In the Hands of God

Nobody died.

Nobody can die.

We are immortal souls clad in mortal bodies and we can not die.

“Your god didn’t save even one child,” one of our atheist readers said to me in private.

Not true. He saved every child.

Not one of these precious babies died. Their bodies stopped and they stepped out of them into the arms of our loving Lord. That’s all that happened to them.

Their parents, their school and community and our nation are devastated by their passing. We are torn into ribbons by the violence and insanity that took them from us. Death is real this side of the grave. Death is the devastation of unyielding loss and gone-ness. They are gone from us. We will never see them, hear them, touch them again in this life. In the words of King David, we can, and will, go to them one day, but they will never again come to us.

But even in the face of such tragic and overwhelming loss, we do not need to yield to the hopeless bitterness of my atheist friend. We know the truth of eternal life. They are not dead. No one died. Even though it may be decades in the future after we have lived long lives without them, we will see them again one day.

The souls of the righteous are in the hands of God, and no torment will ever touch them.
In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be a disaster, and their going from us to be their destruction; but they are at peace. Wisdom 3:1

Sisters of Life

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Will you change?

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The best of us …

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The Bombing

We call it The Bombing.

We don’t use qualifiers about the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building, or Oklahoma City. Anytime you utter the words The Bombing around these parts, everyone in hearing distance will know what and when you mean.

We also don’t talk about it much. This monstrous event knocked us flat as a community. It re-focused our fight away from the everyday conflicts that engaged us before it happened. Anger and rage were an indulgence we couldn’t afford. We had people to save and lives to rebuild and only so much emotional gas to do it with.

The bombing was mass murder. What happened in Denver and Wisconsin and Sandy Hook and so many other places were also mass murder. What we have narrowly avoided in other places were other mass murders in the making.

Mass murder is not entertainment.

These tragedies are on every news show, even though there’s often no news to report. They are analyzing and pontificating, all without data, like so many useless hamsters in their respective cages. The object of almost all this attention is the individual or individuals who commit these crimes.

Mass murder, whether it is committed by an individual, a mob or a government, stuns us into incomprehension. We can’t fathom why anyone would think that it is a good idea to scheme, plan — use all their money, resources and ability — to work toward and then actually do this ultimately senseless thing.

We ask why. The only answer we get is a cacophony of psycho-babble from the book authors, psychologists and profilers who go in front of the camera and serve up heaping platefuls of meaningless word-salad pontification. There is no usable answer. The question echoes. Why?

Mass murder is inexplicable to those of us who look for reasons in the healthy motivators of love, fun, achievement and reward. This is at least partly because, in addition to all its other negatives, mass murder is just plain stupid. I think this stupidity is part of our fascination. We can’t figure it out.

Hannah Arendt gave us the phrase “the banality of evil” when she described the execution of Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann. Eichmann mass-murderered millions. His crimes challenge our notions of civilization and human goodness.

Arendt witnessed Eichmann’s execution. She reported that Eichmann refused the ministrations of a protestant minister, announcing that he didn’t believe in God; then he made a few inane remarks and proclaimed long life to Germany, Austria and Argentina. That was it. This man who murdered on an industrial scale died with a hiccup of banality.

Arendt had experienced Hitler’s anti-Semitism. She was interrogated by the SS, then fled the Nazi death machine from Germany to France and finally America. I would guess that Eichmann was the monster in her closet, the darkness in her nightmares. And yet, when she witnessed his execution, she didn’t see the fireworks of an evil god. She saw the big zero of nothing much. Eichmann’s evil deeds haunt the world, but he himself wasn’t even an interesting person. In her words, ” … this long course in human wickedness had taught us the lesson of the fearsome word-and-thought-defying banality of evil.”

I think she spoke a great truth in this sentence, one we overlook at our peril. Evil is not grand. It is not glorious. It is banal. Stupid. Senseless. Useless. And ultimately, boring.

Spinning verbal webs about the banal little nothings who commit these crimes gives them a substance and a dignity that they do not possess on their own. It creates the unfortunate illusion that these killers are interesting, and it feeds the cravings for significance of future killers in the audience.

Ted Bundy, another mass murderer who achieved celebrity status, said that when he killed he was god. What rot. It doesn’t take any special skill or god-like power to kill. A child can do it. Giving life, living life, caring and nurturing, providing and serving are what bring us close to God, the real God, the One Who made everything, everywhere.

