Thursday, April 30, 2009


The internet, when it's working here, can be an important way for me to stay in touch with family and friends. I'm very grateful for the technology, and very aware that others who have served in uniform on foreign soils have not had the luxury of this kind of easy communication with home.

A couple of days ago, by means of the internet, I found out that one of my college classmates died suddenly, in the arms of her husband, and that her funeral was yesterday. Had I been in the States, I'd have tried to get there, to concelebrate the funeral Mass.

As it was, I'm here Down Range, and once again prevented from doing that. (When Aunt Pat died a couple of months after I arrived here, I was unable to get home, too.)

I sent the following quote to my friend Mike, whose wife Kathy died. It has provided me solace and strength in the face of the deaths of my friend Brian, my brother TJ, my "adopted son" Saffar, and so many others over the years.

Nothing can make up for the absence of someone we love. And it would be wrong to try to find a substitute. We must simply hold out and see it through. That sounds very hard at first, but at the same time, it is a great consolation, for the gap -- as long as it remains unfilled -- preserves the bond between us. It is nonsense to say that God fills the gap: God does not fill it, but on the contrary, keeps it empty, and so helps us to keep alive our former communion with each other, even at the cost of pain.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor and theologian who was hanged by the Nazis in April 1945, just a few weeks before the end of World War II in Europe. He had been arrested in April 1943 for his participation in the failed plot to assassinate Hitler. He wrote this quote while in prison.

Having so recently celebrated the Paschal Triduum (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil), I'm once again reminded that as Christians, we have a God who truly is "immanu el" (the 'with-us God') -- especially when we're in pain or danger.

I'm grateful to have a Higher Power who knows powerlessness first-hand. A "Higher Powerlessness" as I like to say.

Grief is but another powerlessness.

Martha and Mary -- great saints, both -- each yelled at Jesus upon the death of their brother Lazarus, "If you'd have been here, my brother would not have died!" which means we're in good company in the pain of the powerlessness which is our grief.

Jesus then wept at the tomb of his friend Lazarus, sanctifying all of our tears.

Grief is but another powerlessness.

I'm grateful for my friends who go to so many AA and Al-Anon meetings for pointing this out to me so many years ago, and for reminding me of this fact so often in the meantime.

Please remember Kathy Donckers and Mike Stoolmiller and their children Greta and Carson in your prayers, if you'd be so kind.

Requiescat in pace, Kathy.

Easter blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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Mary Coady said...

We have a lot of shared experience to discuss. In the meantime, would you please pray for me, and for my recently deceased aunt and godmother, Anne Rush?

This is sent with prayers, love and every good wish for you.


Sheila said...

My prayers are with you Sir !

(I received this shortly after my beloved hubby, unexpectedly passed away, 24+ months ago, from a Nun in Toronto. When I tried to reply with thanks, it kept coming back. Then all my attempts to locate her, were for not. So, perhaps God Himself sent this to me !)

'We seem to give them back to You, oh God, who gave them to us......

Yet as You did not lose them in giving, so we do not lose them by their return.
Not as the world gives, do You give, O Lover of Souls,
what you give, You do not take away !
For what is Yours is ours also, if we are Yours.

And life is eternal & love immortal. Death is only a horizon & a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight !

Lift us up, strong son of God, that we may see further.....
Cleanse our eyes, that we may see clearly. Draw us closer to Yourself, that we may know ourselves to be nearer to our loved ones, who are with You !

And, while You prepare a place for us, prepare us also, for that happy place, that where You are....
we may, be also...........
forevermore !'

God Bless,

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