My name is Lily.
It's very nice to meet you in this way. I would like to tell you about my name. On the day I was born it was an Easter Sunday. That is why my dad and mom named me Lily. My grandpa used to always called me "his little Easter Lily." I loved Grandpa so much! He had a white beard that used to tickled me when he kissed me and he always smelled like peppermint Lifesavers.
My grandpa died last year right after I made my First Holy Communion. He was too sick to come to my First Holy Communion Mass. He wanted me to come visit him right afterwards so he could hug me real tight and ask Jesus in my heart to bless him so he would have a happy journey to Heaven when he died.
I didn't like it when my Grandpa talked about dying. I didn't want him to die! I would put my arms around his neck and cry, "Grandpa, don't go! I don't want you to die!" And he would pat my head and say, "Oh, my little Easter Lily, don't you want Grandpa to be happy with Jesus and Mary in Heaven?" Then he would sigh and say, "It is going to be so wonderful. Pray for Grandpa. Pray that I will have a happy death. Don't forget to ask Saint Joseph to take good care of your grandpa." Then sometimes he would start to cry and tell me about Grandma. I never met my grandma. She died right before I was born. But Grandpa showed me lots of pictures of her when they were young. She was beautiful. He would say over and over again, "Your dear grandma was a real Saint." He said she is watching over us now and praying for us until we can all be happy together in Heaven!
When my Grandpa died, it was the saddest day of my life. I cried and cried. Before he died he told me to be happy because he was happy! He said that Jesus gave him a lot of peace to die because, by God's grace, he had tried to be the very best husband and the very best father he could be. He told me that from the day he married Grandma he always prayed to Saint Joseph and asked him for his help.
He told me that I must always say my Rosary decade everyday and ask Blessed Mother to take good care of me. He told me I must love Jesus with all my heart and kiss the little Crucifix he gave me often. He said that I must always obey my mom and dad the first time and to say "I'm sorry" right away to Jesus whenever I did anything wrong. But he said the most important thing is to go to Mass and receive Jesus into my heart in Holy Communion as often as I could. He said if I do that then Jesus will help me to be one of His dearest friends. Then when Jesus thinks I'm ready, He'll snatch me away and bring me to Heaven and that Grandpa will be the first one there to greet me!
So I tried to remember all this and to be happy. But I wasn't. Every day I cried. One week. Two weeks. Three weeks. Four weeks later. And I was still so sad. Then one Saturday morning my dad and mom said we were going out to a restaurant to eat lunch. After lunch we made a stop at our Church to see how our pastor, Father Edwards, was doing. My dad is a leader in the Knights of Columbus at our Church and he wanted to give something to Father Edwards from the Knights.
When we got to the rectory, Father invited us in. We sat in his living room to talk. At one point we started talking about Grandpa. Father Edwards was the priest at Grandpa's funeral Mass. He would come and visit Grandpa often and bring Him Jesus in Holy Communion when Grandpa was sick. When we started talking about Grandpa I suddenly just started to cry. And then before I had time to really think about what I was saying I blurted out, "Father, what really happens to our bodies when we die? Grandpa said he is going to be with Jesus and he was really happy to die. But when I think about my grandpa buried in the earth at the cemetery it makes me really sad and actually scared."
Before I tell you what Father said I want to tell you that Father Edwards is really good and very smart. When Grandpa and I would talk I remember he said to me once, "That Father Edwards, he's a really bright and holy priest!" I knew I could trust Father and that he would tell me the truth.
And what Father Edwards told me that day is what I want everyone who reads my Catholic Kids 101 page to know because I think it is really important!
Father Edwards explained that when God made man he made us in His image and likeness. God took some dust from the earth and made man out of it. Then God breathed into man and he became alive! It was a soul that God breathed into man. It was the soul that made the body become alive! That soul in man is like God Himself.
