Fr. Solanus: Still Opening Doors to God
The 31st of July marks the 60th Anniversary of Fr. Solanus’ death. Remembrances and prayers will be offered at four scheduled liturgies the weekend prior to the day itself. A sense of celebration and joy pervades the anniversary of Fr Solanus’ death. (Granted, some of the joy stems from the upcoming beatification.) Usually, however celebration and joy are not paired with death, and yet with Fr. Solanus that is exactly how we have come to look upon his death.
For most of us, when a dear family member or friend departs we are struck with sadness and a painful sense of loss. There is emptiness and perhaps even depressiveness to the air. We try to get “through” it. It hurts to think back on the event.
With the death of Fr. Solanus, we have a different perspective. The words he offered to God at his moment of death, “I give my soul to Jesus Christ” seemed to cast his death with a sense of holy surrender and fulfillment. In a romantic sense of spirituality, it was that beautiful moment when Solanus’ spirit was welcomed fully into God’s Spirit.
Many years ago my mother died. Her death, like the death of a parent, felt catastrophic. The world I had known was forever altered. It was a painful time and confirmed for me that death without a spiritual context was awful.
A few weeks after my mom died I was on a retreat. As I talked to God about the loss, I had a thought. “My mother had done everything she needed to do with her life on earth. She had completed her purpose on earth. Now the work she has to do requires that she be united to God on the other side of the veil.”
This thought was a great gift. It opened up a sense of meaning for her life, her death, and the future of which she would still be a part of.
With Fr. Solanus this is so clearly seen. Fr. Solanus was with us on earth in his human physical form to do the work he needed to do. He opened the monastery doors and as he listened to the hundreds of people who would ask him for help, he led them to a deeper relationship with God. When that work was complete, he offered himself to God who still had work for him to do…but from the other side of the veil.
It is so apparent when a person comes to Fr. Solanus’ tomb and asks for a favor, that Fr. Solanus is still opening the doors to God for us. Now our 60th celebration is not only a commemoration of his death, but moreover, a celebration of gratitude for the 60 years Fr. Solanus has been doing God’s work from the “other side”. Thank you, Fr. Solanus.