The funeral rites of the Catholic Church say it all:
In him the hope of blessed resurrection has dawned, that those saddened by the certainty of dying might be consoled by the promise of immortality to come. Indeed for your faithful, Lord, life is changed not ended, and, when this earthly dwelling turns to dust, an eternal dwelling is made ready for them in heaven. (Preface I For the Dead)
Earlier today I went to the Mass of Christian Burial of a childhood friend who lost her fight against breast cancer at the age of 40. Maureen Leary Minnick grew up near me, she and her family have been friends of my family for years; her parents are daily communicants at the local Catholic parish and her brother and I were in the Boy Scouts and in high school together. I am saddened by Maureen’s death. Much was revealed about Maureen that I didn’t know but now cherish. Time has a way of being a great separator. Maureen faced her life and death in the same way: with courage, love, joy, resolution to make life better. In short, her life was not a fairy tale but one that had certainty of faith and joy. She leaves a great husband and two small boys (who have their mother’s good looks). Maureen died on July 1.
The paradox of the Christian life is such that in order to live fully we have to give it away. In Maureen’s case, she had to offer her life to the Lord earlier that most.
This week, too, a friend at the parish had succumbed also to breast cancer after a long and bitter fight with that disease. Monika Forndran fought long and hard and with dignity; she clearly knew that her Calvary was like that of the Lord’s, and that His triumph over sin and death was also hers by adoption that happened in the resurrection. Monika’s death happened on June 30.
May the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of us all, Saint Agatha, patron saint of those who (and die) of diseases of the breast, guide Maureen and Monika to Paradise. May we recall the grace that in death life is changed not ended as rest on the heart of the Lord.