February 7, 2009

"They are taken away perchance to other duties in God's service"

Death is much on our minds here. An exceptionally talented and vibrant young woman of our parish was killed in an automobile accident last week. Rachel wasn't a personal friend of ours, but our paths kept crossing. She was in my R.C.I.A. class. She sang in the choir at the mass we attend. She was a grad student in music at SF State, and helped our son Will get through the convolutions of counterpoint class. We saw her baby, Violet, baptized last year.

She was only 22. She had some mind-boggling tattoos. We went to her funeral today--the music was awesome, as you might expect when a splendid choir has lost one of their own. I was glad Will and I could help out a little, as ushers...

Newman wrote...

...Further still, consider our Saviour's words: "It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you." He does not tell us, why it was that His absence was the condition of the Holy Spirit's presence...

...Moreover, this departure of Christ, and coming of the Holy Ghost, leads our minds with great comfort to the thought of many lower dispensations of Providence towards us. He, who, according to His inscrutable will, sent first His Co-equal Son, and then His Eternal Spirit, acts with deep counsel, which we may surely trust, when He sends from place to place those earthly instruments which carry on His purposes. This is a thought which is particularly soothing as regards the loss of friends; or of especially gifted men, who seem in their day the earthly support of the Church. For what we know, their removal hence is as necessary for the furtherance of the very objects we have at heart, as was the departure of our Saviour.

Doubtless, "it is expedient" they should be taken away; otherwise some great mercy will not come to us. They are taken away perchance to other duties in God's service, equally ministrative to the salvation of the elect, as earthly service. Christ went to intercede with the Father: we do not know, we may not boldly speculate,—yet, it may be, that Saints departed intercede, unknown to us, for the victory of the Truth upon earth; and their prayers above may be as really indispensable conditions of that victory, as the labours of those who remain among us. They are taken away for some purpose surely: their gifts are not lost to us; their soaring minds, the fire of their contemplations, the sanctity of their desires, the vigour of their faith, the sweetness and gentleness of their affections, were not given without an object...

[Parochial & Plain Sermons, vol. 2, Sermon 18. Link.]

Rachel and Violet
SF Chronicle photo, by Mike Kepka (Link)

Posted by John Weidner at February 7, 2009 9:57 PM
Weblog by John Weidner