To die in peace with God is the culmination of any human life.
Of those who have died in our houses, I have never seen anyone die in despair or cursing. They have all died serenely.
I took a man I had picked up from the street to our Home for the Dying in Calcutta. When I was leaving, he told me, “I have lived like an animal on the streets, but I am going to die like an angel. I will die smiling.” He did die smiling, because he felt loved and surrounded by care. That is the greatness of our poor.
Father Joseph Heim shares in his book on page 101:
In the Jesus Caritas Fraternity we say a prayer every day that was written by blessed Charles de Foucald. One line of the prayer has always caused me some personal concern because I doubt my ability to say it with sincerity. It reads, “Whatever You may do, I thank You.” I wonder if this means that I should be thankful for cancer, for insults, for some thug putting a knife in my stomach to get my money? Should I really be thankful? Then I recall a hospital visit many years ago.
I visited a young father of three children who earned his living as a roofer. One day he slipped and fell backward into a vat of pitch. I visited him the next day in the hospital, and I have to say that I never saw anyone in such pain. Evidently morphine cannot totally eliminate such severe pain, but the young father did not complain. As he talked about his accident, he said something that I will never forget. His words were, “You know, Father, this is really painful and I wonder how it happened, but then I have to say that I am grateful to God that it happened to me and not to one of my children.” I am not usually at a loss for words, but that day the power of his experience left me speechless.
Beloved, how about you? As the Easter Season has closed with the celebration of Pentecost this week, are we speechless or are we still complaining? It seems to me, that if we can somehow get off our duffs and stand beside the bed of the cross of Jesus as he was suffering and continues to suffer, he will speak to us of his tragic betrayal and crucifixion. “You know, my beloved, this is really painful and I wonder how it happened, but I have to say that I am grateful to God, OUR FATHER, that it happened to me and not to one of my children, friends, enemies or You.”
Have a wonderful Pentecost. The picture is of St. Vincent de Paul in Paris.
Love, joy, peace,