Many of you asked if my mom was sick. The answer is really, "no." She had a stroke about seven years ago and since then became gradually weaker. But almost till the end she enjoyed relatively good health and her mind was sharp. The Friday before her death she spent five hours at St. Cecilia's Church, Stanwood, for the visit of the relics of St. Therese of Lisieux. Since there were a number of priests available, she wanted to go to confession, but to a priest who did not know her. We said, "Ma, what are you afraid of at your age?" But she said she wanted to confess to someone she did not know. So she got in the line of a young priest she did not recognize and made her confession, face to face. When she finished the priest looked at her and asked, "Are you Mrs. Bloom?" She had a good laugh and later told us about it.
I was with mom on the Monday and Tuesday before she died. She was eating OK, but my brother Louis, who took care of her, was sick, had no appetite. Tuesday morning it seemed like my mom was catching the same thing because she ate very little - for breakfast only one egg and a few bites of hash browns. On Wednesday she was a little worse and my sister Melanie came to take care of her, help her get to bed. I called Wednesday evening and since my mom was kind of dozing, I asked Melanie to tell her that with Valentine's Day coming, I had bought a box of Sweethearts, the heart shaped candies, each with a little message. They were my mom's favorite. When Melanie told her, she said, "OK."
Melanie spent the nite in the bedroom next to mom. The next morning when she went in to check, she realized that mom had died . She was lying on her stomach, her preferred position for sleeping, with her head resting on her forearm and the other hand on her wrist. There was no sign of struggle.
I received the news Thursday morning while saying Mass. After a few minutes to regain some composure, I continued the Mass using the prayers for a priest's parent:
As you can imagine I have been thinking a lot about my mom. This Sunday's Gospel brought a memory back to my mind. The Gospel tells about a paralyzed man who with great effort was brought to Jesus. About twenty years ago my mom and I were very concerned about someone in the family who was paralyzed, not physically but emotionally and spiritually. He had fallen into some terrible addictions. We tried different interventions but nothing worked. All we could do was take that person to the Lord in prayer. We prayed every day for several years and finally God intervened in a way that completely surprised us. It was as if Jesus had said to that person, "My son, your sins are forgiven. Rise, pick up your mat and go home." It was not a total cure, but it did bring some hope and stability into his life.
That experience of intercessory prayer shows that we can take other people to Jesus. Some are like the paralyzed man - they just cannot go to him on their own. But because we are part of the Body of Christ we can help each other, especially by our prayers.
That brings up an aspect of prayer which I alluded to at the beginning. We can pray not only for those on earth, but also for those who have died. We are part of the Communion of Saints which includes the saints already in heaven, those on earth who are in the state of grace and the souls in Purgatory. We can help those souls by our prayers. None of us knows the extent our deceased loved ones might need our prayers. I am extremely grateful for all the Masses and other prayers offered for my mom - and I am sure she is as well. If she is already in heaven, she can pass them on to someone in Purgatory who needs them. There are so many poor souls who have no one to pray for them.
This year we have a great opportunity to pray for our deceased loved ones. One of the great blessings of the Holy Year 2000 is the Jubilee Indulgence. We can receive it not just for our selves, but on behalf of our loved ones who have died. I have already received it personally and my goal now is to obtain the Indulgence for my mom, my dad, my grandparents and for Fr. Mike Holland. The day for my mom will be April 8, our parish walking pilgrimage to St. James Cathedral. Those making that pilgrimage on foot will leave Holy Family at 6 in the morning. It is about an eight mile walk. For those who cannot walk that distance, you can meet us at the Cathedral for an 11 a.m. Mass which will be followed by the Pilgrim Way of St. James. In a few weeks we will have sign up sheets which will also explain the exact requirements for the Holy Year Indulgence. Now is the time to get in shape - physically of course by exercise, but above all spiritually.
I want to mention in conclusion that the first requisite for the Indulgence is a complete and individual confession. Besides Wednesday evening and Saturday mornings, Fr. Ocaņa and I will be available First Thursday of each month from 1 to 8 p.m. Some people feel they have been away so long they do not know how to go to confession. The procedure is really very simple. This Sunday we have these cards which explain a simple form for confession as well as giving an short examination of conscience based on the Ten Commandments. Confession is like today's Gospel. Jesus says, "Child, your sins are forgiven...Rise, pick up your mat and go home."
From the Archives:
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Letter to Parishioners (Feb. 20, 2000)
Funeral Homily for my mom
A Child Who Needs Your Help
(Mary Bloom Center in Peru, February 2012)
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