March 27, 2017
The following homily was delivered Saturday morning at the funeral of Rosalie Snider, mother of a longtime friend, Jane.
The readings chosen for this Mass offer us considerable consolation. From the Book of Wisdom: They are at peace. God found them worthy. The faithful shall abide with him in love.
From 1 Thessalonians: God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. We shall always be with the Lord. Rejoice always.
And from the Gospel of Matthew: Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you. The righteous will go off to eternal life.
Being with the Lord for eternity – it is what we all work toward and hope for. That’s why we consider funeral Masses a celebration of life.
Today we celebrate Rosalie’s life. She lived a good, faith-filled life, and we can feel certain that she has been welcomed into the loving arms of God. And yet, we mourn the loss of our mother, grandmother, sister, and friend – and it can be difficult to rejoice. Selfishly, we also mourn the loss of our time with her. We always want more time with loved ones. We are, in a way, sad for ourselves.
That’s OK, as long as we do not lose sight of the bigger picture. As long as we don’t lose sight of the fullness of Rosalie’s life, how she chose to live it, and the boundless joy she now enjoys because of those choices.
Rosalie and George provided a witness of a loving marriage, right up until George passed away on their 57th wedding anniversary. She was a loving mother to Gavin, Jane, and Joe – adopting one in each city as she and George moved from Cincinnati, to South Bend, to Indianapolis. Rosalie the peacemaker. Rosalie the nurturer. A person Jane describes as a happy person who loved to laugh.
Even after enduring the loss of her husband and both of her sons, she remained steadfast in her faith. She had an active prayer life and a devotion to Mary. She died with a rosary in her hand. She enjoyed a full, faith-filled life.
A little trivia to share: Rosalie’s daughter, Jane, was my girlfriend in 8th grade. That does not make me a Rosalie Snider expert, or qualify me to speak with great depth to the life she lived. However, in my experience with her way back then, and in my time serving as a deacon at St. Pius, I feel comfortable saying that Rosalie has a place in heaven.
Not too long after I was ordained a deacon, Rosalie stopped in the lobby after Mass to speak with me. She introduced herself as Jane’s mom and was unsure if I would remember her.
I did remember her, but knowing what kind of kid I was in 8th grade, I wasn’t sure I liked the idea of her remembering me.
She said, “I am proud of you for the way you’ve turned out.”
For people who have only known me as an adult, I usually take that type of comment to mean, “I am proud of you for answering the call.”
Since Rosalie knew me as a kid, I wasn’t sure if that was what she meant, or if she meant that she was surprised that I actually amounted to something.
Then she added, “You’ve become who God wanted you to be.”
A gentle, loving, thoughtful comment. A comment that has stayed with me…and strengthens me.
If Rosalie was your mother, grandmother, sister, or friend, you have no doubt had loving conversations with her as well, or shared a laugh or two. We let Rosalie go, but we can keep those loving conversations and that laughter – those snapshots of our time with her – in our hearts, and carry her with us.
I will end by asking that we take a moment to sit in silence. Even when loved ones grow older, and we anticipate the end of their life, we may not always have the opportunity for that final conversation.
Gathered as family, as church, take that time now in silence. In silence, share with Rosalie whatever is on your heart. Let her know that you love her; if she did something to offend you and you never had the chance to forgive her, offer that forgiveness to her now; if you need to be forgiven for offending her, ask for that forgiveness now.
Tell her that you will miss her, but that you rejoice with her in the hope of the resurrection.