All of us, to a greater or lesser degree, have been swept up into a pilgrimage of faith, hope, and love as we made our journey in prayer with Father Donald through the vicissitudes and suffering of his long and weighty illness. We admired and were inspired by the indefatigable steadfastness of his faith ‘usque ad finem’; with his unrelenting hope speckled, as it was, with the occasional inquisitive questioning whether at the end the journey would be long or short ; with the communion of love which surrounded him from family, health professionals, fellow priests, parishioners, and many others.
We detected the movement of grace in his sanctified being. We saw the hand of the kindly providence of God who brought him sustenance through the sacrifice of the Mass; who gave him forgiveness for his sins through the ministry of the priest; who healed his wounds in the sacrament of holy anointing and who gave him that capacity to cope with pain, however excruciating it was, and to offer it up in union with the suffering of Christ for the salvation of the world.
St Paul says that ‘the life and death of each of us has its influence on others’. While it is true that throughout his life on earth Fr Donald had an influence on others, the manner of his suffering and death had the most profound influence. It revealed to us his prayerfulness and his goodness. An even more gentle nature became apparent in his concern for his brother, Alastair, and in his constant apologising for burdening others. The qualities which were always there but which were successfully masked by propriety, shyness, natural ability, and independence became evident – his humility and meekness.
I am sure, as I hope we all are, that Fr Donald has been helped by the Lord to climb the mountain of suffering where he now sees God face to face. I am sure that he takes his place in the celebration of the heavenly and eternal Eucharist of which our earthly celebration is both sign and anticipation. I am sure that there before the throne of God he prays for us all that we may respond to the promptings of God’s grace in our own lives, that we may open our hearts to let the Lord dwell ever more within us as Fr Donald himself did so inspiringly.
May he rest in peace.
Fr Michael J MacDonald
Ardkenneth and Bornish