See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Dead Zone: November



November is the month Catholics think about dead people and their own demise.
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Never looked at it that way?  That is not surprising.  Though we live in what moralists refer to as the culture of death, we the living often try to ignore its reality.  We call funerals a celebration of ones life, we say that someone passed away instead of died, we call killing babies in the womb choice, killing old people and the disabled is called euthanasia, and so on.  I also think we are especially good at denying our own death - a fact of life for women especially, which happens to be great for the cosmetic industry.
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Preparation for death.
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So anyway - thinking about dying is a good thing, a prudent thing - it is a very Catholic thing.  That is why saints are often showing holding skulls - they contemplated their mortality.  We are going to die.  Praying for the grace of a happy death is a very important prayer.  Otherwise known as final perseverance, the grace of a happy death means dying in the state of grace.  It is a matter of eternal life or death.
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It occurred to me that the parable of the dishonest steward (we'll hear it Friday) can be likened to a man's preparation for death.  "Prepare a full account of your stewardship" because you're going to die.  [Luke 16: 1-8]  So the steward goes about making amends, tidying up accounts, forgiving his debtors and in turn asking forgiveness for his debts.  (One is free to piously ascribe such reasoning in private meditation.)  In the end, we hear how pleasing the dishonest steward's actions were to his master... because he acted prudently.
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Charity believes all things, hopes all things.
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I have been criticized for going soft on a few so-called 'bad' people in the Church; priests, church workers and diverse laity.  In light of my own dishonest stewardship in life, I hope I have been acting in good faith... recalling as I do how I too was once welcomed back into the Church - through no merit of my own of course - while not fully comprehending (nor ready to do so) all that was asked of me.  Every day in fact, it remains the same, I fall every day.  Although the astonishment over the fact that "Christ welcomes sinners and eats with them" as today's Gospel reminds us, remains with me each day...
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Whatever gains I had, I consider as loss... [Philippians 3:3-8a]
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I hope to arrive at that annihilation which St. Paul talks about - so that I can no longer look down on anyone.  Pride is so wretched and cunning however, it is I believe the reason St. Paul urges us to "work out our salvation in fear and trembling."  As the prophet tells us, nothing is more treacherous than the human heart, and how easily we can be deceived by self-righteousness, envy, jealousy, anger, resentment, rancour, remembrance of wrongs... leading us to defame and detract our neighbors, our competition, our masters and fellow servants.  In pointing out the truth of other people's errors, we often do not know what spirit motivates us.  In seeking to do good, we may be acting out of evil motives - "it is out of the heart that evil thoughts come..." [Matt. 15:19]
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The accuser of our brothers is cast out.
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The accuser is the devil of course.  The devil loves ad hominem attacks.  The Holy Spirit doesn't.  It is good to settle accounts on our way to the magistrate, while there is still time... because if the Lord marks iniquities who can stand? [Ps. 130]
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Lord who can be admitted to your tent
and dwell on your holy mountain?
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He who walks without fault;
he who acts with justice
and speaks the truth from his heart;
he who does not slander with his tongue;
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he who does no wrong to his brother,
who casts no slur on his neighbor... Ps. 15

7 comments:

  1. Kevin3:53 PM

    a few yars back I attended a local retreat with our Pastor... The highlight for him was taking us for a walk to our Catholic cemetary to ponder on where we are going to end up... I miss Fr. Sibley.

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  2. Momento mori...remember death.
    Great post, Mr. Terry.
    May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
    And may we, the living, remember where we are destined: to "be with the Lord"; and this includes the horror of death and the judgment of God.
    May He have mercy on us all!

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  3. Thank you, Terry. I humbly ask for your prayers. I am under attack at work. It is detraction...

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  4. Maria - prayers for sure!

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  5. Oh, thank you so much, Terry. I try to remember how Christ was persecuted...

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  6. Terry,

    St Moses the Black would be criticized by bloggers...

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  7. Henry - that is why I find the desert fathers so refreshing - I think many of them would be judged in a bad light by people today.

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