Thursday, May 6, 2010

Heaven, a Wonderful Surprise

And a Little Child Shall Lead Them

This piece that I have been working on for some time, with my prayer partner Deacon George Sebok, was published this morning in Catholic Online.  It is about a young girl who died at the age of 7, about a year ago.  It is part of a story of a life lived more fully in 7 years than you or I might ever live in our life time.  It is an anecdote from a life of immense grace and faith.
As I have been looking for the Ordinary Heroes that surround us every day, I have found more and more of them.  And people I have met have told me stories of others.  Here, I have written a true story, told to me by a dear friend, of a little girl who really might qualify as an Extraordinary Hero; but you can judge for yourself.

LONDON, ONTARIO (Catholic Online)  - Recently, I was reunited with a long time Brother in Christ and prayer partner.  Deacon George Sebok and I have prayed together, in the mornings particularly, with other friends or by ourselves for many of the last 20 years or so.  Because of changes in our personal situations, we stopped meeting a few years back, before his ordination to the diaconate, and just never got it going again until this past Lenten season.

When we were reunited, we joined with two other friends to pray the Morning liturgy of the Hours in the chapel at St. George Catholic Church here in our home town of London.  It is certainly a blessing for me to be back together with these men as we work out our salvation, and pray for the needs of our families, friends and for the Church, and the will of Our Father.

Part of Deacon George's ministry is visitation of the sick at local hospitals.  At prayer one morning, he mentioned a particular young girl, who he had visited during her illness, and who has since passed away.  As he mentioned her there was a quickening in my spirit to know more.  As George asked me to join him for breakfast after prayer, I took that as an opportunity to ask him about her, and now to share with you Dear Reader what I learned.

George has been in love with the Lord for a long time, and has become more observant day by day of the things of the Lord, and consequently he does not miss a lot of what happens around him in the spiritual sense. As he has been aware of God moving in small things, God has entrusted him with bigger things to experience.

Over breakfast, he told me of a precious little girl, by the name of Katelin who was 5 years old when he first met her, and went to be with the Lord when she was only 7, having succumbed to leukemia after a valiant battle, that was actually a witness of the love of God for this innocent one and her family.  Though her life story is one filled with the love of God for her, and how it emanated from her to those around her, for now, I will only tell you of one anecdote that is a testimony to the faith this dear little child had on earth, and has now in the presence of God in heaven.

As Katelin was nearing her death, Deacon Sebok went to visit with her and her family, and was ushered into her bedroom upstairs.  On this particular day, he says she was very excited and could not wait to tell him what had happened to her.  He sat down to listen and this is how he told it to me:
As I entered her room, she was excited to see me, and had this story bubbling up out of her to share.  She said to me: "Deacon George, Jesus came to visit with me the other day, and it wasn't a dream, it was REAL.
Deacon George, Jesus and I went outside for a walk, and we held hands.  Then we went for a bike ride and we held hands as we rode.  After that we sat down, and we told each other how much we loved each other.
When Jesus was leaving to go back to heaven I hollered out to him : 'Jesus, what is heaven like?' He turned back to me and said: 'Katelin, it's a wonderful surprise.'"

She looked at me with wonder in her eyes.  Then I said that I could tell her about heaven, and started in.  After all, I had 4 years of diaconal formation, and I know a few things.  As I started in, she looked at me with those beautiful eyes of hers and with a touch of anger said authoritatively: "Deacon George, don't tell me any more about heaven.  It's a surprise."

I shut up, because she was right, and she knew so much more than I did.  I was brought to a place of simple humility by this lovely little girl.
As Deacon George and I talked about this encounter this morning, again over breakfast after prayer, he told me that her comments about heaven, though simple, were theologically sound and the beauty of the simple faith of this child continued to astound him.

As I heard this story, and others about this wonderful young woman, who was so in love with Jesus, I too was astounded at the ways that she touched not only my friend and hers Deacon George, but her parents and her sister, and others she met in the hospital, and also her parish priest at St. Michael's Parish in London, Ontario, Father Murray Sample. 

Father Sample, when conducting her funeral mass, referred to her as Saint Katelin.  He did not say this frivolously, but was speaking in reference to how she had touched him, and how he had seen her touch others.

I have no idea why God would take such a precious gifted little girl out of our midst, where she could do so much good, unless He in His infinite wisdom, knew that she can do even more good sitting by His side, and interceding for us all down here.
Michael Brandon is a Canadian Catholic, in love with God in His three persons, and in love with his wife and soul mate.  He is also the father of three, step father of three, and step grandfather to 2 1/3.   He and his wife spend part of winters keeping warm in sunny Arizona.  You can visit him at his blog site Freedom Through Truth.
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Deacon Keith Fournier asks that you join with us and help in this vital mission by sending this article to your family, friends, and neighbors and adding our link ( to your own website, blog or social network. Let us broadcast, we are PROUD TO BE CATHOLIC!

Katelin, pray for us, for our salvation, and that we may come to know Jesus as you do.

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