He Rose Before Us — Funeral Homily for Roland “Rolle” Shadick, 85

Today St. Paul’s Parish offers our greatest prayer, the Holy Mass, for Rolle, one of our own. He is well-known and loved by you, and well-known and loved by our Lord. No brief funeral homily can present the fullness of a Christian life, but a Christian’s words and deeds, upon reflection, will reflect the person and life of Jesus Christ.

One of the things his children tell me is that Rolle worked really, really hard, first as a farmer, and then in other jobs, and helping others where he could well into his retirement. To support his wife and family, to do his good works, Rolle would wake up very, very early. He might wake up at 3 or 4 AM to milk the cows or bale some hay, or go out fishing on the lake and bring back his catch to feed his family for breakfast. Through the years, he would rouse his children from bed with a call: “Come to life, come to life!” A new day awaited them. Rolle was so busily active, he did so much, that his family would kid that he had undiagnosed ADHD. “Don’t look back,” he said, “always look ahead.” There is much for us to do in our days on earth.

Rolle knew we have just one life to live and that it is given us as a gift. So he gave faithful thanks to God the Giver, praying and praising Him at church and at home, and supporting the work of Christ’s Church for the salvation of souls. Rolle noted that he and his fellow farmers who did this were successful through God’s blessing. In his final years he reminded others, “It’s later than you think. It’s later than you think.” With this in mind, Rolle renewed his already strong commitment to connecting with his family — whom he apparently loved more than life itself. He did not catch any illness from the 65th wedding anniversary his family threw for him and Clara back in October, but Rolle said at that time, “You know what, if I die from Covid, this day was worth it.” After that joyful celebration were forty days until Rolle came to his final day, dying like our Savior on a Friday afternoon.

As I said before, a Christian’s words and deeds will reflect the person and life of Jesus Christ. Jesus has been hard at work in this world; tending his flock, laboring in his field, fishing for men’s souls. He died and rose before us. He calls out to rouse us from our sleep, “Come to life, come to life,” through conversion on this day and through resurrection on the Last Day. It is good to treasure our memories. It’s OK to mourn, to cry. But we must not, cannot, live in the past. “Don’t look back. Always look ahead,” because a great new day awaits, for you and me and Rolle, a family reunion in our Father’s house with Jesus Christ our risen Lord.

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