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Death makes us weep

January 13, 2013

Death is the only thing that ever made Jesus cry (John 11:35). That’s because death is not supposed to happen. Death was not part of God’s original plan. It upsets everything. But although death was not part of God’s original plan for humanity, it has become an integral part of his back-up plan. When Jesus died on the Cross, He conquered for us what we could not defeat, and made death—yes, death itself—the occasion for us to meet Him face to face and start that eternity of Life that we were all meant from the beginning to share with God.

For all that, though, death still makes us cry.

Paul D., a young man in our parish, a husband, a father of seven, is dying. It should not be happening. Wives need husbands, kids need dads, and Paul’s extended family, his friends, and his parish need him.

Paul and his wife are models to each other, to their children, and to us, of what Catholic responsibility for the world and one another looks like. Paul’s job required a long education in preparation and long hours in performance. He works at it the way every Catholic man should work at his job, competently and honestly. He puts a roof over his family’s head and food on their table; he gets them to Mass and prays with them at home. He takes them on trips and teaches them how to care for the family zoo in the backyard. And each Pentecost, Paul clears the brush and deadwood from the back lot, piles it high, and invites the parish over to celebrate the Spirit’s Bonfire with burgers and beer. It’s great fun!

For the last year or so, Paul has suffered from an aggressive cancer. He welcomes prayers, of course, and asks especially that prayers be directed to Abp. Fulton Sheen, for whom their second-to-youngest is named, in the hopes that Sheen’s intercession might work for Paul and, by curing Paul, help the family he loves and the community he serves. But it seems that’s not going to happen this time, and while the prayers to Sheen should continue, of course, the ladies of the parish—the ones who always know what’s really going on in our community—are suggesting prayers to St. Joseph as well.

Paul D. has been an example to us of Catholic manhood in his vigor, and he has been an example to us of Catholic manhood in his suffering. If it pleases God now to have Paul serve as an example to us of Catholic manhood in facing death, so be it. I am very, very sure that God would have his reasons.

But it will still make me weep.

Update: Paul died this evening. He was 38. I am sure your prayers were, and will continue to be, a great comfort to all affected by this.


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