The St. Jude Times -- Fall 1997, Page 2, By Father Jim Grealish

Last Sunday, Jason was at Mass and received Holy Communion. Later that afternoon, I participated in his patterning therapy. When we carried him outside and put him on the hammock, we sat around him telling him funny stories and I was struck by Jason's beautiful smile. He seemed so happy and so peaceful.

On Thursday morning, driving out to the Rooker's house after I heard that Jason had died, I felt a deep peace. I knew that Jason had been "set free" from the body in which he had been trapped for the past 15 months. When I went into his room to pray with Greg and Fran, I saw that Jason had been looking at the picture of the two angels on the wall when he died. I said, "He saw those two angels and decided to join them and is now flying with them -- as free as a bird -- on eagle's wings." He is no longer trapped in the body that he couldn't move.

No wonder Jesus said in Matthew 18, when he called a child over, "Unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven." In talking with Fran and Greg, I found out that Jason -- this child of eleven--had a wonderful spirituality from which we all can learn. He was very comfortable in his relationship with God; he had no doubt about God's presence. He enjoyed and embraced life as a gift in a way that was unbelievable for a child of his age.

Greg and Fran told me the story of when, while looking up at the sky one day, they asked Jason, "Where is God?" "In my heart, Mom," was his reply. He knew that God was not away in a distance. God is in here--in our hearts.

Jason understood that he was (and we are) meant to be a visible presence of God to others, especially the poor. During lent, when we had the Rice Bowls and were putting away money for the poor, Jason would ask how much money he had, wanting to put all of it in the Rice Bowl. He gave it all freely. I wasn't surprised, then, on Friday, when I heard that Mother Teresa decided to "check out" and meet this kid! She too had this compassion for the poor, the needy!

Jason loved to say grace before meals; sometimes he was a bit long, because he thought about what he was saying. His prayer was always the prayer of a grateful heart. "Thank you, God, for letting us all be together as family--thank you, God." Always grateful. He loved going to church, even though he sometimes fell asleep in church! He loved to dress up for church with a suit and tie, like his "Opa."

Jason had this gift of enjoying himself no matter where he was or who he was with. He knew the secret of enjoying and living in the present moment. These words of St. Therese, the "little flower," remind me so much of Jason's spirituality: "If I did not simply live from one moment to the next, it would be impossible for me to keep my patience. I can see only the present. I forget the past and I take good care not to think about the future. We get discouraged and feel despair because we brood about the past and the future. It is such folly to pass one's time fretting, instead of resting quietly on the heart of Jesus." Jason knew how to "rest quietly on the heart of Jesus." What a wonderful gift.

In his illness, Jason touched the lives of so many people: those praying for him, those helping with his patterning therapy, his family. He helped us to see how strong we can be when we let go of trying to control -- and just trust in God and live day by day and enjoy the blessings of the present moment. He taught us that people, love, life -- all are gifts -- to be embraced and enjoyed. But do not cling to them. They do not belong to us.

In Mark 1, the baptism of Jesus we read, "On coming up out of the water, (Jesus) saw the heavens being torn open and the spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, 'You are my beloved son; with you I am well pleased.'"

Jason was a beloved son of Greg and Fran -- a beloved son of God. Sometime last Thursday morning, Jason saw "the heavens being torn open" and heard God say. "Jason, you are my beloved son; with you I am well pleased." Jason had one of his beautiful smiles and said, "Well, I've always known that, God!" Then, instead of the dove, the Spirit descending on him, Jason's spirit ascended--as "on eagle's wings"--to be with God, finally freed from his tired, weary body.

Jason, you were truly a gift from God. You patterned for us how to embrace life as a gift: how to be totally comfortable with God, how to enjoy and cherish the present moment, how, in the words of St. Therese, to "rest quietly on the heart of Jesus."

Matthew 5: "Blessed are the meek, blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God." Jason, you have helped us to see God and live.

--Father Jim


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