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| Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle | www.mn.catholic.org.au
Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle
July 2011 | No.104
Bishop See page 5
FEATURE YOUR BUSINESS
inserted monthly into the Newcastle Herald, Maitland Mercury,
Scone Advocate, Singleton Argus, Muswellbrook Chronicle and
Manning River Times.
CONTACT FERGUS BLACK
P 4979 5261 · E firstname.lastname@example.org
Justine Worner graciously agre
to share with Aurora readers a
tragedy that befell her family
earlier this year -- and the har
won reflections that followed.
SEASONS OF LIFE
ON 6 FEBRUARY, a phone call informed
our family that my brother wouldn't be
joining us for his birthday dinner. He had
died earlier that day, crossing a flooded
creek near Lockhart in NSW.
It is ironic that Mark drowned. As a 16
year old he courageously paddled into
cyclonic surf off Cape Byron in a bid to
rescue a non-swimmer who had come
off his surf ski. With no counselling back
then, he never really came to terms with
not being able to save the man. Mark led
an often troubled life as he struggled with
alcoholism for many of his adult years.
Mystery surrounds his death and we will
never know what happened that day.
In the days following this sudden, tragic
and by all accounts avoidable accident, the
big question started to surface, 'Where
is God in all this?' Shocked to hear my
mother verbalise, 'What if heaven is all a
big hoax?', I flippantly and insensitively
responded with something pious. Inside I
was panicking -- how can my mother who
has a strong faith be questioning this? The
more rational side of my brain was saying
that it was grief talking and what mother
wouldn't have doubts when faced with the
sudden loss of her firstborn child.
Leonard's book, Where the Hell is God?
Having experienced his sister's tragic
accident which left her a quadriplegic,
Leonard was no stranger to grief. So I
was keen to read his views. What I found
was not a book on grief but a book which
challenges our belief in God. What joy
to find someone with such a learned
background challenging commonly held
beliefs about God in plain English for
people like me! Who is this God we believe
in and where is he in our times of grief?
It's difficult to be succinct as my concept
of God is ever evolving (though thankfully,
God doesn't change and remains strong
and constant in my life). Primarily, my
God is a God of love and life. Richard
Leonard reminds us that everything in the
New Testament deals with life, not death.
The whole purpose of the life, death and
resurrection of Jesus was to reveal God's
love for us. It is God's will that we have life
and have it to the full (John 10:10). We die
as a condition of our humanity.
Like Jesus, Mark spent much of his life
with the marginalised, treated others with
dignity and gave a lot of what he owned
to others in need. When a loved one dies
reality of life after death. Our 3 year old
wanted to know if we could still eat Mark's
birthday cake, which we did; our 5 year
old drew Mark having his birthday party in
heaven and our 7 year old drew a picture
of herself, to go in his coffin, so that Mark
wouldn't forget what she looked like.
My husband often says, "One thing we do
well as Catholics is bury our dead." I think
he is right. We took great care in preparing
Mark's funeral so that the numerous
non-Catholic and un-churched attendees
would feel part of this celebration of his
life. Many commented on how included
they felt and now know why we chose a
Requiem Mass. It says it all: life, death
and resurrection for us all.
I believe that when Mark meets God,
face to face, in all his brokenness, that
God, who knows what's in his heart, will
welcome him home.
To understand where God is in our pain
and suffering we need look no further
than Jesus. Jesus weeps at his best
friend's tomb (John 11:35) and tells us
that like the lost sheep, (Luke 15:4-7) or
the prodigal son, (Luke 15:11-32) we are
of deep despair, but that God seeks us
out when we are most lost and guides us
home. God is not standing outside our
pain but is our companion within it, sharing
in our pain. Through prayer we invite God's
grace to change, heal and inspire us.
Many years ago I fell in love with my
husband when he described me as
his companis, that is,one who breaks
the same bread, accompanies, actively
attends, enriches and supports.
Where is God in my grief?
Jesus' incarnation tells us that God is
in this with us, helping us find the way
forward. He is with me in the love of my
and neighbours --
SJ's Where the
Hell is God? is
459 Hunter St
P 4929 3419.
is in this with us
By JUSTINE WORNER
(l-r) Gretel, Justine, George, Tony and Elliott Warner.
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