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The silk painting, shown above, is by Ty Mam Duw, Poor Clare Colettines, Hawarden, WALES GB. Their website is here. Ty Mam Duw is Welsh and means The House of the Mother of God. Our Lady of the Pearl cherishes their friendship and is grateful for their many kindnesses and prayers. The image is used with permission.

Entertaining Angels

Entertaining Angels
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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

God's Remedy

A few days ago I was grooming Tashee, one of my Maltese dogs. I confess that I had let her go too long and had not combed and brushed her beautiful long hair often enough lately. Combing through wet, tangled hair is a long, slow process. As I began to comb her, I decided to listen to a reading of Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical on hope, Spe Salvi. This may be found here on Boston Catholic Journal.

The reader has an excellent voice and speaks with much skill. More than that, he does not intrude. Like a quietly spoken servant, he conveyed the words of our Holy Father. As I combed and groomed Tashee, who wiggled and sometimes growled, the words began to wash over me. I was amazed at their power (through hearing) to bring new insights and graces in the midst of so much distraction.

My heart responded especially to the section on eternal life (10-12). I thought again of my mother's death in December 2006, and my sorrow, how much we miss her. With her going, my own death seems closer as if she were the buffer between me and that day. This causes me to have many mixed feelings, but my age and health issues are progressed enough that I can see that death, in the Lord's timing, truly is a gift and can be embraced.

Our Holy Father, in the section on eternal life, writes about death, quoting St. Ambrose and St. Augustine. Under No. 10, he discusses baptism and then turns to the matter of death, which St. Ambrose refers to as God's remedy. A part of No. 10 is quoted below:

  • But then the question arises: do we really want this—to live eternally? Perhaps many people reject the faith today simply because they do not find the prospect of eternal life attractive. What they desire is not eternal life at all, but this present life, for which faith in eternal life seems something of an impediment. To continue living for ever —endlessly—appears more like a curse than a gift. Death, admittedly, one would wish to postpone for as long as possible. But to live always, without end—this, all things considered, can only be monotonous and ultimately unbearable. This is precisely the point made, for example, by Saint Ambrose, one of the Church Fathers, in the funeral discourse for his deceased brother Satyrus: “Death was not part of nature; it became part of nature. God did not decree death from the beginning; he prescribed it as a remedy. Human life, because of sin ... began to experience the burden of wretchedness in unremitting labour and unbearable sorrow. There had to be a limit to its evils; death had to restore what life had forfeited. Without the assistance of grace, immortality is more of a burden than a blessing”. A little earlier, Ambrose had said: “Death is, then, no cause for mourning, for it is the cause of mankind's salvation”.

Our Holy Father continues his writing about eternal life in numbers 11 and 12. He ends with a great crescendo of joy, taking us from Lent into Easter joy which lies before us.

  • To imagine ourselves outside the temporality that imprisons us and in some way to sense that eternity is not an unending succession of days in the calendar, but something more like the supreme moment of satisfaction, in which totality embraces us and we embrace totality—this we can only attempt. It would be like plunging into the ocean of infinite love, a moment in which time—the before and after—no longer exists. We can only attempt to grasp the idea that such a moment is life in the full sense, a plunging ever anew into the vastness of being, in which we are simply overwhelmed with joy. This is how Jesus expresses it in Saint John's Gospel: “I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (16:22). We must think along these lines if we want to understand the object of Christian hope, to understand what it is that our faith, our being with Christ, leads us to expect.

BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS: Spe Salvi by Pope Benedict XVI. Click image to order or for more information.

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Saved In Hope: Spe Salvi

Saved In Hope: Spe Salvi

1 comment:

chris said...

I pray that Kevin recieves a miracle and his cancer is cured. I pray for his family to find the strength to endure this most difficult time. May their church, their family and their friends give them kind of support and love that they need. I pray for the intercession of John Paul II and the Blessed Mother.