Funeral Homily for Major Robert D. Lindenau

(November 1, 2008; St. Cecilia, Stanwood)

My name is Fr. Phillip Bloom. With me are Fr. Laurence Poncini (Pastor of St. Cecilia's), Fr. Dominic Mtenga (a friend of our family) and Fr. William Traecy (who, next to me, is the priest who has know Tonya the longest). On behalf of my niece, Tonya Lindenau, her and Bob's four children, Rachael, Gabe, Sarah and Hannah - and on behalf of Bob's sister Leanne, his brother Bill with wife Marty and children John, Josh and Jordan, I thank you for your presence at this Mass of Christian burial for Major Robert Lindenau. I also express gratitude on behalf of the extended Lindenau family - particularly Bob's aunt Kathy, her daughters Vicki and Cindy who were raised closely with Bob and are more like sisters than cousins. Also I know their husbands, children and grandchildren appreciate your presence.

And of course all the Bloom family. What a blessing Bob was for us! My brother Mike recalled his favorite memory of Bob. It is also mine. Mike said, "the moment I remember best was the day my dad, Mel Bloom, died - over ten years ago. Bob brought his guitar into the hospital room and played sothing music for him. I could tell it helped my dad have a more peaceful passing." Bob was a blessing for our family and to so many others.

In this Mass we are praying for Bob - his eternal rest - and for Tonya, Leanne and Bill and all those who deeply feel this loss. And we are praying for Bob's Company and the members of his team: Julio Montenegro, Gil Zavala and Freddy de los Santos, who is recuperating at Walter Reed Hospital.

To lead this team, Bob said, was the apex - the high point - of his military career. They served the civilian population in a clinic and in development. In the Gospel, Jesus says that no greater love has any man than to lay down his life for his friends. On October 20, a rocket launched grenade killed Bob, but his body served as a shield for his friends.

October 20 was not the first time Bob laid down his life. He laid down his life when he answered the call to serve our country. He laid down his life in his love for children and families in Iraq, Nigeria and Afghanistan. Above all, he laid down his life in his faithful love for Tonya and their children, Rachael, Gabe, Sarah and Hannah.

I asked different family members to describe Bob in a short phrase. I heard words like integrity, goodness, honor, chivalry, follower of the Lord, loved children - and determination. They mentioned that when Bob set his mind to a task, he focused all his energy whether it was the rigors of becoming a Ranger or learning how to make better mud bricks.

To me Bob was a man. He embodied what we most want in our young men: Someone who uses his strength to defend those who are weak and vulnerable. I pray the Lord will give us more like Bob, that his sacrifice will inspire others.

Now I don't want to canonize Bob - make him into a saint. That is way above my pay grade! But I do believe Bob is in heaven or at least close to completing the journey, his purification.

Bob had struggles and was deeply aware of his own weakness and sins. On his shoulder he has a tattoo showing a young man exhausted, almost fainting. In his right hand he lightly holds a hammer. The man is being held by the Lord - you can see the nail marks in Jesus' hands. Obviously the man had a role in nailing Jesus to the cross. Below the two figures is the single word, "Forgiven."

Bob knew his need for forgiveness. He also knew that nothing could separate him from Christ. As our second reading says, "Nothing, neither death nor life, neither principalities nor powers, nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ."

Bob had a deep faith in Jesus - and he expressed that faith in his will. He gave two specific instructions. The first is somewhat humorous. He said, "Wake me! I want a wake with food, good beer...and designated drivers. I want people to get as drunk as they want in order to mourn, celebrate, whatever, in a non-judgmental and safe environment."

We will honor that wish - not to get drunk... Bob was using a literary device called, "hyperbole." But after the burial at Camano Lutheran Cemetery (next to my mom and dad, Mel and Mary Bloom) we will gather at Camano Country Club for a meal and refreshment. That meal has a symbolic meaning. In the first reading we heard that God will provide a meal for all nations. A meal like the Mass, the Eucharist, where God will remove the veil that veils all nations. He will remove death forever. The wake - the meal after Bob's burial - is meant to be a tiny sign of the banquet God has prepared for us. That is the first message of Bob's will.

The second specific instruction Bob gave is this: "Psalm 119 - read by multiple readers, around the church in loud (almost shouting) voices. In other words, proclaim, don't whisper."

Psalm 119 is the longest psalm, in fact, the longest chapter in the entire Bible - 176 verses. It expresses a young man's desire to follow God's law. It runs the gamut of emotions: anger at betrayal, shame, elation, fear, indignation, hope, resignation, trust, triumph. It ends with these words, "I have wandered like a lost sheep, seek out your servant, for I do not forget your commands."


Other Homilies

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

Bulletin (message from Peru for Holy Family Parishioners)

Mass for Major Robert D. Lindenau

Novena for Youth (to discover God's plan)

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