By Kerry McGuire
“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8)
My kids have learned a lot about the ups and downs of life lately.
A recent “up” was witnessing the marriage of my oldest nephew and his lovely fiancé in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. They were surrounded by supportive family and friends, as they entered into a covenant in which the bonds of their love were sealed and strengthened by God’s love. This was a very happy occasion, and we look forward to witnessing the special moments they share together in their newly married life.
The next day, our joy turned to sorrow, as we learned of the death of a very precious teacher, one of my kids’ all-time favorites at our small Catholic school, who made a huge impact on the lives of the children she taught. She passed away at the young age of 61, after a short battle with cancer. It was like she was here one minute and gone the next.
While it was definitely one of those “down” times, there were many joyful moments at her funeral, as we celebrated her life and legacy of love. She was so youthful and full of energy, a bright spot in the day. She made everyone feel special and loved, which is so important for our kids and a delight to us parents. She had such a deep-rooted faith and radiated goodness. She touched many people, always with an amazing smile that she naturally wore and generously gave. She truly shared a love that bonded people together. She exemplified what a disciple of Christ is supposed to be—selfless giving, total obedience to our faith, and loving others unconditionally on a grand scale. Stories shared by her close friends and family validated that the person we experienced in the school hallways was the same person met in all walks of her life.
As I said before, God uses people, real people like this wonderful teacher, to be His heart and hands here on earth to bring Christ to others. We are His beloved and are here to love His beloved, too, to bring forth the Kingdom of God.
While she may have taken her final earthly breath, she has returned to her true home and is now living in eternal happiness with our Heavenly Father. It has been said before that we should be living as though today is our final day on earth. Not to make sure we check off our bucket list, but rather to live the way God has intended for us all along so we, too, can obtain our heavenly reward.
When your final day comes, what word do you want carved on your tombstone? One that describes how you want to be remembered, the way you lived your earthly life.
I can think of many great ones, but I believe I have the perfect word for what God is placing on my heart to achieve through ministry—INSPIRE. To use my own life experiences to inspire others in their walk with Christ. To inspire others to love and give the gift of self, like this teacher. Leaving a legacy of love is definitely an inspiration to me, and I am inspired to be the “best version of myself,” as often stated by Catholic evangelist, Matthew Kelly.
In the homily at the funeral Mass, Father said he wished we could see the Cross of the Crucified Christ tilted at a 90-degree angle so the Lord’s outstretched lower hand can grasp ours as his other hand grabs firmly onto the hands of our beloved up in Heaven. I love that image. God is at the center and is our connection to those who have gone before us. Loved ones. Saints. Those we wish to emulate. Imagine what a difference we could make in this world, if we all loved on such a grand scale like this beloved teacher. Etching the bonds of love into stone so it’s permanent.
About the Author:
Kerry McGuire, wife of Paul and mother of Andrew, 14, and Olivia, 12, is the founder of the new Catholic WE (Catholic Women Experience), a ministry that seeks to keep the fires of Christian faith burning in the hearts of women. Joining the efforts of WINE, her mission is to encourage women in their walk with Christ to give birth to a living faith by praying, sharing, and growing together. Through ministry, Kerry looks forward to applying her 23 years of communications experience, including seven years at a large, vibrant Catholic parish in northwest Houston. Kerry also is a contributing writer for the Texas Catholic Herald, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston’s newspaper. Kerry hopes to share and give back all that she has received through her own wonderful spiritual mentors and friends. Her favorite scripture is Romans 8:28: “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”
The image is of the seventh station, Jesus falls the second time, and the author’s son, Andrew, is portraying Jesus. “Shadow Stations” were presented by 7th grade students during Lent 2015 at St. Anne Catholic School in Tomball, TX. Photo courtesy of Kerry McGuire. Used with permission.