Monday, 16 October 2017

It was Martha - the story of a woman who sought the pearl of great price

For twelve years now, I've republished this memorial to my late mother. How terrible of me, I had totally forgotten until early this afternoon, around the time of her passing, I saw a Tweet referring to the fact that today is the Feast of St. Hedwig and for reasons you will discover shortly, that made me recall this day. There are no coincidences.

Putting aside the insanity of Rome, may this lift your heart as it continues to life mine.


On October 16, 2006 in her 92nd year, my mother was called home to the LORD. She was a woman of great faith in God and taught many lessons to all those who came into contact with her. This was especially true in her last few years. She suffered the loss of her first grandson and then her first son from cancer and bore much physical suffering with faith, trust and humility.

October 16 is, according to the calendar for the Traditional Latin Mass, the Feast of St. Hedwig a medieval Polish duchess; she died on October 14, 1243. She was also maternal aunt of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, incidentally my maternal grandmother's name. So it was then for me a serendipitous moment when at the Mass that morning, the Epistle from the First Letter of Blessed Paul the Apostle to Timothy was read:

Dearly beloved: Honour widows that are widows indeed. But if any widow have children, or grandchildren, let her learn first to govern her own house, and to make a return of duty to her parents: for this is acceptable before God. But she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, let her trust in God and continue in supplications and prayers night and day. For she that liveth in pleasures is dead while she is living. And this give in charge, that they may be blameless. But if any man have not care of his own, and especially of those of his house, he hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel. Let a widow be chosen of no less than threescore years of age, who hath been the wife of one husband having testimony for her good works, if she have brought up children, if she have received to harbour, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have ministered to them that suffer tribulation, if she have diligently followed every good work.

The Gospel was the parable about the "pearl of great price." Martha spent her life auctioning all for that pearl and I believe she found it.

A few days before she died it was my 50th birthday. We sat at the kitchen table eating dinner. I was feeding her and told her that 50 years ago we were in the same kitchen and at the same places at table except she was feeding me and now I was feeding her. We had a conversation and she told me that she was ready to go whenever God was to call her. Often we hear or read of those things that are “unexplained” except by coincidence, of course. To those who know and love God, “there are no coincidences.” Not even the fact that the Epistle read that day was one of the two options from the "Common of Holy Women."

That day started as many others. I woke my son for school, I got ready for work and before dashing out the door and bidding her adieu the home care assistant was there to help her get ready for the day and stay with her whilst I was at work.

I had gone to Mass at the Oratory on my lunch hour. I had just gotten back to work around 1:00 PM as the second aid arrived for the shift-change back at home. Her name was Bridget and as she arrived she went into the family room. My mother had only moments earlier complained to Cora, the morning aid, of difficulty breathing and then closed her eyes. Bridget yelled out her name, “Martha, Martha!” and gently slapped her. She stirred and let out a long breath.

My mother Martha, died.

I got the call moments later and on the way home it was clear from speaking to the paramedics that she was gone. She suffered a merciful cardiac arrest, yet because I refused to post a Do Not Resuscitate as experience taught me that would include choking to death, the paramedics were working on her with Adrenalin and heart paddles but were not having any success. I spoke to Bridget and told her that a priest from the local parish was on his way (the Sacrament of the Sick, what we used to call Extreme Unction had already been administered by one of her faithful Oratorian Priests a few weeks earlier.) I asked Bridget to go to my mother’s bedroom and retrieve the sick visit Crucifix from the wall above her bed. (This is a Crucifix which slides off and is placed in a stand; on either side are then candle holders and some of the necessary items for the Sacrament).

When I arrived home my mother’s eyes were open and she seemed semi-conscious but staring straight up to the ceiling, she was unresponsive. The priest arrived a few moments later and anointed her. She was transported to “St. Joe’s,” where my father also died, and she did not regain consciousness again. I sat with her and prayed the rosary and sang the Divine Mercy Chaplet to her. After a priest from the Oratory visited and prayed, and then after consulting with him, I instructed the medical staff to remove the respirator and all the intervention they forced upon her in my earlier absence, it was around 5:00 PM. Just after 8:00 I went outside for some air and a few minutes later my sister came to get me that our mother had died. She had just gone out of the room to the nurses desk to make a phone call. My sister was not out of the room a half-minute and no more than 5 metres away and mother passed. It was as if she could not let herself go whilst we were with her.

So, what does this have to do with coincidence?

The next day I called Bridget and asked her to stay on for a few more days to be at the house to tidy and answer the phone and assist with guests. Bridget was quite upset to be sure. She had been with my mother daily for the last year and often spoke of how well she was always treated and “their little talks.” She came to me with apprehension that she really needed to talk to me about something.

The paramedics, with all of their intervention, “brought her back.” It took 14 minutes from the time they began to get a pulse. What was disturbing Bridget was that there was no reaction to their work; nothing, until my car screeched in the driveway.

