In the early evening of Thursday, September 14, 2006, Doug Martin and his three
oldest daughters were walking in shallow water along the beach in Ocean City, Maryland
where the family was spending a few days on vacation with friends.
His wife Jeanne and their three youngest daughters ---
Kathy (10), Jenny (7), and Suzy (3) --- were a block away in their rented townhouse.
All four of them were suddenly pulled far away from shore by a powerful rip current. Emily (17) managed to swim back on her own. Mary (13) was rescued by an alert off-duty fireman. Doug could have made his way back, but swam further out to help Amy (15), who had been swept so far out that no one on the beach could see her. Sadly, neither she nor Doug survived.
Praise be Jesus Christ! My first words this morning must be in thanksgiving to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
He is the Alpha and Omega --- the beginning and the end. He always was and always will be. And so, I sing praise to Him
for all He has done for me throughout this past year. I am reminded of the story of the footprints in the sand ---
during this difficult year, the single pair of footprints have been His, not mine. I have been carried. I thank the Lord
for inspiring all of you here to help take care of us. Not but a few days after their deaths I imagined the conversation
that Doug would have had with our Lord on his way to eternity. "But what about Jeanne and the girls? Will they be okay?"
Jesus' answer wouldn't have been, "Don't know, but you'll sure be happy" or simply "No, but you will." Jesus would
have said, "Yes, they will, because I will send people to take care of them." And those people are all of you ---
you've either brought me dinner, cut my lawn, cleaned my house, painted for me, driven my children where they've needed
to go, contributed to the education fund, managed my finances, or something else. But I'm willing to bet that
all of you have prayed for me, and for that I am truly grateful.
If I were asked to sum up this past year in one word, that word would be "beautiful". And as I reflect further on the year, I would have to admit that it has been the best year of my life because of what I've learned. Perhaps not my happiest year, but the one in which I've grown most in my love for God and my trust in Him. I've learned that I can offer my pain and sadness up for those who haven't known for a minute the joy I knew for 23 years in my marriage --- it is true that we never had a fight (it takes two to fight) and Doug never spoke harshly or said a word to me that he needed to apologize for.
St. Francis de Sales said that if Satan discovers that temptations only drive us closer to Christ, he will stop tempting us. And so I realized that everything should drive us closer to Christ. Not just the blessings, not even temptations, but also the misfortunes --- the things that might drive us away from Him, because it isn't fair, or whatever other excuse we might find. I pray that every one of you will embrace the cross that Jesus, in His infinite wisdom, has chosen to have you carry. One of my favorite prayers is from Pope St. Clement XI, part of which says, "I want what ever You want, because You want it, the way that You want it, for as long as You want it". I have been peaceful since those first moments on the beach because I trust that God loves me, and His plan for me and for all my family is better than whatever plan I might have had. Thank you, all of you, for your help and prayers for all of us, and count on mine for all of you.