Clear Skies

The Epiphany of the Lord – January 6, 2019

Isaiah 60:1-6

Psalm 72:1-2,7-8,10-11,12-13

Ephesians 3:2-3,5-6

Matthew 2:1-12

Since moving to Kentucky back in 2003, I’ve gotten into the sport of hunting. Before I go on, if you are an animal lover and not a fan of hunting, have no fear because rarely are any animals injured on my hunts. Usually it’s just me sitting in a tree stand enjoying nature. My absolute favorite time to go hunting is the early morning before the sun comes up. It’s extremely peaceful and quiet. And with clear skies, I’m amazed at how many stars I can see up above. I can see constellations clearly, planets occasionally and the Milky Way is on full display. The beauty of the sky is nice because it distracts me from how cold my body is feeling.

But as dawn approaches, the rays of the sun peak around the horizon, the stars begin to disappear, the birds awaken and the squirrels begin the jump around in the leaves. My mind turns away from the sky and my focus shifts to waiting for that big buck to come out from hiding. Interestingly, even though I can no longer see the stars, they are still there. But it is only in the still of the darkness when the true beauty of the sky is revealed.

I read somewhere that people during the time of Jesus Christ in the Middle East would often go up on their rooftops and gaze at the stars much like I do from my tree stand in the woods. They didn’t have Netflix, YouTube or Facebook so they had to find other things for entertainment. Gazing at the stars night after night allows one to become very familiar with the patterns that would be seen on any given night. So if something suddenly appeared out of the ordinary, anyone paying attention should have seen it.

We hear in Matthew’s Gospel today that, “Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is the newborn King of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.’” Even though it’s not specifically mentioned in this Gospel, tradition tells us there were three Magi. So of all the people that were gazing at the skies, only three saw something unique… something calling them to leave the comfort of their homes and go on a quest.

Why only three? Maybe everyone else was too distracted, too busy or simply just not willing to remain quiet long enough to notice. Maybe more people saw the star but were too scared to venture out of their comfort zone. God used the star as a sign to announce the birth of His Son. A sign that was available to anyone who had eyes to see it. Three people took up the call, left their comfort zone and eventually found Jesus Christ in the quiet of the night.

I often wonder how many times God is calling us but we are too busy to see or hear it. How many times do we choose the comfort of technology over the quiet of prayer? How many opportunities have we missed to grow our faith because we were too afraid to follow God’s gentle nudge?

What then can we learn from the Magi in Matthew’s Gospel?

We can hear God speak to us when we are less distracted. But unfortunately, our hectic 9-5 schedules often keep us too busy to hear Him. So always remember to take some time to step away from the business of the world, away from the distractions, and look to the light of Christ. Because if we allow the distractions of the world to fade, it is then that we can see God’s light shine the brightest and the clearest.

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God and the Stars

Third Sunday of Advent (December 16, 2018)

Zephaniah 3:14-18

Philippians 4:4-7

Isaiah 12:2-6

Luke 3:10-18

Are you ready for Christmas? It’s only a week away! Yes…. I saw your eyes roll and the look of stress on your faces! It’s seems like that is the response I get from many adults. Christmas seems to be a time that brings us more stress and anxiety rather than joy. I know I can personally relate to that statement. And I think that is sad. If you are a Christian, Christmas should be one of the most joyful times of the year along with Easter. You see…. We’re not celebrating the upcoming birth of our Savior… we’re celebrating that our Savior has ALREADY been born. Then on Good Friday and Easter Sunday… we’re not celebrating that Jesus is going to die for our sins and rise from the dead…. We’re celebrating that Jesus has ALREADY died for our sins and has ALREADY conquered death. So looking at Christmas and Easter together should be one of the core beliefs of our Christian lives that give us peace and hope.

But too often, it doesn’t. Instead, it brings us stress. Why? Because we allow the worldly influences to take over these celebrations. Now, I’m not going to tell you that we need to boycott Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. But I do think it’s time to put things in perspective. So I’m going to attempt that using the stars. Here goes…

It is estimated that our Milky Way galaxy has 100 billion stars. There are 10 billion galaxies like the Milky Way in the observable universe. Therefore, there are 1 billion trillion stars in the observable universe. I don’t even know how many zeros that is!

