If we have died with Christ, we believe that we are also to live with him” Romans 6:8
In a small daily reflection book of the writings of Pope Francis there is a quote that reads:
“To place our sight on our own death and resurrection causes our lives to change its center from “what we could do” to focusing on “what the Lord has done for us and will do for us.”
Sister Anne Mary has had her sight on her own death and resurrection for some time now. Not in any morbid or sad way but in a manner which caused her life to change its focus from what can I do with the life I have remaining, however long that may be, to how can I live my life in a manner that shows my gratitude to God for all that God has done for me in my life.
Annie’s end of life wishes and funeral plans, including her Scripture readings and music all speak to her belief that “if we have died with the Christ we are also to live with him.” These wishes and plans have been well documented over many years. Having lived with significant physical challenges during her life, Annie did change her focus to live in such a way that her mind and heart were set on eternal life. She was aware that eternal life is not something that starts after you die, it is also the here and now, and it is the life we share with others during our life on earth.
Eternal life was made visible to Annie in her community life here at Fontbonne Convent through Annie’s generous spirit, her prayerful presence and her many acts of kindness to the Sisters. Eternal life for Annie was the joyful spirit that she brought to her young primary grade students, it was the confidence that she gave to the timid, shy children, that learning could be fun and they would love school, it was the peace she gave to the youngsters she prepared to receive God’s love and mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, eternal life was her love for the Eucharist that she manifested to the children as they learned about gift of the “great love of God”” they were going to receive at the time of their First Communion, it was the assurance and the support that she gave to the worried, concerned parents of her students, it was the cheerful smile she gave to the young women at Fontbonne Academy . Eternal life was also the strength and protection she gave to her sister, Jeannine over the years when they traveled to Boston as young children. As the oldest in the family, Annie took charge even at a distance. She loved her family and was so proud of each and every one of them down to the last born grandnephew. Eternal life is love and love never dies.
As I reflected on the Scripture readings and the words to the hymns Annie chose for her funeral Liturgy, it confirmed for me her belief in eternal life. I had the thought that perhaps Annie was giving all of us a message, that message being, our lives have not ended, but changed. If we believe in eternal life our life will go on in our family members whom we have comforted, in the Sister we showed kindness to, the child we encouraged, the colleague we affirmed, the person we acknowledged with a smile. The people we have loved.
In the days and months ahead, when we think of Annie’s passing from this life to eternal life, perhaps we can recall and reflect on the Scripture and hymns of today’s Liturgy: Paul’s letter to the Romans, “if we have died with Christ, we believe that we are also to live with him.” Also from Romans, “just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too, might live a new life”, from the Book of Wisdom, “the souls of the just are in the hand of God.” And from the Gospel of St. John, “if anyone loves me they will keep my word, and my Father will love them and we shall come to them and make our home with them”
In the opening hymn in this prayer service we sang:
“That when our life of Faith is done in realms of clearer light. We may behold you as you are, in full and endless sight.” Annie’s life of Faith is done. She now beholds her loving God in her endless sight.
As we leave this Chapel this morning to bring Annie to her final resting place, we’ll sing “When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation and take me home, what joy shall fill my heart! I imagine that on October 13th a little after noontime the joy that filled Annie’s heart when God took her home could not be contained here on earth. May she rest in peace.
Given by: Patricia E. McCarthy, CSJ