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100-year-old woman of faith gives advice to young people: ‘Trust in God’
In my ongoing quest for good news in the Church, I recently came across the story of Laverne Weishaar, a 100-year-old in Nortonville, Kansas. The profile was written by Laurence Rossi in the wonderful diocesan publication “The Leaven,” and it told the story of Laverne’s remarkable life through the lens of her three loves: her family, gardening and her Catholic faith.
We learn about Laverne’s relationship with her grandmother, who taught her how to garden and to sew. We learn about spending time with her own children and grandchildren. And we learn about a deal she made with God almost 70 years ago to stay alive in the midst of a severe bout of pneumonia.
“I like to say I bargained with the Lord and won,” Laverne told The Leaven. “If you let me live so I can raise my own kids,” she remembers promising, “I will say a Rosary every day of my life. That’s what I told the Lord.”
She recovered, and she made good on her promise. Almost 70 years later, she has said a Rosary every day — sometimes even two — and she keeps them around the house so one will always be handy for prayer. What a remarkable lady.
She also knows of what she speaks.
Before her husband died in 1983, Laverne was married for more than 40 years. She gave birth to six children. She has faced everything you would expect of a centenarian: love, loss, heartache, joys and trials. So when asked what piece of advice she would give to young people today, I took note.
“Trust in the Lord,” she said. “See that you live the right kind of life that you get to heaven.”
These words have lingered with me — not just because of their profundity but because of their simplicity. Our mission is to trust in God, to seek his will and to respond in faith — because the desire of our hearts should always be to be with him in heaven. With the help of the Church given to us by Christ, we are called to seek truth, live virtuously and love without fail — and to invite others to join us. Our souls depend upon it.
In her diary “Divine Mercy in My Soul,” St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun and mystic who has inspired devotion to Divine Mercy, wrote about a vision she once had.
“I saw two roads. One was broad, covered with sand and flowers, full of joy, music and all sorts of pleasures. People walked along it, dancing and enjoying themselves. They reached the end without realizing it. And at the end of the road there was a horrible precipice; that is, the abyss of hell. The souls fell blindly into it; as they walked, so they fell. And their number was so great that it was impossible to count them. And I saw the other road, or rather, a path, for it was narrow and strewn with thorns and rocks; and the people who walked along it had tears in their eyes, and all kinds of suffering befell them. Some fell down upon the rocks, but stood up immediately and went on. At the end of the road there was a magnificent garden filled with all sorts of happiness and all these souls entered there. At the very first instant they forgot all their sufferings.”
The road of faith is not easy. It is paved with effort and pain and courage and sorrow. With sacrifice. But this is the road of Christ; the road of Love. What should be our goal in this life other than to be with Jesus forever in the next?
“Trust in God. See that you live the right kind of life that you get to heaven.”
Gretchen R. Crowe is editorial director for periodicals at OSV. Follow her on Twitter @GretchenOSV.