We share with you the transcript of a homily delivered by the late Fr. James Donelan, S.J. some 15 years ago at the AIM Chapel. Bro Louie Morales shares it with us with this recommendation: Bcbp Chapter heads can use this for those many difficult occasions that inevitably happen to our community.
There is a mystery about saying “goodbye” that makes it one of the great natural sacraments of life. As we know, Shakespeare calls it a “sweet sorrow.” Sorrow because we part – but sweet because it makes us realize how much we love someone. Goodbyes wouldn’t be painful, unless we loved. But pain is a small price to pay for love. Yet a price we have to pay. There is no growth or development in our life that doesn’t lead us to saying goodbye. We go forth to find ourselves. Who we are, what we are called on to do. Unless we feel pain in going away – or letting others go – we miss an important experience of life. Going away is as necessary for us as it was for the Lord. He told the apostles if He didn’t go away, the Spirit wouldn’t come.
But the hardest part is not in saying goodbye, but in allowing others to say goodbye, encouraging them to say it. To leave us and experience loneliness and sorrow.
All these goodbyes–going off to school, getting married, emigrating, going to war – prepare us for a further mystery:death.
For we learn a great secret – that knowing how to say goodbye never despoils us of what we have known and loved. Material things are lost by separation, but not those of the spirit.
The more we willingly accept such separations, the less power death has over us. For we will have died a thousand deaths. But more importantly, we will have learned how to live in hope until the day of reunion, of resurrection. Death has no terror, no hidden facts for people who have learned to say goodbye.
Thus to really live life, we have to learn how to separate ourselves willingly from people and events, from trying to possess people, from unhealthy dependence on people, from the illusion we can close the door and trap life… hold it changeless in people and experience.
Rather the true way to what we want is a pilgrimage through dark valleys–little deaths–but at the end a joyful reunion, tears of gladness, sunlit mountaintops and the best hint of what heaven will be like.