It is also estimated that our Milky Way galaxy has between 100 and 200 billion planets. If the other 10 billion galaxies have the same amount of planets, then we’re looking at over 1 trillion planets in the observable universe.

I keep using the term “observable universe” because scientists have NO IDEA what extends beyond what they can’t see. We have no idea if there is some boundary out there where creation “stops” or if it just keeps on going.

So we live on a tiny blue spec among 1 trillion planets and 1 billion trillion stars in a universe that could very well be limitless. Do you feel tiny and insignificant yet? Well that is not my goal. My purpose in this is for you to understand that God created everything and creation itself is much larger than you may think. And on this tiny spec we call Earth… God specifically created YOU for a purpose. Furthermore, He is calling you out from the infinite universe back to Him. He planted you here… and now it’s your turn to trust His plan for you.

So how exactly do we trust in His plan in the face of our daily stresses? Through Luke’s Gospel today, John the Baptist gives us some practical advice. John tells people to share their excess cloaks, stop collecting more taxes than is necessary, do not accuse others falsely and to be satisfied with your wages. In modern terms, this could be translated to mean: share your excess goods with those in need, stop cheating and stealing from others, do not lie or gossip and do not constantly strive for more money if you have enough. But you want to know what John the Baptist is REALLY saying here??? Just be a good and kind person the way Jesus taught us. It’s really that simple.

Now I’ll fully admit that just being a good and kind person will not take away all of your stresses, but it will help. It’ll also help you to realize that this life and all of the worldly stresses are just temporary when you focus on God and share His love with others. But if you focus on stress and anxiety, you will end up distancing yourself from God… and your level of joy will be minimal… what fun it that??

St. Paul actually says in his letter to the Philippians that we read today to “Have NO anxiety at all.” None. Zero. Nada. He tells us to praise God, tell Him your worries and ask for His help. This type of trust in God will lead to peace. Worry and anxiety leads us away from peace.

So if you want to reduce anxiety and stress this Holiday season (and throughout your year) take a deep breath… focus on God… talk to Him daily in prayer… be a good person… and trust in His plan for you.

After all, if you can understand that God created an infinite universe with over 1 trillion planets and 1 billion trillion stars, then hopefully you can begin to grasp that His love for you is also infinite. You just have to trust Him.

Let’s Go To The Movies

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (November 18, 2018)

Daniel 12:1-3

Psalm 16:5,8,9-10,11

Hebrews 10:11-14,18

Mark 13:24-32

One of my absolute favorite things to do is go to the movies. Not watching a movie at home, but seeing it on the big screen with a tub of popcorn in my lap. For me, watching a movie allows me to forget about all of my daily stresses and, for at least two hours, feel like I’m actually living in the story that I’m watching. I can get so caught up in a movie that I’m completely emotionally engaged in it, if you know what I mean.

After watching “Jaws”, I couldn’t swim in my parent’s pool in the evening for fear of a great white shark coming up out of the deep end and grabbing my foot. The “Italian Stallion” Rocky Balboa taught me to never count out the underdog after he knocked out the world heavyweight champion, Apollo Creed. Thanks to Stephen King, I can no longer walk near a storm drain by the side of the road because there just may be a clown waiting to pull me in. Mel Gibson painted a very realistic depiction of what a Roman scourging and crucifixion actually looks like in his movie, “The Passion.” Now, every Palm Sunday and Good Friday, when we read the passion narrative at church, I can’t help but play those scenes in my mind.

My absolute favorite movie genre has to be military and war movies that are based on real life events. Movies like, “Black Hawk Down,” “For Greater Glory,” and “We Were Soldiers.” I think the reason I like them so much is because it shows just how far some people are willing to go to help and defend others. Putting their lives on the line for someone they’ve probably never met. To be willing to die for a greater cause.

But the trouble with the movies are… they don’t last forever… usually 2-3 hours after leaving the theater… my emotional “high” from allowing my imagination to be engulfed by the big screen is gone… and it’s back to reality and my day to day stresses and worries.

So why in the world am I going on and on about my love of movies?? Do me a favor and close your eyes as I read something to you. I’m going to use my best “movie narrator” voice so allow your imagination to form a mental picture. Here goes:

“At that time there shall arise Michael, the great prince, guardian of your people… Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, others shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace…the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken… And then they will see the ‘Son of Man coming in the clouds’ with great power and glory, and then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.”

