”I long for that”

I wrote this as a mem­o­ry of Father Michael for my parish bul­letin.  Edit­ing there changed its mean­ing, so this is the real thing!

I cor­re­spond­ed with Father Michael by email begin­ning in May, 2012. I had some per­son­al issues I need­ed to dis­cuss with some­one holy-and Father Michael sure­ly was the man. In order to lay the ground­work for some of these, I first wrote sev­er­al long emails to Father Michael.One of the long emails was about an NDE-like expe­ri­ence I had dur­ing the birth of my old­est son. Father Michael wrote back to me :

That is an absolute­ly beau­ti­ful sto­ry. I can only imag­ine the joy of being in such per­fect peace and bliss. I long for that. For me these are sim­ple affir­ma­tions of the cer­tain­ty of heav­en and the good­ness of God. To meet three peo­ple of such sig­nif­i­cance in your life, a grand­moth­er, a nun, and a sis­ter whom you didn’t ever know. Whow!!

You have been blessed beyond mea­sure. That is why my hope is that your son will come back ‘home’. I think our only joy is when we are peace­ful in the Lord. Then every­thing else is man­age­able.

Do come to the sac­risty. Tomor­row, I will be there but only for a few min­utes. I am hav­ing b’fast with one of the elder­ly ladies.

Father Michael

Upon receiv­ing Father’s note, I was imme­di­ate­ly struck by his words “I long for that”. Through­out his ‘mal­a­dy’, and even before, when his sick­ness seemed just like stom­ach trou­ble, I often thought about what Father Michael real­ly want­ed. I often felt-and dread­ed- that Father Michael was sooooo good, (though not per­fect!) that the Lord would sure­ly give him what he longed for.

For me, this aware­ness of Father Michael’s yearn­ing, gave the suf­fer­ing, for­bear­ance, courage and faith of his can­cer jour­ney such mean­ing. Pray­ing for him, I strug­gled often in try­ing to bal­ance my self­ish desire for his ‘com­plete heal­ing’ with the knowl­edge that Heav­en was what he tru­ly want­ed and so deserved. So often in these past months I have remem­bered Father Michael’s ”I long for that”. And now it is his…