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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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John Paul II: “Open wide the doors to Christ,” urged John Paul II during the homily at the Mass when he was installed as pope in 1978. <br /><br />Born in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Jozef Wojtyla had lost his mother, father and older brother before his 21st birthday. Karol’s promising academic career at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. While working in a quarry and a chemical factory, he enrolled in an “underground” seminary in Kraków. Ordained in 1946, he was immediately sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology. <br /><br />Back in Poland, a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish preceded his very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. Soon he earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching that subject at Poland’s University of Lublin. <br /><br />Communist officials allowed him to be appointed auxiliary bishop of Kraków in 1958, considering him a relatively harmless intellectual. They could not have been more wrong! <br /><br />He attended all four sessions of Vatican II and contributed especially to its <em>Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World</em>. Appointed as archbishop of Kraków in 1964, he was named a cardinal three years later. <br /><br />Elected pope in October 1978, he took the name of his short-lived, immediate predecessor. Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. In time, he made pastoral visits to 124 countries, including several with small Christian populations. <br /><br />He promoted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives, especially the 1986 Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi. He visited Rome’s Main Synagogue and the Western Wall in Jerusalem; he also established diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. He improved Catholic-Muslim relations and in 2001 visited a mosque in Damascus, Syria. <br /><br />The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, a key event in John Paul’s ministry, was marked by special celebrations in Rome and elsewhere for Catholics and other Christians. Relations with the Orthodox Churches improved considerably during his ministry as pope. <br /><br />“Christ is the center of the universe and of human history” was the opening line of his 1979 encyclical, <em>Redeemer of the Human Race</em>. In 1995, he described himself to the United Nations General Assembly as “a witness to hope.” <br /><br />His 1979 visit to Poland encouraged the growth of the Solidarity movement there and the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe 10 years later. He began World Youth Day and traveled to several countries for those celebrations. He very much wanted to visit China and the Soviet Union but the governments in those countries prevented that. <br /><br />One of the most well-remembered photos of his pontificate was his one-on-one conversation in 1983 with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier. <br /><br />In his 27 years of papal ministry, John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals and five books, canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people. <br /><br />In the last years of his life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was forced to cut back on some of his activities. <br /><br />Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II in 2011, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014. American Catholic Blog Lord, may I have balance and measure in everything—except in Love. —St. Josemaría Escrivá

 
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