07 October 2019

For the Love of a Sister...

Recently, I was told about a nun that I know. She is dying, and I cannot go to visit her, because she is not in my city. She’s about two hours or so south of me. She is called Sister Marie. ...

I met Sr Marie back in 2001 at St Matthias parish during, of all things, Lent. I’d talked my then-husband into coming to Easter Mass with me (he’s a very lapsed Catholic, sadly). He didn’t want to go but eventually decided alright, he’d come with me.

Whilst we were there, he’s sitting in the pew next to me with his hands folded in his lap and he’s looking up at the ceiling. I asked him if he was alright and he said yeah, he’s just making sure the ceiling didn’t cave in on him for being there. I just rolled my eyes and went back to watching what was happening up at the altar and by the ambow.

At one point, Sr Marie comes out to do some stuff, and my then-husband recognizes her and says to me, ‘I know that lady!’ and I asked him if she was a relative. He said no, that she’s one of the nuns who worked at one of the parochial schools he’d attended when he was little (he’d attended two, one elementary and one middle school). He said he’d remembered her from back then and that she was a sweet lady.
I remember thinking, ‘I want to meet her! She’s a nun, a real nun, and I want to talk to her about that.’ I didn’t know she was a nun, though, just looking at her. She wasn’t wearing the habit or the veil, but she had a massive cross hanging around her neck on a chain.

Not long after that, I was able to formally meet her, and we’d had a few conversations subsequently. She was a super neat lady. We didn’t get to talk much after Masses, but it was so good to be able to connect with her and chat a little bit each week.

She’d come up in conversation at my current parish, and one of my parish Moms told me via text that Sr Marie is dying. I’ve spent since that morning trying to figure out how to approach this news, I wanted to write something of my experience meeting her and what that experience has meant to me, some 18 years later. Even when I was exploring other religious practices to make absolutely sure that Catholicism is where my Jesus is (and He is), Sr Marie and our talks never were far from my mind. Most especially her smile. She always had such a joyful smile on her face. I don’t remember much of our talks. I remember telling her that I enjoyed coming to Mass and that I couldn’t wait to be Catholic, and I remember we discussed the faith. I remember thinking, ‘How wonderful it would be to live where I worship!’ I still think about that a lot. How amazing it would be to live where I worship. Aka, live at church. I’m not thinking about becoming a nun – I am much too cheeky for that. But it would be so nice to live where I worship!

Even though I can’t get down to the nursing home where she’s located, I still offer up prayers for her. That’s really a lot more than one might think it might be, to pray for a person. You are asking the Creator of the Universe, Jesus Christ, to take care of someone you love. I am confident He is watching over her, and I know that He is, in His own way, showing her that she is loved. I’m certain when she gets to Heaven, He is going to show her, too.

You know… The more I’m reflecting on this sweetheart of a person and our too-brief encounters… I can’t help but think that of all the religious beliefs I’ve explored, the Catholics really (and I know, I’m a tiny bit biased), do grief the best. They approach death in the most comforting way. What I mean by that, we know that Jesus certainly isn’t dead. We know that Mama isn’t dead. We also have armies and armies of Saints that we talk to, and ask for their intercession.

The way we approach losing a loved one, it’s no different. We still ask for their intercession and we still pray for them as if they were still physically here on this earth with us. It makes the sting of death a lot more bearable – in my opinion.

The way we approach losing a loved one, it’s no different. We still ask for their intercession and we still pray for them as if they were still believe this to be a thing, I know that it is. That’s, to me, something that’s given me a great sense of peace.

The belief that my loved ones can still hear me, that brings a lot of comfort to me. Especially knowing that my own children, whom I love with all of my entirety, are interceding on my behalf… it’s quite mind-blowing to me to have that knowledge. I don’t simply believe this to be a thing, I know that it is. That’s, to me, something that’s given me a great sense of peace.

So, now that Sr Marie, whom I also love a lot, is about to enter into eternity, I know that I can ask her to pray for me, too, and I know that she will. I also know that she will remember me, because she will have a perfected body in eternity, so the cloudiness of human frailty won’t be a thing for her anymore. She will remember who I am and she will pray for me. My children will be praying with her, and that’s, to me, a very special thing. She will be with the angels and the Saints, praying for all of us. Continuing her work in Heaven that began here on earth. I don’t think we were ever able to discuss Saints and devotions at any length – I don’t recall that that ever really came up – but I know that she’s going to be in great company with other amazing nuns that’ve gone on before, too: Sts Maria Faustina Kowalska, Teresa of Avila, Therese of Lisieux, and so, so many others.

The little bit I learnt about her from my then-husband, she was a super sweet lady with a big heart. He didn’t have many kind things to say about the Church, but he never spoke ill of her at all. The brief conversations we’ve had, she and I, I could see why he liked her as much as he did. Her joy was contagious. Honestly, I don’t think there was ever a time when I saw her at the parish that she wasn’t smiling.

Sr Marie was and will always be one of the most beautiful, loving people I’ve ever had the honour of meeting. I am and always will be grateful for that encounter.

Father, please watch over her and her family. May her time in Purgatory be extremely short, and when she reaches You, may she know how deeply and tremendously she touched us all here on earth. Thank You for making a way for me to meet her, and if You wouldn’t mind, please give her a big hug from me and tell her that I love her.

Thank You, my Beloved Jesus, for the beautiful gift that is Sr Marie. May her life and legacy be a wonderful example for us to follow in her footsteps to draw closer to You.

Father, please protect and keep Sr Marie from any pain she may be feeling. May her transition into eternity be calm, peaceful, and joyful.

In Your Sweet Son, Jesus, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever.


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