Suffering, Illness, Dying, and Death
Since all contemporary folks are, intentionally or unintentionally, steeped in the world it is rather difficult to see the traditional Catholic teachings and beliefs on the subject at hand, that is, illness, dying, and death.
Primarily, we must remember Church teaching that death is not a creation of God and He does not delight in the death of the living, as He created all things that they might exist. As I am a living God, the sinner’s death is none of my contriving! I would have him leave his sinning, and live on. (Ezekiel 33:11) Illness and death are the result of the Fall of Adam! This power of death not only applied to man but to all creation, but it is man who is conscious of it and suffers the most from it. The Garden of Eden was truly a paradise for all that dwelt therein. Although Adam and Eve did not physically die for many centuries after expulsion from the Garden of Eden, they died spiritually the moment they tasted the forbidden fruit. Preternatural gifts were lost, very nature was changed forever.
Since that time Our Redeemer, Our Lord Jesus Christ, by His Supreme Sacrifice has destroyed the power of death, although the sting still remains, that is, while we suffer death we Faithful Catholics know that we share in Our Lord Jesus Christ’s Resurrection. So properly speaking the Faithful Catholic is not afraid of death and must look on death as a temporary circumstance. That said, we must never have a friendly outlook toward death we must uphold the traditional belief that death is the enemy. This is the separation point of Modernists and Protestants who often times embrace death as God’s Will for us, or as natural; neither of which is true as can be seen by the Scriptural quotation above. It is spiritually and theologically vital that we understand this aspect of death.
While we must see this sobering aspect of death, we must not be afraid of it for the aforementioned reason, that is, Jesus Christ’s defeat of death by His Resurrection. Yes, it is proper to grieve and morn, but we must not give way to depression and despair. We must temper our grief with the promise that it is our destiny to once again be with Our Lord and our loved ones, body and soul, in heaven, that is, if our loved ones and we live(d) according to God’s Will. My son, shed tears over the dead, and begin to lament as if thou hadst suffered some great harm, and according to judgment cover his body, and neglect not his burial. And for fear of being ill spoken of weep bitterly for a, day, and then comfort thyself in thy sadness. And make mourning for him according to his merit for a day, or two, for fear of detraction.(Ecclesiasticus 38:16-18)
This message is appropriate for this season of the year as we transition to autumn with its cool nights and falling leaves; the season of seeming death and endings yet within itself holds the promise of spring and resurrection. It is the precursor of the Feasts of All Souls and All Saints and is a foretaste of the Resurrection of the body to come. Just as life is temporary and we are but pilgrims in this world, so too is death only temporary. If we live justly and according to God’s Will we will arise to glory; if not, to eternal suffering.
In view of the foregoing pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory who rely on our prayers and supplications. Also continue with the Rosary as things only seem to be descending further into chaos.
Richard of Danbury, D. S. G.
October 6, 2016