IMG 0262A few weeks ago at the Shrine, we held a funeral for a man by the name of David Sanjurjo. It being a random Wednesday at work, I had not come into the office prepared for a funeral. As part of our Lazarus ministry here at the Shrine, we offer funeral services and proper burials to homeless people who have died alone or without any next of kin. This ministry is one of our most interesting outreach programs, and to me, it had seemed like a really unique and inspiring way to give back to the community. Society often overlooks and pushes aside the homeless, not being aware or sensitive to the fact that they too deserve human dignity and respect, especially in death. On this particular day, while I hadn’t anticipated the funeral service, I felt compelled to attend the service, though I was not required to.

The Mass was celebrated by Fr. Barry Langley, O.F.M., and his homily discussed the common ideology of God’s omnipresence in our lives; the notion that, whether or not we are looking, we can often find God in unexpected places in our lives. I was raised Catholic and was taught many different ideologies and beliefs about God growing up, yet this idea that God is always present, is one that I have always kept in my heart. I truly believe that God shows us the way when we face struggles, and that he gives us signs when we need them.

In my own life, I have always had a fascination with sunsets. Each night in high school, I would walk down to the beach near my house and watch the sunset, no matter the season. I never ever missed a sunset. These days my life is a bit busier and while I cannot always catch the sunset, I find that on my hardest days, God delivers a more beautiful sunset than usual, and I always happen to have a moment to enjoy it. In my mind, it is a tiny sign that I am not alone and that things will get better through faith in God.

It’s interesting to me that on this particular day, I didn’t plan on attending the Mass. We had been instructed to greet the arriving constituents but not required to sit through the Mass, and I hadn’t wanted to. But as it was about to begin, I felt the desire to stay for the service. Little did I know that the message offered by Fr. Barry would be so relevant to my life that week, and so refreshing to hear. Similar to the mission of the Lazarus ministry – to make sure that no one is alone – I felt on that day that I was surrounded by so much hope and love, in my relationship with God and within the Shrine community.

Written by Kathryn Chaney; a rising Senior at Boston College.