Thursday, July 10, 2008

Heart-Filled Hands

Matthew 10: 5-7

Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus, “Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”

Greetings to all! When I heard this Gospel reading at Mass yesterday the words, “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” reverberated in my head, over and over. I kept hearing these words echoing down deep into the recesses of my shattered heart. The image that came to my mind was a picture that Ali had taken where she placed the “famous” red rhinestone heart pin that someone had given her in Cate’s little hand. We did not put any pictures on the internet of Cate from when she was in the CVICU because we did not want people to remember her in that condition, but this one I will share with you all and I have added it to the profile picture on the blog.
This image of a rhinestone heart in my dying daughter’s little hand connected to the scripture quote, “The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Sounds kind of odd, but just hear me out. For many of us, including myself, sometimes “Heaven” seems like such a far away place, especially when someone we love has gone there or we are in a very difficult time in our lives where we feel like we have just had enough with this dumb old world. Yet, I love Jesus’ words to us, “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” It is “at hand”, I know that this may be a stretch of what Jesus was saying, but the Kingdom of Heaven can be revealed to our world in a simple way, by the work of our hands. Whether it is extending a hand in forgiveness, extending a hand in peace, extending a hand in aid to the less fortunate, or the feel of a hand on someone’s back as you embrace them in love. Stop just for minute and think about instances in your own life where a hand was extended to you to bring peace, comfort and the hope of Heaven to you. It is a small gesture that has the ability to bring such powerful emotions, powerful strength, and powerful healing. It is a moment where I truly believe that the Kingdom of Heaven is, “at hand.”
Although Cate never extended a physical hand to any of us, she extended a very powerful spiritual hand and her life brought about the Kingdom of Heaven in a very powerful way. A way in which it showed all of us that Heaven, is not a far away place, that Heaven in not up in the clouds, but in fact that Heaven is all around us. This is exactly what Christ accomplished, in His suffering, death, and resurrection. In that through His life, death, and resurrection the chasm that original sin had made between Heaven and earth was filled, and that we, all of humanity, once again had the opportunity to taste, to feel, and to experience Heaven, in the here and now. We can now experience Heaven, in our Churches, in our cars, in our living rooms, in parks, in hospitals, or even sitting in front of our computer reading some silly little Cajun’s blog. Where ever we have had a hand extended to us in love, there is the Kingdom of Heaven. God used His little vessel, Baby Cate to extend that hand to all of us, to bring us faith, healing, peace, comfort, forgiveness, hope and with these a glimpse of what is to come in the fullness of Heaven.
“The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand,” and that hand is at the end of our arm. So, as we go through our lives today, let us be reminded that we can bring a taste of Heaven into people’s lives. Whether it is the check out person at the grocery store, our next door neighbor, the attendant at the gas station, or maybe it is our parents, our spouses, our even our children. We will always remember the little heart-filled hand that was extended to each one of us through Cate. A little heart-filled hand that brought all of us, each in our own way, the Kingdom of Heaven. May we in turn go into the world and make the Kingdom of Heaven, truly be “at hand.” We love you all very much and ask that you continue to pray for our family during this difficult time. Also, we still have some prayer cards from Baby Cate’s Funeral and if anyone would like one just send Ali and I your name and address to and we will be happy to put one in the mail to you. As Ali and I sat stuffing envelopes with prayer cards last night I told her, “I guess we are kind of like the Presidents of Baby Cate’s Fan Club.”:)
Much Love, The Cantrells


Crystal said...

What another beautiful message. Thanks for sharing that picture of Baby Cate with all of us. She is surley reaching her hand to you and your family, and many more people as well. I am also very blessed to know you and your family. God Bless all of you and I will continue praying for ya'll everyday.

God Bless,
Crystal Judice

Anonymous said...

You continue to humble me, I am in awe and tears because of your love for your daughter and for your heavenly Father.

Kristen said...

Thanks, Charlie! I love this picture of is so beautiful. I look forward to sharing this entry w/ my students when teaching them about how to understand the "Kingdom of God." I have so much to share w/ them about Hope from Cate's story, as well as with my faculty, w/ that being our school theme next year. God Bless!

Kristen Dunbar

Lila Lambert said...

