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Catholic Cemeteries: The Breath of Our Life


By Candee Lucas, Outreach

Job 33:4 “The Spirit of God hath made me, And the breath of the Almighty giveth me life.”

From our first breath until our last, the spark of God’s love informs and shapes our lives. We breathe so automatically that we are barely aware of the process. Yoga teachers have to ‘train’ us to breathe mindfully. Yet, if breath does not come, we cease to be. Our next moment is not.

In time with hospice patients, in their last moments, I breathed with them to monitor if their breath was slowing. Inevitably, it slowed, then ceased. Sometimes there was one final breath. Separate from the last one–a final sigh of farewell.

At home with my mother when she died, we were unable to rouse her for a day as she lay on the sofa in the den. Family came to sit vigil and wandered off to sleep. In the early hours of the morning, I was watching her breathe and then she exhaled. There was no inhale that followed. She was gone from us. God was there in the room with my mother, taking her into His arms, enfolding her, leaving her cancer behind.

Likewise, to see an infant take its first breath is to watch the spark of God animate a new life. I felt my son’s first cry before he had fully left my body. In a way, we shared that first breath. I felt God’s spark enter my son’s body. Felt God animate him. He was there in the delivery room as my son was born, being coaxed and animated into this world and into my arms.

The two experiences are one half each of a life whole. The abiding truth was the experiential presence of God at both events. Two events so similar that we tend to mark them in a similar way. Families gather to wait the ‘moment’. The moment comes in its own time (without medical intervention). Each is a confounding and profound event that we tend to mark with ritual and pageantry. One rejoiced, the other mourned.

God has given us the miracle of both events. There is the welcoming ritual of baptism on one hand. He gives the breath of life so that we may love and seek Him all of our lives. Breath to experience the world, to love Him and others; to serve Him and others. And, one day He sits with our loved ones at the bedside of those who are near death and watches with us as that breath ceases. He waits to take that person home.

Catholic Cemeteries is here to walk with you and your family when that time comes. We hope we can assist you through the time when ritual is most important, as it can offer both solace to those left behind; and the recognition of your loved one’s life and meaning. We continue to offer support through the grieving process. For more information, contact us at (833) 677-9644 or ccoutreach@dsj.org .

Celebrating a Life – Planning a Funeral Liturgy
Join us on October 12 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. a
Saint Nicholas Church, 473 Lincoln Ave., Los Altos
Presenter: Carol Thornton, Director of Liturgy and Pastoral Care.
Learn the basic elements on planning a funeral or memorial mass liturgy for yourself and your loved ones. We’ll consider scripture, song, and liturgical elements that celebrate the unique life of each person. A worship aid template and basic resource guides will be provided.

Death Café Monthly Drop-in Group
A safe space to talk about death, dying, what it means.
October 16 from 7 – 9 p.m. (3rd Wednesday each month)
890 Benton Street, Santa Clara (off Lafayette)
Facilitator: Candee Lucas, M.A. Pastoral Ministries
Space provided by Santa Clara University Graduate Program in Pastoral Ministries.
For more information: www.deathcafe.com/deathcafe.
Endorsed by Catholic Cemeteries

For more information or to schedule a free workshop in your parish, contact Catholic Cemeteries at (833) 677-9644 or ccoutreach@dsj.org.