Then Father took out a notebook and wrote this:
GOD = IS A SPIRIT
WILL LIVE FOREVER
SOUL = IS A SPIRIT
WILL LIVE FOREVER
Then he told me that when Grandpa died his soul separated from his body. That is why his body has no life in it anymore. His soul went to where Jesus is in Heaven. Father said that Jesus is substantially present in two places: in Heaven and in the Holy Eucharist.
He said when a person dies their soul appears before Jesus but their body, little by little, returns to the dust from which God made us. He reminded me about Ash Wednesday and how he puts ashes on our heads as a symbol that one day our bodies will turn back to dust. Then Father asked me, "Do you remember the part in the Apostles Creed when we say 'I believe in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting?'" I nodded. He said that at the end of the world our body will rise again! He explained that the bodies of all people will rise from the earth and be united back to our souls never again to be separated!
Then he wrote on his notebook again. He said a good way to remember what happens at death is to think about it like this:
BODY - SOUL
DEATH EQUALS BODY MINUS SOUL
A good way to remember what will happen at the end of the world is to think of this:
BODY + SOUL
RESURRECTION EQUALS BODY PLUS SOUL
He said after we die, Jesus will reward us or punish us according to the way we have lived. When we appear before Jesus it doesn't matter how much money we have or how smart we are. Jesus will look at how we have lived. Father explained that if we have lived right, following God's commands of loving Him and our neighbor, then all will be well. Those who have believed in Jesus as Savior and followed His commands, His true friends, will not be afraid to be examined by Him. Even people who have done really, really bad things in their lives but then were sorry and turned to Jesus and followed Him, they won't have to be afraid. Jesus has forgiven them.
Father said that everything depends on how our soul is when we die.
He explained that there are three possible places where a person will end up right after they die and meet Jesus.
HEAVEN - Someone who dies in the state of grace and has done penance for their sins will go straight to Heaven!
PURGATORY - Someone who dies in the state of grace but still needs to do penance for their sins and is still attached to them will go to Purgatory to be purified until they are ready to enter Heaven.
Father asked if I remembered the story about this from when I studied for my First Confession. I told him I think it's the one about the boy who wasn't supposed to play ball in the house but he disobeyed. His ball hit a beautiful glass vase that was a special wedding gift to his parents. It fell on the floor and broke into many pieces. The boy told his dad and mom that he was very sorry for disobeying them and breaking their beautiful vase. They forgave their son. He wanted to show how sorry he was for disobeying them by doing what he could to fix the vase he had broken.
Father said that was exactly right. We go to Jesus and tell him we are truly sorry for our sins and He readily forgives us. But just like that broken vase, our sins have caused damage and that's why we do penance. When we go to the Sacrament of Confession the priest will give us a penance such as praying certain prayers.
Of course, if we have sinned in such a way that we can physically do something about it like giving back the money we have stolen, apologizing to the person we have hurt by our angry words or admitting to our teacher that we cheated on a test and don't deserve the "A" we received, then we need to do this too.
Some people have the wrong idea that they can keep sinning because Jesus died for our sins and everything is covered. That's a misunderstanding of what being saved by Jesus means. Jesus said He wants us to be perfect just like our Heavenly Father is perfect. He wants us to be loving and forgiving. He wants us to be Saints! We need to grow in holiness in order to become a Saint and that means saying "no" to our own selfish desires and becoming more and more like Jesus. It's not always easy. As a matter of fact, it can be a real tough battle at times. Jesus understands. He will give us all the help or graces we need. For our part, we need to cooperate with Him. Doing penance for our sins is part of the way we put those selfish desires to rest and repair the damage our sins have caused the Body of Christ.
HELL - Someone who dies in the state of mortal sin will go to Hell.
