Sunday, April 03, 2005

John Paul II taught us how to live, how to die

With tens of thousands of other people are writing about the same subject my job is not to write but to pay attention. Rather than compete for attention, I direct the reader to American Digest. Gerard Van Der Leun's homage is yet another example of a writing gift that makes me glad to be a reader.

Why would anyone, many ask, suffer, when they could simply elect to die? It is a common question of our age and the common answer is, "Of course, no sane person would. After all, the pain not to mention the expense, and of course the burden on the family, society, etc, etc."

The different, more difficult answer from the Pope is that his Church does not side with death but always with life; even life made intolerable. It does not side with elected death at the beginning nor at the end, and that the Shepherd of the Church promises this as he assumes the Papacy. He cannot and, it seems to me clear, does not wish it otherwise. When Karol Wojtyla the man became Pope John Paul II it did not mean that he could or would become Karol Wojtyla the man again when life became difficult. It meant a promise kept beyond death. A promise that would, in word and deed, and in long measure, enact a life in imitation of Christ. One need not be a Catholic or even a Christian to learn from this lesson.

The Passion of the Pope is a living lesson that will teach many things to many millions of the faithful and the atheist alike in the days to come, not the least of which will be that the value of life in all conditions and all stages is not something that can be casually discarded or medicated or made easy simply because we can elect to end it.

This little essay is pointed but not preachy.
Read aloud it would be a fitting homily this morning for any service in the country, Catholic or otherwise.

* * * *
Speaking of reading aloud, while you're at it, check his link to the voice of Dylan Thomas reading his own lines from And Death Shall Have No Dominion.
Good. Really good.

Dead men naked they shall be oneWith the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

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