14

Grace in the Face of Death

As faithful readers of this blog know, I am a great admirer of the virtue of courage.  Nowhere does this virtue shine brighter than when someone meets death with grace and hope:

 

Dave Griffey at Daffey Thoughts gives us a current example of this grace:

Last week was a bad week for celebrities.  The suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade shed light on a problem that has been well known, if not overly covered, for several years now.  Suicides have been growing fast in the US, and continue to increase.  And it’s not just in the United States either.  Countries around the world, in and out of Europe, are seeing increases in suicide.  It’s almost like the same factors that have brought the new phenomenon of mass killings might somehow be linked to suicide.  It’s almost as if something in the last half century or so isn’t working.

I know, I know.  Suicides have always happened, are complex, and can impact those in and out of religious circles.  But here’s the thing.  We can appeal to past suicide rates all we want.  Never in human history has there been such an emphasis on psychological and emotional well being as now; never has there been so many safeguards erected for the sole purpose of preventing such mental spirals as that which could lead to suicide.  And yet, once again, we’re seeing that after tearing down almost everything the old world said was right and wrong, good and bad, we’re left at best with problems as bad as they ever were.  In some cases, we could argue they are worse.

I’ll leave others to scramble for a cause.  Suffice to say I’ll listen to materialists insist it’s all physical, and Christians and other religious individuals look to spiritual causes.  I will not listen at all to Christians, no matter how trained in mental health, act as if they never heard of God or the Holy Spirit, it must all be a matter of chemicals or biological deficiencies.  Nope.  Not going to go there.

As if the suicide news wasn’t enough, Charles Krauthammer announced that he has weeks to live, owing to a terminal case of cancer.  He has been Nazi and Commie to so many who themselves have a history of being disastrously wrong, I can’t help but think he brought something of value to our national discourse.  Unlike the previous two celebrities I mentioned, however, Mr. Krauthammer chose to endure.  Despite receiving a life altering injury that left him crippled for good, he persevered and chose life.  And like Lou Gehrig before him, he departs this earthly stage with grace and class, not self pity or resentment – at least none he has shown.

I don’t know.  Perhaps it’s a matter of perception, of attitude, of the way in which we look at life and the world around us.  I became a Christian almost 30 years ago, and in that time, Christians sound more like the world of agnosticism I left than the world of agnosticism sounds like any traditional manifestation of Christianity.  Yet there are still those who hearken back to a world in which our place is within it, not above it; an age when we had jobs to do and duty to ideals higher than ourselves.  Not a world in which the only reason God decided to exist in the first place was to create a universe centered around the awesomeness of me getting whatever I want, as soon as I want, with whomever I want, as often as I want, free of charge and if things go wrong it’s everyone else’s fault.

A clash of world views I suppose.  I get what I want, others be damned, or I don’t always get what I want, because I have other things to consider. Who knows?  Perhaps that ‘me’ focused approach isn’t something new, nor is the idea that we owe to others above ourselves.  And you never know.  Perhaps looking at the history of those differences could reveal something when considering suicide through the ages.  I dunno, just thinking out loud.

But prayers for the loved ones left behind.  I will not celebrate or make martyrs of those who killed themselves and left their loved ones behind to agonize for the rest of their lives.  Early on I was told that suicide is the most selfish of all sins, and I’ll keep that.  Nonetheless, I do pray for their souls and their loved ones who must shoulder the burden they were given.  I will pray for all who take their own lives, as well as their loved ones, in that manner.

I will also pray for, and give thanks for, those who through no fault of their own are smitten with ill fortune and decide to make all of the gift of life they can, thinking of their contributions to the world, of their loved ones, and all who know and care for them. May God bless them and give them the strength they need to die well, and shower blessings and grace upon those who benefit from their example.

Go here to comment.  We bring nothing into this Vale of Tears but ourselves, and we take nothing out.  However, each of us leaves behind an example of how we lived our lives, and for many of us what will be most remembered is how we meet our own death.  May we all meet it with grace and courage, as Christ did.  Before the battle of Lepanto the priests of the Christian fleet preached sermons on the theme of no Heaven for cowards.  Christians are meant to be brave, and must be brave, something we have lost sight of over the past half century.

 

Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.

William Shakespeare

14

Prayer Request

 

LarryD at Acts of the Apostasy has the dreadful news that his nineteen year old nephew took his life.  I would regard it as a personal favor for prayers to be offered for LarryD, the young man’s family and the repose of the soul of the young man.  I have long believed that before we reach our end, God throws a rope to us.  Let us hope that the young man grasped it before his soul left his body.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.  Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

1

Bear Growls: Mortality

Christ Defeating Death

He had been to touch the great death, and found that, after all, it was but the great death.

Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage

 

 

Our bruin friend at Saint Corbinian’s Bear had a recent reminder that bears do not live forever:

 

 

The evening before last, the Bear was lounging in front of his computer screen, when suddenly moderately severe chest pains struck. He waited for two minutes (having read somewhere that you should act on any chest pains that last longer than two minutes). Then he got up on his hind legs and announced to his driver, bodyguard and factotum, Red Death that we were going to the Veteran’s Administration Hospital ER right now.

 
After what might have been a sketch from the Three Stooges, with a special appearance by Buster, the Yorkie, who insisted on accompanying his master, Red Death and the Bear’s son managed to get the stricken Bear into the car.
 
During the thirty minute drive from the goat pastures of Zoar to the VA hospital, the Bear had to face the possibility it might be a one-way trip.
 
He pulled out his rosary and prayed it.
 
He contemplated his sins.
 
He was sorry.
 
He didn’t feel confident about judgment.
 
He regretted the drama of it all, as he imagined a medical team swarming all over his furry body, his family disrupted and grieving.
 
He told Red Death that he was open to massive employment of morphine if it came to it, short of hastening his death. (The Bear is a chicken, and Bears never turn down opiates.)
 
At the ER, they did an ECG. They drew blood. They put a line in. They hooked him up to a monitor. They gave him four baby aspirin to chew. The Bear asked for some diazepam. (Due to being frequently tranquilized by humans, the Bear has developed an appreciation for benzos.) His request was granted.
 
The Bear amused himself by making his blood pressure go up by picturing the Pope, and then making it go down by not. Seriously. He considered that the Pope might be hazardous to his health. He was, in fact, writing an ephemeris article about the Pope when he was afflicted.
 
He was ignored for an hour and a half, then they came in and took some more blood. The Bear was encouraged that otherwise they seemed have have forgotten about him.
 
Finally, a nurse came in and said everything was perfectly normal, and the Bear had not had a heart attack, and could leave. It was anticlimactic. Follow-up appointments were made with Cardiology.
 
This was a good way to start off Lent. Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return. Who really plans for their death? It seems to the Bear that making it up as he went along was not the best way of preparing himself. Perhaps the Bear will develop this issue.

Continue Reading

6

God, Death and Faith

 

Grief and Hope

Kyle Cupp has a heartrending piece up at The Daily Beast in which he discusses the death of his daughter and his subsequent loss of faith:

 

In the months following the death of our newborn daughter, I had remained steadfast in my faith, devout and prayerful. I had not for years imagined God primarily as a figure of power, like some cosmic orchestrator of all that is, so I did not feel inclined to blame God for our loss and our sorrow. I didn’t have an answer for it, but I didn’t look to God for an answer. I didn’t expect such a response. I let God be.

As time passed, however, my faith weakened. I lost the feeling of God’s presence and the impetus to pray, and perhaps as a consequence, the ideas I had of God began to make less and less sense to me. I lost clarity of what I believed, finally confessing to my wife late one evening that I couldn’t honestly say whether or not I still believed in God. This was not a confession that brought us peace. A cloud of unknowing separated me from the words of the creed I recited at Mass, and on that evening, sitting close to the love of my life, staring into her misty eyes, I feared that it would separate me from her as well. 

To make matters worse, I had no answers to give her. I couldn’t explain my lapse. I couldn’t point to any decisive event, something that had pushed me off the precipice. Instead, as we reflected back on the previous months and years, I felt as though once solid ground had changed into the wisps of a cloud without my having noticed, and only now did I realize that I was falling. If my broken heart was to blame, it has taken its bitter time, acting stealthily.

I hadn’t fallen into unbelief or atheism, exactly, but more of an agnosticism or skepticism about what I believed and whether I believed. I could no longer say what my faith, such as it was, meant in my life. I no longer had a sure sense of how the Christian story was true. I couldn’t answer where its myths ended and reality began. Occasionally I shot a few words of prayer in what I hoped was the direction of an unseen God, but I struggled and doubted even these simple practices of my faith. Neither Paul nor Kierkegaard were kidding when they wrote of fear and trembling. Continue Reading

4

Love Conquers All

 

Commenter Sywink sent me the above video.  My response:

 

Well that brought tears to my eyes.  My twins had a similar relationship.  When my non-autistic son was praised for helping my autistic son, he would always respond:  “He’s my brother.”  He got back in time from college to act as a chaperone for his brother’s class to a zoo.  When I asked him if he would do this he said, “I would be honored”.  This was on the Tuesday before Larry’s death.    Numerous photographs were taken of this outing.  His class after my son’s death put together a collage of the pictures that have Larry in them.  One shows his brother hugging him.  Needless to say that these pictures are now priceless family heirlooms.  Love conquers all, even death.

