December 4, 1922 – March 15, 2015
The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord let his face shine upon you and be gracious to you!
It seems as the seasons change whether from autumn to winter, winter to spring, Lent to Easter or Easter to Ordinary time…we are reminded of how fragile life is. Since the season of autumn and through the Lenten season we, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston and of Springfield have lost beloved members to death. Many of us here have had family members or dear friends die during this time or we are anticipating the loss of a loved one. This is always a difficult experience. Whether we are in the midst of these life experiences as the Sisters here at Fontbonne and Sister Helen’s family and friends are, or we have recently had the experience of the death of a loved one, we are sustained by our Faith. With Faith we believe that no matter the challenge…no matter the heartbreak…no matter the loss…a loving God holds all these experiences in His heart…knowing what it is to feel our pain…to know our anguish. Helen’s spirit and positive attitude never diminished throughout her illness. Her Faith helped her to endure her physical challenges.
Lent is essentially a season of patient waiting for “new life.” It is believing that God can accomplish in us something greater than our imaginings. This year the season of Lent took on a whole new meaning for Helen. This Lent, Helen’s patient waiting was for God to call her home, to be reunited with her parents, her sister, Alice, and all those whom she loved and lost to death. Helen’s prayer throughout these last months was for patience. Whenever we prayed it was asking God to give her the patience, strength and openness to wait in trust and hope for the gift of eternal life, her “new life”. Helen was an inspiration to so many of us over these last few months. I’ve heard it said at Bethany from staff members in various departments how sad it was that they only got to know Sister Helen at the end of her life. Helen’s gratitude to the nursing staff and all who contributed to her care was unending.
Helen possessed the gift of Wisdom which is described in this evening’s first reading from the Book of Proverbs. “Happy the one who discovers Wisdom… Her (Wisdom’s) ways are delightful ways; her (Wisdom’s) paths all lead to contentment…those who cling to her (Wisdom) lead happy lives.” Helen was a delightful woman, she was a contented woman. Helen was a happy woman and made other people happy.
We haven’t been assured of life without pain, or disappointment or heartache but we have been promised that we’ll get through it…perhaps not in this instant or in a few days but eventually, and in and through the disappointment, the pain or the heartache we will be able to see blessing.
Let us pray that we might share Helen’s Faith and trust that God does bless us and is with us through good times and difficult times.
May we cherish each moment of life and may we pray for a deeper Faith in our own lives that we might know comfort in our sadness over Helen’s death and in turn be comfort for each other.
May the Lord bless you and keep you, Helen, may the Lord let his face shine upon you and be gracious to you for all eternity.
And until we meet again, may you rest in peace.
Patricia E. McCarthy, CSJ