Facebook Saints

Much digital ink has been spilt over the ways social media may isolate us from each other. Just at The Jesuit Post, Tim O’Brien, Paddy Gilger, and Joe Simmons have each written eloquently on the topic.

To quote Jules Winnfield, “Well allow me to retort!”

On August 27, 2011, Stanley Guzowski succumbed to a brain tumor. He was 23 years old. Stan was a fraternity brother of mine, and I had the privilege of seeing him and his family a few months before his passing. When I saw him laid up in his hospital bed – out of it from the combination of pain and painkillers – I figured that was the last time I would see him.

I can’t see or talk to Stan nowadays, but I do sense his presence. October 24 would have been Stan’s 25th birthday. Scores of us posted on his Facebook wall, wishing him happy birthday, hoping that all is well, and asking for support – all as if he were still cracking jokes in the Crimson Cafe at St. Joe’s. I don’t think we’re delusional. We all touched on the sense that Stan is still looking out for us, encouraging us, and working on our behalf. In a word, Stan is a saint. He’s in communion with all who’ve gone before us, and he’s still close to us – not isolated at all.

The most moving part of the funeral liturgy for me is in this part of the Eucharistic Prayer in a funeral mass: “Life is changed not ended.” I firmly believe that Stan’s life has changed – not ended – and Facebook (of all things!) has helped me understand how.

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