Yesterday I was driving home from Mass and started thinking about the sudden passing of Catholic author, husband, and father, Michael Dubriel.

He’d been the editor who’d championed my book at a major Catholic publishing company. It was the first time one of the “big” publishers had taken a serious look at my work and I was both nervous and excited. The acquisitions board sat on the manuscript for eight months, and during each of those months, Mike did all he could to sway them to publish it. He almost did it, too. But the publisher had last minute reservations and nixed the project in spite of Mike’s diligent work and the manuscript’s favorable response from the others on the board.

It was a great disappointment to me, to be sure. But Mike’s encouragement and conviction that I had a publishable piece of work did a marvelous job of cushioning the blow. His enthusiasm did more than that. Soon another Catholic publisher will publish my book, and I have Mike as one of the supports who helped make that possible.

Just a day or two before he died, Mike sent me a friend request on Facebook. Of course I accepted. I was happy to “see” him again. We never had time to correspond beyond that. He collapsed at the gym early the next morning and couldn’t be revived.

Driving home last night, I was thinking about this. I was thinking what a shame it was that I had just lost a writing friend – a colleague in the profession who not only advocated my own work but was himself a fantastic author. What a loss.

That got me thinking about the Communion of Saints. If I really believed in the Church’s teaching, which I do, I would realize that people who pass from this life don’t pass away entirely. The Church militant (those of us on earth), the Church Suffering (those of us being cleansed in Purgatory), and the Church Triumphant (those of us experiencing God’s glory in heaven) remain united. Those who surrender their earthly life are still available to us through our prayers and theirs. We’re still very much spiritually present to one another.

I thought again of the Facebook page and Mike’s friendship request. I haven’t really lost a colleague. If my writing continues to merit it, Mike can still advocate my work through his prayerful support. And I can advocate Mike’s work in the sense that I can pray for the entrance of his soul into heaven (if he’s not already there!). We both belong to the Communion of Saints. Therefore, we’ll be friends forever.

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