Seventy-eight years ago, Henry and Anna brought their little baby to Saint Joseph’s to be Baptized. The Priest took water in a small golden shell and pouring it over the child’s forehead said: Ego te baptizo, in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sanctus. I baptize you, Barbara, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Thus began a great journey, as Barbara was joined to the death and rising of Christ Jesus. She would learn how to pray, to make the sign of the cross (struggling to hit the right shoulder first), how to kneel down and say her prayers, to go to confession and to receive Jesus in Holy Communion.
Day by day and year by year, she came to know Christ Jesus. She learned to love, to forgive and to live in the model of her Lord and Savior.
And then, Barbara and Frank walked down the aisle and stood before the altar and promised to remain faithful to one another and to God: a promise they lived together for fifty-six years. And have no doubt about it, the faithfulness of Frank for Barbara, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, would have been shown to him by the woman who loved him more than anyone else in the world, if he had been the one suffering from Alzheimer’s for all those years. And from that faithfulness, God brought forth Frank and Brian and Pamela and Margaret, as a concrete sign of the willingness of Barbara and Frank to cling to faithful love in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, until death.
In fact, on the day they were married, Frank and Barbara would have knelt before the altar as the Priest, extending his hands over them, would have blessed them with a quotation from Psalm 128: videas filios filiorum tuorum: May you live to see your children’s children. And so faithful was God’s love for then that they lived to know and to love six grandchildren and even two great granschildren.
The Church has been for all the years of Barbara’s life, a sign of God’s faithful love. From the first day she was carried in by her parents to this day when you, her husband and children and grandchildren carried her before this altar of God, this Church has embraced her, consoled her with sacred signs of Christ’s redeeming love, and drawn her to the Lord with whom she died in the waters of Baptism and who will raise her up on the last day.
I know that there were many gifts which Barabara gave to each of you throughout the years. But today she gives you the greatest gift of all. For today she reminds each one of us of the journey we’re on. It starts in the arms of our parents…it starts at the font of blessed water where we are first joined to Christ and to his cross. And then it takes all kinds of twists and turns, sometimes bringing us closer to God and sometimes leading us away from him.
But today Barbara, reminds us where that journey ends. It ends in the same place it began: before Christ, who will judge each one of us on the last day. Christ, who calls us to turn away from selfishness and sin, and cling to faithful love. Christ, who urges us to forgive, even as we ask to be forgiven. Christ, who laid down his life for the world, and asks us to do the same. Christ, who loved us faithfully and then commanded us to love others as he had loved us.
For the greatest memorial to Barbara will not be the finest monument in Saint Denis’ Cemetery. It will not even be the wonderful stories you will tell of her faithfulness, the smile on her face as she rode in the boat across Webster Lake, or her goodness as a mother, a CCD teacher and an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. No, the greatest memorial to Barbara, will be the lives of faithful love which you will live in the years God still gives you to reflect his love and his glory upon this earth.
For of all the great subjects which Barbara, mother and CCD teacher mastered and taught, the one she understood the best was one she first learned as a child from the Baltimore Catechism
Why did God make Barbara?
God made Barbara to know him, to love him, and to serve him in this world
and to be happy with him in the next.
Go forth, good and faithful Christian. May God have mercy on your soul, and grant you eternal rest in his presence forever. Amen.