by Fr. Jeff

“What’s that sound?” I open my eyes to a dark room. Oh yes, I forgot I changed the text alert on my phone so that it would wake me.

1 new message: “He is gone.” – 6:17am.

Slide to unlock.

“I’m on my way.” Send.

For several hours last night, we sat with him. Prayer after prayer, decade after decade, rosary after rosary. “Now and at the hour of our death.” Sniffling and tissue try their hardest to break the rythym of the prayer. Nothing can deter us. Your words are a reminder of why we are here: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me” (Mt 26:30).

It was his last request: “I’m only asking God for one thing in these days. I want to be surrounded by the people I love.”

Over the last three days, his friends had taken him into their home. The relationship was ecclesial. They had met in the Church community and their friendship was forged with the nails of the Cross. Nothing would separate them, not even the prospect of death. Rather, this was their last gift to him: “Stay here and keep watch with me.”

We prayed. We watched. By Your grace, his brothers were able to see him. When they entered the room, his face lit up for the last time. He called them by name and they said their goodbyes.

With a few final prayers and my last goodbye, it was time for me to take my leave. I crawled into bed in anticipation of that moment. My clerics were ready, my book already marked.

Looking back, I see Your grace in an unexpected place. As I replied to the message, I stared at the green button. With just a tap, the message would find its way to them. It was one of hope:

The priest is on his way.
The Church is on her way.
The Christ is on his way.

As we prayed this morning, my mind returned to that little green button:

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon him.

May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace.