Reality sometimes is more unusual than imagination.
Gian Franco and Ceci, from Lima have 8 children.
They are a family in mission in the southern
part of Peru. Their eldest daughter, Esther,
18 years old, died a few days before Christmas
six weeks ago. She had no medical condition,
it all happened suddenly. The way the family
lived this event is impressive. This is what
the father wrote…
"About 5 weeks ago, I started preparing
a catechesis on the four last things - death,
judgment, heaven, and hell. I used to dialogue
at the dinner table, with my kids about this.
Esther found it funny that our risen bodies
would acquire agility and beauty. She was
always like that, seeing the humorous side
of things. She was attending university,
her major was psychology. In her free time,
she used to visit some of the brothers or
sisters of her (neo-catechumenal) community
who were in crisis.
On Friday, December 17th, Ester sat for her
last two exams of the semester. In the evening
she was relaxing on the couch, when suddenly
she started to writhe and stretch, having
ugly spasms. She lost consciousness and started
to vomit. We rushed her to the hospital.
The doctor was honest from the start and
told us it was something very serious.
This is where our internal battle began.
The evil one worked hard to make us doubt
the love of God. How is this possible? She
is just eighteen! Where is God in all this?
What is the meaning of this? I do not understand
how one can survive these events without
faith, without the prayer of the Church,
without catechists, without a community.
The priest came and did the anointing of
the sick. I opened a gospel at random and
I got the healing of the man with a withered
hand on the Sabbath. We had mixed feelings.
On one hand, we wanted to believe she would
recover, but the message was clear - the
time had come.
Long hours followed. We prayed. We wept.
We put our trust in Him. After a visit to
the Blessed Sacrament, I felt that I should
say to Esther loudly the words of the mother
of the Maccabean martyrs: "I do not
know whence you came or how you were formed
in the womb of your mother; I did not give
you life. He, who gave it to you, now is
calling you - go back to God my daughter,
do not be afraid!" The nurses were perplexed
at our confident attitude.
All our children came now to hospital and
one by one said goodbye to Esther. We offered
the sufferings for the evangelization in
the two towns where we evangelize. Esther
never regained consciousness. At 9pm her
heart stopped. We were all around her. We
proclaimed the Gospel of the resurrection
and sang psalms. We knew it. Jesus was there,
walking on the waters, telling us, "It
is I, courage! Do not be afraid - I am not
When a couple of days later, the coffin was
lowered in the ground, we sang the Creed.
In the end we danced singing: "How many
good things has the Lord given us!"
For some suffering is a boulder that
them, for others it is the rock on
they build their faith.
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
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