Open your eyes. Did anyone else hear James Earl Jones’ voice reading that or is it just me? Don’t you think this could be the most awesome opening to a major motion picture about the apocalypse? I mean come on? These lines from the Book of Daniel and Mark’s Gospel are begging to be made into a movie about the end of the world! What do you think? Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson could play St. Michael!! I’m telling you it would be a multi-million dollar blockbuster.

All kidding aside, the second coming of Jesus Christ is something we need to consider. Our faith teaches us that one day, Jesus will return to Earth in all of His glory. He will come to conquer evil once and for all, to judge the world and to save the chosen. As we hear in the parable of the fig tree today, there will be signs suggesting Jesus’ return. But ultimately, it could happen any day at any hour.

Why is this so important? Because we must always be prepared. What happens after our death or after the return of Christ is forever. Our lives will be judged and we will spend eternity with Him in heaven or eternity in Hell without Him.

We need to actually live like we believe this and stop waiting for “tomorrow” to clean up our lives. Stop waiting for “someday” to fix that broken relationship or to mend a past hurt. Let’s stop pretending that the Apocalypse is just some movie that we can watch but then go back to our daily lives as if nothing has changed. Jesus Christ gave us the ultimate gift. He, like so many in those military movies I alluded to, laid down His life for you. To defend your soul from evil. To give you hope at eternity in heaven with His Father. He died for a greater cause.

The problem is, we often treat the parables and teachings of Jesus from Scripture as a movie. It sounds good and it’s fun to hear, but the “warm and fuzzies” wear off soon after… and we return to our daily grind.

But if you can fully embrace and live out the teachings of Jesus Christ, I guarantee you’ll live a life with purpose and meaning. It won’t necessarily take away all of your stresses and worries, but those will only be temporary compared to the joy that awaits us one day in heaven.

But until then… go to the movies… allow yourself to laugh, cry and let your senses be engulfed with the big screen. But after you leave the theater and return to reality, remember that you have a God in heaven waiting to fulfill your hopes and desires more so than any movie can ever do.

Gianna

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (October 21, 2018)

Isaiah 53:10-11

Psalm 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22

Hebrews 4:14-16

Mark 10:35-45

 

Gianna Beretta was born on October 4, 1922 in Italy. She was the 10th of 13 children. Gianna was a typical kid but had a turning point at age 15 after taking a course in Spiritual Exercises. In the course, she wrote the following resolution, “I make note of doing all for Jesus. I offer him all my work, all my disappointments and sufferings.” Gianna then wrote the following prayer, “I promise You, Jesus, to submit myself to all that You permit to happen to me. Let me only know Your will.”

Fifteen. FIFTEEN years old. I wasn’t that mature at 15! Gianna had no idea that her resolution at the age of 15 would be put to the ultimate test 25 years later.

Gianna went on to medical school and became a surgeon, specializing in pediatrics. If patients couldn’t afford her care, she wouldn’t charge them a fee. Nobody was turned away. In 1954, Gianna met Pietro Molla and the two were married on September 24, 1955. They gave birth to three children and miscarried two others.

In 1961, Gianna was pregnant with their 6th child. She was only two months pregnant when doctors found a large tumor on her uterus. As a doctor, Gianna knew the only way to guarantee her own safety was to remove the uterus, which would cause the death of the child in her womb. Without hesitation, she decided to have the doctors only remove the tumor and leave the uterus. This greatly endangered Gianna’s life, but gave her unborn child hope for a healthy birth.

As they approached the due date, Gianna and Pietro knew the risks and trials that they were about to face. However, a few days before the child was due, Gianna told her husband, “If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child. I insist on it. Save the baby.”

They went into the hospital on Good Friday of 1962, and Gianna gave birth to a healthy, little girl the following day. A few hours later, Gianna started suffering from severe pain due to septic peritonitis. And despite all efforts to save her life, Gianna died a week later. It was reported that up until her final breath, Gianna kept repeating, “Jesus, I love you! Jesus, I love you!”

