Broken? – Stanza VIII – Part II
Blinded by success and praises,
of our fellow man trek we.
Developing more innovations,
from pain and death to be set free.
When we live according to the way God designed us we are happy and fulfilled. We have all that we need. When we do not live according to the way God designed us, we have a hunger inside, and no human being can fill that hunger. It is a longing to be loved perfectly; and we work, and play hard, and we buy things, and we travel, and do all sorts of things in an attempt to fill the void inside, but as St. Augustine said, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee.”
One of the things we do is to develop ways to avoid pain, and even dying.
There is a Pink Floyd song called, “Comfortably Numb.” While I definitely was not ‘comfortable’ with it, when I was on anti-depressants I felt a distinct disconnect between my head and my heart. I couldn’t feel anymore!! My psychiatrist told me that a lot of people report feeling kind of ‘numb’ while on their medication. For me, the cure was worse than the disease and I quit taking them. Within 48 hours I could feel again. Thanks be to God! I can’t help but wonder what effect this numbness has on the beliefs and behaviors of those who continue to use them. (I fully acknowledge that some people do need medication for mental health issues.) My own experience is that once I quit living a lie, when I stopped listening to the mainstream media and watching the popular TV shows, and I got serious about learning my faith, and living it, my anxiety and other mental disorders have greatly improved.
I think it is important to note the word ‘disorder’, and to consider it in light of how God created the world. Everything is orderly; the seasons and weather patterns, day and night, the rotation of the planets around the sun, the rhythms of the ocean, of life and death in nature, and even life itself. There is purpose and order in everything. Disorder is not from God but from the evil one who seeks to rob us of the good that God has planned for us.
I live in a state where assisted suicide is legal, and I cannot help but feel sorrow for those who think this is somehow a kind thing to do. Their actions are terribly misguided. We put animals out of their misery – people have souls, and only God, who created them and willed them into being, has the ‘right’ to end a life, and call the soul home.
They call it “death with dignity”, but dignity, as defined in the Catholic Dictionary is:
The excellence that deserves recognition and praise in a person or thing. Highest in dignity is God, whose superiority over all creation is the basis for adoration. (Etym. Latin dignitas, dignity, worthiness, worth.)
Call me old fashioned, but I believe that those who leave the timing and circumstances of their death in God’s hands, suffering patiently whatever pain and sorrow the Lord sends them, exemplify true dignity. It seems to me that what is erroneously called ‘death with dignity’ would be more aptly described as ‘taking the easy way out’, and the potential for abuse is horrifying.
I believe that one of the most beautiful parts of our Catholic faith is that we know there is value in suffering. It is not meaningless. We may not like it, we may not understand it, but if we accept what the Church teaches, (and this is according to the examples that Jesus Himself left us), we receive the grace to bear our trials. If we unite them to the suffering of Christ and offer them to God, they have the power to save souls, and we are able to participate in the work of salvation.
I find it interesting that, 2000 years after Jesus walked the earth, showing us the path to heaven and promising that through baptism we would become adopted sons and daughters of God the Father, death is still something we fear and want to avoid. Fr. Bartunek said in one of his blog posts that “Death is punishment.” I had not heard that before, and at first I was shocked! Does God punish us with death? Then I realized that it wasn’t direct punishment from God, but the natural consequence of the disobedience of Adam and Eve. We all share in that; it is mysterious and unknown. And so, being afraid of dying seems pretty normal.
But what has Jesus promised us? HEAVEN!! DO WE BELIEVE that heaven awaits us? Do we believe that we are beloved sons and daughters of the King of heaven? If we do, we might have an attitude more like that of Fr. Pinto, the beloved founder of the Disciples of Jesus and Mary, who, being from India and living in the USA was often asked, “Where are you from Father?” His reply, filled with love and joy was, “I’m from heaven and that’s where I’m going back to when I die.”
St. Teresa of Avila teaches: “Life is to live in such a way that you are not afraid to die.”
Rather than trying to avoid something that is truly inevitable, it seems to me that we would do well to spend our time here learning to love God and preparing for the final leg of our earthly journey, so that instead of being afraid, our lives might gain us the grace of a peaceful and happy death.
Love & Prayers,
This post is part of a series. The introduction and other articles from the series can be found here once they have been published.
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