A young mother, sitting up all night with the shower running while she consoles a croupy baby, is closer to God than most saints.

These twisted ciphers of people who commit mass murder are not gods, evil or otherwise. Their dark banality defies the comprehension of people who live and love in the sunlight of life. The media obliges our hunger for an answer to the omnipresent Why? of these things. They give us word-salad ramblings and psycho-babble speculation around the clock. But they don’t tell us what we want to know. They don’t and they can’t explain Why?

In the end, the one thing we know about these mass-murderers is what we knew at the beginning; that they are too dangerous to be allowed to roam free in our world.

We glamorize these people with our obsessive questioning. We feed future mass-murderers and their bizarre quest for significance with the unspoken but very real promise that they, too, can become stars of the obsessive media spotlight.

If the bombing taught me anything it is that these crimes against humanity are not entertainment, that these obsessions we form about those who commit them are our own contribution to the dark side.

Good people are hurt in these atrocities. We should focus our energies on finding ways to help them re-order their lives in this new reality of what has happened to them. We should pray and pray some more. We should pray especially for an end to the interest in these murderers. Contrary to the pretense of those who fixate on them, they have nothing to teach us.

If we want to learn, we would do much better to study those who gave their lives so that others might live, like the school principal who charged a gunman to save her students. We could learn from the security guard who saved a building full of people in Washington, from the cops who went into that theater in Aurora, and the teachers who blocked the doors. The people who bring flowers and lay them on the sidewalk, the generous souls who write checks to help the injured and bury the dead:  These people have something to teach, something worth learning.

There is goodness all around us. If we are sincere about doing something to end these repetitive mass murders, let’s stop looking to the murderers for our solutions and focus on the people who give life, not take it.

Evil is banal. It is boring. It is stupid. And it hurts people.

We should not cooperate with evil by making it, and the deaths of innocents, into our entertainment.

The Day When Nobody Died

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Pray the Seven Sorrows of Mary for America

Our Lady appeared in  Rwanda before the 1994 Genocide. 

The apparitions began in 1981 in a village named Kibeho and continued through 1989. Our Mother warned the people of Rwanda of the coming genocide and urged them to turn away from evil with repentance, prayer and fasting. She specifically urged them pray the Seven Sorrows of Mary.

This is a special prayer formulated around the seven major sorrows of Our Lady’s life. Our salvation is based at least in part in her willingness to suffer alongside her son. She gave Him to us in a very real way at the Wedding of Cana where she asked Him perform His first miracle. This action set Him on His ministry and the path that both He and His mother knew would lead to the cross.

“My hour is not yet come.” Jesus told her when she asked Him to help with the wine. “My hour” meaning the road to the cross. It was a wedding. He was probably happy. Having a great time. And His mother was asking him to leave all the joys of normal life and begin the long painful ministry that would lead to His torture and death. Then, as at Gethsemane, He did the human thing. He tried to postpone. “My hour has not yet come.”

But His mother ignored Him. “Do as He tells you.” she told the wine stewards. And Our Lord obeyed her. He did what His mother asked.

Think, for a moment, what courage it took for this mother to give her son to the ages. Think of the young Mary, taking her baby to the Temple for the first time. Her tiny baby boy. Imagine how proud and thrilled she must have been. Then Simeon tells her that “this child” will be the cause of much wrath and that He will be pierced by a sword that will pierce her soul, as well.

How hard that must have been, to have her joy dashed with this prophecy. But she needed to know. God answered Simeon’s prayer by allowing Him to see the Messiah before he died, and at the same time, used him to prophesy this terrible future to Mary.

She knew what she was doing when she asked Jesus to perform that first miracle at Canna. She also knew exactly what He meant when He said, “What does this have to do with us? My hour has not come.” She was woman, all women, the new Eve, undoing the harm of the old Eve by not failing this terrible test. “Do as He tells you,” was a prophetic instruction to the stewards and an instruction to us as well as them. “Do as He tells you,” she told the stewards, and her words echo down the centuries to us today. “Do as He tells you,” she says to us.

It was also a commissioning. She didn’t argue with Jesus. She just turned to the stewards and told them to do as Jesus told them. Our Lord responded by doing what His mother wanted. He began his ministry at that moment. She gave Him to us by this act, set Him on the path of ministry that led to our salvation.

