Monday, May 05, 2008

Monday word, 05 May 2008

Chester Lesinski funeral (05 May 2008) Ws 4. 7-15; Ps ; 1Jn 3.1-2; Mt 11. 25-30
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Unbroken Bond

On behalf of Gesu Parish and personally, I extend our prayers and heartfelt sympathy to you, Dorothy, at the passing of your dear spouse; to you, Jim, Mary, Ann and Tom at the passing of your father. Your children grieve, too. I want all of you grandchildren to remember how much your grandfather loved you. It will be hard not to have your grandfather in your lives as you did; however, he will continue to be with you in different and new ways, which each of you will discover.

Ann and Stella, I do not yet know a sibling’s grief. I do know your grief for your brother, Chet, is unique, and I extend our prayers and heartfelt sympathy to you both.

The Catholic church bids farewell to a faithful and devoted friend of many years. I offer a few words to console and to strengthen each of 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 Chet and in you as well./1/

I want to begin by recalling a word: religion. Its root meaning means to bind. Many bonds affect us in our lives. We recall today the bond of 52 years that joined you, Dorothy, with Chet. Unlike some bonds, which constrain, your marriage union was one of love and opened you to each other and to your family. Family trips will always be memories, and the fact that you never employed baby-sitters is an accolade. They are but two examples of how your bond helped you become more flexible and free.

Sports, which was so prized by Chet, creates and deepens bonds between players and fans. I don’t know if Chet thought of it, but sporting allegories, which he used to teach his children, are very at home with religion’s root meaning. Religion was never out of fashion for Chet.

The bond our religion fashions is deeply personal. It is risen Jesus, who draws near to us and binds himself to us and us to him, and through him each of us to another.

Last year this month I visited Chet in the hospital and two weeks later at Hamlet Manor. Despite both his physical condition and being in unfamiliar surroundings, he was not as anxious as a person in similar circumstances could have been. Perhaps I was fortunate. I tend to think otherwise because, “he never complained,” Dorothy and Tom reassured me.
The bond forged by Jesus and by Chet’s family and friends has very practical effects on our daily living.

The Easter season reminds us of Jesus’ solemn promise: “I will not leave you orphans.”/2/ Chet experienced that fidelity of Jesus. It registered for him, especially in these last years, as comfort and easing of his burden of illness. Jesus drew and remained close to Chet through you his family.

The comforting bond of religion is no fiction. Nor is it unrelated to daily living. Chet knew that in his bones. He has passed that to you and desires many others to come to know that through his support of Catholic education. You extend his desire by binding Chet’s memory to the Fr. Dietz Scholarship Fund.

We take comfort that we are God’s children now. Jesus will reunite you with Chet with a bond that can never be broken. His love for you and your love for him preview that bond, which Jesus will forge forever.

/1/ Cf. Order of Christian Funerals 27.
/2/ John 14.18.

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