5

Sacred and Holy?

And they cried with a loud voice, saying:  How long, O Lord (holy and true) dost thou not judge and revenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? Apocalypse 6:10

If you listen closely you can hear the attendants (which include the mayor of our fine city of Houston Anise Parker) at this “dedication” commenting on their newly “sacred and holy” ground. They are speaking of the largest abortuary in the United States.

If we are moving toward, or already in, a post-Christian civilization then should we be surprised that those who promote and support abortion and other anti-life policies impart a religious sheen on their actions?  After all, human sacrifice was present in almost all pagan religions to some extent with the Aztec sacrifices being among the most infamous.  These people are willing and proud worshipers of Baal and, unless we pray, fast and offer Masses in reparation for these sins, we will only allow this evil to grow and ever more innocents slaughtered at the altar of “Choice”.

3

Funeral and Repast for Father Hinds Today

Father Edward Hinds

The funeral for Father Edward “Ed” Hinds will be celebrated today, Saturday, October 31,  A.D. 2009 at  10:00am.  The Mass will be the Rite of Christian Burial and simulcast live int he Saint Patrick Parish Center Gym, East/West Rooms, and Cafeteria.  Additional audio will be provided outside.

This will be followed by a private burial.

The Repast will be at 11:30am at the Corpus Christi Parish Center, 234 Southern Boulevard, Chatham, New Jersey.

_._

Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of the Diocese of Paterson where Saint Patrick’s at Chatham is located had these moving words to say concerning the death of Fr. Hinds titled, A Life Cut Short: The Mystery of Evil:

Continue Reading

8

Father Hinds Planned To Lay Off Suspect

Father Edward “Ed” Hinds was found dead in the rectory kitchen of 32 stab wounds late last week in the Diocese of

Father Edward Hines

Fr. Ed Hinds

Paterson located in the area of Chatham, New Jersey.  A suspect has been found who is the church janitor, Jose Feliciano.  He is currently in a hospital because of an undisclosed ailment and has bail set on him of $1 million.

Details are emerging concerning the case.  Mr. Feliciano has had financial and health-related worries.  He was recently laid off his second job earlier in the year.  Additionally The Star-Ledger (New Jersey) reports:

In addition, Hinds intended to lay off Feliciano because of money problems at St. Patrick Church, said Ken Mullaney, the attorney for the Diocese of Paterson.

Jose Feliciano

Suspect, Jose Feliciano

Many parishioners are calling this a double tragedy since Mr. Feliciano was also part of the close Chatham community as well as with the parish of Saint Patrick.

_._

For the previous article by the American Catholic click here.

For the most current article by The Star-Ledger as of this posting click here.

For a compilation of the latest news concerning the murder of Fr. Ed Hines click here. (The link may become inactive as time passes.)

_._

Update I: I misspelled Father Edward Hinds name.  It is Fr. Hinds, not Fr. Hines.

Update II: Information about Fr. Hinds funeral and more click here.

11

Father Edward Hinds Found Slain In Rectory

Father Edward “Ed” Hinds, the pastor of Saint Patrick Church in Chatham, New Jersey, was found slain early Friday Fr. Edward Hinesmorning by parishioners in the rectory when he failed to celebrate the 8:00am Mass.

This morning there was a congregation of roughly 300 parishioners that attended the 8:00 am Mass the day after the slaying.  It was a somber and quiet mood as the parish remembered their dear priest who was the only pastor at the church and he also worked at the parish school.

Continue Reading

37

The Pope, The Clown and The Cross

skelton_pope

In 1957 comedian Red Skelton was on top of the world.  His weekly comedy show on CBS was doing well.  He had  curtailed the drinking which had almost derailed his career.  Not too shabby for a man who had started out as a circus and rodeo clown and who was now often called the clown prince of American comedy.  He and his wife Georgia had two beautiful kids:  Richard and Valentina Maria.  Then the worst thing in the world for any parent entered into the lives of Red and Georgia Skelton:  Richard was diagnosed with leukemia.  Unlike today, a diagnosis of leukemia in a child in 1957 was tantamount to saying that Richard was going to die soon.  Red immediately took a leave of absence from his show.  CBS was very understanding and a series of guest hosts, including a very young Johnny Carson, filled in for Skelton during the 1957-1958 season.

Continue Reading