“I have a pulse!” exclaimed the paramedic. It was simultaneous with the screeching of my tires, said Bridget.

But there is more. Bridget was shaking and in tears.

“David, I had a dream Sunday night," my mother having died on Monday.

She went on to say that she as typical she had forgotten the dream; until at least she went to my mother’s bedroom to get the Crucifix. Upon seeing Jesus on the Cross the dream came back to her for just a moment and then again, it was gone. The house after all was a mass of confusion, police, fire-fighters, the paramedics, and eventually me, and the Priest; Bridget was now a bystander.

After we left for the hospital, Bridget was alone and tidying up and it was what happened then that she was so desperate to tell me.

At that singular moment in time something happened to Bridget that she will never forget. Nor will I.

Bridget recalled for me her dream.
“I was standing on a street-corner in small town with other people. We were laughing at this man dressed in a robe and with long-hair. He said his name was Jesus and we were making fun of him. Just then a young beautiful woman stepped off of the curb and started to cross the street; she turned around and looked at us, she had tears in her eyes, tears of overwhelming joy, she was happy, really happy. It was then that Jesus took her hand and walked across the road with her.”
That was Bridget’s dream, but I didn't understand.

She went on to say that when she woke up from it she was aware that she needed to be more like the woman who walked across the street. That she needed to have “more faith in Jesus.”

I told her that it seemed like a pretty plausible conclusion.

“Wait” Bridget said, “There is more, you don't understand."

I waited and listened as she started to cry.

“David, I remembered the dream only for a moment when carrying the Cross.”

“When I was tidying up I put the Cross on the end-table over there.”

“Yes, it looks nice there” I replied.

“No, David, you don’t understand, the picture, the picture beside the Cross.”

“Yes, Bridget, what is it?”

“That picture of your mother at graduation.” Bridget started to cry.

“It was her; she was the girl in my dream, it was Martha!"


Don said...

Thank you very much for sharing this life you cherished.
Deo Gratias

Barona said...

Thank-you for this lovely post. How blessed you are to have such a holy and beautiful mother. May she be in Paradise with Our Lord and His Mother. May your dearest mother protect you and bless you.

Maudie N Mandeville said...


torchofthefaith said...

This is the most beautiful thing we've read for some time.

Thank you so much for posting this today - just what we needed in this dark time of trial. May this account help many souls.

It is a beautiful account. May your amazing Mother rest in Christ's Holy Peace! We'll share this story with our family members.

Please pray for my (Alan) dad Ken. Tomorrow is his 3rd anniversary and we miss him terribly. He was a remarkable convert who searched for the Truth for many years. He was blessed with a Holy Death too. When he died a good Franciscan priest told us he had been taken to protect him from what was coming on the earth. We did not fully understand it then, but do now...

Yours in Christ
Alan (and Angeline)

Dorota said...

Thank you, Vox.

Torchofthefaith mentioned what a good Franciscan said about God taking some to protect them from what is coming, from what has come. How much worse will it get? Will I have time to make up for my mistakes, and somehow wake up those whom I love?

Unknown said...

Thank you Vox, what a beautiful witness to God's love and glory !

chattingwithu said...

What a blessing your post today has been for me on this quiet Sunday afternoon here in the US. May we all strive to love God with all of our hearts for as long as we have left on this earth. He is worthy of all of our devotion. God bless you.

George Brenner said...

God bless you David,

Dear Lord God,
I lift up my Mother to You.
She loves You first, and that love reflects upon me.
She is so sweet and so concerned about my life.
She sacrifices so much for my well-being.
She has done so very much for me.

I lift my Mom up to you, Father.
She prayed for me, she nursed me.
My Lord, she gave her all for me.
I pray that you bless her, Lord forever.

Thank you for my wonderful Mom!
I pray that I me see all in Heaven.
I love you my God with all my heart and soul.
In the Name of Jesus, Amen

Peter Lamb said...

Very, very beautiful. May she rest in peace. God bless your family!

Ana Milan said...

A lovely photograph of a really happy & contented lady. May she rest in peace.

Kathleen1031 said...

What a holy consolation for you! What a lovely young woman, and how sweet and adorable the photo of her as the mom you knew. When our moms leave us, they take part of us with them. We are already partly in heaven when our beloved family members are there.
Two parallels to a personal experience of mine, that I can't help but share. One, when my dear sister passed two years ago, I recall the definite feeling that she was being spared something, and I too had a dream that changed everything for me. It was a dream that was so vivid it was surely supernatural. I give God the praise, the thanks, and the glory, for giving me such a tremendous consolation when I needed it so badly. I must admit, it solidified my faith in a way that was singularly unique, it was such a gift. We have a God who cares, who knows our pain, and when we truly need Him. Nothing escapes His attention. Prayers for Alan's Dad Ken as well, and all our loved ones who have passed.
Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. Amen.

