Around 200AD, Tertullian wrote the following quote as an expression of the astonishment the pagans of the day had when they witnessed the love and caring among the Christians: “See how they love one another.” The early Christians’ love for each other went far beyond pious sentimentality. Their love was tangible and practical: they took care of the sick, the widows, the orphans and the strangers both materially and spiritually. Those who witnessed their love could not help but be moved by what they saw. The good news is that this type of Christian love has not been relegated to the history books, but exists today and its ability to profoundly influence everyone who sees it is just as powerful as ever. This past month I have been deeply touched by the story of  Paul and Ann Coakley.  Their witness of faith and trust in the Lord despite the nearly unbearable circumstances of Paul’s diagnosis and rapid death from cancer at the young age of 34, leaving behind his pregnant wife and three small children, is extraordinary.  I do not know this couple, but came across their story through others associated with Franciscan University of Steubenville. I can honestly say that I have rarely, if ever, witnessed such steadfast faith in the goodness of God or such an inspiring demonstration of Christian love. Coakley Family: Photo from Team Paul and Ann Coakley FB pageOne Facebook entry struck me in particular – just a few days before Paul’s passing, his wife wrote: “Paul here is a victory. Paul in heaven is a victory. In Christ we can’t lose.” Her words have echoed in my mind – “In Christ we can’t lose.” Those words are not easy to say. They are even more difficult to live out in times of intense suffering

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