I am writing this weekend’s article Monday evening, August 6, the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. This feast has always been one of my favorites. This year it has added significance because at 2:43 PM my mother, Mary Rose Gretka, was invited to join Jesus, Peter, James, and John on the Mount of Transfiguration. She saw Christ face to face and was transformed. All was made new for her: no more pain or suffering, no more wheel chair or leg brace, no more hearing loss or lapse of memory, and no more declining health. Mom not only met Christ, but was reunited with her husband Walter after 44 years of being a widow and she also was reunited with her daughter Diana, who died this past May. What joy she must have experienced in seeing them again, along with her parents, her brothers and sister, and the many relatives and friends who have gone before her in faith! Losing a mother and a sister in the space of 73 days is difficult. I know God has a plan for each of us and my mother and sister have completed all that God has called them to be and do on this earth. They have touched many lives and have gifted our family in so many ways. I am so grateful for the faith my mother and father passed on to us children, and the strong family ties she and my dad helped create among us. I am certain that faith and family will sustain us in the days ahead. I know we will be transformed in some way by her death just as she was on August 6. With death comes not only grief, but deep gratitude for what has been, and joy in the gift of eternal life. I firmly believe that, as the Funeral Vigil Liturgy states, “all the ties of friendship and affection which knit us as one throughout our lives do not unravel with death.” My mom and sister, Diana, and all who have passed from death to eternal life, are only a thought or a memory away. Spiritual presence is powerful; we experience it in Word and Sacrament, and through death, our ultimate share in the Paschal Mystery of Christ. As Christ lives, so now my mother, Mary, lives. May the Angels welcome her into Paradise!
This weekend we celebrate the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Saint John’s Gospel continues with the Bread of Life discourse. Jesus says, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” We have the opportunity to receive the “living bread” often in the Eucharist. Do we truly realize the gift Jesus has given us? Let us pray for a deeper appreciation of Christ’s presence in this life-giving sacrament and never take it for granted.
Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