Monday, January 07, 2008

Monday word, 07 Jan 2008

George W. Lutjen funeral (07 Jan 2008) Sir 3. 2-6,12-14; Ps 23; Jn 6. 37-40
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Help To Care for Your Souls and More

On behalf of Gesu Parish and personally, I extend our prayers and heartfelt sympathy to you, George, Peter and Christian, at the passing of your Dad. I extend them to you Ellen, Maryanne and Sandra because I learned that George was an interested but not an intrusive father-in-law.

Your children and their children grieve, too. Your PawPaw is not with you in the same way he was. Grief is slippery and elusive. I offer a few words to console and to strengthen you in your grief; to help you appreciate God’s astounding compassion by noticing that Jesus’ victorious dying and rising were present in the life of your father, father-in-law, grandfather and great-grandfather; and in you as well./1/

I am indebted to Maryanne, who painted a detailed portrait of a man who knew lofty highs and very deep lows during his life. My remarks turn around one image Maryanne offered me: George “was a silent observer [who] did not intrude on the family.”

What he, we, indeed all people, silently observe often touches humans at their core. We use the word “heart” to speak of our core. We mean more than the blood-pumping organ of our bodies. We Catholics know our core is more real than our heart, and we call our more-than-physical core, one’s “soul.” All people have souls, not only silent observers like George. Today, though, George is the focus of your memories, your hearts and our souls.

One who is in touch with one’s soul, like George, is drawn to care. You experienced his care: his interest, concern, love, desire for you to learn and to thrive. One thing I share lets me know the depth of his care: as George cared for his mother-in-law until her death, my mother cared for my father’s mother until her death.

A person in touch with his soul like George is also able to move about in the world. One may not want to travel or like the reason for it, but being in touch with his soul, George did not fear the world or refuse to engage it.

Recalling his age reminds us that George did not grow up as we have. People of George’s generation did not take travel for granted. God created the world, and being touch with our souls allows us, like George, to move within the world both to discover ourselves as well as our Creator.

Reading for people in touch with their souls--I know this from my father--is a rewarding pastime not something that passes the time. Plus, reading is a way we bring the world to us and take ourselves into the world and its issues, needs, its future and also our future.

A word about George’s soul and his future. Anyone who decided, as Maryanne told me, to let go of one’s independece for the care assisted-living offered, and who decided to hand over one’s car keys: that person is in touch with his soul! Before those moments when George revealed his decisions to you, George silently observed himself. Because he was in touch with his soul, that core of himself, he knew that his body, the robe of his soul, needed more assistance than he could offer.

Long before you knew your PawPaw, he had many silent conversations with his soul, enough that he was always on the threshhold of the Roman Catholic church. Sometimes people on the threshhold of the church know better than many of us the meaning of the Our Father and Hail Mary.

God was astoundingly present to George and George to God throughout his life. Your father, father-in-law, grandfather and great-grandfather imaged God, who routinely “silently observes us and does not intrude on” our decisions. That’s the reason Maryanne’s one image moved me. As bearer of God’s image that way, it’s no wonder that the care children afford to their parents God never forgets. Let no one scoff at kindess to a parent or to anyone as long as you live. Your kindness keeps you on the thresh-hold of God’s justice. Your father, father-in-law, grandfather and great-grandfather silently observes that with unmatched clarity. He’ll help you care even better for your souls for the sake of the world he engaged so keenly.
/1/ Cf. Order of Christian Funerals 27.
Wiki-image .

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