This is the how the Seven Sorrows of Mary are the story of our salvation, bought with blood, suffering and sacrifice. Jesus turned His back on the human temptations to use His power for worldly glories during his forty days in the desert. His mother sent Him forward into His ministry at the Wedding at Cana. And He, by His actions there, sanctified marriage and made it a sacrament of love.

These Seven Sorrows are what Our Lady instructed the people of Rwanda to pray when she appeared to them at Kibeho from 1981 to 1989. She warned them, specifically, of the carnage and bloodshed to come if they didn’t pray, fast and repent.

God was there, even in this harbinger of hell that was the Rwandan genocide. He sent His mother to warn the people of Rwanda and to give them a way out.

I believe the message of Our Lady of Kibeho is a good one for Americans today. We stand in the shadow of six months of senseless slaughter by sad individuals acting in service to the devil. We will talk later about mental health services and legal reforms. But anyone who thinks the devil hasn’t had his hand in this is simply not seeing the obvious.

I am going to pray the Seven Sorrows of Mary for the families who’ve lost children to these murders this past six months, beginning with the parents and families in Connecticut. I am also going to pray for America. 

We all need to repent our support of violence, whether it’s in video games, movies or music. We need to repent our hate-filled invective against other people who simply disagree with us. We need to repent the violence and the murder in our hearts when we allow the culture wars to push us to hate. We need to repent the broken marriages and shattered families, the tantrums and curses and cruelties we commit and tolerate.

Without conversion, America will commit suicide. It is in the process of doing that now. We are Christians. We have the only solution, the only salvation there is. We need to live it daily and hourly. Only after we cleanse ourselves can we hope to share this great Hope with others.

You can find directions for praying the Seven Sorrows of Mary here, if you would like to join me.

 

Sandy Hook: The Holy Father’s Statement


I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Angelus. I was deeply saddened by Friday’s senseless violence in Newtown, Connecticut. I assure the families of the victims, especially those who lost a child, of my closeness in prayer. May the God of consolation touch their hearts and ease their pain. During this Advent Season, let us dedicate ourselves more fervently to prayer and to acts of peace. Upon those affected by this tragedy, and upon each of you, I invoke God’s abundant blessings!

Pray to St Michael

The prayer to St Michael seems especially relevant today.

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There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.

“There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.” 
― Corrie Ten Boom
“There are no ‘if’s’ in God’s world.  And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety – let us pray that we may always know it!”
― Corrie Ten Boom
We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world and the spiritual agents are from the very headquarters of evil. Therefore, we must wear the “whole armor of God,” that we may be able to resist evil in its day of power, and that even when we have fought to a standstill, we may still stand our ground.”
― Corrie Ten Boom

Corrie Ten Boom is a Protestant saint. Before World War II, she was an obscure Dutch watchmaker’s daughter. Unmarried, in her 50s, she lived the kind of quiet life that is totally lost to us now.

But during World War II and afterwards, God used this woman to do His work. Corrie Ten Boom and her family built a false wall into their house, a “hiding place” for Jews. When they were caught by the Germans, Corrie, her sister and their elderly father were arrested. Corrie and her sister were sent to concentration camps. Their father died in prison. Corrie’s sister died in the concentration camp. Corrie, and her sister, too, before she died, took great risks to witness about the Lord in this dark hole.

After the war, she lived the rest of her life as an itinerant speaker and writer, bringing the message that God’s love is with us, even in the deepest darkness.

Her book, The Hiding Place, was an important one for me after my conversion. I had listened to the world’s version of history all my life and I had no idea that there were Christian heroes and heroines who had risked and given all to save the Jews. Corrie’s book was my introduction to that ignored part of the history of those days.

I am convinced that if Corrie Ten Boom had been a Catholic, she would have been canonized by now. I am also convinced that she is a saint, that she is in heaven, and that God answers her prayers. God gave her small miracles in the concentration camps and I don’t doubt that He answers her now.

Because of what she suffered, I think her words have meaning to us in our times of deepest trouble. I think they are pertinent to us in this unraveling world of contemporary America. Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen and all other places like them, are harbingers of hell. They are the howling dogs of hate that we let loose on one another.

The mass murders at Sandy Hook, Denver, Columbine, and Oklahoma City are also harbingers of hell. It is up to us to decide if we will become part of this darkness, if we will let it overcome us, or if we will chose the light.

I chose the light. Corrie Ten Boom said, “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.” I believe that.

If you have young children …

Sandy Hook

I don’t want to talk about what happened in Connecticut. Not yet. But I feel compelled to say a few words about one area of this tragedy.

