  Eric Lee:  A Man of faith (homily of Msgr Greg Smith) – http://gregorynsmith.blogspot.ca/2014/09/eric-lee-man-of-faith.html

 

I preached this morning at the funeral of Eric Lee, the son of an old friend and the brother of Pamela Ho, who joined the board of Catholic Christian Outreach just before I left.

 
As you can tell from the homily, it was a great privilege. His mother told me “Eric was born with a good heart.” This seems to be no less than the truth.

A visitor to London knew that the magnificent St. Paul’s Cathedral was the work of Sir Christopher Wren, and that its renowned architect was buried there. So he decided to visit the great man’s tomb.He went from one grand marble monument to another without success. Nor could he find a side chapel with any mention of Wren.Just as he was about to give up, the man spotted a Latin inscription on the floor.He saw Christopher Wren’s name followed by these words: Lector, si monumentum requiris circumspice.

“Reader, if you seek his monument, look around.”

Friends, if you seek a monument to the life of Eric Lee, look around you. Look around this church and see a beloved wife, a loving mother, four dear sisters, and numerous family members—all of them grieving, but none of them bereft of hope.

Look around the church and see business associates who remember a man of integrity and charm; and fellow parishioners with stories of his generosity and commitment to the Church.

Look around you and see people who aren’t that interested in what I might have to say this morning—because Eric’s remarkable attitude to illness has already given them the hope they need to deal with the sadness of his premature death.

Eric almost needs no eulogy beyond his own words “Another bonus day!”

But perhaps it can be fruitful to meditate on Eric’s rallying cry. What were the sources of such a positive attitude?

Clearly, it began with his loving family—the family is the first foundation of character and courage, and Eric grew up in the sort of family that promoted both.

Yet it took more than even a brave character to confront his dire prognosis with such confidence—it took faith. And again, his family was the starting point. I have known his wonderful mother for nearly thirty years, so I can attest to her persevering faith.

But the childhood seeds of faith must be watered by adult commitment. Eric believed that the Word of God is the truest guide for the good life, and he lived accordingly. He was led in right paths by the Good Shepherd, whom he followed with confidence.

When he found himself in the darkest valley, he did not fear evil, because he knew that the Lord walked at his side and would not abandon him; certainly he bore a heavy burden in his final months, but it was lightened by the promise of rest that Jesus makes to all who willingly accept the yoke of suffering.

In other words, when Eric Lee’s faith was put to the test, it provided real answers to the most profound and painful questions of any human heart. Can there be good in suffering? Can there be life after death?

At this funeral Mass, we are now challenged by his example. A friend who knew Eric said “With a hundred Erics, you could change the world!”  Which of us, in this congregation of hundreds, will rise to that challenge?

We are challenged, too, by his faith. If we are people of faith, we must ask ourselves whether we have lived our faith with enough conviction to see us through the dark valley.If we have no faith, this may be an occasion to ask whether Eric’s life and death inspires us to become seekers again, so that we too might find comfort in the face of life’s greatest mystery, namely “is there a life to come?”But whether we are people of great faith or none, this morning is a time to give thanks for a life well-lived and, dare we say, well-ended.This is a moment to rejoice that Eric found rest for his soul, that he was able to persevere to the end. However strong or weak our own belief, we can join Eric in crying out in the words of today’s first reading “We looked to [God], and he saved us!”

And finally, this time of prayer together is an occasion to pray for those who must now accept the pain of Eric’s death. The readings today are certainly intended to bring us the hope of eternal life for Eric, but they also contain God’s promises to those who mourn him.In his own time, God will wipe away the tears of Melanie and all Eric’s loved ones, and they too will find rest for their souls.For each of us, every day is a “bonus day.” We are all invited to live the present moment, whether of joy or pain, in the hope of the eternal day when the trumpet will sound and the dead will rise.And so, “with such thoughts as these” as St. Paul said, let us comfort one another.