Out of the fullness of our hearts comes our actions....Cate's heart may have been broken, but she healed so many...Looking at that tiny hand really pulled my heartstrings and made me reflect on my readings about how when we touch people with our hands, out of love, we can heal; with our hands we can give so much compassion: how we treat the homeless, the addicted, the sick, the distressed, this is Jesus in disguise....Cate's hand touched me this day....Lila

maureen Gallagher said...

as a fellow member of the baby cate fan club i'm just curious to know when your amazingness is going to wear off... oh that's right, it's not. You're Cantrells....

one of the gallagher twins

Anonymous said...

stand proud as PRESIDENT of the greatest fan club that can possibly exist! Praise God!

Anonymous said...

I just love and appreciate hearing your words! They always seem to be what I need to hear at that moment in my life! The picture is beautiful and what a great way to illustrate Jesus' words. Thank you so much. I am continuing to pray for your family!

Much love :)

Anonymous said...

I check in every so often to read your blogs. I am glad you are still writing for us the Baby Cate fans! I am waiting for the book. It is awesome to be connected in this big spiritual family. Peace be with you!

Your sister in Christ.


Anonymous said...

Your message was so beautiful and Baby Cate's hand touched me....deeply!! I find myself reflecting and praying even harder after I read your words....thanks for "guiding" me with your love for your family and faith in God! I will be praying for your family everyday....give Ali a hug for me!
Remaining in hope...
Breyan and family

kati said...

the minute i opened the page, before i even read the post, i was upset to see cate's hand like that. it made me too sad and reminded me of pictures i took of my own grandmother's dying hands. that i am so glad i have and are so special to me, but make me sad to look at. and then i read your post and am once again amazed at how you can take your situation and switch the outlook completely around and turn it into something beautiful. you are a very special family. thank you for your touching messages...

K.H. said...

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I loved your words today, Charlie. Tommy and I have often talked about how we feel Heaven is is not "far away"'s not way up in the is so very close. I know for myself, I have always felt that when my mom and dad died, they were still very close. I've always viewed it as a thin veil or barrier from this world to the next and I just know they are watching...shaking their heads, smiling and probably saying, "Oh, if they only knew!"

I agree....I think we can taste a bit of Heaven but creating, within our own little worlds, an atmosphere of loving, caring, and reaching out to others. Each time we open ourselves to allow Christ to work through could we NOT experience Heaven! The beauty of a blog such as this is that we can all witness the many ways that God worked and continues to work through Cate and through your family to touch the lives of others. And for that reason, it can become overwhelming seeing the little miracles happening with friends, family, and complete strangers!

I hope that your blogs are theraputic for you and not too much of a burden to write because it is so obvious that all the many members of Cate's Fan Club won't be getting tired of them any time soon.
Love you all,
Jane W

Claire said...

yall are so beautiful...not much else to say :-)

when are elections for other officers of the BC fan club? i'm working on my platform. is there tenure for those positions too?

love yall ;-)

the other g-twin

Anonymous said...

I am speachless! It is truly amazing to see how you find the words to comfort us all, when you are the one we are trying to comfort. I am telling everyone I know about this blog, I still have one close friend that I have not shared it with. She lost her 18 yr. old son in a car accident last year at this time. She has taken it so hard, and I am not sure if anything could help her with the loss. There are times I pick up the phone and say I am going to call her but I stop. It seems that the more resources we try to offer, the more depressed she gets. She blames herself for being a good parent and trying to keep him on the straight-and-narrow. I hope I get the courage soon to call her and tell her about this blog. I just know if anyone could help her, it would be you. You are so amazing! I am proud to say that I knew you once!

Jenny said...

That was another beautiful message charlie. You couldn't have put it better. We will keep praying for yall.

Jenny Menard

Anonymous said...

You don't stop amazing everyone.
I recently had to make a flyer here at the Hospital for Faith House because the nurses were giving donations here. One of the pictures I selected for the flyer was a baby's open hand reaching gave me chills to see Baby Cate's sweet little fingers. I put a card in the mail today for you and Ali & included some stamps to help you out with all of those prayer cards that will be requested. I have mine up here at work and every time I am overwhelmed I glance over at Cate and have to smile. She gives sooo many people strength to make it through a day. That little "Cajun Saint" of ours has reached so many people. Also looking forward to the book Charlie.
Much Love from the Garys,
Jennie, Stephen, Ainsley, Ethan

Marin said...

What a beautiful message!! Thanks so much for sharing. We are continuing to pray for you all. Love, marin, kyle and kaylin

Lila Lambert said...

