You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe — and shudder.”
James 2:19, RSV
My grandpa passed away in July after a long battle with dementia and heart problems. A nun who walked closely with him through the last years of his life spoke at his funeral about how he prayed every day. My mom has also shared with me how he would immediately start praying when he struggled to catch his breath during one of her visits.
The familiar prayers of his Catholic faith were rooted in his heart and stayed with him, even when other memories left. When the disease made him forget everything else, he remembered the Lord.
Make no mistake — that is not coincidental. That is nothing other than the product of living a life of faith. Not simply believing in God, but living surrendered to God. He went to Mass every Sunday, until he was no longer physically able. The religious community around him stepped up and would visit him, praying with him and administering the Eucharist (this is an incredibly important part of Catholic Mass, for those who may not know).
I lived with a simple belief in God for a long time. I carried myself through life, made decisions based on what I deemed appropriate (justifying anything that went against the beliefs of the Church in which I was raised), and attempted to be a “good” person. I didn’t pray unless I really needed something. I never opened my Bible. “Who can even understand all those archaic names and circumstances?” I thought. I used Sunday mornings to sleep in.
A desperate life circumstance led me to my knees and full surrender. We often find God when all else falls away. Only He remains, steadfast and patient. Before, I could see God in the good, if I looked. But this time, I needed to see God in the difficult. I knew belief wasn’t enough to carry me through this trial.
Hearing the nun speak of my grandfather’s strong faith made me weep.
Tears of joy, knowing the Lord greeted him with open arms after his long and painful, but faith-filled, battle.
Tears of sadness that he is no longer here to lead by example.
And tears of hope, that one day when I am no longer here, my faith and love for the Lord is what people will remember.
Lord, let them see YOU and not me.