Indeed, his “reward
will be great in heaven” (Gospel). His “hope is full of immortality” (first
reading) and he is to be “united with him [Christ] in the resurrection” (second
reading). Indeed, happy will he be –Blessed”. He was “a staunch Catholic.” This theme emerges repeatedly when
people tell me Bob Schuster. From these comments and from my own experience of
Bob, I can say without doubt that Bob Schuster was a holy man, that he heard
and followed the “universal call to holiness” proclaimed in Vatican Council II.
Of what does holiness consist? His son
Steve told me that Bob put God first, family second and the means to support
them, third. We can conclude from this that this man led an extraordinarily
well-lived, holy life.
He was “a staunch Catholic,” Nancy said. “Very devout” another friend told me, a man who
said a rosary every day on his back porch. I knew him to be not only a regular
communicant (the easy part!), but also one who confessed his sins regularly. Regularly
he would walk into the reconciliation room on Saturday afternoon before the Vigil
Mass. He knew his faults.
Through these confessions, I came to know Bob
as a person of manly humility, a man who knew himself. Though his family told
me he could be “a headstrong German,” he was also patient and humble, long-suffering
and persevering, all attributes of holiness.
Holiness does not consist of being perfect. It does include self-knowledge, in both the
Christian and classic Greek sense. Socrates lived and Plato taught-the
admonition to “know thyself.” Bob knew himself.
Holiness surely consists in being steadfastly
devoted to God and to the things of God.
For Bob, the things of God meant his church and family and the values he
taught his family. Another friend told me that with Bob and Nancy everything
was family. His son Steve told me that his Dad taught them that happiness
consists not in money but in the love shared among family members.
He was also long-suffering and a good provider.
He supported his large family through all his days working for Corning Glass in
Harrodsburg, KY; Danville, Virginia; Corning, New York and even Brazil for a brief
period. I heard stories of camping and beach trips. As I listened to these
family stories, I could see that Bob embodied an emotional intelligence that he
gave to his family as a treasure, like the treasure hidden in the field or the
pearl of great price. As I think of Bob,
I am reminded of Shakespeare Julius
Caesar. Antony says of Brutus:
“The elements so
mixed in him, that Nature might stand up, and say to all the world, THIS WAS A
MAN!” (5.5.74). Indeed.
I know that you,
his family, grieve his absence. Yet I remind you that he has not left you. He
is still with you. Catholics call the
faithful dead the Communion of Saints. Nancy, I know that Bob has been a part
of your life since you were 16. Certainly, you miss him, and certainly, your heart
aches. Yet he is still with you and he will be, from here to eternity. To you
his family, remember that he is no longer limited by time or space. Expect to
feel his presence as you remember him. Pay attention to it when it comes.
Throughout his life he aspired to “please God”
and to love his family. Remember, his “reward will be great in heaven”
(Gospel). His “hope is full of immortality” (First Reading) and is to be “united
with him [Christ] in the resurrection” (Second Reading). Indeed, happy will he
be –Blessed”. To Nancy and the family, I say your reward is great right now. It
consists in your memories of him-the heart of the Christian faith is memories
of Jesus. Through our baptism into the death and resurrection of Christ, you
are rich in memories of Bob; he has become like one of those “sparks sinning through
stubble.” This reward – yours and his – will continue to grow, even into
eternity when you will meet again. May these memories of a staunch, devout,
humble, persevering, long-suffering, yes, holy man bless you. Blessed is he. Blessed
are you. Blessed are we for having known Robert E. Schuster. Somebody say, “Amen!”
Praised be Jesus Christ! Now and forever!
Rev. Albert J. DeGiacomo, Ph.D., Pastor
Saint Andrew Catholic Church