Fast forward to October 1997. Pope John Paul II was listening to various speakers at the second ”World Day of the Family” in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A young woman stepped forward and gave a moving testimony that ended with this prayer, “Thank you, Mother. Thank you for having given me life twice: in conception and when you permitted me to be born, deciding for my life. Intercede so that all mothers and families may always come to you with confidence.” Pope John Paul II heard this and wept. These words were spoken by Gianna Emanuela… the daughter of Gianna Beretta Molla. Gianna Emanuela followed in her mother’s footsteps and also became a medical doctor specializing in working with Alzheimer’s patients.

On May 16, 2004, Pope John Paul II officially canonized and introduced the world to Saint Gianna Beretta Molla. In his homily, John Paul said, “Gianna Beretta Molla was a simple, but more than ever, significant messenger of divine love.”

On a personal note, just a few days ago on October 16, 2018, my wife and I were able to officially adopt our little girl Laura and we legally changed her name to Gianna Wentz, named after this modern day Saint. And last night, our Gianna was baptized into God’s family.

I believe St. Gianna is an amazing modern role model who’s story of love and trust in God can teach us so much. She shows us that serving others and loving as God loves is what our faith is all about. It’s not about titles and prestige.

In Mark’s Gospel today, we hear of James and John asking Jesus that they be allowed to sit at His left and right side in Heaven. This irritates Jesus because they are seeking honor and authority rather than focusing on service. Jesus responds that He did not come to be served but to serve. “The cup that I drink, you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized.” These are the commands Jesus tells his followers that they must be willing to do if they desire to enter heaven with Him. It’s about service.

St. Gianna didn’t seek fame and glory. She simply tried her best to commit her life to God. But she didn’t just talk about her faith… she lived out her faith. It is by both word and example that shows God just how much we really and truly love and desire Him. Anyone can say, “Hey look at me, I’m a Christian, God is great!” But to be blunt, that is a very shallow faith if it ends with just words. God is asking us for more. He’s asking us to live out our faith so that others can see our example and hopefully be moved to action in their own lives. This is the type of faith that will allow us to one day sit at God’s side in heaven like St. Gianna.

As baptized members of God’s family, God is calling each one of us to action. I pray that you use your time here on earth to use those actions to help build up and strengthen God’s family rather than tear it down.

And if you ever find yourself struggling, remember the prayer St. Gianna recited on her final days on earth, “Jesus, I love you! Jesus, I love you!”

Let’s Roll

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 16, 2018)

Isaiah 50:5-9a

Psalm 116:1-6,8-9

James 2:14-18

Mark 8:27-35

“Let’s roll!” 17 years ago on September 11, 2001, Todd Beamer spoke these two final words just before Flight 93 crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. He was on a phone with a GTE operator, explaining to her that their plane had been hijacked. Those on board Flight 93 were already hearing reports that 2 other planes had hit the World Trade Center Towers in New York. They knew that if they just sat by quietly, they too would have a similar fate. So the passengers on board came up with an action plan. It was believed they were going to try and rush the terrorists, break into the cockpit and try to regain control of the plane. It was then that the GTE operator overheard Todd on the phone say, “Let’s roll” as they put their plan into action. Shortly later, Flight 93 crashed into an open field. There were no survivors. The theory was that the hijackers were headed to Washington, D.C. Probably with the intention of crashing the plane into the White House. However, the plane never reached that destination because the brave men and women on board took action.

I thought today’s reading from James was very fitting to be proclaimed in church just a few days after the 17th anniversary of 9/11. In it, we hear St. Paul say, “Faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” He very clearly illustrates this when he says you can’t tell someone, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well” if you know they are without food or clothes as you walk right past them without lending a helping hand. You see, saying one thing, but not backing it up with action is a complete contradiction. Instead, St. Paul logically tells us that people who have a strong faith should also have strong actions that support their faith. For it is in these good actions that we see a faith that is alive.

What does this mean to us and how does it relate to Flight 93? There is so much negativity in the world. Let me ask you this… If you sit around and do nothing at all, do we humans tend to get excited or depressed? We get depressed and lethargic. We tend to go inward instead of outward. We also start to listen to the negative chatter in our minds. I’m sure that the people on board of Flight 93 were frightened. After all, they were starring evil and death right in the face. They could have turned inward and sat there doing nothing. But instead, “Let’s roll” was the battle cry they chose. Unfortunately, in the end, they never made it off that plane. But their actions allowed them to die as heroes because the plane wasn’t able to reach it’s target which would have undoubtedly lead to more innocent casualties.