What if you have young children?

My advice is to do your best to shelter them from this. They might find it terrifying in a way that no little child should be terrified. Keep your tv tuned to other things. Don’t talk about it in front of them.

If they go to daycare or school, you need to prepare them for what they will hear there. Tell them about what happened in as few words as they will understand. Do it calmly. Then tell them that they are safe. Inoculate them against fear.

If, on the other hand, they encounter something that does scare them — through other kids at day care, their school, or maybe seeing the news coverage — then it’s very important for you to be calm and not over dramatize it. No “how could anyone do this?” in front of your babies. I don’t mean downplay it. What I mean is don’t scare them further. You have to tell them that you will keep them safe. Mommy and Daddy will take care of you. That has to be the message.

I would make a point of going to my child’s school or day care and having a frank talk with the teachers and principal about how they are going to handle this. In fact, I might decide to be in the classroom when it is discussed. If your child is scared, take off work and go spend a few hours at the school or day care, just sitting in. It does wonders for your child to see you there. If, for some reason, the school objects, then keep them home. In fact, at that point, I would consider alternative educational choices.

I know that right now you feel like you’re whistling your way through the deepest dark. I know that you are asking yourself how can any parent keep their child safe in a world like this. But don’t share those fears with them. Talk, instead to your spouse, that other person who loves them as much as you do. If you are a single parent, share your fears with an adult you trust, not your children. Divorced parents should, if possible, still unite in talking to their children about this and making them feel safe. If that’s not possible, do the best you can, and do not use this as some back-handed way to attack your former spouse.

My children went to public schools for a brief while; two and a half years for one of them. Quite frankly, that is the one thing I regret most about how I raised them. I’ll go into more details about why I feel that way in another post. The point for what I’m saying now is that one of my sweet babies was in school the day of the bombing here in Oklahoma City. Someone deliberately killed little children, parked a bomb under a day care, that day, too. Children who were in that bombing and who were grievously injured are members of our parish.

I am not going to say any more. I don’t have any magical advice that will make this easy for parents of young children. You are faced with a serious situation here. Do all you can to keep this tragedy from stripping your children of their security and innocence.

I will pray for you and for all parents of young children in the days to come.

Blessings.

Unspeakable Evil

This post with President Obama’s statement today says all I want to say right now. I think it’s the best speech he has ever given.

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Christian Persecution: Turkey, the EU and Treatment of Turkish Christians

Turkey was once a Christian country.

However, from the Fall of Constantinople until now, Christians have been subjected to severe discrimination and violence. This violence reached its peak with the Armenian Genocide early in the 20th Century.

I have seen the tiny corners of society into which Christians are pushed in Turkey. I stood at the spot where the Patriarch was hung by a mob in the early 20th Century. Christians can not build churches there, and there are severe restrictions on ordination of new priests.

Turkey is a beautiful country with many wonderful people. Their hospitality is incredible. I believe that Turkey can become a great nation. But it must move past its history of discrimination and violence against Christians to do this.

An important German politician recently took the same position regarding Turkey’s admission into the European Union. Volker Kauder, chairman of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, says that Turkey must allow Christians to build churches in Turkey before it can be admitted to the EU.

Frankly, I think that is a bare minimum. Christians in Turkey should have the same rights as all other citizens. They should be free to worship, and to witness for their faith publicly.

Volker Kauder, chairman of the Christian Democratic Union in Germany
Vorderstrasse / CC BY 3.0

Volker Kauder, chairman of the Christian Democratic Union in Germany
Vorderstrasse / CC BY 3.0
A leading German politician has criticised Turkey’s record on religious freedom, saying that the country should allow Christians to build churches without restrictions if it wants to join the EU.
Volker Kauder, chairman of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, told a party congress last Wednesday (5 December) that he expected a “clear signal” on the issue from the Turkish government before membership talks, which began in 2005, could continue.
He said:
country that wants to be part of Europe must accept the basic principle of religious freedom. That means, that we expect Christians in Turkey to be able to build churches without any restrictions, just as Muslims build mosques here in Germany.
The EU has previously criticised Turkey’s treatment of its Christian community, which comprises less than 0.1% of the population. Despite Turkey’s having the veneer of a modern secular state, Christians face much discrimination, restrictions and occasional violence. The rights of churches to own property, conduct services and open other facilities such as theological schools are limited.
Despite Turkey’s human rights abuses, Britain has been a strong supporter of the country’s accession to the EU. Member states are divided on the issue.
Mr Kauder’s comments come as the deadline for a draft of the new Turkish constitution looms with no sign of a consensus; the protection of freedom of religion or belief is one of the disputed issues.(Read more here.)

