What am I instilling to my progeny: A life that is pleasing or a fear of dying?
Any of us who have children and beyond with the many grand-children we may be blessed with, our concern is always how we have accomplished a path in their minds of living without fear.
Thinking back on our own projection of growing up and the many times we may have experienced trauma through severe illnesses or mishaps that may have landed us in the hospital and saw our parents with their rosaries seeking the presence of God.
If we were fortunate enough to have parents who watched over us and ensured our adolescence through the proper instruction regarding God, prayer, and participation in the Sacraments of the Catholic Church; all attributes that placed hope before our eyes, these elements to instill faith within us the cloud of doubt could have had a basis to take over our gift of faith.
It brings me to several incidents I experienced and my concern for some grand-children who have not had the same example for them. When I was twelve years old a couple of innocent events of playing catch football ended with my hospitalization from an infection in my right knee that could not be opened for fear of a blood clot or blood poisoning. During the afternoon the doctors told my parents I had the possibility of dying. My mother stayed by my bedside no doubt in prayer.
Later that night I remember waking up and saw a priest wearing a stole, with a lighted candle on a side table and reading from a small booklet. I had recently received Confirmation and knew I was receiving Extreme-Unction, as the Sacrament of Last Rights was given to me. Early in the morning I woke my mother saying I was all wet. There was more than just the healing of the Sacrament that cured my dilemma, my father also asked God that if he healed me he would quit playing the numbers. That was a form of using bookies for the purpose of betting money.
The essence of this experience became real to me since my faith had already been learned and now came alive in my presence. Again, this belief we should be learning regarding God and the very presence of Christ always being with us is not an article from a textbook, but the knowledge that we are not alone in this world of physical and spiritual needs.
Another account that has become frightening concerns my grand-children. Not all, but some that grew up with a contentious family life and the time of receiving catechesis was non-existent. As I view the many problems some of them are experiencing now the lack of developing faith is almost gone. One of them told me that there is no God and his adherence to the Big-Bang-Theory is uppermost in his mind. He is at the age where many young children are part of the Wok generation.
If this was not bad enough, his father is close to death and this young man is already in an anger that bringing the thought about God and reaching deep into this young man’s mental acceptance regarding God, mercy, and belief in the resurrection does not appear to have any meaning in his life. There seems to be nothing but bitterness to an entity he can’t place a name to. His mother is afraid to mention Christ ignoring Church or denominations. What he did not experience growing up is now almost out of reach.
I may be asked to perform the funeral rite if he has no regular church to bury him. My thoughts are what to say during my homily, not without experience but with an audience that struggles with acceptance of faith filled existence especially when the loss of a loved one is real. We must see how the resurrection is not a bad evil that confronts any one of us, but the open arms of Christ with whom we were baptized. The two entities of baptism and finally sending our soul to God at our funeral go hand-in-hand. We are welcomed into Christ’s Church, then we are welcomed into the beginning of new life with Christ’s kingdom.
These thoughts are not exclusive to me but to all parents and grand-parents who must face the reality of a generation wanting to find themselves in a twisted world where the Church and God are no longer a reality in their lives. Pray that somehow the progeny we are leaving will be filled with hope and stand as a guide to bring God back into their lives.
Ralph B. Hathaway