Rose Beverly Raymond

A Memorial Address by the Rev. James P. Cooper

Toronto – July 23, 2009

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (JOH 14:2,3)

Throughout His earthly ministry, the Lord spoke many parables about the kingdom of heaven. He likened it to a vineyard, to a harvest, and to a wedding feast. He tried very hard to tell the people who came to hear His preaching that there was nothing to fear in death, for it was only a step into new life.

The Lord allowed His physical body to die so that He could rise again on Easter morning and show that He had power over death itself. He allowed all these things to happen to Him so that He could literally go and prepare a place in heaven for each of us, a place that we can earn if only we have the courage to follow Him.

Reflect for a moment about our usage in common language. When we speak about death, we immediately speak about new life. We say, “The king is dead. Long live the king” indicating that although we mourn the end of one era, the death of the king is also the start of the new one. In schools and universities the ceremony where diplomas and degrees are handed out is called “commencement” because it at once signifies the end of school and the beginning of the next stage of life. We are told in the doctrines of the New Church that whenever anyone is reading in the Word about the death of a person in the story, the angels who are present with the reader are not saddened by the death, but instead celebrate because to them it means that someone is about to be resurrected into eternal life! We should learn from this that since the end of one state is always the beginning of the next, we must look past the death of the body to the release of the spirit and resurrection that is the result! (See AC 3492)

The physical body was created by God to be the home of the spirit while it sojourns in the world of nature. We become quite fond of our bodies, and the bodies of our friends because we cannot see the spirit within. We think the body is the person that we love. But the spirit can only remain in the body while it functions correctly, while the heart and lungs are able to perform their uses. This is because the heart corresponds to the will part of a person’s mind, while the lungs correspond to the understanding part. Just as a person cannot be considered human without both a will and an understanding, so the body cannot function as the home of the spirit without both heart and lungs.

When, due to old age or disease, the heart, lungs, and other organs begin to fail, the spirit is gradually withdrawn. The person whom we love slips away into a deep and peaceful sleep while angels, especially sent by the Lord, draw near to them to keep them in lovely thoughts about the life after death. The spirit takes about three days to be withdrawn fully from the body, and it is then the delightful duty of the angels to awaken the person into new spiritual life. This is done ever so gently, and with the most tender care for the feelings and needs of the new spirit. Although it seems frightening to those of us who have not been through the experience, we must remember that we were specifically created to live to eternity in heaven. The God who would plan heaven for us would surely make the transition into that life as easy and gentle as possible. I go to prepare a place for you (text), He said. 

In the work “Heavenly Secrets” (Arcana Coelestia), we discover that our new spiritual home is safe and comfortable, specifically designed by a loving God to be our new home. We read, 

      “…as soon as a person dies he is in the other life, and lives as a spirit among spirits, and that he then appears to himself and to others in that life in all respects like a person in the world, endowed with every sense internal and external … consequently the death of the body is only the casting off of such things as had served for use and service in the world; and moreover death itself is a continuation of life, but in another world, which is invisible to the eyes of the earthly body” (AC 8939:2).

Rose Raymond had a profound faith in the Lord and in His promise that life is eternal. She felt the reality of the spiritual world, and the Lord’s near presence with her, and in many different ways she tried to let Him guide her life.

Rose was Born October 30, 1911 on a farm north of Winnipeg. She was the 2nd of the 11 children. When she was 13 she left the farm to move to Winnipeg where she got a job as a cook and was able to support herself and send money back to the family. Later, she moved to Timmons, Ontario where she met her future husband, Hubert Raymond.

They were married here in Toronto on July 15, 1941 (which means that she passed away just 1 day after what would have been her 68th wedding anniversary). Rose and Hubert returned to Timmons after they were married, and that’s where Doug was born.

In 1943 they moved to Toronto where Frank was born.

During World War II Hubert attempted to enlist in the army, but his skills as a machinist were such that it was felt that he could make a greater contribution to the war effort through his work and so he remained in Toronto.

Rose was a stay-at-home mother while the boys were young, but once they got into their teens Rose went into training and became a Practical Nurse. She travelled to various people’s homes to visit people who were sick or elderly and took care of them. She would dig in and do whatever needed to be done. She was also active in Olivet Church, taking part in the activities of the Ladies groups, and volunteering in various ways, always seeking out things that needed to be done.

The type of work that she did, and the genuine humbleness of spirit with which she did it reveal the strength of her character, and her belief in the Lord’s clear teaching that when we take care of each other, we are doing His work and at the same time preparing ourselves for a life of eternal usefulness in heaven. In speaking with her, the strength of her faith in the reality of the spiritual world and the profound confidence in the close presence of the Lord in her life quickly became apparent.

