There was an elderly man named Simeon.   The Holy Spirit told him that he would not see death until he  set his eyes on Christ .  When Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple, Simeon took the child in his arms and blest God  saying : 

Now, Master, dismiss your servant in peace.   You have fulfilled your promise.  My own eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all peoples.

For the past 40 years I have prayed these words of Simeon nearly every night before going to bed.  Ten years ago  Gretchen Weber, a good friend and gifted calligrapher, inscribed these words in a gift she gave me for the anniversary of my ordination.  She artistically intertwined the English “dismiss your servant” and the Latin “nunc dimittis”.  Her calligraphy is almost as beautiful as the prayer itself.

After discovering last week that the cancer was again growing and that the end of my life was much closer, this daily prayer took on an immediacy of meaning.   I have seen the Lord working through YOUR prayers and support.  Salvation has been made manifest in the prayerful assembly of God’s holy people.   I am now ready to be dismissed from this life in peace.   I am prepared, for my eyes have seen the salvation promised us all. 

I have donated Gretchen Weber’s calligraphy to Saint Thomas Aquinas.    Having been an important part of my prayer  and spiritual life, I now want it to be a source of inspiration and spiritual growth for others.   It will be placed for auction with “Making A World of Difference”.   Thus it spiritually benefits some locally while providing financial assistance to the parish in its outreach to others in need. 

As I head down  this final leg of the journey I pray also the final verse of Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Sun:

 Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of you;
through those who endure sickness and trial.

Happy those who endure in peace,
for by you, Most High, they will be crowned.

Be praised, my Lord, through our Sister Death,
from whose embrace no living person can escape.
Happy those she finds doing your holy will.

Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks,
and serve him with great humility.

With your support, love and prayers, I trust that I will be able to continue to do God’s holy will, humbly welcoming & embracing Sister Death.   Join with me in praising, blessing and giving thanks to the Lord.

Rev. Ev Hemann


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