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The Life Beyond
by Maria Franco
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“May your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts.”- Psalm 119:173

Life is supposed to be filled with miracles at every step of the way. We too long for miraculous cures and overnight healings but sometimes we have a long wait and must learn to persevere.
There are well wishers who like to advise us on various alternate remedies, at times, even homemade ones but somehow it has always been easier and faster for me to pop a pill in my mouth and let the medicine do its work.

It is human nature to be apprehensive of any hospital confinement. But on my part, I have always tried to ensure that every stay becomes a memorable one because it is during the painful moments of life that we can really feel very close to the Creator who holds the decision of our fate in His hands. During one such stay in hospital, as I lay watching more in fascination than apprehension at the Cardiometer which registers the heart impulses and displays our inevitable fate, I had this strong impulse to place a Cross which I had kept with me right atop the machine. It worked as meant to and my readings soon reversed for the better. It just proves that the Cross is greater than any tribulation that befalls us.

We also come across people with varied natures who can end up having strange conversations with us in such a place. I had one person ask me as to why I was so quiet as compared to my usual talking self. I wondered in disbelief as to how one could expect me to speak given the oxygen mask on my face and my struggle to breathe normally.
There was another incident where a lady took great delight in pointing out that I was actually more like a queen enjoying myself in the hospital given the fact that I had no work to do but lie in bed the whole day with all the hospital staff at my beck and call. Again, I thought to myself as to how one could feel like a queen after being strapped to machines and hardly able to move my hands much to wave any royal wand.
There was even one lady who landed up right at dinner time which is usually served early in the evenings and nonchalantly picked up my dinner tray and helped herself to her favorite dish which she said she just could not resist much to the look of horror and shock on the nurse’s face. She calmly told the nurse that she could get me another tray.
All said and done, somehow these light hearted incidents help to ease the mind to some extent when it is plagued with various other questions. When we see death so close in the face, we wonder whether we shall be able make it and if we do not, how will the next life be?

Today we celebrate All Souls day. We remember and commemorate the souls of the dear departed from our families and all the souls in purgatory living in the purified world whose fate is known alone by God. They are all living a new life in the other world and we too have the promise of this life when our time comes. The opportunity to meet all our family members once more in the heavenly paradise who in some way wait in heaven for us.
The greatest thought that consoled me when my father departed from this world was the fact that he was now in a much safer place with our Lord and it was we who were left here below on earth who had to go through the travesties of life.

Last Sunday, our parish priest was recounting in his homily about how a widower had faithfully inscribed on the tombstone of his wife, “Without you, I cannot live.” A year later he re-married and added the word ‘alone’ which now read “Without you, I cannot live alone.”
This reminds me of a story. There was once a lady who died and went to heaven. At the gates, she was greeted by St. Peter who told her that in order to be admitted in, she had to spell a word and the word was ‘Love’. She passed the test with flying colors and soon found herself into Heaven. She was happy to meet all her deceased family members and they all had a wonderful time. A year later, it so happened that one day St. Peter was quite busy so he asked this lady to stand in for him at the gate. To her surprise, the first person to arrive was her husband. She was both happy and surprised to see him and asked him how he had been. The husband replied that he had enjoyed himself and had a great time after her death, married the nurse who had taken care of her while she was ill and with all the money that she had saved during her lifetime, he had taken his new wife on a trip around the world. He then asked her as to what he had to do to get into heaven. The wife coolly replied that he just had to spell a word. The husband thought this was real easy and asked what the word was. The wife calmly replied, “Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilivolcanoconiosis” This is incidentally the longest word in the dictionary and is a disease of the lungs. Undoubtedly, the man’s lungs must have collapsed on hearing this word.

We too shall one day arrive at the Pearly gates to be greeted by St. Peter & St. Paul who hold the keys to the gates of Heaven. We have to get more than our spellings right. Though, we have the assurance and prayers of our blessed Lady who will intercede for us at this crucial moment of the fate of our souls. Above all, we have the blood of the Lamb who can ransom us and deliver us. He alone can take hold of our Hand and gently lead us into the great banquet prepared for us. We read in 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18, “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

The Life beyond in the new heavenly Jerusalem should be the target of our souls on earth.

Maria Franco

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