Bernadette Patterson, RIP
October 12th A.D.1908 -- March 22nd, A.D. 2000
Interment at Pinecrest Cemetery
A reading from the second book of Machabees (xii: 43-46):
In those days, the most valiant man Judas, making a gathering, sent twelve
thousand drachmas of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the
sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection (for
if he had not hoped that they that were slain would rise again, it would have
seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead); and because he considered
that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for
them. It is therefore a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that
they may be loosed for their sins.
A reading from the first epistle of blessed
Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians (xv: 51-57):
Brethren, behold, I tell you a mystery: we shall indeed rise again, but we
shall not all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last
trumpet; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall rise again
incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on
incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. And when this mortal has
put on immortality, they shall come to pass the saying that is written,
"Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy victory? O death,
where is thy sting?" Now the sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin
is the law. But thanks be to God, who has given us the victory through our Lord
+ The continuation of the holy
Gospel according to John (v: 25-29):
At that time, Jesus said to the multitude of the Jews, "Amen, I say to
you, that the hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the
Son of God; and they that hear shall live. For as the Father has life in
Himself, so He has given to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He has
given power to do judgement, because He is the Son of man. Wonder not at this,
for the hour comes wherein all that are in the grave shall hear the voice of the
Son of God; and they that have done good things shall come forth unto the
resurrection of life, but they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of
John vi: 51-55
I am the living bread, which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this
bread he shall live forever. And the bread that I will give is My flesh for the
life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, "How
can this man give us his flesh to eat?" Then Jesus said to them,
"Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and
drink His blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eateth My flesh, and
drinketh My blood, has everlasting life; and I will raise him up on the last
John xi: 21-27
At that time, Martha said to Jesus, "Lord if thou hadst been here, my
brother would not have died. But, now also I know that whatsoever Thou wilt ask
of God, God will give it to Thee." Jesus said to her, "Thy brother
shall rise again." Martha said to him, "I know that he shall rise
again in the resurrection at the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am
the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in Me, although he be dead,
shall live; and everyone that liveth and believeth in Me, shall not die forever.
Believest thou this? And she said to Him, "Yea, Lord, I have believed that
Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God, who art come into this world.
"Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy
victory? O death, where is thy sting?"
We live in a world in which so many people are terrified by the idea of death
or of dying. People go to great lengths; suffering great pain and expense to
preserve their lives just a few more years, or even a few weeks or days. It is
said that many doctors go to such extremes, not just so they can add to their
bill, but so that they can postpone the defeat that they will inevitably feel
when their patient dies. Yet, death is inexorable. With all of our modern
technology we may be able to make it just a bit more comfortable and even
postpone it a little, but we still have no way to avoid it.
The angels never die because they are purely spirit. They have no material
parts to break down or wear out. But we human beings—men and women—are made
up of two parts; body and soul. Like the angels, our soul is spiritual, and
therefore it never dies. But our bodies are like all of the other material
things around us. Think about that bright, shiny, new car you bought ten years
ago; or that beautiful new dress; or even durable things like diamond jewelry.
Some last longer than others, but in the long run, all material things just seem
to fade away. It is simply their nature—the way they were created by their
And lest anyone complain that this is unfair on the part of the Creator,
remember that God specially preserved Adam and Eve from all pain and suffering,
and would have preserved them free even from death if they had not sinned. And,
lest anyone blame Adam or Eve for our present condition, remember that we did no
better we have all sinned ourselves. None of us has the right to
complain that we are unfairly treated by our very natural mortality.
Of course, we miss our loved ones when we know that we can no longer see
them, speak to them, seek their advice, or just enjoy the pleasure of their
company. All of us here today will miss Bernadette. Depending upon how close to
her you were in life, a larger or smaller piece of your own lives will be
missing, and will never be completely replaced. It would be wrong and foolish
not to grieve over loosing her—if you feel like it, you should go and cry for
a while; it is good for you.
