Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ester - R.I.P. : Her Journey to the Heavenly Jerusalem

To the family of Gian Franco and Cecilia: may God bless your daughter's soul in Heaven!~ ...La Pace di Cristo sia con voi!

..."Brothers, I am sending you a letter written by a couple who are itinerants in Piura and Chiclayo, two cities in the north of Peru. They are from Lima and have eight children, one of his daughters, Ester (18) died a few days before this Christmas of a stroke. The girl didn’t have any disease or anything, it was all of a sudden. The experience of how the parents lived these days – from the day of stroke until the day of burial – is impressive. Pray for them,

Dear brothers: the peace of the Lord, which is near, be with you. We want to tell you the ‘Passover’ experience that we had with our daughter, Ester. This ‘Passover’, I think, began 18 years ago, and I don’t exactly mean her birth (26/09/1992), but, after three months of being with us, Ester suffered a viral infection which no one can tell us what it really was. She spent three days on a stretcher in the emergency, and then 43 days in ICU. God at that time did not take her, it was not yet time, but with this first event, we were already given a Word, preparing us; as when Jesus was lost for three days and was found in the temple, He would also be three days in the Tomb. Ceci told me that at that time she had asked the Lord for Ester not to die, because as a mother, she could not stand that moment. What she remembered of this sickness were the constant diapers changing because of the continuous diarrhea, a fact that stuck to our memory and that now we understand why.

Five weeks ago I started in the evenings to prepare the catechesis of the Novísimos (the part of theology that talks about the “ultimate things” ie death, judgment, purgatory, heaven, hell) on the dining room table, a place of dialogue with the kids at home. For three days, the dialogue was all about death, judgment, hell and glory. For Ester, she was struck by the characteristics of the glorious bodies, especially on ‘agility’, which is normal because she was like that. After university, on her way back, she would visit two or three houses of brothers who were going through a crisis.
This Catechesis was prepared for us. Ceci told me that she now understood that, one of the reasons the Novísimos were delayed 4 years as the theme for the annual convivence, was Ester. On Friday the 17th, the children finished their schooling, in the afternoon we prepared our luggage to leave early the next day for Lima. Ester sat for the last two tests that day at the university, and finished the first year of psychology without any setback. With already all the bags packed, and at approximately 10:10 p.m. God began what would become the Passover of our daughter. Still sitting on the couch in the second floor of the house, surrounded by her sisters and her mother, she began to twist and then fell on the couch, lost consciousness, and started to vomit. She had a stroke. We brought her to a hospital, and due to its seriousness, she was moved to a higher level. The doctor was sincere from the beginning and told us that it was something extremely serious.

There began the inner fight. I am convinced that there are special demons that are unleashed from hell to attack men and to destroy them in these times of pain, but I am more convinced that all of them are subjected under the feet of Him that is seated on the right hand of the Father. I wondered: How is it possible to live these events without faith, without the prayer of the Church, without catechists, without a community? Really, the demon’s attacks had been terrible, trying to convince us of the opposite of God’s love. Now I understood in a more profound way, why in front of so much pain, the demons carried so many people into despair, and then to suicide.
It was at this time that God sent his angels to sustain us, several brothers who helped us in the procedures, and economically.

I told Ceci to go home to try to rest, to take the next day’s shift. It was 2:00 am on Saturday the 18th. Father Romulo Jibaja did the Anointing of the Sick. Before going home, Ceci helped to change and to clean Ester. She had to put on pampers because she was incontinent. It was at this moment that she understood that her petition that God had granted 18 years ago has arrived to its completion.

I was accompanied by three brothers, Sebastian (family in mission), Felix and Luz (Ester’s responsibles). At 3:00 am, I was allowed to see her. I opened the gospel at random and received the cure on a Saturday of the man with the withered hand. My sentiments became mixed. I would love to believe that she would heal, but the announcement is clear: the hour has come. With the help of the three brothers, I prayed the whole night.

Ceci returned at 8:00 am. At 9:00 am, they decided to put a drain on her to decompress the brain. At this moment we were sustained by the prayers of hundreds of brothers. Various convents were also praying: Peru (Ayacucho, Piura and Chiclayo). My brother Carlos was in an annual convivence at Ica. The Novisimos were being made flesh.

The following hours were spent hoping and praying. The drain helped little. Ceci and I met at 2:15 pm, again to change shift. Ester moved to the 5th floor of the hospital, and after the intervention, Ceci went home and I was left with Jesus (another family in mission).

