The Watchman

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Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour. – Matthew 25:13

It wasn’t unusual for John and I to let some months pass without talking.  Ours is a friendship – a brotherhood – that aged with distinction for more than twenty-five years. There was an unspoken trust between us – a silent assuredness – that we would always be there to catch up, to pick up, and prayerfully hold one another up at any time and in any season.

John phoned me early in the morning in midsummer. The loud, digital ringing startled me though I wasn’t fully awake. He was calling to thank me for a package I sent him and, realizing I was still in bed, we agreed to talk later that day. Later came and passed into weeks before I would leave John a message reminding him to call me when he had the chance.

“We’re waiting for the White Bus, John.”

John rarely called when he said he would and he always called when you least expected to hear from him.  The last time I saw John was in a dream the morning of November 21.

We were standing at a bus stop on the corner of a very busy downtown city street. John appeared as remarkably fit as he was in his running days of our military service long before he was diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome and debilitating depression. These infirmities were the vertical and horizontal beams of a cross of unbearable weight and unimaginable suffering that John carried with Christ-like courage and perseverance for nearly twenty years.

The Watchman

In my dream, John and I were standing side by side amid a large crowd as we watched a line of small yellow buses drive past. The last words I said before waking up were, “We’re waiting for the white bus, John.”  

I can’t explain why, after this dream, I was certain that any attempt to contact John would be futile. That morning, with much trepidation, I typed John’s full name and city of residence into the Google search engine. The obituary, published in the Courier Express on July 31, 2013, confirmed what I already knew in my heart.

John…52…died Saturday, July 27, 2013, at his residence.

A Life Fulfilled in Redemptive Suffering

But we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. – 2 Corinthians 4: 7-11

The Church teaches that no suffering – physical, spiritual, emotional, mild or severe – is meaningless, but rather, has supernatural power when united to the Cross of Christ. This, in a nutshell, is the theology of Redemptive Suffering.

…By his passion and death on the cross Christ has given a new meaning to suffering: it can henceforth configure us to him and unite us with his redemptive Passion.Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1505

A Knight at the Foot of the Cross

Prayer can rise from our hearts like the light that rises from a silent flame, but which illuminates all around. – St. Maximilian Kolbe

As a member of His Mystical Body, the Church, John lived his baptismal union with the life, death and resurrection of Christ and he understood the redemptive value of the slightest suffering united to the Cross.

Many years ago, I encouraged John to consecrate himself to Jesus through Mary in the Militia of the Immaculata (MI) as a Knight at the Foot of the Cross. I would frequently request John’s prayer on behalf of my family and others who were suffering. On occasion when John’s cross was just too heavy, he would call or email me and humbly request the intercessory prayers of his brothers and sisters of the MI Youth and Young Adults.

John always responded to the needs of others with his entire being. He would not only offer up his suffering, but he would offer up the graces he would receive in Holy Communion or in his many hours of Eucharistic adoration.

I knew John very well. I personally believe that countless hearts received the illuminating grace of conversion, human suffering was alleviated around the world, prayers were answered and souls in purgatory were relieved and released by the offering of John’s suffering and prayer. Such is the mystical power of our suffering united with Christ’s redemptive Passion.

Lonely But Not Alone or Abandoned

Having lived the majority of his life alone, not even the pain of loneliness was squandered by John in useless misery or worthless self-pity.

Although he never married, John joyfully claimed as his own the Immaculate Heart of Mary – the Mother of God – the most beautiful woman ever created.

At the End of the Day

It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. – Luke 12:37

Well done, John.

Well done, good and faithful servant.

Well done, most vigilant watchman.

All things considered, even though I awoke from my dream before the white bus arrived, I’m confident that John boarded with a ticket to Paradise.

Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him. – James 1:12-18

John D. Myrter Jr.

Feb. 18, 1961 – July 27, 2013

+JMJ+

What suffering can you unite to the Passion of Christ for the benefit of others? Is there someone in your life who would be blessed by a call and a prayer today?

Copyright 2014 Brian K. Kravec

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About Author

Brian is cradle Catholic, husband and father. He is a 4th degree member of the Knights of Columbus. Brian and his wife are consecrated members of the Militia Immaculata, a worldwide evangelization movement founded by St. Maximilian Kolbe in 1917 that encourages total consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary as a means of spiritual renewal for individuals and society. For information on the MI and total consecration visit www.consecration.com.

14 Comments

  1. Thank you for the article. It enabled me to get to know my cousin, who I haven’t seen since I was a young child due to distance and age differences. My bible study group recently studied redemptive suffering, and I shared this article with them. I wish I had known John better (we were Facebook friends at the end), and I wish I could have seen his faith in action. My father, his uncle, passed away three years ago after a long illness and I know they are enjoying heaven together.

    • Brian K Kravec on

      Dear Mary – Thank you for your response. The beauty of John’s life will continue to unfold in the hearts of all those who love him. God bless you!

  2. Because RSD is so little known, it was often difficult to convey the depth of John’s suffering to others, but you were able to capture that in your beautiful tribute to John, Brian. I never once heard John ask “why”, but instead he would explain his understanding of the value of his suffering in terms of Redemptive Suffering. Thank you, Brian, for your caring, loyal friendship to our son.

    • Brian K Kravec on

      Dear Loretta – Your dear son’s light shines brighter now in eternal life with God and in communion with all the saints and angels. John’s love for each of us lives on in eternity with Love Himself! God bless you and all of us who miss him so much!

  3. A beautiful tribute to your dear friend, Brian. Thank you for sharing this! It’s so admirable and inspiring to hear about John’s faith in the Cross, in the redemptive power of suffering. It is the most difficult vocation, I believe, to be a victim soul — to give so much for other souls, for sinners, for the work of the Kingdom of God — with one’s suffering, and no question, it is the noblest vocation. Heaven has gained much.

  4. Thank you so much, Brian, for this tribute of our son. I have lost both of my parents and my brother, but this has been so much more difficult. God bless you.

  5. Maria's Nichols on

    I was deeply touched by this. Thank you so much for sharing this. It is definitely one I will remember! – wonder if the white bus serves cocktails? God bless!

    • Brian K Kravec on

      Dear Mr Myrter – John loved you very much! You were a good and loving father! May God console your heart and your family and may you come to celebrate John’s life as the gift you are learning it truly is!

  6. Dear Brian, I’ve learned to embrace the mystery of “loss” with the understanding I was blessed to experience the person’s soul at earth’s school because they volunteered it. When they depart, they also do so voluntarily as their soul is going Home. A journey completed. “Loss” then shifts and becomes replaced by feelings of comfort and joy. Where else would I want my loved one? Thank you for sharing your dear friend’s rich, full journey of service Brian. His crown shines no matter how thick and dark the clouds may seem.

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