I told Father that I learned about mortal sin when I studied for First Confession but I asked if he could explain this kind of sin to me better. I told him about a friend of mine at school. She keeps thinking she is committing mortal sins. I know that she really loves Jesus! I keep telling her that her sins aren't big sins but she is always afraid. Father said my friend is suffering from something called "scruples." He told me to tell my friend that in order for sin to be mortal or deadly sin, there need to be 3 things. Then he picked up his pad of paper again and wrote:
This means that to commit or make a MORTAL SIN it must be something BIG, the person must KNOW what he or she is doing is wrong, and they must WANT to do it anyhow. Then he wrote:
M.S. = B + K + W
It's almost like:
If you cross out the 3 or the 2 or the 1 you will no longer have 6.
So if you cross out the B, the K, or the W, you will no longer have M.S. (Mortal Sin)
He asked me, "If your friend stole a quarter from your teacher's purse, would that be a mortal sin?"
I told him that it would be a sin but it's not a mortal sin because it wouldn't be big.
Then he asked, "If your friend forgot that it was a holy day of obligation for All Saints Day and she missed Mass, would that be a mortal sin?
I told him no because she didn't know.
Then Father told me that if she forgot then it would not be a sin at all.
Then he asked if my friend had an impure thought but did not want to have that bad thought, would it be a mortal sin?
I told him no because she didn't want to have it.
Then Father told me that if she did not want to have that thought at all, it would not be a sin at all. He said that if any of the three things are missing then it is not a mortal sin.
Then Father said that he believed Grandpa was a true friend of Jesus. He said we could pray for his soul in case there were still some small faults that needed to be purified but that I didn't have to worry about Grandpa. He told me that his grandpa died when he was in 5th grade and that he still misses him. He said he understood my sadness and that it would definitely get better. Then he told me that he would pray for me!
After that he asked me if I would like the notes from his notebook. I said, "Oh, yes, please!"
After we left the Rectory that day, I felt a lot better. Mom and Dad said that it's really important to talk about these things. Before we went back to the car to go home, we stopped in the Church and made a visit with Jesus. I thanked Jesus for the good talk with Father Edwards. Then I asked Him to bring Grandpa to Heaven real quick in case he was still in Purgatory. After that I went over by the statue of Saint Joseph and I lit a candle for Grandpa. Before he died, Grandpa had asked me to pray to Saint Joseph so that he would have a happy death. Grandpa explained to me that people ask Saint Joseph for his prayers because he died a happy death in the arms of Jesus and Mary.
After I lit my candle, I asked Saint Joseph to please somehow let me know that Grandpa was
happy in Heaven with him and Jesus and Mary and Grandma and all the Angels and Saints. Then Dad motioned to me that it was time to go home.
Later I asked Mom if she would help me remember everything that Father Edwards had told me. She said she would help me remember and we worked on it together. Thanks, Mom!
There is one more thing I want to tell you before I go. That Saturday afternoon when we got home, my parents decided to go through a box of my Grandpa's things that the hospice nurse had given them after he died. It had been so busy right after Grandpa died that now, a month later, they were finally getting to it. One of the things in the box was an envelope with my picture attached. On the front was written:
To my little Easter Lily
My heart was pounding when Dad handed it to me because I knew it was from Grandpa! I slowly opened it up. It was a beautiful card with a picture of Saint Joseph holding Jesus on the front. I opened the card and here is what was printed on the inside:
by Father Lord
Joseph was a poor carpenter of Nazareth.
Yet he came from the royal family of David.
And he was pure and good and hardworking.
God knew He could trust Joseph so He chose him for the most important task.
He became the husband of Mary and the foster father of Our Lord Jesus.
He protected Mary on the way to Bethlehem.
He was present on the first Christmas.
He led Mary and Jesus safely into Egypt when Herod was trying to kill the Child.
Later he worked for them. He made them a sweet little home.
He earned money to give them their food and clothing.
When Jesus was a big boy, Joseph taught Him the carpenter's trade.
Joseph did not live to see Jesus become famous.
Instead he died happily with Mary at his bedside and Jesus blessing him.
He will help us when we die, guiding us safely to Jesus and Mary in Heaven.
Don't be sad,
my little Easter Lily.
Be happy because I am!
I love you always,
Love your CK101 friend,