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When God Comes Calling

Updated: Mar 21

by Fr. Jonathan Atchley

I cannot recall the professor’s name at CSULB who brought us together to teach a semester in social studies for 4th/5th graders, but I am grateful for that accidental sufficiency for obtaining a credential which introduced me to my lifelong friend, Rob Hull. And now, as Rob lies on what I surmise to be his deathbed, I continue to surrender him to the Lord with commendations and exhortative sighs: save him, Jesus! Have mercy on us all!

Rob was—is, as he lives, quite knowledgeable, but also humble about the affair of knowing a great deal about many things. We started going to dinner on Friday evenings after our brief time together in the teacher credential program. Rob talked me through the process of passing the formidable MSAT test, a battery of essay questions that weeds out prospective students from acceptable state qualified teachers. I was delighted in having him carry the preponderance of our evening conversations, peppering him with questions to find he always had something more to say on a particular subject. Even more surprising to me was that Rob enjoyed meeting up, as he continued to keep in contact over the years.

Now he lies helpless in the ICU at St. Mary’s hospital in Long Beach, his head warm, hands cold, intubated, eyes open and unblinking, at death’s door. How God reduces the mighty, even the humble who are already reduced, that He might exalt us afterwards. A good priest friend gave Rob the last rites and conditional absolution, even though Rob never quite could overcome the last step of converting to Catholicism. Yet I am convinced that in his ongoing fascination with the Faith, he would have willingly submitted in spite of his personal doubts or reservations which we never discussed.

There’s not much I can say at the moment about Rob, other than that the people I introduced him to were open and receptive to him as I was. And now he goes before me, as so many other friends have done, reminding me of that great and terrible day when God comes calling. For that day I have been preparing with my daily recitation of St. Bridget of Sweden’s prayers, asking the Lord to apply them a bit early for I am only a third of the year into them and Rob is not really a relative, though he felt as familiar as any family member.

“Through this [your] bitter Passion and through the outpouring of Thy Precious Blood, I beg of Thee, O Sweet Jesus, to receive his soul when he is in his death agony. Amen.”

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Feb 11

Following up on this blog, I attended my friend's funeral yesterday. It was a terrible experience.

The priest was tyrannical with the students (it happened to be a school mass as well).  He had the students shouting out their responses, at the top of their voices, literally shouting, stopping mass several times throughout like he couldn't hear them and having them shout their responses even louder.  The alleluia at the Gospel was a full-on affair sung repeatedly about half a dozen times, "Ally ally ally, ally ally, alleloo-ooya"  again and again, and then he started singing it again after the gospel, waving his hands the while like a band leader, shuffling back and forth with rhythm.  Same thing for…

Feb 11
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I'm so sorry to hear that it was a bad experience. I hope you can take away from it that it is only a moment to say goodbye with his family and other friends in order that they can rest assured that he had touched others lives as well as their own. Also when someone passes it can cause some to feel quite alone and having the chance to see other pay their respects can remind us that we are never truly alone.

God Bless and keep your friend and may he place peace upon the heart of his friends and family.

Prayers sent with love and peace from your CatholicismRocks family.

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