Father Chuck McCoart is pastor of Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Alexandria, VA -- the parish where I worshiped while living in Virginia. His blog is really worth looking at or subscribing to: www.fatherchuck.com -- and you also might enjoy seeing pictures of his German Shepherd Brock.
The following came from Fr. Chuck's July 6th post.
Image by kw1 (Flckr)
In August of 1986 I went into the seminary to begin my studies towards the priesthood. A month later, in September of that same year, my brother Kevin was a passenger in a car when the driver of the car fell asleep. The driver crashed into an abandoned Ford Bronco on the side of I-66, and my brother died immediately upon impact by the Vienna Metro Station. Kevin was 25, I was 26.
That was our family BC / AD moment – when life changed forever. There was life before Kevin died; and we did our best to find a new way to live after Kevin died. It wasn’t easy. We were all young, in our mid-20’s or younger and we thought we would live forever … at least into our 70s or 80s. Finding out that we could die young was sobering. Thankfully, the driver of the car lived and was able to go on and live a wonderful productive life – getting married and having children of his own. We thank God only one person died, and that for whatever reason, God spared the other.
Because of the extent of the car crash we were never allowed to see Kevin again. This bothered every woman in my family. Not so the men. For whatever reason, when the State Police informed us Kevin had died and that he was so badly hurt in the accident that we could never see him again, all of the men in my family accepted this at the word of the police. We all thought to ourselves, “Hey, if this is what these guys do for a living and they’re telling us this, there’s a reason and we’d better follow their lead.” So we did. But not the women! They were furious. They wanted to see Kevin again. Touch him. Hold him. Do what all women seem to do so beautifully and naturally – mother him. It was heart-breaking to witness their surrender to this reality heaped on top of Kevin’s death.
Watching the women in my family taught me a valuable lesson. Knowing we could never hold Kevin again was hard to accept, so one day while praying I had the most calming experience when I envisioned the Blessed Mother holding Jesus’ crucified body in the Michelangelo sculpture, The Pieta. I prayed that if we could not hold Kevin, then perhaps Mary, the Mother of God would do for us what we could no longer do. I knew then, and I know now, that that is exactly what the Blessed Mother did for me and for my family – she held Kevin close when we could not. The Mother of the World held in her arms my brother when God chose to bring Kevin Home. It was a brutal thing to accept, that Kevin would no longer be with us here on earth, but a blessed salve for our wounds, knowing he was loved and truly held in heaven.
This experience forever changed my relationship with the Blessed Mother. I’m not a Marian-kind-of-guy or priest. I’m not into the Rosary, though I have tremendous respect for those who are. But I love the Blessed Mother because in the loss of my brother She became more real to me. At the time, I found the most beautiful prayer that I prayed over and over again through those days following my brother’s death. I offer it to you all now to think about and to pray:
The MemorareI know this prayer has some old-style language, but the essence is beautiful. In faith, we ask Jesus’ Mother to intercede for us – to carry our prayer to Her Son, and to ask Mary’s Son to hear and answer our deepest, most precious prayers.
Remember, O most gracious
Virgin Mary, that never was it
known that anyone who fled
to thy protection, implored thy
help, or sought thine intercession
was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, I fly
unto thee, O Virgin of virgins,
my mother; to thee do I come,
before thee I stand, sinful and
sorrowful. O Mother of the
Word Incarnate, despise not my
petitions, but in the mercy hear
and answer me.