Our Fallen Soldier

It was a busy winter.  Over Christmas vacation we were blessed to visit 5 grandparents, and we've since lost 3 of them.  First, Sarah's beloved grandparents incredibly passed away on the same day after 70+ years of marriage.  Then in February, my maternal grandmother lost her 4-year battle with cancer at the age of 92.

I just wanted to share a few thoughts on Grandma Lee D.

Number one, Grandma D. has friends in high places.  And I'm talking much, much higher than Colorado.  She sat in the pews of St. Martin of Tours for years and years reciting the Creed from the early Christians, which includes, “I believe in the Communion of Saints.”  And she meant it.  She not only believed in the communion of all saints-in-the-making on earth, members of the Bride of Christ, the Church, through the Holy Eucharist.  She also knew Christ's Kingdom stretches well beyond this world.  She knew the Communion of Saints includes the Church Suffering, in Purgatory, and she knew the Communion of Saints includes the Church Triumphant, the saints in heaven.  These are her friends in high places.   

One of her friends in this great cloud of witnesses (Heb. 12:1) was St. Frances Cabrini.  Sadly, I was not aware of this devotion until she died.  Our frequent trips to pray at Mother Cabrini's shrine near Denver will never be the same.  

For big prayer intentions, Grandma didn't hesitate to call on the big guns.  One of her closest companions was St. Jude the Apostle, patron of impossible causes... which perhaps reveals what she thought of all of us!

Just over one year ago I witnessed her love for and devotion to these friends.  She didn't know anyone was watching her, but sitting in the corner of my mom's living room, she was looking through my son's (whose middle name is Lee, by the way) collection of holy cards.  She slowly pulled out the sacred images of our Lord and His saints one by one.  She looked at the front, turned it over and read the prayer on the back, before turning it back again and gently kissing the image ever so reverently.  Seeing this simple love, I thought, “It's official; we can put her picture in the dictionary next to the word piety.”

There is a second side of my grandma I want to tell you about.  She was a fighter.  Mrs. Claus, a fighter?  Well, another one of her friends, St. Padre Pio, once called the Rosary “a weapon of extraordinary power against Satan.”  So let me tell you, this little old lady from Jersey came packin' heat!  One look at this soldier's weapon of choice, her Rosary beads, reveals a battle fought long and hard.  She spent so many hours meditating on the life of Christ through the eyes of His mother, so many years asking for the Blessed Mother's powerful intercession, she wore the color right... off... the beads, literally!  Like a runner wearing out the soles of her shoes, like a ballplayer taking batting practice till his hands bled, like a handy man wearing out the knees of his trousers in order to provide for his family, like an artist perfecting his frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel until it cost him chronic neck spasms... Grandma D. went to war against evil on behalf of her groom of 68 years, on your behalf and mine, and for the whole world.  And with countless hours of meditation on the Passion of our Lord Jesus, through the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, you can bet she was able to attach her suffering from cancer to His cross of redemption for our sake.  And she's not done.  She and her combat boots have just marched to a new location.  Whether that's purgatory or heaven, she continues to pray for us.

So how do we honor our beloved fallen soldier?  Well, we start by returning the favor.  The best thing we can do for her is pray for the repose of her soul, just in case she's in purgatory, that place of purification described by St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians (Ch. 3).  She might be depending on our prayers to get to heaven faster.

Secondly, we must let God answer her prayers.  The suffering and prayers of this faithful warrior have built up a tidal wave of graces on the doorstep of our hearts.  But we have to be open to this tsunami, because love demands that God respect our free will.  I don't know about you, but I find tremendous consolation in knowing these graces are at my disposal and at the disposal of her great-grandsons.  I also know that my own pride and selfishness have blocked all but a trickle of the potential flood.

Let's not let her prayers go to waste.  Let's honor her by joining the communion of saints, starting with  communion with one another, which requires a humble gift-of-self.  Because of Christ's work on the cross, death is no longer a tragedy; the only tragedy is not fulfilling the purpose for which we were made – to become saints.

Grandma did her part in helping us fight the good fight.  Now we must do ours.

We love you Grandma and we thank you.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let the perpetual light shine upon her.  Amen.

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful remembrance! I will certainly pray for the repose of her beautiful soul!