Cleo Marcinko Eulogy
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.” (Psalm 50:1-3)
This verse is from the favorite psalm that Cleo loved and read often because it spoke meaningful words to her heart.
Cleo’s journey during her multiple hospitalizations and while being under hospice care was a moving and profound experience that can best be described as an honest path of self-knowledge accompanied by genuinely deep repentance.
A few years back and during the early stages of her hospital visits, Cleo was more focused on getting physically well and getting back to her normal daily routine.
With the passage of time, her focus and attitude shifted into a deeper focus on her spiritual health. Becoming physically well for the sake of returning back to the same daily routine faded away, and was replaced by an earnest desire to reach a higher spiritual understanding and better health for her soul.
Standing by her bedside time after time, and despite her unbearable pain, I witnessed the fervent tears flowing from her eyes, and I heard many praises and thanksgiving prayers lifted up to God for the grace he has given her during this challenging time of her life.
Cleo was no longer interested in asking “WHY” she became sick or “WHY” she was in pain. She was more interested in examining herself, confessing her sins, finding comfort through the participation in the holy sacraments, and by constantly whispering under her breath as much as she could the prayer of “Lord have Mercy”.
During my last few visits Cleo said in so many ways that she no longer was interested in asking God to fulfill any specific request or to make her physically well.
All she wanted to ask for was God’s will to be done regardless of what his will might be for her.
She deeply and strongly felt in her heart, soul, and body, the mercy of God embracing and touching her.
At times, standing by a sick person’s bedside feels like standing in heaven as the divine grace of God visits the sick person and impacts his/her entire surroundings. This is how I felt several times while being in the presence of Cleo.
The tears of forgiveness and thanksgiving, the praises to God while being in pain and while approaching the threshold of the next life made standing in her room feel like being in front of the gates of the heavens.
Words are inadequate to describe this mystery of God’s grace. While carrying the holy sacraments to deliver to the patient, the visitor is carried by the sacrament and delivered by its grace. While going to visit the sick, it feels like being visited instead by God.
No wonder then that Jesus said to us that visiting the sick was nothing less than visiting him; “I was sick and you visited me” (Matthew 25:36) as there is so much flow of grace to reward the visitors.
Many of the stories of people and scenes from the Holy Bible came alive because of Cleo. The repentance of David the prophet, the tears of Peter the Apostle, the plea of the harlot woman, the weeping of the mother of the young man of Nain city, the faith of the woman with the issue of the blood, and many more stories became real to me during my walk with Cleo.
I saw in Cleo’s faith, her fervent tears, her cries for mercy, and in her heartfelt expressions of gratitude to God, an open window into the heavens. Looking back and reflecting on these visits, I can see many bright spots that illumined my own path to God.
I often complimented her husband Robert on the smartest move of his life and for the great success he achieved when he decided to marry this beautiful Cretan girl.
Cleo’s stay at the hospital vividly revealed her inner and spiritual beauty, and gave testimony to the strength and the depth of her faith in Jesus Christ, her love for him, and her unbreakable bond with the Mother of God and all of the saints.
Cleo had the best family care during her sickness and was constantly surrounded by beloved faces from the oldest all the way down to the youngest great grandchild.
She reconciled and settled accounts with others, herself, and with God, and fell asleep on the first day of the Church year after she had time for prayer, reflection, and the opportunity to have deepened her repentance.
Therefore, I believe she was worthy to receive a personal message from the Lord Jesus, which was sent to her through the scripture reading of that day.
Jesus had gone to the synagogue in his city of Nazareth and read from the Holy Scriptures the following passage:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Afterward Jesus said to the listeners, and to Cleo; “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:16-22)
Kalo Paradeiso, may God grant her the paradise and place her in the heavenly kingdom among the saints and the righteous. Amen