PALM SUNDAY, 2003
This is from a letter home written seven years ago on Good Friday.
I thought with Easter so late this year that we would have warm weather during the latter part of Lent for sure, but today it is in the 30’s and misty. We have had some spring-like days, but mostly it has been chilly during Lent. The few warm days brought out all the blossoms, so the trees are beautiful and the tulips and daffodils have all bloomed. Right at the beginning of April we had a few snow flakes, then just a couple days later it was 80 degrees. But there is something much more important than the weather that I want to tell you about on this Good Friday.
On Palm Sunday, one of our graduates died – David Payne who graduated in 1989.
He had suffered much during his life. He had kidney problems from when he was very young, and he had been on dialysis since he was three years old. He never grew very tall: he was 4’10”. In the last year or so he had really aged. A doctor said he had the body of a very old man even though he was only 32.
I visited him in the hospital once in this last illness – he was on a respirator and couldn’t talk, and he was heavily sedated, but he knew I was there and knew who I was. His sister came in at 6:00 to say the Angelus with him. It looked like great effort for him to fold his hands, but he did, and then she unfolded them for him when we were done.
Earlier that day the priest from our parish [Father Cilinski] came to see him and brought the Blessed Sacrament. David couldn’t receive because of the respirator, but Father let him hold the pyx Our Lord was in. As Father was leaving, David signaled that he wanted to write something. (I do not see how he was capable of writing anything – all movement seemed very laborious and he looked so weak.) But he wrote on a pad of paper, “It is a great blessing to be able to hold our Suffering Lord and Servant of us all.”
While I was in the ICU room with him, I felt completely humbled. I think David was very holy, and even though he was lying in the hospital bed with monitors everywhere and the respirator hooked up to him, he was so superior through his inner strength. It was an overpowering experience.
David went to Mass every morning that he could. I am sure it was a great suffering for him that we was unable to go to Mass as he became weaker. And every Saturday for as along as I can remember he would pray in front of the abortion clinic in Manassas for the end to abortion.
The Seton choir got to sing at his funeral. I was so glad we were able to do that. A priest was with David when he died, and his whole family was there also. His sister told me that they sang Hail Holy Queen as he drew his final breaths. We sang that at the Mass as well.
Jezum, ufam Tobie