On All Hallows Eve I visited a dear friend who was dying. She was a mother to many priests over the years, and mother to many others, in addition to her own seven children. During my two hours with Ann, a parade of children, grandchildren, and “spiritual children” came to be with the holy one on her deathbed. Her husband had gone back to God a few years ago, but she remained in the family home, surrounded by the vineyards they had all planted and cultivated over many three generations. On Tuesday, her children and grandchildren prepared dinner in a flurry of family energy around their dying mother. “She will go back to God on All Saints Day,” her eldest daughter said. I thought that would be an extraordinary grace, and prayed that it might be so.
Yesterday, All Saints Day, Ann took her last earthly breath just after the children led the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary around her. Today I placed her name in the canon of my first Mass for the dead, a quiet morning requiem offered as the sun was just touching the crystal windows above the altar. Is she a saint? Yes, she is a saint. She received the Holy One in Eucharistic Communion almost every day of her life, and several times in these last days from various priests. “The souls of the just are in the hands of God,” we will hear in today’s Mass, “and no torment shall touch them.” Ann was justified by God’s overwhelming grace, and the fact that she did not reject that grace. She is in the hands of God, and we pray for her soul, for certainly those who die with need for any purgation will be consoled by our prayers and sacrifices.
To be at the bedside of one who has lived a holy life, a joyful and simple life in God’s presence, is an unutterable consolation. I will never forget the Vigil of All Saints 2017, when I sat by the bed of a saint and prayed with her that God’s perfect will be fulfilled entirely in our lives. May she rest in peace. May her soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, rest in peace.