Starting Point
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Issue Date:  March 25, 2005

Starting Point


During the 10-week period leading up to Easter in the Byzantine Catholic church, five Universal All Souls Saturdays are set aside to honor and pray for the dead. I look forward to these events. Parishioners who wish to participate provide the priest with an Hramoty, a written document listing deceased family members and friends, and the priest chants the names during the Panachida service.

Unfortunately, I missed the first All Souls Saturday service. Nevertheless, I smiled during the time of the Panachida, knowing Fr. Kevin would be chanting the names. That night, I dreamed I was making rounds in the hospital where I work and entered Harley’s room. I greeted him, but I was thinking, “Harley is dead. How can this be?” I reconciled the dilemma in my dream by thinking, “You must have dreamed that he was dead. See, he is alive!” We had a good visit because we had not seen each other for a while. Eventually, it was time for me to leave. Harley replied, “So soon?” I said I could stay for a few more minutes and sat down next to him on his hospital bed. He told me I looked tired and took my hand. The touch of his hand dissolved tension and worry. I lay down and fell into a deep sleep. In the morning, I awoke refreshed and renewed.

Harley is on my Hramoty list. A man of Apache descent with a strong life force, I held his head when he threw up blood. He approached the dissolution of his body with great courage. Now he held my hand. We are all Harley, and we will all be in that bed one day. There will come a time when doctors can’t do anything to stop our evolution. When we close our eyes that last time, we can rest, connected as we are to the communion of saints. When we awaken, what a wonderful day that will be! I look forward to Easter, and the glorious proclamation we will intone, “Christ is risen from the dead! By death he conquered death, and to those in their graves, he granted life!”

Ed Horvat, a secular Franciscan, is a chaplain in a community hospital in Morgantown, W.Va.

National Catholic Reporter, March 25, 2005

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