|Father Benedict Groeschel and Cardinal Timothy Dolan|
Father Benedict Groeschel died on the eve of the Feast of St. Francis. I was able to hear Father Groeschel speak many times and had the great honor of meeting him on a few different occasions. He was the real deal. He made some missteps along the way - don't we all - but there can be no doubt of his love for our Lord, the Church and the poor. He completely dedicated his life to fulfilling the Gospel.
I remember the first time I saw Father Groeschel in person. I had seen him on EWTN many times and knew he was a celebrity. However, my first impressions were of a very down to earth and humble man. He was wearing sandals that were beat up to say the least and his simple gray habit tied with a rope. He greeted anyone and everyone who came up to him, giving all that warm smile with a twinkle in his deep blue eyes. He spoke in plain English with no attempt to impress anyone. He had a wonderful sense of humor. And his speech was filled with love for Our Lord, to whom he completely dedicated his life.
Father Groeschel always told us that he fully expected a stay in Purgatory. I think he may have been "disappointed." He suffered tremendously in the last several years of his life, and was never without pain since his near death experience after being hit by a car in Florida in 2004. I believe he suffered his purgatory here on earth. That did not stop him from his ministry. He was everywhere, traveling far and wide and a fixture on EWTN.
I really like this quote from Father Groeschel:
Bishop Sheen used to say that there is nothing worse than wasted suffering. And that is certainly true. I was taught by the sisters long ago in Catholic school to unite my sufferings, works, and prayers each day with Christ, and I continue to do that through the heart of Mary. It gave great meaning to me while I was in the hospital and idle, unable to work for the salvation of souls, to be able to offer the pains and the patience required by them as a prayer for the world.On this Feast Day of St. Francis, an antiphon from the Divine Office said, "Francis left this earth a poor and lowly man; he enters heaven rich in God’s favor, greeted with songs of rejoicing." The same could be said of Fr. Benedict Groeschel. There is little doubt in my mind that he is now rejoicing in heaven with his good friend, Mother Teresa, and Father Solanus Casey, whom he also knew, and St. Francis himself.
You have to be careful with suffering. One has to be careful not to enjoy it, or focus on it, or expand it too much. Then suffering becomes the goal. The goal is not suffering; the goal is loving patience, offered to God as best one can. And the humility to admit that we don’t do this very well. One of the things I learned from my illness is that over and over again we have to tell God that we really trust Him. Trusting in God is not one action; it’s an ongoing way of life.
Pray for us, Father Groeschel. We need it.
|Well done, good and faithful servant.|