Friday, November 2, 2007

MAY THEY REST IN PEACE

This is one of those days that not only am I thankful to be Christian, I am particularly thankful to be part of the Catholic Church that is holding onto the teachings of Christ’s Church which so many have abandoned. Is the hope testified to in the Scriptures too much to hope for some?

I friend stopped by last night, B., who offered to come by today and serve a mass for my dead relatives who died a number of years ago. In return I also remember all of his loved ones too. It was interesting that we both admitted to, even as kids, not experiencing the death of others the way so many people do. We share a sense that even if we were sad for our own sakes, there was also an underlying joy and an assurance that this separation was somehow so temporary.

But further than that is, as members of the one Body of Christ that has Christ as its head, we are still somehow mystically united. Our prayers for each other still flow back and forth.

Not too much before the death of my mother, Bishop Pilla, the bishop of this diocese at the time, experienced the death of his. At the end of Mom’s funeral mass he came down off of the altar to speak to the family. “I’m not able to tell you how, but I can tell you that you will have and know the presence of your mother.” And we have, not in a “Halloweenish” kind of way, but as a consolation from God.

I have family that does not believe in an afterlife. Actually, my Father is much that way. The silent desperation in his later years is a sad thing to see and there is little to be done about it. “Do you know why I live life so hard,” he once asked me, “Because I have to get it all in before it is all over.” He can’t envision anything beyond what is right now and so there is no hope beyond waking up tomorrow. As a 40 year old he was fine with that. As an 87 year old it is positively depressing. And the death of his friends is utter destruction which no hope can comfort.

To think – to know - with the assurances of Scripture and Tradition of not only 2000 years of Christianity, but reaching back into the books of Maccabees, Sirach, and even Job that our prayers can touch and assist those who have gone before us. And to know that “all the ties of love and affection which unite together in life do not unravel with death.” That there is but one Body of Christ all pulling for each other. That death is an illusion and a poor one at that for the one who can see the strings dangling. Knowing this makes life no longer just bearable, but joyful. Death is no longer a divider but something that unites. 87 years means no longer desperation, but even if it can be scary, there is indestructible hope.

Praise God.

4 comments:

Rob said...

-We share a sense that even if we were sad for our own sakes, there was also an underlying joy and an assurance that this separation was somehow so temporary.-

There is a great story about someone who went to see Thomas Merton in the monastery.

While they were speaking to the abbot, another monk entered the room and said, "Brother Hugh has died." The visitor writes that he was appalled to see Merton and the abbot smiling gleefully. Only after reflection did the visitor understand what the two monks were thinking - that Brother Hugh had woin the race, he had made it to the end and kept the faith. Only good things could come for him now.

Adoro te Devote said...

I can't imagine how awful it would be to not believe in an afterlife. To think that "this is all there is."

A year or so ago I was really struggling with that idea as I took stock of my life; is this all there is? There HAS to be more. I was realizing that my life was really devoid of meaning.

Then a person suggested I not give up on grad school...and one thing lead to another, and that's when I discovered the meaning of my life, which I wrote about the other day; Jesus crucified. That moment in time.

Because no, this is NOT all there is! Everything we do has a purpose, even if we can't see it. We all have a specific purpose on earth, and none of us belong here, so really, we shouldn't feel like we do.

We are citizens of a different place. When I was a little kid, I would sometimes ask Mom something she couldn't answer, so she told me that when we get to Heaven, we can ask God.

And I'd always say, "I can't wait to get to Heaven!" I was fascinated with the idea of meeting God and asking him all those questions.

And you know what? The more I learn about theology, the less I fear death, and really, the idea of death is appealing...because I can't wait to see the other side, never to have to return to this exile.

(And just so no one reads into this; no, I'm not doing anyting to hasten my death...all on God's time, besides, I'm not holy enough...not by far!)

JustMe said...

"To live is Christ; to die is (but) gain.."

:-) Yep. Well, I've been on the verge of dying a couple of times (pneumonia), and really don't know how I didn't do so that last time. I wasn't thrilled to be leaving, nor ready. Nor was my family. However, when the time comes, it comes, so it all came down to brass tacks PDQ. I offered my well-suffered death for the help of a woman whose Christly high-flying was always shot down before long. She was so bitter about her life, and was often quite mean to me as well as to any others whom she thought lower than her. Yet on the other hand, it was always me to whom she turned when her heart was on fire.. I'd smile and she'd shrug and say with hopelessness, "It'll be gone before long.." None of my loved ones were in need of my death, what else could I do? She was the nearest to being an enemy.

But then I thought of how little I was really offering the Lord, and asked Him not to be offended by such a thing, but that if it was or could be made to act as a semi-valuable offer, I was making that offer. It took many weeks for me, and perhaps many months or many years for her, but we're both ok, now.

Let's all pray for Mr. Valencheck, Sr.

Fr. V said...

Thanks for that post.