Abby Johnson: I May Have Said Those Words Myself

Abby Johnson was part of Planned Parenthood for years, working her way up from volunteer to clinic director. She left Planned Parenthood after watching an ultrasound of a baby during an abortion.

This is a video of a discussion with Abby Johnson at what appears to be a Family Research Council Action roundtable. Ms Johnson discusses the recent Planned Parenthood directive requiring all of their affiliates to perform abortions. She also discusses a Live Action sting which demonstrated Planned Parenthood willingness to cooperate with pimps and traffickers.

The video begins with part of the Live Action sting and then moves to the interview. I think this video contains important information from a woman who has first-hand knowledge.

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Affiliates Leave Planned Parenthood Over New Abortion Directive

Planned Parenthood in Oklahoma does not do abortions. So far as I know, it has never done them.

It refers women for abortions and advocates for abortion, but it does not do them.

Based on that, I believed, back in my pro choice days, that Planned Parenthood did not do abortions, at all. I don’t remember if they told me that, or I just assumed it, based on my contacts with Planned Parenthood in Oklahoma. I do know I didn’t explore the question, mostly because I didn’t care one way or the other. At that point in my life, it would have been fine with me if they had performed abortions at their facilities.

Years later, when I came out of my stay-at-home-mom hibernation, I discovered that Planned Parenthood was the nation’s largest abortion provider. However, Planned Parenthood’s affiliates in Oklahoma still, at least based on what I was told, did not do abortions. Planned Parenthood was, through the voices of its lobbyists, the voice of abortion at the legislature, but they didn’t actually do abortions themselves.

However, based on what I’ve read about a new Planned Parenthood directive, I think that is about to change. Planned Parenthood issued a new directive a few months ago requiring all affiliates to perform abortions at their sites. I assume that means that the Planned Parenthood affiliates in Oklahoma will follow this directive and will be, or may even be now, performing abortions.

It turns out that not all Planned Parenthood affiliates are willing to do this. A smattering of affiliates around the country have cut their ties with the larger Planned Parenthood organization over this directive. To be honest, this surprises me. I’m don’t know why they made this decision. But it is encouraging to hear.

The NBC News story (which I believe is biased toward the pro-choice position) discussing this reads in part:

 

A Planned Parenthood affiliate in New York is leaving the organization rather than comply with a policy that all affiliates must offer on-site abortions, fueling hopes among anti-abortion activists of a split within the abortion-rights movement. But the move is an isolated one that has nothing to do with political battles, officials of the family planning organization say, and the policy appears likely to take effect in the new year with little disruption.

M. Alex JohnsonM. Alex Johnson is a reporter for NBC News. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

The decision last week by Planned Parenthood of South Central New York to go independent comes as the Planned Parenthood Federation of America is fighting legislative attempts in several states to bar it from receiving state health funds because the organization provides abortions.

Planned Parenthood oversees 74 regional affiliates that operate about 800 offices and clinics across the country. The affiliates don’t provide a standard menu of services, however, leading Planned Parenthood in late 2010 to issue a directive requiring them to offer a roster of core services — including cancer screenings and HIV testing in addition to on-site abortions — in at least one of their locations by 2013.

Matt Yonke, a spokesman for the Pro-Life Action League, an anti-abortion group, said the decision by the New York affiliate highlighted that some Planned Parenthood workers were “deeply uncomfortable with what goes on inside their workplace” and were being backed into a corner.

“No matter what conglomeration of services your Planned Parenthood affiliate provides, it had better provide abortion, or you’re out because that’s what Planned Parenthood does,” he wrote last week on the group’s website. (Read more here.)

Onion: “Pope To Identify With Catholic Youth By Giving Up On Catholicism”

Will Sommers. He kept his head.

Henry VIII had Will Sommers, the court jester, who got away with saying things to Henry that would have made anyone else who said them “shorter by a head.”

In present-day America, we have jesters from every point on the political compass vying for our laughs. Unfortunately, a good number of these people are soooo political and their humor is soooo mean that it’s only funny in a nasty, gotcha sort of way. The power of good humor is its pretense-stripping honesty. But a lot of today’s politically-motivated humor is as dishonest as most campaign ads.

