Death of St. Benedict Joseph Labre
My friend Larry died.
Many thanks for all your prayers. Larry died in peace surrounded by his family. He has a good size family, I understand his daughter is a Lutheran minister. The sons are active in ministry as well - from what I understand.
After Larry left seminary, we pretty much lost contact, except for certain occasions. We went our separate ways. I left - or fled - the 'neighborhood' and the 'group' and only got back together with them after Larry had married and moved away. So Larry had another life for more than forty years. I didn't know him as a married man, widower, father, teacher, and so on. I was, I suppose, a sort of 'prodigal friend' - he didn't know me either.
When he moved back to the metro area he eventually socialized with most of my old friends, those with whom I lost contact after they married and raised a family. Being a 'single man' I lived apart. My life has always been more or less that of an outsider, although I maintained contact with one or two friends, who knew both my family and friends and me.
As a single man, more or less alone, my boyhood friendships remained a thing of the heart. I suppose it's a symptom of arrested development, or 'friendship interrupted'. Yet it really is very much a memory that grew and developed, albeit somewhat sentimentally. I never realized, or took the time to consider how my friend evolved, how he matured and how the responsibilities of wife and family, home, career and avocation, absorbed and consumed him. I found that out, watching and praying for Larry from a distance, my only contact with cards and messages left on the CaringBridge site his children updated. Reading the messages of others who know him revealed more about Larry than I ever knew. He was a beloved teacher for one thing.
That's how I came to understand he was at the very least an estranged friend - or more appropriately, I was the estranged one. In other words, the stranger. It's wonderfully existential to realize that, BTW.
In the end, I need to admit my deepest concern was to pray for his 'happy death', his eternal salvation. I was always concerned that Larry became Lutheran after seminary - I couldn't understand that. Call me old fashioned - because I am. Which is why I turned to the Divine Mercy devotion and many rosaries as well as appeals to Our Lady Undoer of Knots. I so often recall stories of deathbed conversions when a priest could visit, as well as those stories when the dying person refused a priest. Everything today is different. We affirm people in their good faith. That's our reality today - so I leave it at that. I do not want to start a discussion on that point. Our Lord can do infinitely more than we ask or imagine and Our Lady can remove any obstacle to our salvation.
My friend was certainly a devout, faithful Lutheran, as are his children. They live better lives than I do. It may even explain why Larry didn't invite me into his social circle as he did my other friends. (Perhaps my former lifestyle was too much a scandal?) Although, no one ever said anything about that. Nevertheless, who am I to judge his state of soul at death? What dare I say if he was a good Lutheran, a man faithful to the duties of his state in life? He was an honorable man.
I only present all of these thoughts because my genuine interest and concern is for the salvation of his soul and the souls of my family and friends. That is my greatest concern. That is why I asked for prayers and have Masses said for others. No other concern interferes with that - none.
I pray daily for a happy death for myself (and those I love) - not to die without the sacraments and to be fully disposed to accept the death God has willed for me from all eternity. As Catholics there is no greater consolation at death than the sacraments.
In conclusion, please pray for my childhood friend Larry - he was a wonderful man who did so much good. Thank you.
Eternal rest, grant unto him O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Jesus I trust in you!
If the sacrifice of worldly honours, goods, friends, and life be required of such a one,
he makes it with joy, saying with the Royal Prophet,
"What have I desired in heaven or on earth, besides thee, O God!
Thou art my portion for ever." Ps. 73.25