Remembering Michael Dubruiel, who was a friend to some of my friends. According to his wife, Amy Welborn, Michael collapsed at the gym this morning and could not be revived.

While the Catholic world, particularly the blogging world, is stunned, and even Pat Madrid spoke of being “devestated,” I’m a bit envious. The man was called Home. His family and friends will miss him terribly – but he’s been Graduated.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord,
and may Perpetual Light shine upon him.
May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed,
by the mercies of God,
rest in peace. Amen.

The First Sorrowful Mystery: Christ’s Agony in the Garden

Albrecht Altdorfer: The Agony in the Garden, from the monastery of St. Florian in Enns (Linz), Austria

The Agony of anticipation, knowing what was just ahead, knowing that being God would not protect him from the physical sufferings – Might He have been tempted to doubt His own identity, His ultimate victory over death in those hours of praying, alone, in the Garden, while His closest friends, who, loving Him, still did not understand, slept?

Suffering so intense that he sweated blood – yet His thoughts in those final moments before His arrest and tortures began were for us! He prayed for us in the Garden – not only “If it be Thy will, let this cup pass from me!” but also, “Be with them – make them one as we are One… Sanctify them in the truth; thy word is truth…that they may all be one, even as thouh, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe…”

The First Joyful Mystery: The Annunciation

I love this painting. When I meditate on the First Joyful Mystery, this is the image that comes to mind.

… and (the angel) came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.

He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High;
and the Lord God will give to him the throne of hsi father David,
and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever;
and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no husband?” …
And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”  – Luke 1:26-38

The death of one of my heroes –

Please pray for the respose of the soul of James “Al” Bowman, my former brother-in-law. He’d been a nursing home for a while – Alzhimer’s – but the obituary said he died at our local hospital. It’s too late to call the family for other details, but the Pilot says the funeral will be on Saturday.

Al was born nearly 80 years ago, when his mother was in her early teens, up in the mountains of Surry County (near Mt Airy), delivered by a granny midwife who served that entire region. A bad car wreck when he was a young boy kept him out of school for a couple of years, and then he became a very young school drop-out, going to work to help support the family. When the local community college began to offer GED classes, Al was among the first to sign up; he was featured in a local newspaper article about the program, and for the rest of his life he was proud of that diploma.

He worked a variety of jobs from boyhood, finally becoming an electrician and working a number of years until he retired from Burlington Industries, and I often heard the others of the family tell how Al would bring home a paycheck, hand it to his mother, and say, “Here, Mama – take this, be sure  Mike and Rusty have shoes or whatever they need for school.” Without Al’s help against their father’s deficiencies (Mr. Bowman drank, gambled, and alternately abused and neglected his family), there is no telling what would have happened to the family.  He was particularly concerned for the wellbeing of the younger boys, who were born when he was near 20 (he was 21, in fact, when Rusty, the 8th of the family, was born).  It was Al who bought the house the family was living in when Mrs. Bowman died, and he continued living there until Alzhimer’s made it necessary for him to go to a nursing home, several months ago.

When I was dating Rusty, Al took quite a shine to me. “Better be good to Laura. Better marry that girl,” he used to tell Rusty. “Laura’s a good woman, a damn good woman – good woman’s hard to find!” He never quit saying it. When he had his cancer surgery in 2001, I came home from Louisiana for a couple of weeks at his request to stay at his house and help him out. He was awfully good to me: kind, wholly unsophisticated but gallant in that unschooled but great-hearted way of his (my cousins reading this, who knew him, will immediately know what I mean) – he tried so hard to help Rusty to be a better man.

He wasn’t a particularly religious man, although he possessed that country Baptist faith that is common here in the Bible Belt, and particularly among the mountain folks he came from. It was a simple, even simplistic faith, but Al was a simple man.

Eddie

We’ve been praying for Eddie, who had brain tumor, for several months. I received a beautiful email from his daughter a little while ago, informing me that he entered Eternity on October 3, his 64th birthday.

