Special Reading for Thursday Feb 28, 2019 – for Wake of Br. Patrick Hart



A Reading from the Mirror of Charity by St Aelred of Rievaulx

At the death of his friend Simon [1]

        The recent death of my dear friend Simon forcibly drives me to weep for him. And you, my beloved, although you have been brought into the joy of the Lord, although you feast with delight at the table of the great father of our family and in the kingdom of the Father with your Jesus are happily inebriated on that new fruit of the vine, still permit me to our out my spirit for you. If you remember where you have arrived, what you have escaped, where you have left your friend, you will assuredly realize how justified is my grief.

         See how I, who began to grieve, have found reason to rejoice. For you, beloved brother, for you I rejoice, but for myself I feel keen sorrow The patriarch Jacob wept for his son; Joseph wept for his father; holy David wept for his dearest Jonathan. Simon, alone, was all these to me: a son in age, a father in holiness, a friend in charity. My soul along with his, a part of its own, longs to enjoy the embrace of Christ, but my weakness resists, my iniquity resists, and even divine providence resists this. Surely, the one who was ready entered into the marriage feast with the Bridegroom, but to me, wretch that I am, the door is still closed. If only, Lord Jesus, if only that door be opened one day. But I hope in your mercy, Lord, that someday it will be opened.

         Perhaps divine loving kindness looked upon you alone, in order to transfer your calm and peaceful soul in all its tranquility from the miseries of this life to your longed for fatherland, amd almost without your knowing it to break the bond of your physical dwelling with such ease that not the slightest fear of death might trouble a soul so dear to him. For you, my beloved brother, for you it was meant to be that way, that you passed away with such tranquility. By your very peaceful death you showed quite clearly that you were welcomed by ministers of peace. No wonder, You did not dread but rather desired that hour,

         What then did you gain, bitter death? What did you gain? Of course, you invaded  his tent, the site of his pilgrimage, but you broke the chain which tethered him. You destroyed the dwelling he enjoyed in the meantime, but you removed the load which oppressed him. We know that if the earthly house we inhabit is destroyed, said the apostle. we have a building from God not made with hands, an eternal home in heaven.Now, therefore, his soul, friend of virtues, desirous of quietness, eager for wisdom, victorious over nature, has been divested of its enveloping flesh and, if I may say so, has flown off on freer wings to that purer and sublime Good to be gathered into the long desired embrace of Christ.

         And you, Father Abraham, again and again extend your hands to receive this poor man of Jesus, another Lazarus. Open your arms, welcome into your bosom, lovingly receive, cherish and console someone returning from the miseries of this life. To me, also, a wretch albeit his beloved, grant a place of rest some day with him in your bosom. Amen.

[1]The Mirror of Charity – Aelred of Rievaulx – Cistercian Fathers Series – #17 – Cistercian Publications – Kalamazoo, MI – 1990 – pg147 ff