Humor can show us truths that are right in front of us but that we don’t see, probably because they are right in front of us. If it’s well done, it can do this in a way that illuminates and edifies. If it’s powered by malice, it can simply hurt.

Every so often a bit of humor comes along that illuminates a current reality and gives us a laugh along with it. That’s satire, and satire is what The Onion dishes up in its latest offering on the Holy Father, titled “Pope To Identify With Catholic Youth By Giving Up On Catholicism.”

The attitudes this bit of spoofery points out regularly show up in Public Catholic’s comboxes. That may be why I found it so funny. First Things put this Onion piece on their site, and I’m going to link to it here:

Onion: “Pope To Identify With Catholic Youth By Giving Up On Catholicism”

And, oh yes Bill S, this one’s for you.

Bishop to Mayan Prophecy Believers: Give it all to the Church before you go

Bishop Bernardo Bastres Florence of Punta Arenas Chile gave a whimsical interview to his local newspaper Wednesday.

He offered the thought that Mayan prophecy believers who think that the world will end on December 21 should consider doing some good before they go. His tongue-in-check suggestion was that they should give all the worldly possessions that they think they’ll be leaving behind to the Church.

I would like to be able to say that I don’t think anyone seriously believes that the world is going to end on December 21. I would really like to be able to say that. But I represent thousands of people who often feel free to share their thoughts with me, which means I know — know — that there are folks who are biting their nails down to the quick over the prospect of it all screeching to a halt in a few days.

It doesn’t do much good to reason with them. I know from experience that when they wake up December 22, they won’t think through to the simple and obvious conclusion that they were wrong. They’ll just get up and go on with their lives, cosseted in the peculiar amnesia of those who like to be fooled. Then, when someone dreams up another doomsday scenario, they’ll be biting their nails once again.

In the meantime, I plan to enjoy the whole thing. There’s nothing more fun than the thrill of pretend cataclysm. That’s why we love disaster films and sit glued to the television whenever some real life nightmare happens to someone else. It’s a safe way of dealing with our secret and usually unacknowledged fear of the very real death that awaits us all. It also, I think, is a way of facing without having to face the dread uncertainty of our seemingly predictable lives.

I’m not immune to this. I love watching shows and reading books about people surviving snake bites and facing ridiculous perils while doing totally daft things like hiring guides to get their amateur climbing selves to the top of Mt Everest. It’s no accident that I watch these particular shows and read these particular books. I’m afraid of both snakes and heights, so watching others face my anxieties is a type of medicine for me.

However, being a Christian takes a lot of the sting out of this death thing. Not all of it, certainly. There’s so much we don’t know, and there is also the fact that there’s no easy way to do it. Dying is hard, and usually painful. It is also, I think, lonely. So, no, I don’t view the fact that I’m going to have to do it with equanimity.

But I’m far more sanguine than the December-21-is-The-End-crowd. I don’t need to imagine an end of the world. I know that I’ve got one coming. My end of the world will come on the day and at the moment that I die. I know that. I also know that while this date and time are dreadfully uncertain and unpredictable to me, they are known to God and that He has me in the palm of His hand. I know, as St Paul said, Whom I have believed, and I trust that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him against that day.

In other words, I don’t worry too much about it because I know that He’ll be with me through the hard parts, and that once the hardest hard part, the suffering and dying part, is over with, it’s going to be great.

For those who can’t quite wrap their minds around this idea that if you are a Christian, death has no sting, getting fired up about the Mayans and the vagaries of their calendar is an easy way to distract themselves. It will work. For a time. Then they will forget it until the next nutso end of time theory crops up and they can go off on that.

As for me, I intend to watch and smile.

The CNA/EWTN article about Bishop Forence’s comments reads in part:

Bishop Bernardo Bastres Florence of Punta Arenas, Chile. Credit: Bishops Conference of Chile.

Santiago, Chile, Dec 12, 2012 / 11:21 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Bishop Bernardo Bastres Florence of Punta Arenas, Chile has an interesting suggestion for those convinced that the world will end Dec. 21, as predicted by the Mayan calendar.According to local newspaper La Prensa Austral, the bishop said that those who believe the Mayan prophecy should donate their worldly goods to the Church.

“If there are many who believe the world will end on Dec. 21, as the Church, we have no problem with them naming us as the beneficiaries of their possessions in their wills,” he quipped in a Dec. 9 interview.

