Old people do weird things. At least in my case, I like to look at the obituaries on my St. Meinrad Alumni website. http://www.saintmeinrad.edu It beats watching the plastic flowers grow in my office.
This may be morbid, but I like to look up those who have passed from this life to the next one and see their accomplishments. Obituaries are all about touting what the deceased has done in their lifetime, but rarely, if ever, looks at their life as having ups and downs.
Reflecting on my Lectio Divina today, my own life came into thoughts and what my obituary would look like. Not one that was written by someone else, read and then forgotten, but one that I wrote and reflects what really was at the core of my life that I want to pass on to my loved ones, you. Here it is, unorthodox as it may be.
OBITUARY OF MICHAEL F. CONRAD
If you are reading this, it means I have died. More correctly, my body is no more, but my life has changed, not ended, and I continue it in Heaven if I am judged to be worthy.
As the world sees it, I have been a complete failure in terms of success and accomplishment. As a management trainer, I never rose above the level of instructor, although I applied to be a manager over twenty-one times. I was not good enough, or, if truth be told, I was probably deemed too old. I never made a lot of money, although I earned more than my dad did, and he was a public school teacher and coach. I spent sixteen years as a Catholic priest, pastor, teacher, and US Army Chaplain but left to seek greener pastures. I found out that the pastures I sought were greener because more manure was on that side of the fence. It seems that everything I tried to do was a failure. To be honest, my life is not a complete waste except in the measurements of the world. I have been accepted by God as an adopted son of the Father on September 29, 1940, and have been given gifts to help me service the journey to forever. Along the way, I was ordained a Roman Catholic Priest and became a pastor, US Army Chaplain. I was Laicized by Pope Benedict XVI and petitioned and was accepted as a Lay Cistercian by Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery (Trappist). I wrote 65+ books on contemplative spirituality (www.amazon.com/books and type in A Lay Cistercian’s Lectio Divina Series) plus a blog on contemplative practices, more specifically Cistercian spirituality as I know it (https://thecenterforcontemplativepractice.org)
Along the way, I have unraveled the divine equation, the six questions each of us must ask and answer before we die. The questions come from my ability to reason and the choices I make for what is authentic about reality. If I get the correct answers, I can fulfill my potential as a human and an adopted son of the Father. I have discovered that Christ alone has the answers to these six questions. Nothing is secret about them. In fact, they are always right in front of my face all along. I just did not see them. They are:
What is the purpose of life? Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:36
What is the purpose of my life within that life? Philippians 2:5
What does reality look like? The physical universe, the mental universe, and the spiritual universe
How does it all fit together? The Christ Principle is the answer. John 12:32
How can I love fiercely? John 13:34
You know you are going to die, now what? Seek first the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 6:33
I leave behind my treasures, a wife, Young Soon Conrad, a daughter, Martha Michelle Conrad, plus one brother and four sisters. My parents have gone before me, marked with the sign of Faith (the cross), and await me. I take with me the treasures that are God’s, not mine. My last words are Psalm 27. Praise to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages. Amen and Amen. –Cistercian doxology