“It was a beautiful death.”

I just finished listening to this AFR piece about the life and death of Blessed Lynette Hoppe.  I first heard about Lynette when the Illumined Heart podcast interviewed Fr. Pat Reardon about intercessory prayer, and Fr. Pat calmly mentioned Lynette as a Saint.  He was convinced that soon miracles will be attributed to her and that she will fit the requirements for canonization.  I knew nothing about her, but since I take Fr. Pat seriously I was very interested.

Now I know more.  In an interview with John Maddex, Fr. Luke Veronis talks about the life and death of his friend Lynette and the book about her story.

Lynette died at the age of 42 of cancer.  She and her husband had converted to Orthodoxy from Protestantism; initially dragging their feet due to a fear that Orthodoxy would not accommodate their vocations to be missionaries.  Shortly after their entrance into the Church they were led to serve in Albania, where Lynette became one the most appreciated of Archbishop Anastasios’ missionaries.  The story is very powerful because Christ could be seen in both Lynette and her husband Nathan during the end of her life.

At the funeral when people went to give their condolances to Nathan he greeted them with “Rejoice! Christ is risen!” Those at her side during the darkest moments of her illness and death were amazed – not at the pain – but at the beauty of the whole thing. 

This Paschal season is a time to realize that of all men we are most blessed because Christ really rose from the dead.  The Bridegroom is among us: so we don’t fast, kneel,  or prostrate.  Lynette’s life and death remind us that living the Christian life is always preparation for death, and that we can look forward to meet our maker with joy, and not mere terror.  Christ is risen, as the icon at her grave-side witnessed.

While Lynette’s story isn’t filled with intrigue and suspense, it is filled with love and hope.  It isn’t always this way.

I couldn’t help but compare the recent death of a man I knew who also died from cancer.  As a teen and young adult I had the utmost respect for this man.  He was naturally one of the nicest and most personable people on the face of the earth, he was smart, and he was sincerely religious.   Then he left his family.

I am still dear friends with his children, and remember the cold acceptance in my dear friends voice as she told me about the time just before he died that he finally had all his children together.  It had been years since this had happened, and he had torn their lives to shreds – emotionally, socially, and financially.   Part of my friend expected a mea culpa, or some small final move towards reconciliation. 

All he said:  I’m leaving everything I own to my new wife and her family.  Please don’t all come at once again; it’s too stressful for me in this state.

Their mom – his previous wife of 20+ years – didn’t come to the funeral at the kids behest.  There was no closure, there was no joy.  There was no Christ in that death.  Death was stinging away: it even reached my thousands of miles away.

Blessed Lynette’s death was a monumental event for the world.  Death had no hold there, there was no chance of victory.  Christ is risen, what shall we fear?  Christ is risen, why shall I mourn?  Christ is risen, if this seed must fall into the earth for fruit to come forth, so be it.

Lynette Hoppe, wife and mother, lover of Christ and missionary to the needy – pray for us.

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