“ ‘Why stand you here looking? He is not here but has risen!’ I say the same to you—‘Why stand you here, Harry is not here, he has risen!’ So go back to your work—go back to your homes, go back to the business of living—living your lives for Christ!”
This was Harry Charbonnet’s final message to those he knew and loved. At his funeral on January 4th, 2006, those beholding his grave were stunned to hear those last words read…and to experience the ultimate truth of Christianity.
They knew that Harry had built his life around a vivid sense of God’s closeness to each man’s destiny; and no one doubted that Harry had been granted eternal life. During the funeral, the following story shed light on such firm conviction.
On an April morning early in 1944, two aircraft had been scheduled for take-off. One would return; the other would not. A young Lt. Charbonnet had registered for the first of the SB-2C bombers lining the naval airstrip.
Nevertheless, as he approached the cockpit, a fellow pilot abruptly called him to stop, explaining that the plane was his own for the day. He insisted that Lt. Charbonnet was mistaken, and ordered him to take another aircraft. Argument being of little use, Harry complied.
Only later did he learn of the tragedy that occurred. The last radio message heard from the other pilot had been an urgent report of engine failure, before the aircraft exploded and took his life. That plane should have been his, and the life taken should have been his own.
The memory of that day had left an indelible mark on the Lieutenant’s life. With it he had been introduced to the mystery of God’s Providence, and to a sense of Christ’s closeness that would be the hallmark of his life. Thus had begun the solid foundation, upon which he built the remaining sixty-two years of his life.
The Rosary and Adoration before dawn, daily Mass, and his monthly retreats were all appointments he refused to miss. Above his bed, the image of the Sacred Heart still bears witness to what had become the foundation for his life. On January 4th, Harry’s own final message taught all who knew him what is the real business of the present: living life for Christ.