Doomsday predictions about the end of the world, as documented by the Mayans, have circulated in recent years and grown in popularity. The Mayan Long Count calendar begins in 3,114 B.C., which accounts for time in 394-year periods known as Baktuns. The Mayans allegedly believed that the last, or 13th Baktun, ends Dec. 21, 2012.

To those who are convinced that the world is ending next week, Bishop Bastres said “I assure them that after Dec. 21, we will eternally pray for them.”

“Because I am sure that we will all be alive after that date. If they wish to pass on, they could do enormous good by donating their properties to the Church.” (Read more here.)

The Pain that Passes Understanding

Christ gives us peace that passes understanding because life can give us pain that passes understanding.

Peter Wiebe and his family lost their precious son and brother, Jesse, to cancer. Peter shares his journey of grief and faith in a WordPress blog he calls Threshold of Heaven.

I met Peter and his blog when I started Public Catholic a few months ago. He’s been a blessing to me and at the same time a challenge. The challenge lies is accepting the pain he shares while knowing that there is nothing I can say or do to ease his burden.

Peter Wiebe wrote a wonderful letter to Jesus Tuesday. I’d like to share it with all of you, particularly with those who have lost a child. They are one with Peter in this pain that passes understanding. It’s a private club no one wants to join. Only Christ on the cross can sanctify this loss, this sorrow.

Thank you Peter for sharing your walk with the rest of us.

I am going to reprint the entire letter, with Peter Wiebe’s permission. You can read it in the original, as well as learn about Jesse Wiebe’s life here.

Dear Jesus,

It’s just over two years now since our lives turned upside down. It’s hard to believe we are facing our second Christmas without Jesse. I don’t believe that you caused Jesse’s cancer, but you certainly could have prevented it from happening or cured it after the fact.

I believe the Bible when it tells me that all authority has been given to you both in Heaven and on the Earth. I don’t think I could believe in you if you were either powerless to prevent/cure Jesse’s cancer or just indifferent to his suffering. You did, after all, weep at the tomb of your friend Lazarus even when you knew that you would raise him from the dead. I choose to believe that you care despite the fact that you did not act the way I had hoped.

I don’t understand why you didn’t answer our prayers for Jesse’s healing. Neither do I understand why on so many nights when we pleaded with you to ease Jesse’s suffering, his suffering actually got worse. It felt like you ignored our prayers. Anna and I really felt along with David when he said, “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?”

While I suppose I could have hardened my heart toward you and filled up with bitterness and resentment, I could not find it within myself to do so. Early on during Jesse’s cancer I looked around the children’s ward and saw so many others with cancer; it never seemed right to me to ask the question “Why us?” rather I was left with the impression “Why not us?” It was a profound realization for me.

While my faith in you has been stretched exceedingly, it has not broken. I echo the words of one of your disciples when You asked him if he wanted to go, “You have the words of eternal life, where else could I go?”

With Jesse’s death, my whole vision of the Godly family I would build collapsed. The business, that was a part of that vision, failed the year after Jesse’s death. We also lost our home church, where we once were esteemed and had ministered for nearly a decade. And yet, despite our trials, I still have hope in you. You are my Saviour, and I am glad. I cling to the promise in your Word that says, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.”

I have not only lost, but also gained since Jesse’s death. I have gained a deeper understanding of suffering in the lives of believers. I have also gained a better understanding of what it means to have an eternal perspective. When I remember the terrible heaving of Jesse’s chest as he struggled for every breath, I imagine what it was like for you as you struggled to breathe on the cross. Then I know you understand. I am grateful, too, that Jesse will never have to stand and weep at the grave of someone he loves. He has truly been spared much pain and suffering here on Earth.

Since Jesse is now in Heaven with You, I often wonder what he is up too. Down here, there are plenty of conflicting views about Heaven and our resurrection. I wish you would have clarified that better in your Word. But the glimpses that you do give us into Heaven and the afterlife give us great hope of a joy filled reunion with Jesse.

In closing, Lord Jesus, please continue to have mercy on us as we walk the path before us. Bless us to know you more and more as the day of our own death approaches. Help us to be a blessing and a comfort to those you would send across our path. Help us to train our remaining three boys in your grace for as long as they remain in our care.

Please bless Jesse for us and tell him how much we all love and miss him.

Even so, Lord Jesus, come.

Peter Wiebe 2012


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