Now, I’m not asking you to go out looking for a way to die as a hero. I am asking you however, starting today, to take on the battle cry, “Let’s roll” regarding your Christian faith. The time for sitting around and being complacent is over. We as a Church need to rise up and start putting our faith into motion.

People of God… I say to you, “let’s roll” regarding teaching our children and grandchildren the faith. You want a better church a decade or two from now? Then we need to take seriously the task of teaching our faith to the younger generation. I know that Mary Jane has asked many, many people to teach Sunday School catechism because we always seem to be shorthanded each year. I also know the most common reason people turn her down is because they claim they don’t know their faith enough to teach it. That’s an honest and valid reason. But why then don’t we have more adults in the adult formation class Sunday morning? We adults need to take the lead here and learn, or in some cases re-learn, our faith so we can pass it on to the next generation.

People of God… I say to you, “let’s roll” regarding supporting this parish. Studies continue to show that 1/3 of the people attending church donate zero dollars, 1/3 give some and 1/3 donate most of the money used to pay the bills. But it’s not just about money! If you look at the committees, it’s usually the same small group of people that volunteer for everything. To them I say, “Thank you!” To everyone else, I ask you to step out of your comfort zone and volunteer for something.

People of God… I say to you, “let’s roll” regarding participating in the Mass. If you aren’t excited to be at Mass… If you don’t see the value of saying the prayers and singing the hymns as a community… If you don’t do everything in your power to make Mass attendance the #1 weekend priority… then you need to have a serious heart to heart conversation with God and figure out what you are missing. Because God provides so much grace when you are fully here and receive the Eucharist with an open, God-loving heart.

People of God… I say to you, “let’s roll” regarding loving our neighbor. Let me say this loud and clear. Forgive one another. Drop the grudges. Encourage each other to be a better person and always lead with a loving heart. If we learned anything from the tragedy of 9/11 it is that we have no idea how much time we have left on this earth. So why in the world would you want to waste any time at all on negativity and nonsense?

Remember, “Faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” Don’t live a life with a dead faith. Instead, choose today to up the game and live out your faith fully with the heart of Jesus.

People of St. Andrew’s… I say to you, “let’s roll!”

Grab Your Walking Stick

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 15, 2018)

Amos 7:12-15

Psalm 85:9-10,11-12,13-14(8)

Ephesians 1:3-14

Mark 6:7-13

 

Jesus sent the Apostles out two by two to preach of repentance, anoint the sick and drive out demons. But did you notice the stipulations he attached to it?

Take nothing for the journey. No food. No money. No sack. No second tunic. Just a walking stick, sandals and the clothes on their backs.

Now we have to ask, WHY? Why the stipulations? The Apostles were sent on a journey. A specific mission. Jesus didn’t want Peter and James messing around on Facebook or to have John video chatting with his buddies back home. He wanted them instead to focus on the task at hand and, more importantly, to rely on others for help.

Now, I’m not sure if you are aware of this, but preaching on repentance isn’t exactly easy. It tends to get people on the defensive when you ask someone to walk away from sin and addiction. Even if it’s for the ultimate greater good… we tend to cling to those negative things in life because they give us false joy and temporary pleasure.

The Apostles, without anything fancy and totally relying on the generosity of others, went out to spread the Gospel. Did they meet with resistance? Yup. But Jesus told them what to do if that happened. Did you catch that in the Scripture passage? Jesus said… if they don’t listen to you or welcome you… you’re supposed to raise your voice, curse, punch, kick and insult them for not seeing things your way!!! Nooooooo!! What he really said was, “leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.”

Jesus told the Apostles to do their best to teach others how to change their attitudes and to turn their lives around, but they needed to simply walk away if the person’s heart was too hard to hear the message. Just walk away. Such a simple concept.

And here’s the truly interesting part. These instructions that Jesus gave his Apostles… don’t take stuff, preach repentance, anoint the sick, drive out demons, walk away if people won’t listen… it worked. Why? Because people were open to changing their attitudes and willing to walk away from sin.

So here’s the take home message from today’s Gospel. If you are struggling with a sin or addiction, if you are angry, if you find yourself walking away from God instead of towards Him, if you are lacking joy in your life… get rid of some of the clutter and allows others to help you. Then focus on what needs to be changed, repent of it and get back on track. If you can consistently do this, you will have fewer negative things around you… I promise.