In any event, we would be seriously mistaken if we were to think that death
is the final end of the human person. Remember, man is made up of two parts; the
body which is not permanent, which grows old and suffers and dies; and the soul
which is permanent, that lives forever like the angels. As we will hear today in
the preface of the funeral Mass:
We, afflicted by the certainty of dying, may be consoled by the promise of a
future immortality. For unto Thy faithful, O Lord, life is changed, not taken
away; and the abode of this earthly sojourn being dissolved, an eternal dwelling
is prepared in heaven. The hope of a blessed resurrection has shone upon us.
St. Paul tells us that "death is swallowed up in victory ... for the
trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall rise again incorruptible." We know
that on the last day, Almighty God will raise us from the dead and restore our
souls to a glorified body; one no longer subject to sickness and death. It
matters not that we died young or old; that in this life we may have lost a
limb. It matters not that our bones are in a fancy box, or our ashes scattered
to the four winds. In any case, God will raise us up, whole once again.
And if we have kept His commandments, we shall share some of God's glory in
heaven, and our resurrected bodies shall enjoy the newfound pleasures of heaven.
But woe to the one who dies in his sins! A soul intended to be with God, as
all souls are, but eternally denied His gaze. A glorified body, intended for the
delights of heaven, left to feel the pains of Hell.
But here again, we see that God has conquered death in another way. He has
conquered not only the death of the body, but also the "death" of the
soul. By virtue of our Lord's life, death, and resurrection, He has even
Look at how good He was to Bernadette Patterson:
In her Baptism He washed away every stain of original sin, and infused His
divine life into her soul.
Whenever she fell, God heard her Confession and restored her baptismal
innocence. "Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven them." (Jn. 20)
He gave her the Bread of Life in Holy Communion, sustaining her with the
food that nourishes not just in time, but in eternity.
In Holy Matrimony, He gave her a husband who preceeded her in eternity by
many years, but about whom she always spoke so sweetly; and a son and a
daughter-in-law who were always there for her when she needed them. A
grand-daughter, and great-grand-sons.
Finally, God was good to Bernadette by bringing us all together today to
offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and to pray for the repose of her soul.
God has truly conquered sin and death!
Traditionally, Catholics do not eulogize their dead. But, I think we
ought to acknowledge some things that several of you have remarked about
Bernadette during the past few days -- things that I have heard and seen on and
off over the years that I have known her: She was uncompromising in her faith,
both in the sense of not yielding to modern innovations; and, perhaps more
importantly in the sense of never loosing her sense of personal devotion,
belief, and trust in the providence of Almighty God. I am sure that many of you
remember that walking into Bernadette's home in Lantana was more like walking
into a church than walking into many of today's churches.
In a rather literal sense, she lived with Jesus and Mary and Joseph—and not
just with their pictures or their statues. A few of you have referred to her as
a "prayer warrior," and I don't think I know anyone more correctly
identified by that title. Our Lord and Lady will have no trouble at all in
remembering her when she meets them face to face; it will be a long awaited
Now, still, it remains for us to reflect on those words we hear from the Old
Testament; from the Book of Machabees: "It is therefore a holy and a
wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their
sins." (2 Machÿ12) While sins and the punishment due to sin may be
forgiven during this life, our Lord speaks of sins forgiven "in the world
to come." (Mt. 12) There are three little things that are always
necessary to remember about why we pray for the dead:
We pray for the dead that God will swiftly cleanse them of those small sins
and imperfections that might keep them temporarily from enjoying the glory of
heaven. That, by His mercy, He might quickly forgive the punishment that is due
to their sins in Justice.
But, we also pray for the dead, that we might receive something for
ourselves; that by reflecting on the realities of life and death, of heaven and
hell, we might be more motivated to keep His Commandments and receive His
Sacraments in order to ensure our own eternal salvation. These are things not
just to talk about, for they are realities; we might even say the only
realities, for nothing else matters if we lose our souls.
Finally, we pray for the dead, so that they will pray for us. The souls in
Purgatory need our prayers, for which they are eternally grateful. Remember that
they are God's saints, soon to share the glory of heaven with Him; powerful
intercessors on our behalf. Let us not forget those who have gone before us,
lest they forget to pray for us.