Kathleen1031 said...

Right after I read this column I found this in my mail. It is from the Capuchin Franciscan Friars in Pittsburgh.

Prayer for Consolation in the Loss of a Loved One

We give them back to You, O God
who gave them first as a gift to us.
Yet just as You did not lose them in their living here among us,
So we do not lose them in their going home to You.

Comfort us, Risen Lord, as we mourn.
Deepen our faith and hope to believe that life is eternal, and love is forever, and death is only a horizon - and a horizon is simply the present limit of our ability to see and understand.

Lift us up, compassionate Son of God, that we may see further.
Give light to our eyes, O Radiant Christ, that we may see more clearly.
Draw us closer to You, Gentle Jesus, so in our hearts we know that one day we will be reunited with our cherished loved ones who, we pray, are home with You in Heaven.

Anonymous said...

Prayers offered up for our dear brother and sister in Christ, Martha and Basil. May they rest in the arms of the lord, as we ask them to pray for us that, we too may one day be with the lord in paradise. God Bless you and keep you Vox.

Aged parent said...

Thank you for this, Vox.

Anonymous said...

Thank you.

(A son of another, Martha.)

Everyday For Life Canada said...

May Martha's soul and all the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Thank you for sharing that story.

Kathleen1031 said...

I love that recent photo of her. The faces of our seniors are really as sweet as could be, especially the little ladies. So cute! And these ladies of yesterday, our moms and grandmoms, are ladies of a kind we are just frankly never going to see again. Truly when God made these ladies, he broke the mold.

Anonymous said...

Dear Vox,

Please forgive my belated condolences on the anniversary of your mother's death.

When my Dad passed away, I begged Our Lord to 1) allow him to die in the Brown Scapular as He allowed to my uncle who was away from the Church over 65 years and 2) that he would not die on my sister's wedding anniversary or my birthday.

The good Lord heard my prayers and Dad passed away the day before my birthday. The morning he died, I had this feeling that he would pass away and I wanted to stay home. Mom said to me: Margaret, you have to go to work - you've missed so much time already." So I said to him: "Dad, I have to go to work now. I love you. Bye." I kissed him goodbye and left for work.

About 10:30, my sister called me and said to come home. Dad passed away quietly. Mom and my sister were in the kitchen.

My one consolation was that he died in the Brown Scapular.

Every night before going to bed, he'd say an Our Father, Hail Mary, act of contrition and these little prayers 3 times:

Sweet Heart of Jesus, be my love.

Sweet Heart of Mary, be my salvation.

For your mother +Martha and our fathers +Basil and + Eugene:

Only chaste and Immaculate Virgin, who gave birth to God without seed, intercede before Him for the salvation of their souls.

Good night and God bless!

In Christ the King,


susan said...

What a wonderful, wonderful are very blessed. May she pray for us all.

Michael Ortiz said...

God is so good! May the Lord bless your family, and may your mom be with him forever in bliss!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for publishing this beautiful post. May Martha rest in peace. Your mother's faith is inspiring to us all. God Bless!

Anonymous said...

@Paul Morphy

Thanks for sharing this with us, Vox. And tribute to your mother and your father for passing the faith on to you too.

I don't mean to be sceptical or cynical about Bridgets dream - but is it possible that Bridget had seen that lovely photo of your mother before your mother passed away, and before Bridget had her dream? I've no doubt that what Bridget did dream about is real. But it could be that she had seen that photo of your mother before she had that dream.

Kathleen1031 said...

Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her.
She was blessed, as were you. We miss our darlings, don't we? These grand ladies of all kinds, they are like precious jewels. Yours was darling, and you can rest easy, you loved her and she knew it. What peace that gives.

Kathleen1031 said...

I completely believe the dream was a reflection of a heavenly reality. I have come to realize dreams of this type are a consolation given to us by God. I had one myself, and now I know. I would be tempted to find a pragmatic explanation for what I had, and this one, if I were not the person who experienced it, but now that I have, I know.
I have to say, once again, this lady was incredibly lovely, both as a young woman with her whole life ahead of her, in that white dress, as she was in the first photo, with a lifetime of love of God and family behind her. When you see her Vox, once more, she is likely to look as the photo of her younger days. My sister, who passed at 68, appeared to be as 25 years old or so.

Vox Cantoris said...

Thank you Kathleen. You wrote beautifully last year too and they are above. Yes, these little ladies are long gone and maybe not to be seen again. If they are not in heaven, or at least on the top rung of the ladder in purgatory, there is no hope for any of us. They did all they were to do, and more.

Laramie Hirsch said...

Losing a parent can be one of the most difficult things that happens to a person. I am truly sorry for your loss, and I hope for the best for your family.