My final Lenten story

March 31, 2021 | Fr. Claude Lombardo, MC

Dear friends, 

This is my last story of this series. Thanks for reading them and thanks for the feedback that I’ve received from so many of you! I would like to finish with something very close and personal. I think that we can gain reflection from it. I want to tell you about the death of my father.
My father was a man like any other. He lost his father when he was 11 years old, and so had to start working with his brothers in the fields. He only finished elementary school.
However, there was a providential person in his life: a faithful catechist in a small country school. From her, my father, and also my mother, learnt the basics of the faith, that would accompany them for the rest of their lives, and would have many consequences in the lives of others. How important it is to fulfill our mission faithfully!
When he was 16 years old, he used to pray the Rosary during the night shifts on the tractor with one particular intention. He prayed for his future children. At 20 he got married and had four kids, two girls and two boys. Both boys, me and my brother, would become priests.
He was a hard worker and little by little he was able to progress in life. He had a very nice character and lots of friends. He was very optimistic and joyful. He always had a joke to tell. Even without academic instruction he had the wisdom that experience and the grace of God gave him. He could sing and play the guitar and composed some songs for his kids, and friends. 
At 63 he discovered that he had colon cancer and after two years of trials, he passed away on April 18th, 2015.
The last two months of his life he was not able to eat anything at all, except for the Eucharist that he had at Mass every day in his room, celebrated by his two priests. He was very weak and in a lot of pain. He was throwing up very frequently and I heard him many times saying “thank you Lord” during that.
One day the combination of painkillers made him delusional. The next day, when he was himself again he said: “never give me that again.” 
There were a lot of people visiting him during that time and he tried to give good advice to everyone. But then he used to say that he had no interest at all in the topics of the world that they talked about.
One day, at dinner time, he got up on his own, something that usually he couldn’t do, and went and sat at the table with the family. And pointing out a steak he asked “what is that?” My mom, very surprised and thinking that he was losing his mind, answered: “It’s a steak.” And he asked: “what is it for…?” And then they realized that he was just kidding since he had no ability to eat for almost the last two months.
In a moment of hard pain, while the sickness was becoming long and heavy, I asked him: “Dad, is your faith strong?” and he answered: “final perseverance.”

I was with him when he finally expired. He had received all the help that Holy Mother Church can give at the last moments. He died on a Saturday, wearing his scapular.
And as crowning to everything, he got, not one, but two sets of Gregorian Masses, with all the affection and gratitude of his sons.
He was not a saint. He had moments in his life in which he went astray. My mother helped him a lot to grow and to keep up with piety throughout his whole life. He never stopped saying the Rosary.
And the Lord gave him the grace of a holy death, which included the blessing of carrying such a heavy cross.
Of course, I miss my Dad, but I have the hope of meeting him again in heaven.
I wish that in reading this you may think of your own death and make an act of confidence in the grace of God that he is not going to fail you. Be faithful to the daily Rosary. Have devotion to the Sacred Heart and to Saint Joseph, patron of a good death. And then, allow the Lord to choose freely the time and the circumstances to fly peacefully to Him.
Miles Christi is in great need of your prayers! We will highly appreciate them. And it is the last week of Lent! If you haven’t done it, remember us in your almsgiving practices!
For His Church,
Fr. Claude, MC
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