Funeral Mass of Elsa Dalle, Warrandyte, 16 March, 1998
St Paul says that he has fought the good fight and finished the race.
In the last week of her life I visited Elsa at Bundoora. She lay very tired in her bed looking out the widow as though she wished to be home. Though she could speak only in whispers her words were clear. She retained her elegance, her gentleness, the dignity which comes from character. She had fought the good fight. She had led a full life, even an adventurous life, in Belgium, in England, in Sydney, in Melbourne. I remember well the happy times my family spent with her family at Blackburn and especially at Vermont, in the ten acres of orchards. It was a place of plenty, of colour, where her father would sing snippets of opera and paint a scene of the Dandenongs. It was a place of festivity, of dancing in the house and dancing in the shed, a small farm with tractor and milch cow and horse There was the harvesting of fruit, swimming in the dam. Elsa communicated the sense of happiness and quiet welcome. The goodness of a person is retained and that is what we celebrate today. She had fought the good fight and now she was waiting for her future.
We are not gathered here in nostalgia. This is not just a set of fading memories, to be swallowed up in the sands. True, her life has flowered and now the petals have fallen to the ground. It is a time of gestation. The tree is bare of colour but silently the fruit is growing. It is true, her eyes will no longer see the sunrise over the Yarra Valley or see the hills appear out of the mist as on the day of creation. Her time is past because she is all future.
There is something immortal in every human being, something that time cannot explain or remove. This we celebrate today. The Christian faith says that the universe springs from love and leads to love. Love recognises love. God who is love cannot tum away from love but takes to himself every expression of love. He takes Elsa to himself in all the love she showed. He knows her and his look is life-giving. This we celebrate too.
Jesus tells his disciples that he is going to prepare a place for them. Elsa accepted Jesus as her Saviour. She is following his steps, as we all must. She too has gone to prepare us a place. She had to know all the seasons of life, the spring and the winter, turning both life and death to our advantage.
Jesus tells his disciples not to be afraid. The death of anyone, especially a member of the family, especially a mother, shakes the foundations of our being and shows how fragile we are.
Let us celebrate her future. During life she won our affection. In her death we do not forget her, nor do we jut consign her to memory. The living God has given us the power to give life and therefore we as the Church pray for her blessing her good works and saying to her ‘Elsa you are with us always.’