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The Journey Through Grief View Comments
By Judy Esway

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep. —1 Thes 4:13–14

BECAUSE OF OUR FAITH in the Resurrection, is it realistic for Catholics to expect to grieve differently from those who have no hope? In my experience as a hospice chaplain and bereavement counselor, I would have to say yes, but don’t expect the pain to be any less intense.

As long as we’re human, we don’t get a free pass. Even Jesus wept at the death of his friend Lazarus. I often remind people of that, especially those who say things like, “I thought I’d be stronger. I know he’s with the Lord,” or, “My wife and I were daily communicants. I shouldn’t be crying like this every night,” or, “It’s been two months. Shouldn’t I be over this by now? I’ve always had strong faith.”

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Judy Esway is recently retired from her work as a hospice chaplain and bereavement counselor. She holds a master’s degree in theology and is certified in thanatology. She has had four books and dozens of articles published in the national Catholic press. She and her husband live in Canton, Ohio.

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Augustine of Canterbury: In the year 596, some 40 monks set out from Rome to evangelize the Anglo-Saxons in England. Leading the group was Augustine, the prior of their monastery in Rome. Hardly had he and his men reached Gaul (France) when they heard stories of the ferocity of the Anglo-Saxons and of the treacherous waters of the English Channel. Augustine returned to Rome and to the pope who had sent them—St. Gregory the Great (September 3 )—only to be assured by him that their fears were groundless. 
<p>Augustine again set out. This time the group crossed the English Channel and landed in the territory of Kent, ruled by King Ethelbert, a pagan married to a Christian, Bertha. Ethelbert received them kindly, set up a residence for them in Canterbury and within the year, on Pentecost Sunday, 597, was himself baptized. After being consecrated a bishop in France, Augustine returned to Canterbury, where he founded his see. He constructed a church and monastery near where the present cathedral, begun in 1070, now stands. As the faith spread, additional sees were established at London and Rochester. </p><p>Work was sometimes slow and Augustine did not always meet with success. Attempts to reconcile the Anglo-Saxon Christians with the original Briton Christians (who had been driven into western England by Anglo-Saxon invaders) ended in dismal failure. Augustine failed to convince the Britons to give up certain Celtic customs at variance with Rome and to forget their bitterness, helping him evangelize their Anglo-Saxon conquerors </p><p>Laboring patiently, Augustine wisely heeded the missionary principles—quite enlightened for the times—suggested by Pope Gregory the Great: purify rather than destroy pagan temples and customs; let pagan rites and festivals be transformed into Christian feasts; retain local customs as far as possible. The limited success Augustine achieved in England before his death in 605, a short eight years after he arrived in England, would eventually bear fruit long after in the conversion of England. Augustine of Canterbury can truly be called the “Apostle of England.”</p> American Catholic Blog A hero isn’t someone born with unconquerable strength and selflessness. Heroes are not formed in a cataclysmic instant. Heroism is developed over time, one decision after another, moment by moment, formed by a deliberate, chosen, and habitual response to life.

Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love

 
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