We had our 40 Hours retreat last weekend and the theme was Pope Benedict's encyclical "On Christian Hope". It is much easier to read than I expected and even though I haven't read through the whole thing yet, there were several things in it that caught my attention.
Lately, I have been thinking about death a lot. I look at my very elderly parents and I know my mother is tired of living....she's tired of feeling bad all the time. She rarely complains, but I can see it in her eyes. Yesterday, we talked about it and I was saying to her that death doesn't hold the fear to me it used to have. If I found out today I was dying the only thing I would really feel bad about would be the impact it would have on Mark, my children, and my parents. I have hope that I will be going to a better life with a delay in purgatory. (I always tease my kids that they need to pray me out of purgatory when I die since they're one of the main reasons I'll have to spend a lot of time there...hehe....)
Pope Benedict quotes St. Ambrose in his encyclical:
"Death was not a part of nature; it became part of nature. God did not decree death from the beginning; he prescribed it as a remedy. Human life, because of sin.....began to experience the burden of wretchedness in unremitting labor and unbearable sorrow. There had to be a limit to its evils; death had to restore what life had forfeited. Without the assistance of grace, immortality is more of a burden than a blessing."
Our Holy Father writes:
"Perhaps many people reject the faith today simply because they do not find the prospect of eternal life attractive. What they desire is not eternal life at all, but this present life, for which faith in eternal life seems something of an impediment. To continue living forever-endlessly- appears more like a curse than a gift. Death, admittedly, one would wish to postpone for as long as possible. But to live always, without end- this, all things considered, can only be monotonous and ultimately unbearable."
The older I get, the more easily I can understand those feelings that to live forever on earth would be a curse. We can never reach here what our hearts ultimately long for. Lately, when I'm praying sometimes, I feel this great urge to be hugged by our Lord. I know it may sound crazy, but I feel this longing well up in me, and nothing can soothe it. I simply have to wait for it to go away...
Recently, I was at a graduation party for one of Beth's friends and a lot of the young adults I know were there. They were talking and singing and joking around, drinking a few beers, and planning on staying up late...something that a lot of them seem to do lately. Sometimes all night....and I was watching them wondering why they felt that need to stay up all night and it hit me that they were searching for something....some fulfillment in each other's company. Their hearts are searching and they think that, for now, this is the answer to their loneliness. I know that they have to feel unfulfilled by it, yet some of them keep trying to fill up that emptiness with the partying.
Beth hasn't ever really gotten into the all-night parties, though she does occasionally stay out until 2 AM or so, but she said to me recently how empty it is all getting; how she's tired of the partying; she's ready to grow up and move on with her life. But some of these young adults are in their late 20's, and they still don't seem to realize that their lives are meant to be more than the "good time".
I'm rambling on here and I need to get the boys going; dentist appointments this morning (yuck!).
Please forgive me for my boring musings....
A blessed day to all.....