In this trust our beloved sister, sister-in-law and aunt has passed away today.
Elisabeth Maria Blommesteijn
Reflection Sr. Maristella
There was a serene atmosphere in the monastery that day. It was Wednesday last week where many sisters were received the sacrament of the sick in the morning. And that brought a quiet and serene atmosphere which was already palpable the moment you entered the monastery. It was precisely during that quiet and subdued atmosphere that Sr. Maristella died. And, miraculously, that brought comfort after the first shock at the news of her death, after she had been ill for barely a week. It brought consolation that she was carried by the sacred atmosphere of that day to her Lord.
None of us expected her to pass away so soon after Sr. Nicoletta. And not long after the death of Sr. Nicoletta, Sr. Maristella walked down the aisle with in her arms the last flowers she had given to Sr. Nicoletta; flowers as a sign of her care for this fellow sister she visited daily. Because she was caring and attentive. And that extended not only to her sisters but also and especially to her family. She loved her family and that was mutual. Her cousins were close to her heart, she thought of them with postcards and she wanted to stay informed about all their ups and downs. Until the last moment she expressed her great concern about her sick sister in America. And then it could be too much for her.
Sr. Maristella was confronted with loss from an early age. At the age of 11, at the beginning of the war, she lost her hearing. It is hard to imagine what it must have been like for her; that from one moment to the next all sounds disappear from your world. At home and at school it took a while before she understood what was going on. But because she reacted differently than they were used to from her, they discovered that she had become deaf. But she was blessed with great strength of will and perseverance. She taught herself to lip-read. And she had a mother who, she said, was very good to her: she approached and stimulated her as someone without limitations because this daughter also had to move forward in the world! One for that time, I think, admirable insight! Initially she wanted to marry like her mother and start a family, but she chose the convent.
Sr. Maristella was very dedicated to religious life. She was what you call a praying soul. "I can only do one thing," she said, "and that is praying". And she did that and for everyone who needed it. Especially to Mary, whose presence in her life was as real as anyone or anything else. "I do everything," she said, "for and with Mary". Why she was so united with Mary I think has to do with the word trial. Just as Mary was tested during her life, so too was Sr. Maristella's life experienced as an ordeal. It is therefore the key word of the first lecture she chose from - so surprisingly - the book Judith.
There were trials: the burden of her body that increasingly could less and less, the effort she, much more than others, had to make to be heard and understood. She was not always easy to deal with for herself, for carers and also for her sisters. But that is also understandable when you miss a number of signals to be able to understand the world around you. And that is why it is so beautiful that she chose the word ordeal as a key word to interpret her life because the word ordeal carries a promise in it.
You might get disappointed or bitter when you have to go through all this. But she did not recognize her life in this kind of words but in the word ordeal. And In the book Judith, in the text she chose from this book, a tip of the veil is lifted about the meaning of this word. The Lord, we read there, tests us to approve our hearts. In other words: He tests us to see whether we, if we do not perish as we had hoped, will continue to search for a way to live. Whether we also then manage to stay away from hardening and bitterness. But in spite of everything, we want to keep seeking for the soft forces that make life possible for ourselves and for others. I think we have been able to see something of this in Sr. Maristella in her care and attention for fellow sisters and for family members. In her ability to enjoy beauty: of nature outside, of the Sunday liturgy on the television or of the sun on her face when she sat outside on the bench. If at least it wasn't too hot! Life doesn't blow you away, there is a way to walk. Even then there is a way to live. Sr. Maristella showed us that. She was an important example for me, said one of her fellow sisters.
Sr. Maristella lived from the hope and expectation of the new morning. This is also reflected in her choice of the gospel. She was deeply convinced that God would carry her beyond death. At the beginning of this celebration we sang the song about the night coming to an end and the rising day. That for Sister Maristella the dawn may now have occurred.