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Broken? – Stanza VIII – Part II

April 19, 2013 by  
Filed under Becky Ward, Broken, Featured

Blinded by success and praises,
of our fellow man trek we.
Developing more innovations,
from pain and death to be set free.

pieta4When 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,

Becky

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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About Becky Ward

Becky is a wife, mother of four (One in heaven), grandmother of five, and a ‘re-formed Catholic’ who, after receiving the gift of a deep conversion in 2006, and working through the Disciples of Jesus and Mary faith formation program, now considers herself to be ‘fully Catholic’ What this means is that she now, at last, understands and appreciates the beauty of the Catholic faith in such a way that she wants to share it with everyone. “I’ve heard that the Blessed Mother told a visionary, “If Catholics really lived their faith, the whole world would be Catholic.” I see the truth in this, and it is my deepest hope to be a living example that draws others to Jesus. Given the nickname Rebel-Becca by her mother, Becky strongly identifies with St. John the Baptist and his call to “make straight the path of the Lord.”, and with his role as “Friend of the Bridegroom”. The poem, “Broken?”, written through her hand, is a reflection of the journey of the soul, and Becky explains what the Holy Spirit is teaching her as she writes posts for each stanza.

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  • LizEst

    Ah yes, St. Augustine’s famous quote, a restatement of the first line of Psalm 62, “In God alone is my soul at rest”! And, it is that rest in God that brings us to the joy and peace of eternal life in which the pains and difficulties of this life are as nothing compared to the joys that await us there. May we always witness to that life that is ours in Christ, from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death. Blessed be God.

  • JoFlemings

    This is a key point, the value of human suffering. Our country and especially our modern culture are founded on pursuing the ‘good life’- maximize pleasure, minimize pain. This ideal has lost any moorings it might have once had of faith, discipline and welfare of the common good- and slipped into egotistical hedonism. And your witness, Becky, to the emptiness of pursuing all of that is powerful.

    I am recognizing that same fear of suffering and fear of death more and more as driving aspects of deep-seated behaviors in my own life that circumvent my freedom in the Lord. I think an antidote to this fear is to pray for an increase and strengthening of faith, and to actively unite myself to Jesus in his passion and cross.

    As a bigtime LOTR geek I remember all the time Gandalf’s chat with Pippin about death being just another path, one we all must take… and that phrase from St. Francis about how in dying we are born to eternal life.

  • 2pearls

    Becky,
    What a very good read and interesting commentary on suffering, and what it means to be happy. I learned, like yourself, if we walk with Christ, carry Him in our hearts all day, we will be as happy as we can be on this earth.

  • Neil MacDonald

    I find this so interesting Becky. I also went through some serious depression years ago and tried every kind of medicine available at the time which only resulted in more confusion and distrust of everything and everyone. At one point I was near the end of my rope when my psychiatrist casually mentioned religion and asked if I were a religious person. To make a long story short I explained that I was at one point and he finally got me to admit that letting go of it was much of my problem. After I shared that I was a Catholic he said he was as well and would I like to talk to a priest? I reluctantly agreed and he made an appointment to see one who was a friend of his. Now thanks to Fr. Labarre I can fast forward and look back that at that moment I no longer needed any more medications and got my life sorted and put back together with God’s help. It was and is the best medication known to mankind to return to God and ask for his help. Now if others could experience the same results. It’s there, we just have to ask.

    The other thing that you brought up is fear of death. I’m not sure where I stand on this but I must say that I very well remember many years ago of my Dad sharing with me a week before he died that he had absolutely no fear of dying as he knew right where he was going and was looking so forward to his next life. His only problem was the suffering he was encountering worrying about my mother and us four children and the hardships his death would create along with the loneliness that we would endure in his passing. I hope I can feel that way when my time comes, I pray for that.

    Thank you for reminding me of these two important parts of my life.

    • Becky Ward

      Thank YOU for sharing your experiences too Neil. Sharing our stories is a way of healing, and when we heal, the Body of Christ is strengthened.

      Responding to both you and Jo and what you’ve mentioned about death, my experience is that my fears have been connected to those I will leave behind, and fear of the unknown waiting ahead. Through prayer and my faith formation program I have learned that God really IS in charge! and He is very close to us each moment of our lives. I was possessive of my children and family….not understanding the spiritual truth that God has given them to me to care for….as long as He wills. They belong to God; we all do. He loves them more than I do and is quite able to provide what is best for their souls for eternity, whereas my vision was limited to my own perspective of what was best for them (according to me) in worldly or temporal ways…..and what would happen to them when I was no longer there to watch over them. :-) Yes, the pruning involved in reaching this understanding was painful – but my love for people is no longer selfish, and I am able to see good and beauty in everyone.

      Abuse in my life has left me with many, many fears. But fear is not from God – not this kind of fear, and I have found much relief in simply renouncing the spirit of fear as I learned in the book UNBOUND. I recognize an external ‘force’ if you will, that shows up when I am afraid, and telling it to get lost in the name of Jesus is very effective! As you’ve said, turning to God and asking for His help is all we need. So simple……..and yet so hard to achieve! :)

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