While reflecting on Jesuit Marko Rupnik’s mosaic for a while now, I couldn’t help but think of Bette.
Bette McNiff, my very good friend, is dying. As she puts it, “I’m ready for the golden ticket, anytime the good Lord decides.” Acceptance and surrender is at the core of her life. When asked the secret of how she is dealing with her cancer with so much equanimity, now in month sixteen after having been given three months to live, Bette says “faith and trust in God and an Irish sense of humor.”
That attitude of faith and trust marks the person Bette has become at age 83. It’s given her courage, confidence and an interior freedom which so many people find inviting. From her family and friends, to her apartment building neighbors, to her hospice care workers and to the specialists who have treated her, Bette’s love of God and others has enabled her evangelizing spirit to continue, now even from her very weakness.
Father Rupnik’s icon is so evocative and moving. Bette might be seen in Mary cupping her hand in reverent tenderness to catch the blood and water flowing from Jesus’s side, as only a mother could do. Bette has that kind of relationship with Christ. But she could also be seen in Christ on the cross, whose death and resurrection brought to perfection a life lived “on account of others.” Bette’s spiritual capacity to accept and surrender everything, to welcome and to let go, is her hallmark.
Liturgically, every Friday, and indeed every First Friday is meant to remind and join us to Christ’s passion, which the icon presents so beautifully. And a life lived with passion is also an apt descriptor of this beautiful daughter of God, Elizabeth Ann McNiff. May she continue to lean into the One who is love itself, and may we join her.
Reflection by Paul Parker, Sacred Heart Spirituality Chair, Carrollton
Mosaic by Marko Rupnik, SJ