Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Paul and His "Next Speech"

My son Paul will always be remembered in my mind as my boy, but he was an extraordinary man. Paul's life was filled with sensitivity, caring about others, fun - yes, lots of fun and laughter - and faith...a faith that grew.

Paul had many crosses, especially when we had to move out of state while he was in college, leaving our young adult children behind, and then he lost his vision to Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy. Although this gene doesn't often cause total blindness, Paul became totally blind within a few short months (except for light perception). He laughed and made jokes about blindness, accepting his cross. His blindness was perhaps a greater cross because he was an artist, majoring in electronic media and broadcasting. He continued to be able to envision people and settings, and he could see a whole movie in his mind. He minored in creative writing. Paul finished college and, as he liked to point out, got a better grade point average after he lost his vision than before.

On the day before Thanksgiving in 2010, Paul was hit by a minivan while walking to St. Agnes in Ft. Wright, KY one morning to Mass. He suffered bleeding on the brain, a fractured shoulder blade, bruises and lacerations. Yet he was released from the hospital the next day and recovered, continuing to walk to church for Mass and Adoration, but nagging the city to put in an audible signal at that street crossing...which they did.

Paul continued to speak at retreats, help with adult convert instruction, visit classrooms to share about blindness, go to nursing homes to ask people to offer their sufferings for the Rose Garden Home Mission, which offers pregnancy counseling and so much more, and many other activities. Most recently, he gave talks at churches on devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus, and about a week before his death he met with the bishop to get his blessing on his work, which he gave. Paul went wherever he was called. He received his strength and inspiration from Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and from Mary, the Mother of Jesus. He often told me, "God is love".

On January 19, 2012, Paul passed in his sleep. We do not know the exact cause. After the family arrived in town, my oldest son Joe looked through Paul's computer and found what he believed Paul was going to use as his next talk on the Holy Name of Jesus. As you read it, you may see that it not only gives glory to God, but it also seems as if he unknowingly, perhaps through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote his own eulogy and his own encouragement to those of us who are left to grieve his death. He loved to "work the crowd" when he gave a speech and I'd like to think Jesus may allow him to see each of your responses as you read. Here it is:

An Untitled Talk on the Holy Name of Jesus, by Paul Myers

You may be inclined to think that my tragic litany would make a good country music song. And I'll admit, I've considered this myself. But if I were to pen a song from these events, it would not be a somber country song but a positive and uplifting Christian song.

I am not really here today to talk about myself, but about the one who is the cause of my hope, whose grace enables me to proclaim, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."

Like Job, and like myself, Jesus suffered. But just as the story of Job ends with him being given back everything he lost and more, and just as in my own life I have received many blessings after every cross, so too the story of Christ Jesus has a joyful ending. On the third day after dying a horrible death on the cross, he arises in glory. Forty days after that, he ascends to heaven, where he reigns in a kingdom of love over all of us who, thanks to his sacrifice, can also enjoy this eternal paradise.

He knows how I have suffered. He knows how you suffer. On the cross, he gave comfort to the good thief who was dying on his own cross by saying, "This day you will be with me in paradise."

Every time we suffer, He turns to us with compassion, and with that same sympathy, the sympathy of a man who knows another's pain firsthand, He whispers a similar promise, "One day soon you will be with me in paradise."

It is that promise that allows me, in the midst of even the worst suffering, to smile and say, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."

His name, which literally means, "God saves," the name Jesus, has a special place in my heart.

It is in the words of the apostle Paul, "That name which is above every name, at which every knee shall bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father."

Every time I hear or say the name of Jesus, I show my reverence and joy in his name, not with a bend of the knee as Paul recommends which might be a little awkward in the middle of the supermarket, but with a simple bow of the head, a practice which goes back centuries in the history of Christianity.

And I make it a point never to take His name in vain.

If you are in that habit, I do not condemn. I am a sinner myself. But I ask you to consider the hope, the peace, the joy that is to be found in uniting yourself to the dying and rising Christ Jesus. I hope that you will find comfort in His Name. I hope that you will consider bowing your head at His name as I do. But most of all, I hope that you will know the peace I do, to be able to say, even amidst the greatest trials, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."

6 comments:

Grace said...

This is incredible! Thank you so much for sharing this story and Paul's last speech. I'm misty eyed to say the least. God Bless you in the midst of all your suffering.

Emily said...

JMJ

Dear Mrs. Myers,

I just recently learned of the death of your son. I will request a Tridentine Mass be offered for the repose of his soul, and remember him and your family in my nightly prayers. May he rest in peace; may you all find peace in the Faith and the promise of eternal life.

With every best wish,
Emily Croy

Margaret Mary Myers said...

Grace,

Thank you so much for commenting!

Margaret Mary

Margaret Mary Myers said...

Emily,

So nice to hear from you! Thank you for the Mass and prayers for our Paul.

Margaret Mary

Debbie Cook said...

Margaret Mary, all I can say is WOW! Your son continues to teach even after his death. What wonderful faith he had. Thank you so much for sharing this.

Margaret Mary Myers said...

Thank you, Debbie! :)