“The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord!”
Her death was VERY peaceful and without agony.
All that day she felt particularly punk. She had an extra amount of phlegm in her throat which was very difficult for her to expel by coughing or clearing her throat. And, though I knew her days were numbered, I had not expected God’s call would be that day.
She called for me about 10:15 p.m. I had been working only 20 feet from her. Mama had often called for me day and night and often didn’t know why she was calling me. I, therefore, did not know that this call was her last. I went to her and asked if she needed to use the commode. She said, “Yes!”
Very gently I helped her to sit up on the living room couch where she had been resting. She said: “Wait a minute!” She wanted to pause a bit before I would help her get up. Was she dizzy? I don’t know. But I paused at her request. Then I gently lifted her onto the commode. That wasn’t difficult. She only weighed 67 pounds.
When she finished, I gently picked her up again and sat her carefully on the couch. Immediately and in succession, her shoulders jerked. Not like shivers, but like strong twitches. Then came a sound I had never anticipated. The phlegm in her throat seemed to be blocking her air passage.
I said loudly: “Mama, spit it out, spit it out, Ma!” But her beautiful green eyes were looking peacefully straight ahead without blinking. Though not dilated, I knew this wasn’t normal. I laid her on her left side with her head bent a bit downward in hopes that gravity would help draw the phlegm. I knelt down and started to pray Acts of Faith, Hope, Love and Contrition, but sensing there was little time, I rushed through the shortened forms.
Running to the kitchen phone, I called my priest-brother. “Come quick, and anoint Mom.” I said. I think she’s died. After two more quick calls, I returned to Mama’s side.
I saw that her breathing was nearing an end and her heart was weakly beating. I knelt and began to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.
My priest-brother arrived and after anointing Mom, he gave her the Apostolic Blessing that carries with it a plenary indulgence. When he said “Amen,” Mama peacefully took her last breath.
I shall be unsure in this life what took Mama anatomically. She had lost one lung in 1927 from tuberculosis and due to a lung infection 20 years ago, she had been living on 1/4 of a lung. She also had an enlarged heart and congestive heart failure. But was it a stroke?? a clot in her lung?? suffocation???
I shall learn in eternity. What I do know is that God had a place prepared for her. And though He took her soul into eternity, He left us the wonderful memories of a holy Mama, who died a holy death.
She had fought the good fight and kept the Faith. The Crown of Glory was awaiting her. I’ll miss her terribly! But one day I shall wrap my arms around her again and smother her with kisses. Then she will say: “Come, sweetheart, and see Jesus!”
I can’t wait!
May her soul and all the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.
Ok, that's it. A doctor who had worked in Benin today told me that he and other doctors started killing the snakes that have been killing the children in the village. Then the villagers started killing the doctors. Why? Because they worship the snakes.
That's it. Friends of mine who spend their last pennies to fly to Peru to cosset up to Aztec shamans tell me they have at last found the true spirituality. But anthropologists have just unearthed the frozen bodies of children who were buried alive as part of Aztec religion.
That's it. When I saw Dragonheart, a fantasy movie of a few years ago, I complained that dragons are evil, not good, and are images of the devil, not misunderstood nice guys. My friends made fun of me, told me to straighten up, and went on wondering why their children "act out" strange fantasies and scream during nightmares.
That's it. That's what Michael O'Brien, Christian artist and novelist, said when he wrote "A Landscape with Dragons: The Battle for Your Child's Mind" (Ignatius, 1994). Damn it, dragons are evil, serpents are evil, and there is objective evil in the world. Movie after movie, toy after toy, and book after book try to convince children that evil is all just a big case of misunderstanding and dragons and serpents are just in need of a pet and a hug.
That's it. A big lie, the biggest of all: the snake told it to Eve, and Eve told it to Adam, and so it has come down, the promise of godlike power if only you accept the devil's view that good is relative, depends on your point of view, and God just doesn't want you to know freedom.
Yes, that's it, the lie bought by the Trenchcoat Mafia, who followed a disgusting creature (I use the word advisedly) named Marilyn (a him) Manson (a name to conjure with). Marilyn Manson fields something called shock rock, which is inspired by Marilyn' first love (after himself)--the church of satan, the Serpent and Dragon Supreme. In ugly lyrics, Marilyn reveals the true source of his inspiration, Friedrich Nietszche, the philosopher who taught that God is dead and everything is, therefore, permitted. Manson's latest album is "AntiChrist Superstar."
That is it, my friends. There is objective evil in the world, the evil of principalities, powers, and dominions, the evil of satan's rebellion against God. As I say that, I can almost feel the horrid shock that runs down the spines of liberal modernists and liberal Christians of every stripe. You're saying that! You're really saying that! You're a fundamentalist!
Yes I am, as fundamental as Paul, Peter, Augustine, Aquinas, and a long list of those who understood what the old priest understands at the beginning of the film version of "The Exorcist," when he sees the dog-god of Egypt in a statue-that there is an ugly demon that he must face and conquer with Christ's heroic love.
That's it--that's it with political correctness, liberal stupidity, rationalist illusions, relativist education, amoral art and culture and, yes, pointy-headed intellectuals.
As I write this I am listening to the endless gibbering of the concerned specialists the media drag out whenever something like the Littleton carnage happens, especially if it happens in our schools. If it were not so serious, it would be funny to listen to therapists and educators and commentators telling us that we simply need to understand and hug each other and whistle a happy song. "We have to bring children into the mainstream," a congressman says. Into the mainstream? With Clinton?
These, my friends, are the rhetorical suppositories of script writers who have brought us where we are. Though they decry violence in the films, they don't see the deeper evil--the evil that comes from not believing that there is evil roaming about seeking the ruin of souls. It is, by the way, particularly laughable to hear Billy Boy explaining that violence is not the answer . . . . that the culture of death is not the answer . . . that honesty is the answer . . . .bla bla bla . . . .
