Who is not confused by the reality of death? Who feels at ease before the inevitable outcome of earthly life? Even today, in the morning Office, the prophet echoed the terrifying realism of an agonizing anguish: “Sheol does not praise you nor does Death glorify you, nor do those who go down to the well wait for your faithfulness” (Is 38:18). Another, however, is the hope of those who recognize themselves as enlightened by the Resurrection and, out of modesty before their contemplation, they cite the horizon of eternity. Encircled by the dense gloom of mystery, they do not hesitate to proclaim that not even death “can separate us from the love of God manifested in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rm 8,39).
Mystics of all times were immersed in this infinite ocean of life and, facing death, saw in their hearts the thirst of God, the nostalgia of heaven, the longing for fulfillment. Let the restless heart of Augustine of Hippo say: “You made us for you, Lord, and our heart is restless as long as it does not rest in you”. Let us also talk about the heart in love with Teresa of Jesus: “Blessed heart in love, that only in God puts the thought in. For Him, renounces everything created, in Him, finds glory, peace, contentment. in his God he brings all his intent, and thus transposes, serene and joyful, the waves of this tempestuous sea.” The burned heart of Vincent de Paul is still heard, as he says of the “immense happiness of the eternal mission, in which all exercises consist in loving God.” In short, few people come to such great serenity and security when death approaches, to the point of not being afraid to cross it, because they live with the hope of seeing the clear dawn of Easter rise.
Today, we say goodbye to someone who seems to have reached this level of faith, of total trust in God’s love, in the full freedom of those who give themselves to him, wishing, with all the fibers of his heart, to find to the Lord, to contemplate his face, to feel his embrace, to enjoy his eternal companionship. This was what we often heard about Sister Ines Hosken, especially in her last years. In her heart as Daughter of Charity, the happiness of someone who identified with her vocation, happy for the seeds thrown, grateful for the fruits harvested and offered. She prayed with ardor and simplicity, felt with the Church, showed solidarity with the poor, accompanied the steps of the Company, was interested in the updating of the Vincentian charism, cultivated good friendships, advised with wisdom. Wherever she went, she breathed the perfume of her fecundity, serving the poor, educating children and young people, forming sisters, helping to consolidate the new image of Daughter of Charity aligned with Vatican II. In the years of her old age, fragile in complexion but vigorous in faith and love, she showed that restless heart, in love and scorched by the mystics, free of herself, free because was inhabited by the nostalgia of the Eternal.
In the afternoon of today, shortly after receiving the sacrament of the Anointing, Sister Inés went out to meet the Bridegroom, holding on her hands the lamp (Mt 25:1-13), the same lamp that many times illuminated the faces of so many people she came close to, with the meekness and firmness that harmonized in an unusual way. We could see her in her bed, totally stripped, sighing only for Him who would take her to the feast of eternal nuptials, after making her walk, serene and joyful, the tempestuous sea of human existence. As Shakespeare wrote about one of his characters: “Nothing in his life responded so faithfully to what it was like his way of saying goodbye to her, he died as someone who had been designed to despise, at death, the most precious thing he possessed, waiting for a more precious good.” And, this most precious asset, we know now, Sor Inés already found it.
Fr. Vinícius Augusto Ribeiro Teixeira, C.M.
Belo Horizonte, November 28, 2017
Memory of Saint Catherine Labouré