Final word on death: Prayer of the Faithful

I think (hope!) this will be my final observation on the deaths of Nora and Uncle Theo, but it is a story I think others would profit from reading.

I mentioned in my reflection on Nora’s death how people were changed by the caring for her. I am seeing in Uncle Theo a similar change – and from people who never heard of him until last week, and who never laid eyes on him in this world.

News of Uncle Theo’s situation spread through the internet rapidly. Several bloggers picked up the cry, and I myself shared the need for prayer with the 150 or so people on my email prayer group, some of whom also posted on their blogs, on Facebook, on other venues. The outpouring of prayer was immense.

Several of us have found renewed vigor in standing firm for the sanctity of human life as consequence of this.

But one of the most beautiful things I found – I’ve got to share this with you.

I’m a member of the Catholic Writers Guild,  This past week was our very exciting Writers Conference Online – begun each morning at 8:30, half an hour before the first chat conference, with Morning Prayer, led by… yours truly.

I mentioned the need for Uncle Theo on the very first morning after I found out his plight. It is the only time during the conference I initiated any mention of him – because thereafter, conference participants were intitiating the queries – “What’s the word from Uncle Theo?” – “Have you heard anything?” –

Chats were interrupted when I would sign in late – “Laura, have you heard anything?” followed by an explanation to the Presenter and those participants who had missed prior word. Others initiated prayer for Uncle Theo before I could have time to mention him, myself.

Even after his death, Friday, by legal euthanasia (he was in Holland, remember), the Guild members continued to hold his soul – and the souls of family and the medical personnel responsible for promoting this heinous act – in prayer.

We ended the conference last night with a “party,” of sorts – an open chat room. And one of our leaders said, “We need to take a moment to pray…” and it began with prayer for Uncle Theo.

The Communion of Saints – and saints-in-the-making – is a mighty powerful force.

In life we are in death… and in our unity of prayer, then we are very strong.

Amen.

Tria munera

Literally, Three Gifts –

And those gifts are our sharing with Christ His identity as Prophet, Priest and King. These gifts are given to us at the time of our Baptism and Chrismation, whether we’re infants or adults.

Now, the thing is, we don’t hear an awful lot about these gifts except in the context of the Baptismal Rite, but we need to give them some thought –

They’re not just a nice idea, or some other-worldly notion. They’re our mandate.

This is what is holding me up on my work on Pray, Study, Work: doing research on what this identity means, and how we’re supposed to live out these roles in the living of our common priesthood.

Quite the challenge, yes?

Mortal v. Venial

Mortal sin is like a bomb blast: the damage to one’s soul is immediate and catastrophic.

Venial sin is like a termite infestation. It may not seem like much at first, but if you don’t deal with it quickly and decisively, that one or two wee little bugs you almost don’t even notice are going to multiply, and become a colony; and that colony has the capability of doing some serious long-term damage to the structure it inhabits: your soul.

When someone we love is in mortal sin –

It doesn’t matter who it is, or how much we love them, or how “good” that person is:

Our affection doesn’t sanctify that person’s sin.

Okay – it’s understandable that people want to minimize and whitewash their loved one’s flaws. But when someone we love is engaged in acts of mortal sin, we must have the courage to look at those acts and to name them for what they are. I don’t care what your son or daughter or nephew or best friend is doing – if you can’t recognize that their mortal sin is just that, then you’re not loving their immortal soul.

This is called cooperation with grave matter, and it’s also a sin, by the way.

One of the most courageous couples I know did something incredibly hard and risky: they sat their lesbian daughter down and told her in no uncertain terms, “As long as you are involved in the lifestyle, you aren’t welcome here. We cannot, we will not tolerate your engaging in sin as if it were of no consequence.”

It might have been horrible – the daughter might have rebelled, she might have chosen her partner over her family, she might have estranged herself from her family for years and years. Instead, she chose her family – and because they loved her enough to tell her that sin is sin, she is now out of the lifestyle and able to look back objectively and with admirable honesty at what she left behind. At the ugly and manipulative community she escaped.

In any event, she told me, some time later, her parents had made sure that there would be someone who loved her enough to tell her the truth – that what she was doing was morally wrong, unacceptable in a Christian, and dangerous. If she ever struggled or vacillated in her choice, she had the truth echoing in her mind the whole time.

Love cannot – must not! lose sight of the fact that those we love possess a soul that is immortal, that we all will face a particular Judgment and pay the penalties – the just penalties – for our sins. And when we ourselves prevaricate, rather than facing head-on our duty to the Truth, then we compound the wrong; we take guilt to ourselves and we prolong and deepen our loved one’s slavery to sin.