So grab your walking stick, repent of your sins, set your sights on God and enjoy the journey towards our Father in heaven who is the only source of true and everlasting joy.

Ruth Twaits Funeral Homily

July 23, 2018

Mass of Christian Burial for Ruth E. Twaits

St. Mary’s Catholic Church

Greenville, Ohio

 

Wisdom 3:1-9

Romans 6:3-9

Matthew 11:25-30

 

For those that don’t know me, my name is Deacon Brian Wentz from the Diocese of Lexington, KY. I married into Ruth’s family back in 1999 when I married Ruth’s oldest daughter’s only daughter, Angie (I hope you followed that). Unlike Ruth, I am not a cradle Catholic. I came into full communion with the Catholic Church in 1999 through the RCIA process. During that program, we got to pick a Saint whom we looked up to or wanted to use as a role model. That Saint is then the name we use during the sacrament of Confirmation. I picked St. Luke as my confirmation Saint. I mainly did it because Luke’s Gospel has a unique passage that is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful in all of Scripture. Why? Because it gives us all hope.

Luke 23:39-43 is part of the crucifixition narrative. Jesus is hanging on the cross with a criminal on either side of him. Everyone is mocking Jesus… yelling at him. Everyone except the one we know as “the good thief.” He pretty much tells everyone to zip it. He stands up for Jesus and admits that he and the other criminal are being justly punished for their crimes, but Jesus has done nothing wrong. The “good thief” then turns to Jesus and says, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” To which Jesus replies, “Amen I say to you, this day you shall be with me in Paradise.” BEAUTIFUL. If you truly understand what just happened there, you will see the depth of the love Jesus has for all of us.

No matter our past. No matter our current situation. Jesus is always ready to show us love and compassion. The “good thief” was obviously a sinner and was being punished justly according to Roman law. But in spite of his past and even on his deathbed, Jesus hears his confession and then promises him Paradise.

Now… I’m not implying that Ruth was a criminal or had a “deathbed confession.” I am merely pointing out that Jesus shows compassion to those who are humble, loving and who try their best to live out a good life.

So I wanted to share with you two stories about Ruth that show us what kind of humility and love she really had.

Years ago, 3 of Ruth’s grandchildren (Scott, Mike and Angie) were at Red and Ruth’s house having breakfast. Apparently, there was a heated game of cards the night before between Red and Ruth. As they were still debating the game the next morning, one thing lead to another and Red turned to Ruth and said, “Oh Ruthie, your butt sucks canal water!” It was at that moment, so I’m told, that Scott, Mike and Angie spit out their cereal all over the kitchen table. You see… in that moment, I think most women would have pounced on their husband or, at the very least, had a sarcastic come back. But not Ruth! Nope, she merely replied, “Oh Red” and went on with her day. This shows that Ruth was a very humble, compassionate and loving person for not ripping Red’s head off.

The other story actually involved me. When I decided to begin classes to become Catholic, I was very excited to tell Ruth. After all, she had become my adopted grandmother since all 4 of my grandparents had already passed on. So how exciting would it be to tell my devout-Catholic-honorary-Grandmother that I too was going to become Catholic??? I remember Angie and I approaching her at a family gathering and I simply said to her, “Grandma Ruth, I’ve decided to start classes to become Catholic.” Without batting an eye, she turned to Angie and said, “Well, you’re not making him are you?” After we laughed and assured her I was doing it for me, not for Angie, then she said she was happy for me. This shows that Ruth was honest and really did love people because she wanted them to do things for the right reasons.

Now I’m sure we could go around the room and all of us could each tell a dozen or so more stories that are very similar to the ones I’ve just shared… especially a story about a card game or two! This is because it was so apparent that Ruth had a strong faith and a loving heart. She always made people feel welcome. She always had a smile and a hug to give. She was humble, loving, compassionate and showed us all how to live out the Gospel daily.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” We can now rejoice that Ruth has run a good race. She has made it to the finish line. Her pain has ended. She is at rest.

And although we are sad knowing we will not see her anymore this side of heaven… cling to your faith and visualize her joyfully dancing the night away with our Father in heaven.

“Amen I say to you, this day you shall be with me in Paradise.”

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