Our power is made perfect in our weaknesses...through Cate's weak heart God's eternal graces flow and is produced more fully and more firmly in us...

Lori & Willie said...

Charlie, you have now started a ministry to all members of Baby Cate fan club!

Seriously, your words are inspiring to so many-you and Ali allowed God to use Cate as an instrument and now your demonstration of faith shows that He is using your family's greiving process as an instrument as well.

I was talking to a friend last night who lost one of her twins in utero 4 yrs ago and she couldn't believe how powerful your words are. Having lost a child herself, she truly knows your upcoming processes. I also talked to Angie Dore's mom over the weekend and we both agree that your courage and faith (Ali, Ella & Dude included) is amazing.

The Cantrell family has touched so many lives and made so many of us more aware of our faith. Not to mention bringing some TO Christ with your powerful witness. I pray for your family each day. I also pray that you will continue to allow God to use your blog to reach others. My hope is that we can help you help us.

Love and prayers,
Lori Thomassee
Lake St Louis, MO

Anonymous said...

Charlie & Ali,
Thank you so much for the prayer card you sent to me. I sat there and cried while looking at that precious face. I will cherish it forever. I am praying for you are always in my thoughts. I have been blessed to know your sweet family..and Baby Cate.
Stephanie Johnson

Anonymous said...

And what a fan club it is! There are thousands of us out here who have been touched by Cate's life and dying - And by your continued strength and grace in sharing your life with all of us. Her's and your message continues to be strong, positive and loving. Thank you. May God continue to bless your lives.

they call me the boss said...

I was reflecting on Cate this morning and wondering why God allows babies to be born with problems then I realized Cate was born perfectly, just as she was suppose to be. God made her just as she was to do his work. She lived just as she was suppose to for the exact amount of time she was suppose to. I also remembered an analogy I once read. Life is a great tapestry. From our side it looks all knotted and messy but from God's side it is the most beautiful work of art. I long to see the beautiful big picture one day in all it's glory just as Cate is doing right now!
Thank you for the beautiful prayer card. I recieved it today. Continuing to pray for your family.
christi chaisson

Anonymous said...

Charlie, the grace and mercy that God is filling you with during this time is soooooo audible in your words, it just makes me smile/cry almost every time I read one of your messages! Anyway thanks again for being open to speaking from your heart! I know you and your family are healing hearts with your blog!!!
Love in Him,
Teresa Clark

Anonymous said...

In response to the previous message, St. Francis of Assissi said, and I paraphrase, "Preach the Bible, Preach the Bible, Preach the Bible! And, if necessary, use words." Wow, did Cate fulfill this saying or what?!

Secondly, yesterday at Wal-Mart, Ashton was fussing terribly, so I had to hold him while emptying my cart to pay. This very kind woman about 3 buggies back-there was huge line-came up to me and offered to give me a hand. I told I was okay and used to it, but she did not take no for an answer. She not only helped me empty my cart but she also stood next to me to help load my buggy back up. She also talked to Ashton to try to keep him from crying. She was wonderful and I couldn't have thanked her enough. She reached out a hand and practiced the gospel.
Jamie and I are still praying for you guys. My heart still aches to hold that chubby girl and to sit at a table with Ali and laugh over ridiculous things. Charlie, I hope you're taking the best of care of my girl--I don't think I need to threaten you:)!

Much love,

Rebecca Orillion

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the beautiful prayer card you guys sent my family. I received it today. It is very beautiful and I will treasure it.

Love of love and god bless,
The Gonsoulin family from New Iberia

darla said...

Remembering you, praying for you, especially on this - your wedding anniversary weekend. Thank you for continuing to inspire all of us, with your grace and wisdom. The picture is ..... beautiful. Ennie and I are with you and Ali...praying for you and not forgetting for one day what an impact your little Cate made on our own lives........

The Magill Family said...

Your messages truely amaze and inspire me. Thank you so much for sharing your families amazing story with all of us.

Anonymous said...

Charlie and Ali,
I received your beautiful prayer card. I will share them with Molly, our 17 year old, and my sisters. You will continue to be in my daily prayers. Tell Chuck and Phyllis hi for me.

In Christ,

midwestmom3 said...

Thank you for the beautiful prayer card.
Our family holds you up to God every day in our prayers.
Thank you for sharing Cate with all of us.
The Andersons