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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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Ignatius of Loyola: The founder of the Jesuits was on his way to military fame and fortune when a cannon ball shattered his leg. Because there were no books of romance on hand during his convalescence, Ignatius whiled away the time reading a life of Christ and lives of the saints. His conscience was deeply touched, and a long, painful turning to Christ began. Having seen the Mother of God in a vision, he made a pilgrimage to her shrine at Montserrat (near Barcelona). He remained for almost a year at nearby Manresa, sometimes with the Dominicans, sometimes in a pauper’s hospice, often in a cave in the hills praying. After a period of great peace of mind, he went through a harrowing trial of scruples. There was no comfort in anything—prayer, fasting, sacraments, penance. At length, his peace of mind returned. 
<p>It was during this year of conversion that Ignatius began to write down material that later became his greatest work, the <em>Spiritual Exercises</em>. </p><p>He finally achieved his purpose of going to the Holy Land, but could not remain, as he planned, because of the hostility of the Turks. He spent the next 11 years in various European universities, studying with great difficulty, beginning almost as a child. Like many others, his orthodoxy was questioned; Ignatius was twice jailed for brief periods. </p><p>In 1534, at the age of 43, he and six others (one of whom was St. Francis Xavier, December 2) vowed to live in poverty and chastity and to go to the Holy Land. If this became impossible, they vowed to offer themselves to the apostolic service of the pope. The latter became the only choice. Four years later Ignatius made the association permanent. The new Society of Jesus was approved by Paul III, and Ignatius was elected to serve as the first general. </p><p>When companions were sent on various missions by the pope, Ignatius remained in Rome, consolidating the new venture, but still finding time to found homes for orphans, catechumens and penitents. He founded the Roman College, intended to be the model of all other colleges of the Society. </p><p>Ignatius was a true mystic. He centered his spiritual life on the essential foundations of Christianity—the Trinity, Christ, the Eucharist. His spirituality is expressed in the Jesuit motto, <i>ad majorem Dei gloriam</i>—“for the greater glory of God.” In his concept, obedience was to be the prominent virtue, to assure the effectiveness and mobility of his men. All activity was to be guided by a true love of the Church and unconditional obedience to the Holy Father, for which reason all professed members took a fourth vow to go wherever the pope should send them for the salvation of souls.</p> American Catholic Blog Jesus’s humanity and His biological need to be fed Himself gives power and personal force to His teaching that when we feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty, we do it to Him.

 
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