I was awakened at 4:55 this morning by the ominous, slow tolling of a single bell in the abbey church tower. At any time of day that’s the unmistakable announcement that one of us has died. I won’t say that it sends chills down my spine, but it’s certainly one of the most solemn and somber sounds you can imagine. In this world of telephones, emails, text messages and twitters, nothing beats a deep-throated, tolling bell for communicating the news that someone has just died.
I knew right away who had passed away, or at least was 99% sure that it was 80 year-old Brother Anthony Streit. I had visited him three times yesterday in the abbey infirmary. He had been comatose, but I chatted with him anyway and said a couple of Hail Marys with him.
Anthony was a man of simple faith and cheerful disposition; he took great pleasure in being of help to others, especially by fixing things with his hands. I’m sure it bothered him that he died before he was able to finish re-doing the last two of the chairs in the monastic refectory. He and I will have a good laugh over that some day in heaven.
We’ll also laugh over his first favor as a citizen of heaven. I already mentioned that he loved to help people in any way he could. Well, I had forgotten to set my alarm clock last night. If he hadn’t died, the bell would not have tolled, and I would have probably slept though Morning Prayer! Thanks, Brother Anthony!
So, please excuse me for not writing more right now. I’m a little sad at losing such a good brother. I’ll think of him tonight and every night from now on as I’m setting my alarm clock.
........May flights of angels lead you into Paradise!