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Blessed Are Those Who Mourn View Comments
By Connie Beckman

HOW DOES ANY PARENT survive the death of a child? I cannot begin to answer this question as a professional counselor, but only as a mother who has lived through the worst nightmare of her life.

My husband, Cliff, and I were blessed with two beautiful sons, David and Chris. They were the joy of our lives. As a mother, I had so many hopes and dreams for each of our growing boys. I never imagined those hopes and dreams would be forever shattered when our older son, David, died in a tragic car accident at age 17.

The night of the accident, Cliff and I, along with our 15-year-old son, Chris, were terrified as we waited, hoped, and prayed that David would somehow return home safely. The accident occurred around 10:30 p.m., but the highway patrol didn’t discover the wreckage until 7 a.m. the following morning. When we received the horrible news, our scant flicker of hope crumbled helplessly within our hearts.

I cried from the depths of my being. I was emotionally numb. God, in his compassion and love, supplied my body and spirit with an emotional safeguard that temporarily blocked out the enormous shock of this painful, unbearable reality. A major loss such as the death of a spouse or a child can take up to several years to heal. The bereaved person’s body may be numbed, literally “in shock,” for as long as six months. I struggled to believe and disbelieve that this could have happened.

Looking back on that night, it reminded me of the touching words of the poem “Footprints in the Sand,” in which our loving God said, “During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”

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Connie Beckman and her husband, Cliff, live in Helena, Montana, where she works full-time and writes from her home. She is an active member of the Cathedral Parish of Saint Helena.

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Cyril and Methodius: Because their father was an officer in a part of Greece inhabited by many Slavs, these two Greek brothers ultimately became missionaries, teachers and patrons of the Slavic peoples. 
<p>After a brilliant course of studies, Cyril (called Constantine until he became a monk shortly before his death) refused the governorship of a district such as his brother had accepted among the Slavic-speaking population. Cyril withdrew to a monastery where his brother Methodius had become a monk after some years in a governmental post. </p><p>A decisive change in their lives occurred when the Duke of Moravia (present-day Czech Republic) asked the Eastern Emperor Michael for political independence from German rule and ecclesiastical autonomy (having their own clergy and liturgy). Cyril and Methodius undertook the missionary task. </p><p>Cyril’s first work was to invent an alphabet, still used in some Eastern liturgies. His followers probably formed the Cyrillic alphabet (for example, modern Russian) from Greek capital letters. Together they translated the Gospels, the psalter, Paul’s letters and the liturgical books into Slavonic, and composed a Slavonic liturgy, highly irregular then. </p><p>That and their free use of the vernacular in preaching led to opposition from the German clergy. The bishop refused to consecrate Slavic bishops and priests, and Cyril was forced to appeal to Rome. On the visit to Rome, he and Methodius had the joy of seeing their new liturgy approved by Pope Adrian II. Cyril, long an invalid, died in Rome 50 days after taking the monastic habit. </p><p>Methodius continued mission work for 16 more years. He was papal legate for all the Slavic peoples, consecrated a bishop and then given an ancient see (now in the Czech Republic). When much of their former territory was removed from their jurisdiction, the Bavarian bishops retaliated with a violent storm of accusation against Methodius. As a result, Emperor Louis the German exiled Methodius for three years. Pope John VIII secured his release. </p><p>Because the Frankish clergy, still smarting, continued their accusations, Methodius had to go to Rome to defend himself against charges of heresy and uphold his use of the Slavonic liturgy. He was again vindicated. </p><p>Legend has it that in a feverish period of activity, Methodius translated the whole Bible into Slavonic in eight months. He died on Tuesday of Holy Week, surrounded by his disciples, in his cathedral church. </p><p>Opposition continued after his death, and the work of the brothers in Moravia was brought to an end and their disciples scattered. But the expulsions had the beneficial effect of spreading the spiritual, liturgical and cultural work of the brothers to Bulgaria, Bohemia and southern Poland. Patrons of Moravia, and specially venerated by Catholic Czechs, Slovaks, Croatians, Orthodox Serbians and Bulgarians, Cyril and Methodius are eminently fitted to guard the long-desired unity of East and West. In 1980, Pope John Paul II named them additional co-patrons of Europe (with Benedict).</p> American Catholic Blog This is the beauty of self-giving love: Men and women, driven by love, freely choose to give up their autonomy, to limit their freedom, by committing themselves to the good of the spouse. Love is so powerful that it impels them to want to surrender their will to their beloved in this profound way.

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