Rose in His Garden — Funeral for Rose “Rosie” Schindler, 90

After seeing ninety-one falls and ninety springs, Rosie has come to her funeral day. Today we pray for her soul with our greatest prayer, the Mass, that Rosie may rise to glory. A full Christian life like Rosie’s, married sixty-seven years, bearing five children, ten grandchildren and fifteen great-grandchildren, cannot be fully captured in one brief homily. But by taking one aspect of her life and holding it up in the light of Christ, we can see truths about her and God and us.

Rosie has many interests and loves, the farmstead, this parish, her family, her friends, but her hobby of first note was gardening. I’m told that Rosie had a huge garden and loved her flowers. She delighted in her plants, the beauty of their flowering, in the goodness of their fruits: raspberries, strawberries, blue berries, and blackberries: even crab-apples had their pleasing place for her. It is hard work to cultivate a garden well, but she rejoiced in her results.

Now something Rosie could have done, had she preferred it, would have been to raise just a single plant; but she wanted more than just one. Or, Rosie could have chosen to grow only one variety of plant in her huge garden; a mass of plants all uniform, every one the same. But what gardener does this? Raising just a single plant, or having just one breed of plant, is not what God does either in the garden of this world. Listen to these words of “the Little Flower,” St. Therese of Lisieux, about the divine gardener’s design:

“Our Lord showed me the book of nature, and I understood that every flower created by him is beautiful, that the brilliance of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not lessen the perfume of the violet or the sweet simplicity of the daisy. I understood that if all the lowly flowers wished to be roses, nature would lose it’s springtime beauty and the fields would no longer be enameled with lovely hues.”

God the Father did not plant his Son into the world to raise him up alone. God plants and tends and grows verities of people with Jesus. Jesus possessed the fullness of the beatitudes in their beauty, while we (in greater or lesser measure) bear blossoms and fruits of humility, mercy, purity, & sacrifice.

But what if I am struggling to live and grow because I’m not planted in his good soil? What if my behaviors are choking off the life of my neighbors in the garden? What if I am unfruitful because I have refused to be pruned? What if I am in danger of one day being uprooted as a weed? Then I must allow myself to be replanted and pruned by Jesus through his sacraments and through my choices, cooperating with the divine gardener, growing day-by-day, until my fall and harvest comes.

Look at these flowers donated for Rosie’s funeral. They have a variety of colors and flower types and the church is more beautiful for their uniqueness and diversity. Likewise, there is a is place for each of us in this church. Today we mourn yet rejoice in a beautiful Rose. May this day cause you and me to live in Christ, grow and blossom in our Lord, and bear sweet fruits in him as well.

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