She spoke of the time at home, and the sweet privilege of caring for him – a privilege I can share passionately with, because of the time I spent with my father during his final days, in 1991 –

and all I can think, beyond even my sorrow for my friend’s grief, is that there are people who would arbitrarily “relieve suffering” by terminal anesthesia, or euthenasia.

Ours has become a self-centered, narcissistic culture, concerned not with the ultimate wellbeing of our loved ones (do we even know how to truly love, any more?) but with our own convenience, our own deliverance from inconvenience or suffering or self-sacrifice.

My dear friend wrote of her father’s final days – “I would gladly have spent ten years caring for him again!” she wrote, and I know what she meant. We are deeply altered (altared?) by such proximity to suffering and Dying.

She wrote of the peacefulness of his passing – how God granted all their desires for his final moments –

How many people are deprived of the grace of these sufferings by impatient family and medical personnel who unnecessarily hasten the end of life, lacking understanding of the utter redemptive beauty of allowing God to choose when life begins and ends?

We’ve become a utilitarian people – God help us, it’s getting worse all the time – and if this election goes badly, we’ll be seeing even worse, at a greatly accelerated pace.

Update on Eddy

My friend S. wrote me about her “da,” Eddy, who was diagnosed several months ago with brain tumor (see prayer needs, to the left). The family has moved to a new apartment which allows Eddy to stay downstairs more comfortably – Home Health services nurses are in regularly to check him and help –

But to top it off, her mother fell and broke her hip and has had to be in rehab!!!

I swear, things come in droves, don’t they?

Please keep this family in your prayers!

Prayer Need: Father J

You’ll see his name added to the prayer list in the sidebar.

I received, just a few minutes ago, an email from a friend in his parish, asking for prayers. Fr J has ended each of the Masses he has celebrated today with the announcement that he is leaving the parish, and the confession that he is an alcoholic and leaving to enter a treatment facility.

I’ve lived with alcoholism and addiction – grandfather, uncles and cousins on both sides of the family, my mom, my second husband…

It’s a nasty business, chemicals dominating a person’s body and soul, demanding more and more for itself and leaving so little a shell in its wake. I’ve been enjoying Adrienne’s posts on the 12 Steps for Catholics in large part because – even though I seem to have escaped the addiction gene – alcoholism still shapes a lot of the person I am, and am constantly trying to make and keep peace with.

One of the worst facets of addiction is the denial that there’s a problem. That’s why the First Step toward recovery, admitting that one has a problem, is so monumental an accomplishment.

It seems even more impressive to me that this priest should take this step now. He has had to greatly humble – even humiliate himself – before his parishioners – and this goes completely against the grain of a Church where the authority (even when it unhealthily feeds his ego) of a priest is sacrosanct. He owed his parish nothing in the way of an explanation; he might have saved “face” by not revealing the details behind his exit.

But he has chosen a better way, I suspect, and for that I admire him immensely.

Email from a friend – PRAYER NEED, please!

My da is in the neurosurgery ward in Beaumont Hospital. He has an abnormality on his brain and they’ll either do an operation to remove it immediately or a biopsy to see if it’s a tumour or not. The biopsy will take 3-4 days to come back and both will be under general anaesthetic. The head surgeon is off for the holiday weekend so we will see him Tuesday and he’ll discuss the options with us. My family is thank God, pulling together instead of falling apart. S and M (my sisters) and D (my nephew) are doing shifts with me and my ma. He keeps wandering off and thinks he can get a taxi to go home and then the boat to Birmingham where they used to live. His eyesight is all blurry too. That’s just a shortlist of what’s happening to him.

We really really need your prayers, and if you remember him after the consecration at Mass and when you get Holy Communion it will be so powerful. I would really appreciate if you could pay a few dollars and have a Mass said for him, his name is Eddie M. Our Lady said they are like candles to light up the way when a person dies and of course it’s the most powerful prayer on Earth. I will keep you updated. God keep you always in the palm of His hand.