But now that chapter in her life is over, and we can find comfort in knowing that as time passes in the spiritual world, the physical limitations fall away and the true, healthy, beautiful spirit begins to emerge. We read,

      “In heaven those who are moved by mutual love are constantly approaching the springtime of their youth. And the more thousands of years they live, the more joyful and happy the springtime which they are approaching. This process continues for ever, constantly bringing increases in joy and happiness in proportion to the advance and upward progress in mutual love, charity, and faith. Those of the feminine sex who had died worn out with age but who had lived in faith in the Lord, in charity towards the neighbour, and in happy conjugial love with their husbands, as the years pass by come more and more into the first freshness of youth and early womanhood, and into a beauty that excels every idea of beauty which the eye can possibly behold” (AC 553).

We lose nothing of our essential personality by the death of the physical body, and that includes our memories and our curiosity. New spirits seek out their friends and associates from the life of the body and meet and talk together as long as they wish. And of course, the meeting of husbands and wives, parents and children, brothers and sisters are most joyous. Even as we meet here today to remember her, Rose is awakening into spiritual life in the company of angels. Soon she will be reunited with her husband Hubert and others whom she loved and who have gone on before. (See HH 427)

And even more wonderful than that, under the Lord’s care and guidance, she will be instructed and prepared for her life in heaven. During the time of preparation those things that are not a part of her essential character will be carefully and gently removed to bother and tempt her no more. Her misunderstandings and misconceptions will be lovingly corrected, and she will receive new truths with joy. As her spirit is released from the encumbrances of her worldly life, she will begin to change in her appearance as her spiritual body changes to reflect the changes made in her mind and heart; she will gradually appear younger and younger until she will be seen in the flower of adulthood, yet with the light of her considerable wisdom shining from her face.

We will miss Rose because we love her, and she brought something special and wonderful into our lives. We will feel our separation from her as sadness, but we should not feel sorry for her. Her body was worn out from a long battle with failing health, and she has now found blessed release from her pain, she fought the good fight, and now deserves her rest. We wish her peace, and look forward to the day when we shall meet again on the other side. In thinking of her today, we remember the Lord’s words in the gospel of Luke, Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (LUK 12;32) Amen.

First Lesson: 

Psalm 71 

In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion. Deliver me in thy righteousness, and cause me to escape: incline thine ear unto me, and save me. Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou art my rock and my fortress....

Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth. For mine enemies speak against me; and they that lay wait for my soul take counsel together, Saying, God hath forsaken him: persecute and take him; for there is none to deliver him.

O God, be not far from me: O my God, make haste for my help. Let them be confounded and consumed that are adversaries to my soul; let them be covered with reproach and dishonour that seek my hurt. But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more. My mouth shall shew forth thy righteousness and thy salvation all the day; for I know not the numbers thereof. I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD: I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only.

O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.

Thy righteousness also, O God, is very high, who hast done great things: O God, who is like unto thee! Thou, which hast shewed me great and sore troubles, shalt quicken me again, and shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth. Thou shalt increase my greatness, and comfort me on every side.

I will also praise thee with the psaltery, even thy truth, O my God: unto thee will I sing with the harp, O thou Holy One of Israel. My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee; and my soul, which thou hast redeemed. My tongue also shall talk of thy righteousness all the day long: for they are confounded, for they are brought unto shame, that seek my hurt.

Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Second Lesson:  John 14 (portions)

(John 14) “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. {2} “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. {3} “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. {4} “And where I go you know, and the way you know.” {5} Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” {6} Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. {7} “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” {8} Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” {9} Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father.

{21} “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” {22} Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?” {23} Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

{27} “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Third Lesson:

“Human life, from infancy to old age, is nothing else than a progression from the world to heaven; and the last age, which is death, is the transition itself.” (AC 3016)

[5] People after death - who are then called spirits or, if they have led good lives, angels - are utterly amazed at what [some members] of the Church believes about [themselves]. For he believes that he will not see eternal life until the last day when the world is destroyed, and that at that time he will be reclothed with the dust that has been cast away; when yet [ most believe that they rise] again after death. For who does not say, when someone dies, that his soul or spirit is in heaven, or in hell? Who does not say about his young children who have died that they are in heaven? Who does not comfort a person who is [incurably] sick or one who is condemned to death by saying that shortly he will enter the next life? And one who is in the throes of death and has been prepared for it does not believe anything different.... Is anyone unacquainted with what the Lord said to the robber, ‘Today you will be with Me in paradise’ (Luke 23:43), or with what the Lord said about the rich man and Lazarus, that the former was carried off into hell, whereas the latter was taken by the angels into heaven (Luke 16:22, 23)? Or is anyone unacquainted with what the Lord taught about the resurrection when He said that God is not the God of the dead but of the living (Luke 20:38) (AC 5078:5)?