Dear Seton friends,
One of the books Carol asked me to read while she was
battling cancer and undergoing chemotherapy last year was a brief work by Jacques Phillipe
entitled “Interior Freedom.” The book’s main point is that no matter how
difficult the trial or the suffering, nothing can take our interior freedom
from us, and that “we gain possession of our interior freedom in exact
proportion to our growth in faith, hope and love.” It was about that time that I started signing
off my CaringBridge updates with the closing “In faith, hope, and love…” ( www.caringbridge.org/visit/caroljones )
This theme recurred in recent months throughout my Lenten
and Easter reflections, especially as I watched Father Hudgins’ lectures on the
Doctors of the Church, particularly St. John
of the Cross. I found one of his poems, “One Dark Night,” particularly meaningful
in my prayer and meditation. John describes how suffering and sacrifice help
prepare us to receive God’s gifts of love, as we seek union with Him in the
depths of our soul.
So I definitely felt Carol’s loving presence when Frank Spicer contacted me and asked me to write a short letter to Mrs. Carroll for the
upcoming Seton Gala about “love,” as I have experienced it at Seton
School. The letter would be included in a brief slide
presentation about Seton,
built around the theme of “faith, hope, and love.” It seemed to me so much more than sheer coincidence…
Feeling inadequate to the task, I wanted to decline, but I
took this as a gentle nudge from Carol as an opportunity to thank you, our Seton
family, for all of the support and love poured out to us during her illness and
death (plus the fact that Frank was trying to convince me with so many
overreaching sports analogies, I knew he had to be desperate…). I decided that with the counsel of John of
the Cross, I would give the letter a try.
The following is my small part of that truly memorable
presentation on “faith, hope, and love” at Seton School, an open letter to our
Director, Anne Carroll, presented (recorded and read) to 350 friends and
alumnae at the Gala Celebration on June 12th:
Dear Mrs. Carroll,
As I write this,
envisioning the festivities of our Seton family at the Waterford, I thank God for the love that is Seton. It hardly seems possible that Carol and I
arrived at Seton School 14 years ago.
Our journey to Seton was definitely a leap of faith, full of the hope
that our family would grow and share in the love of God so evident to us
there. Our family has been abundantly
blessed; and in recent months, Carol and I both experienced the full, amazingly
rich depth of Seton’s love.
Faith, hope and love. I taught those theological virtues to my 7th
grade religion class upon arriving at Seton.
They say the best way to learn something is to teach it, and it was my
hope, as a convert to Catholicism, that Seton would help teach me as well and
deepen my knowledge of our faith.
Like many of us attending
Seton through the years, I imagine, I was often more concerned initially about
what I (or my family) was getting from Seton.
But there comes a time in each of our lives, perhaps at the birth of our
first child, or in the final suffering of someone we dearly love, that we
learn, or perhaps relearn, that life is not all about ourselves, but rather,
how we love others.
As Paul said, “…faith,
hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Love is eternal. Only love will not pass away. At that critical moment in our life,
encouraged by Divine grace, we begin to understand that it is in love…charity,
in giving to others amidst the daily grind of trials and tribulations, and
often in suffering, that we find God, who is Love, in the depths of our own
Whenever I enter our Seton
chapel I see that love in the pictures and lives of those remembered
there: Colonel P, Mighty Mike, Tom
Vander Woude, and Carol. Each was so
different in temperament and in their gifts granted by God, but each showed us
in such magnificent fashion their own “little way” to God in living for others. Each has affected me profoundly. Carol taught me about life, and love, as I
walked daily with her as she bore without complaint the cross of her ravaging
cancer. I am still finding out about
Carol’s many little acts of kindness done for others, many of which were
completely unknown to me.
I also experienced the
abundance and depth of charity of the Seton community as you poured out your
faith, hope, and love to us through emails, letters, visits, prayer chains, and
many little ways beyond telling. I still
can feel Carol’s joy as she watched the “Happy Birthday” video from Seton just
a few days before her death.
This is what we are made
for: We are created by Love, for
love. And it is in loving others we find
God in ourselves.
As you look around the
room as this letter is read, I hope you will realize the amazing gift that is
Seton. I hope you will see that God has
given us to one another to help us along our journey to one day see Him face to
face, and to celebrate together for all eternity. “…Eye has not seen… (and we simply cannot
imagine) …all that God has prepared for those who love Him.” May we walk this path to Him confidently,
and joyously, together.
Seton has not only
educated our minds, but more importantly has begun, with God, the education of
our hearts. Thank you, Dr. and Mrs.
Carroll, for the love you have poured into Seton School, and in turn, help give
to each of us.
Praised be Jesus Christ …
In faith, hope and love.