In loving memory of late Monsignor Sami Totah

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In loving memory of late Monsignor Sami Totah

By: Ghassan Karam Sayegh

Your Eminence,
Dear honorable Fathers, Family and Friends,
My relationship with Abouna Sami goes beyond him being my pastor, I entered with him the Latin Seminary in Beit Jala in 1959, we studied together; his desk was beside my desk and his bed was beside my bed. He became a priest, and I came out.

Among his many titles: Monsignor, Reverend and Father Sami, yet at the Good Shepherd Church of Yonkers none is sweeter than Abouna Sami, because he was our spiritual father, counselor and friend. His association with the Good Shepherd Church was a catholic marriage no divorce “Until death do us part.”

The saying goes: “Don’t call a person happy until he dies.” As Christians, how true this saying is. I am sure Abouna Sami is happy in the presence of the Lord.

What we call death is but another happier name for the crown of better life with the Lord, especially for those like Abouna Sami, to whom God says: "Well done, good and faithful servant: enter into the joy of your Lord" (Matt 25:21).

For all of us that loved him and still do, we believe he is in a better place because God loved him more than we do, that is why he took him.

I like to honor Abouna Sami by mixing selected passages of the great Lebanese philosopher, writer and poet Gibran Khalil Gibran with my own writings as a solemn tribute to Abouna Sami’s person, soul, spirit and memory.

Should the text invoke and provoke a tear or two, please let be a tear of joy for his great life story and lessons. Let us together hear what Abouna Sami has to say to us today in a homily and sermon, showing even in his death his great undying love and concern to one and all:
"Let me rest, for my spirit has had its bounty of days and nights;
Light the candles and burn the incense around my bed,
Let me rest in the arms of slumber, for my open eyes are tired;
Dry your tears, my family and friends, and raise your heads... As the flowers raise their crowns to greet the dawn.
Look at the bride of Death standing like a column of light
Between my bed and the infinite;
"Love - which is God - will consider your sighs and tears as incense burned at His altar, and He will reward you with fortitude.
Good-bye, my family and friends;
I must leave before the heartening moon vanishes."

Then appeared an angel holding in her hand a wreath of lilies.
She embraced me and closed my eyes so I could see no more,
Except with the eye of my spirit.
She impressed a deep, long and gently withdrawn kiss
That left an eternal smile of fulfillment upon my lips.

Sing of the past as you behold the dawn of hope in my eyes, for
Its magic meaning is a soft bed upon which my heart rests.
Come close and bid me farewell;
Touch my eyes with smiling lips.
Let the ages place their veined hands upon my head and bless me;
Come close and see the shadow of God in my eyes,
And hear the echo of His will racing with my breath.

I have passed a mountain peak
And my soul is soaring in the firmament of complete and unbound freedom;
I am far, far away, my Family and Friends,

The songs of the waves and the hymns of the streams are scattered,
And the voices of the throngs reduced to silence;
And I can hear naught but the music of Eternity
In exact harmony with the spirit's desires.
I am cloaked in full whiteness;
I am in comfort; I am in peace.

Lament me not, but sing songs of praise and joy;
Shed not tears upon me, but sing of harvest and the winepress;
Utter no sigh of agony,
But draw upon my face with your finger the symbol of Love and Joy.
Place me upon clusters of leaves
And carry me upon your friendly shoulders
And walk slowly to the deserted forest.
Let my grave be wide,
So that the twilight shadows will come and sit by me.

Take from me all earthly garment
And place me deep in my Mother Earth;
And place me with care upon my mother's breast.
Cover me with soft earth,
And let each handful be mixed with seeds of jasmine, lilies and myrtle;
And when they grow above me, and thrive on my body,
They will breathe the fragrance of my heart into space;
And reveal even to the sun the secret of my peace;
And sail with the breeze and comfort the wayfarer.

Leave me then, family and friends - leave me and depart on mute feet,
As the silence walks in the deserted valley;
Leave me to God and disperse yourselves slowly,
Go back to the joy of your dwellings
And you will find there that which Death cannot remove from you and me:
The fingerprints of my undying love are eternally there
They have never been nor will be footprints in the sand of time.

God's loving finger touched me
And I went to be with the Living Lord;
Disturb not the air's tranquility with chanting and requiems,
But let your hearts sing with me the song of Eternal Life;
Mourn for me not with apparel of black,
But keep your hope in the Risen Christ
And dress in color and rejoice with me and for me;
Talk not of my departure with sighs in your hearts;

Let your tears be candles of hope for the Glory of God
Let His light fill your hearts and minds with His love
Love each other and do always good, as you
Look at the darkness giving birth to the sun;
Close your eyes my family, friends and companions
And you will see me with you forevermore."

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.
O Lord truly I am your servant,
I am your servant and the son of your handmaid,
you have loosened my bonds" (Psa 115:15-16).

May God in His infinite wisdom, mercy and love shower us all,
especially his family, friends and congregation
with His soothing solace, comfort and blessings.

I am greatly honored and proud to call Abouna Sami a brother.

May Abouna Sami’s memory be eternal...

God bless. Thank you

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 13:55
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