Saturday, January 16, 2016



I’m awe right now. I haven’t even returned the phone message that I got late last night telling me that Stan had died yesterday at the age of 93. Just before Christmas I wrote a post entitled “Walking Rita Home,” about my experience of being with a family as a 93-year old woman died peacefully, surrounded by sixteen family members.

Last night’s phone message was that Rita’s husband of sixty-eight years, Stan, had, after a couple of days of illness, died of congestive heart failure, surrounded by his family -- the very same family that had gathered around his wife’s bed less than a month ago.

At the end of Lauds this morning, as my brother monks and I prayed the intercessions, I added my own for Stan and his family. As I did that I was suddenly filled with a sense of awe at the tremendous love there must have been between those two people -- the kind of love that is powerful enough to literally make you die when the other person does. The phrase “died of a broken heart” suddenly took on a whole new dimension. It doesn’t mean, at least in this case, that the person quit on life, or was so miserable and depressed that they wanted to die, but simply that he wanted to be with his wife again. As simple as that: no hard feelings or anything, just that he wanted to be with her again.

Writing this, I feel as if I’m on sacred ground, like Moses tiptoeing barefoot towards the burning bush, in the presence of a Divine Mystery. But I can’t help imagining the joy our Heavenly Father must have had when he reunited the two of them in heaven and watching them enjoying one another's company once again.   

But this double-dose of death is terribly hard on his family. Pray for them. At the funeral mass I plan to preach on the beatitudes: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”  Stan’s mourning lasted just over three weeks, I’m afraid that the family may not get off so easily.


  1. Dear Fr. Albert, I loved reading your stories about the lives of these two beautiful people. Having become a young widow 29 years ago I have always envied people that are having a long life together. However, God blest us with 6 sons and a daughter. Now I have 11 grandchildren and 2 great grands!! I enjoy you blog and the stories of your students. Thank you.

  2. And thank you! Let's pray for one another!