Tuesday, September 8, 2009

On dying well and the loving care of God

I am continually surprised how perfectly God meets my spiritual needs. I discovered that, because of Christina's new bus schedule, I found myself sitting in front of St Mary of the Immaculate Conception Church in Baltic, dropping off my children at school just in time to enter the church to prepare for daily Mass. It's a dream often deferred, attending daily Mass, something we strove for but never fully achieved as homeschoolers, and now I can attend Mass in peace, and pray for my family. You can be sure that my writing will improve.
On my first day at Mass, Fr Tito encouraged those of us who work to win souls for Christ, assuring us that that desire was put in our hearts by God Himself. I was inspired to go home and begin to catch up on various book reviews and article which have been piling up. On my way out the door, I noticed copies of the National Catholic Register and read In Person interview of Fr Tadeusz Pacholczyk on his work in the National Catholic Bioethics Center. A friend whom I met at Ryan Barrett's funeral told me that Fr Tad patiently counseled her throughout her parents' illness on what health decisions were morally licit in view of Church teaching. I was anxious to hear Fr Tad's reflections on the graces of a good death:
"The graces of dying well are enormous, because there is a possibility for real closure and transition for everybody. For the person who dies, it is the transition into the next life. But for those who are left behind, they can feel that they did things as best they could; they did them well; they were present. Yes, it may be hard and there may be suffering, but there can also be moments of healing and moments of seeing into the person who is about to leave, things that they may have never seen before. Those moments are a part of the human journey.
There certainly will be some tensions and pain, but I am convinced that the Lord is in the details, and he knows all of this. The particular trajectory of each of our deaths, like our lives, is in the Lord’s hands, and he fine-tunes many of those details for the benefit of those around us who are perhaps approaching death for the first time or really struggling with it. This is the mystery of grace at work. The Holy Spirit is ever present in our hospitals and in our dying moments."

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