A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Fr Mathew Craig Larkin sm

Fr LarkinWhat  follows is a homily delivered by Fr Tim Costello sm at St Teresa’s Church Karori, on 4th July  2015.

If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord, so that alive or dead we belong to the Lord. (Rom 14:8)

At the beginning of his life Matthew Craig Larkin was brought to the Church by his parents for baptism. Through the power of God and the rites of the Church, this infant became a child of God as he was baptized with water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Now, at the end of his earthly life, Matthew Craig Larkin is brought once again to the Church, this time by those who have known him and loved him, as we commend his soul to the God who made him.

Each of us today is drawn, some way or other, into this great drama: the drama of life and death, of death and life. Naked I came from my mother’s womb; naked I shall return.The Lord has given, the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord! (Job 1:21) These memorable words from the Book of Job capture something of the profound mystery of this moment as we acknowledge the reality of our own mortality too.

In the celebration of a Requiem Mass we do three things: we thank God for the gift of life; we commend the soul of the deceased to God’s mercy; and we turn our minds to the life of the world to come.

Craig Larkin loved life. He embraced the gift of life with exuberance and with great enthusiasm. He was fascinated by the quirkiness of human life and human behaviour.

Craig loved entertaining people. He was a born actor. He loved the theatre. He was a great mimic. Now, as he makes his final exit, I think Craig would not be displeased if we listened to a few lines from William Shakespeare: All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.”(As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII)

The eulogies we have heard give eloquent testimony to the many and varied parts that Craig has played during his time. He was a man of many gifts, a man blessed with many talents; those gifts and talents have had an extraordinary influence on the lives of many, many people. Craig Larkin loved life, yes; but even more, he shared this life generously with others. He generated life wherever he went.

Craig had a wide network of relationships, a rich tapestry of colleagues and friends from many countries all around the world. Those of us gathered in this church are a reflection of some of the many facets of Craig’s life: his family, his religious family, and his brother priests; friends from school days; people he knew at Highden and Greenmeadows; young people (now forty years older) from retreats at the Futuna Retreat House; men and women whom he met from the years of preaching parish missions; and yet another network of people from his years in Rome.

Craig had many women friends. They were people to whom he was devoted―as they were devoted to him. Many of these women, I know, are feeling a very deep sense of loss at Craig’s passing. There is one woman, however, who was central in his life.

She is the one who is mentioned, ever so briefly, in the Gospel Reading we heard earlier. Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. Seeing his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her, Jesus said to his mother: Woman, this is your son. Then to the disciple he said: This is your mother.And from that moment the disciple made a place for her in his home. (John 19:25-27)

So much of Craig’s life ―his energy, his creativity, his vision― came from a deep love of the Society of Mary and of the woman whose name it bears. Like the disciple in the Gospel, Craig made a place for Mary the Mother of Jesus in his home and in his heart. For much of his adult life he pondered and meditated on words like these from the Constitutions of the Society of Mary: If they desire to be true sons of this dear Mother, let them try constantly to breathe her spirit: a spirit of humility, self-denial, intimate union with God, and the most ardent love of neighbour. So they must think as Mary, judge as Mary, feel and act as Mary in all things. (Const. 228)

As a disciple of Jesus, as a Marist religious, and as a priest, Craig committed himself to live by very high ideals. Craig would be the first to acknowledge that at times he made mistakes; that some of his decisions left people feeling bruised; and that sometimes he fell short of his own high expectations. St Paul tells us in the Letter to the Romans that all of us must one day stand before the judgement seat of God; that each of us must give an account of our life. (Rom 14:10-12) In the penitential rite at the beginning of every Mass we acknowledge our sins and we pray to God for forgiveness. In this funeral Mass we pray for our brother Craig that he will know the mercy of God; that his sins will be forgiven; and that he will reach the goal he has desired with all his heart: to be united with the communion of saints in the Kingdom that God has prepared for us.

Craig was the author of a number of books. Most of these books were about aspects of the Christian life such as prayer and forgiveness. He had a particular talent for writing about Marist history and Marist spirituality in a way that made this material accessible to ordinary people. Only last year Craig completed two guide books for pilgrims visiting the places associated with the historical origins of the Society of Mary in France and in Rome. Craig’s own pilgrimage, however, is now ended. There will be no more visits to shrines and churches and monasteries; no more prayer before the religious icons that drew him into the contemplation of the holy mysteries.

Matthew Craig Larkin has passed from this world into eternal life. He stands now at the doors of the holy city, a city resplendent in beauty, where God dwells with his people. (Revelation 21:1-7) Death, then, is not the end. Rather, life is transformed.

For this is our Christian hope. We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.

May the angels lead Craig into paradise; may the martyrs come to welcome him and take him to the holy city, the new and eternal Jerusalem.   

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