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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.”


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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Charles de Foucauld: Born into an aristocratic family in Strasbourg, France, Charles was orphaned at the age of six, raised by his devout grandfather, rejected the Catholic faith as a teenager and joined the French army. Inheriting a great deal of money from his grandfather, Charles went to Algeria with his regiment, but not without his mistress, Mimi. <br /><br />When he declined to give her up, he was dismissed from the army. Still in Algeria when he left Mimi, Charles reenlisted in the army. Refused permission to make a scientific exploration of nearby Morocco, he resigned from the service. With the help of a Jewish rabbi, Charles disguised himself as a Jew and in 1883 began a one-year exploration that he recorded in a book that was well received. <br /><br />Inspired by the Jews and Muslims whom he met, Charles resumed the practice of his Catholic faith when he returned to France in 1886. He joined a Trappist monastery in Ardeche, France, and later transferred to one in Akbes, Syria. Leaving the monastery in 1897, Charles worked as gardener and sacristan for the Poor Clare nuns in Nazareth and later in Jerusalem. In 1901 he returned to France and was ordained a priest. <br /><br />Later that year Charles journeyed to Beni-Abbes, Morocco, intending to found a monastic religious community in North Africa that offered hospitality to Christians, Muslims, Jews, or people with no religion. He lived a peaceful, hidden life but attracted no companions. <br /><br />A former army comrade invited him to live among the Tuareg people in Algeria. Charles learned their language enough to write a Tuareg-French and French-Tuareg dictionary, and to translate the Gospels into Tuareg. In 1905 he came to Tamanrasset, where he lived the rest of his life. A two-volume collection of Charles' Tuareg poetry was published after his death. <br /><br />In early 1909 he visited France and established an association of laypeople who pledged to live by the Gospels. His return to Tamanrasset was welcomed by the Tuareg. In 1915 Charles wrote to Louis Massignon: “The love of God, the love for one’s neighbor…All religion is found there…How to get to that point? Not in a day since it is perfection itself: it is the goal we must always aim for, which we must unceasingly try to reach and that we will only attain in heaven.”   <br /><br />The outbreak of World War I led to attacks on the French in Algeria. Seized in a raid by another tribe, Charles and two French soldiers coming to visit him were shot to death on December 1, 1916. <br />Five religious congregations, associations, and spiritual institutes (Little Brothers of Jesus, Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart, Little Sisters of Jesus, Little Brothers of the Gospel and Little Sisters of the Gospel) draw inspiration from the peaceful, largely hidden, yet hospitable life that characterized Charles. He was beatified on November 13, 2005. American Catholic Blog You know, O my God, I have never desired anything but to love you, and I am ambitious for no other glory.

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