What is the answer? First, we have to deal with the biggest lie of our culture (other, of course, than the "I never" of Billy Boy). The answer is that we must go back to teaching that language actually means something other than a statement about our feelings. As long as we teach children that there are nothing but feelings and that each one of us is simply a feeling-container, we are setting them up to be manipulated by the manipulators, beginning with satan, who was the first of the serpentine rationalists.
Now take Eve again. Eve wants so hard to believe that what God said about moral law is just His feelings, and if she will rebel, all that awful stuff about obedience will go away. As C.S. Lewis points out so powerfully at the beginning of "The Abolition of Man," modernist educators saturate children with the notion that a statement about something is really a statement only about our feelings. "That sky is beautiful" means only "I am looking at the sky and I am having beautiful feelings." Once the connection between objective reality and language is cut, no true education can take place. And there can be no talk of good and evil, as Plato demonstrated long ago. And there can be no teachers.
Lewis said that education is the education of "chests"--of hearts and emotions--but education in relation to the perennial moral values that are brought to perfection in the Gospel and the mainline tradition of the Christian West. And that would include, by the way, using violence when it is necessary to protect our families and countries. What would Lewis say, face to face with Marilyn Manson?
He'd simply say, I thought so, and he would remember that Milton's God laughs in Satan's face. In his space trilogy, he contemplated what would happen to society when it was surrendered to "the Conditioners," the modernist liberals who think that man is simply a biochemical substance we can reshape into--what? Whatever it can be shaped into. The problem is that the "whatever" keeps assuming the shape of a Dragon.
More money for the schools, anyone?
No place of sorrow, mourning, or death exists here. All is drenched, transformed by this heavenly light. And following John's gaze, I behold two splendid angels. They are quite large. I see them interiorly as beings of light, but with human form. There is one at the head where Our Lord's body lay, and the second, no less beautiful, is at the foot. Both angels are upon their knees in reverence and adoration. They are there to keep watch over this holy place.
I am given to understand that the angel at the head is the same angel who came from Heaven to comfort Our Lord in His Agony in the Garden. The angel who kneels at the foot of the tomb is the angel who accompanied our Blessed Savior's soul as it was surrendered to the Father as Jesus died upon the cross; the angel who went with the Divine Soul to the place where the souls of the just awaited the Savior, and then into the very bowels of hell, where Lucifer and all his demons were forced by God's power to acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Only-Begotten Son of God, Savior, Redeemer, King of Kings. The angel who came with Our Lord's soul as the Divine Soul re-entered the lifeless body and transformed it into Glory beyond words.
John can move no further. He is weeping with joy! The first angel speaks. I say 'speak' for that is the way God permits me to hear the voice, although the voice of Heaven is the sound of perfect love and has neither words nor description to explain it in words.
He is not here. He has risen as He foretold."
John nods, humbly. He is crying, striking his breast, giving praise to God for all of His wonders.
Just then, a breathless Peter stumbles into the tomb. I hear the footsteps, the labored breathing, but do not turn from the heavenly sight. Neither does John who stares in ecstasy at the sight given him.
Peter comes up on John's other side. He is laboring to breathe, but says, "It's dark. My eyes haven't adjusted yet from the brightness outside."
Yet, John continues to behold the resplendent angels, and they do not move. I realize then that Peter does not see them. This has been John's privilege. He says nothing, except "Look", and gestures to the slab where the body had been laid.
Peter goes forward for a better look, oblivious of the angelic hosts who adore and praise continuously.
His very human hands feel for and find the winding sheet neatly folded and laid carefully on the slab. Still searching, he finds the linen, which was placed about the head of Our Lord.
These pieces of cloth he takes into his gnarled hands and pressing them to his chest, lets big drops of tears splash upon the bare stone.
"It is true. O! My God! How blessed are You in every land. How great is Your goodness to Your poor Peter, who has in his trembling hands those cloths, which bound You, but no longer hold You bound. O! My Lord and My God!"
Peter turns to John, whose own eyes are awash in tears of joy. "We must go, boy. We must make all haste. We have seen. He is not here."
"No, He is truly risen," John replies, and the angels' song rises in a more beautiful song of praise.
"Come, let us go. There is no more to be done here. We will tell the others."
"And we will pray," John says, turning to follow Peter from the tomb.
"Yes, John. Together we must pray and wait. His Mother is still with us. Surely she will guide us."
"We must send word to the others," John says.
"Lazarus' sister will have done so by now," says Peter, without any affront. "She knew and spoke the truth. She did as He commanded her. Now we must be together in prayer that we may be all that He wishes us to be.
John's smile evokes yet a higher song of praise and the light intensifies and penetrates both men, only John alone is aware of it.
"We will go. You will take these, Peter," John says of the cloths Peter still clutches to his breast. "We will give them to His Mother."
"Yes, of course, His Mother. She has seen Him. My heart tells me this. It is only fitting. Peter, His Rock, crumbled at the moment of trial. I am privileged to merely touch them. May God be blest for allowing me to carry them to His Holy Mother, blessed of all women."
Together they turn to leave. John allows Peter to go first. He never mentions his heavenly vision of the angels, nor their confirming words of the Savior's Resurrection. I understand that John has also bee given many graces, and infused knowledge while in this holy place. But in love and prudence, he says not a word. He is truly happy for Peter, who leads the way.
The tomb is left behind, Peter, his precious treasures tucked safely under his cloak sets out at a good pace. He has been revitalized. Hope has sprung alive in him. He has a long journey ahead of him, but all this he does not know. All his heart can repeat over and over is, "He is risen, my Lord and my God!" to which al of Heaven gives endless praise. And my interior vision ends here.