At 3:00 pm, her heart stopped, but she managed to recover. However she was declared brain-dead. I called Ceci to come with all the brothers to say goodbye. The demons were attacking and I went with Jesus to the chapel and started to cry. Jesus sustained me and we prayed intensely and peace came back. I went back up to be with Ester and said out loud the words of the Mother of the Macabbeus martyrs: “I do not know how you appeared nor how you were formed inside the womb of your mother, I did not give you life. The One who gave it to you is now calling you. Return to God my daughter. Do not be afraid!” All this was done out loud in the ICU, I knew that the people around me were left perplexed.

Cecilia came with our children and some 30 brothers, who were taking turns one after another to pray and to say goodbye to Ester. They were all brothers and priests of the mission at Piura. At 5:00 pm, everyone went home, leaving Ceci and I. The demons did his last attack on the body of Ester. The doctor and the nurses, in an insisting and insolent manner, asked that we accept to donate her organs. In front of our negative response, they became angry and told us that they would not assist her anymore in the case of another cardiac arrest. The nurses also attacked threatening to do an autopsy on her if and if. The truth is that behind all these, is money. Depending on the type of organ, thousands of dollars can come out of this traffic. It is not as the doctor said: love towards those in need, or to prolong the life of others. The truth is that they wish to enrich themselves at the cost of the circumstances.

It went on like this for 3 hours until at the change of shift at 8:00 pm. In the midst of pain, I faced the doctor on duty and after a word with her, stopped them from insisting on the issue anymore. From that moment onwards, in front of the power of God, the demons retreated. The Hour was approaching. We offered our suffering for the conversion of Chiclayo and Piura, the return of the brothers and evangelization in general. Again, I asked myself, how could people live through these moments before death, alone and without any hope of transcendence?

I prayed then, that no brother or any relative be abandoned, or be left alone at their time of death, no effort be spared to do so.

At 8:30 pm, our two children Raquel and Josue arrived from Lima; 15 minutes later the others arrived: Efraim, Noemi, Debora, Andrea and Miriam who were from the Eucharist. At 9:00 pm, Ester’s heart stopped.

The nine of us were at her side, we proclaimed the four Gospels of the Resurrection, we sang the psalms, we were all holding her hands and feet and giving her words of encouragement to be with the Father, and we cried. The last Gospel taken at random was about Jesus Christ walking on the water, “It is I. Courage. Do not be afraid. I am not a ghost”. Ester’s soul has separated from her body and was in the presence of the Lord. The first person I called was Jose Luis from Palacio so that he would tell the others.

At 11:30 pm, we celebrated the Office of the Dead at the Neocatechumenal Center. It was very clear from the beginning that it was an opportune time to announce Jesus Christ victor over death. That night, the first thing I said was that the catechists suffer too, like all other people, that is to say, we feel the same, but it is faith that sustains us. Also, I talked about the importance of chastity, of virginity, of purity for the glory of God, as seen in Ester.

She had a big influence among the youth (college, university, community) and I encouraged them to remain in this state and to experiece the happiness that my daughter had, that came from the Lord. Everyone took the opportunity to announce the Gospel. The next day, my brothers of the flesh and from the community came, some in the morning and some in the afternoon. During the morning prayers, my brother Riccardo broke the word and announced Jesus Christ. At noon, the Archbishop of Piura came to do the Office of the Dead, giving a very opportune word. We celebrated the Eucharist at 6:00 pm and at 9:30 pm, the evening prayers. All the time, we had brothers who accompanied us with songs and prayers.

On Monday the 20th, the day of the burial, we celebrated the morning prayers at 10:00 am, my brother Carlos announced this time the kerygma. I believe during all the prayers at different hours, approximately two thousand people came. At 2:00 pm, there was the final Eucharist held at her parish, Christ the King, assisted by approximately 80 brothers, 17 presbyters. It was really a spectacular celebration, worthy of the majesty as refered to in its (parish) name, and of which all sons of God are called to participate. At 4:00 pm, it was the burial. We were accompanied by some 400 brothers. The burial was blessed with water from Jordan. When the case was lowered into the tomb, we sang the Creed and we put on her some soil from the Mount of Ascension. Finally we danced: How many gifts has the Lord showered on us, Dayenu.

It is not normal that parents bury their children, but I understood that it was the same justice that He had to go through, in front of our sins to save us, and that if we have feelings what more God whose Son died and was buried.

I hope that this privilege that God has wished for my family will bear fruits of holiness in us, to renew our zeal to announce the Gospel.

I ask all of you to pray a lot for our family, because as you can see, the coming days are difficult and we are very weak.

To all, that you pass a Happy and Holy Christmas and we hope that this testimony helps in your conversion, and to appreciate the time that we have in this lifetime to convert. Ester was 18 years old, and I am convinced that she did not waste the time that God has given her and as parents we can confess that she had her luggage all ready to begin her journey to the heavenly Jerusalem."