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  • Writer's pictureDr. Anthony Lilles

Things Worth Dying For

Dying is a difficult fight. Archbishop Charles Chaput sheds light on this struggle in his book, Things Worth Dying For. What makes dying more difficult in our own days is that we live in a culture of death. This culture does not know the value of life and the civilization that it leads to lacks love. This is unmasked when we face our own mortality, when we are seized by the awareness that our time in this life is very short.

When we realize that death is near, something deeper in us kicks in and we want to fight for life. This is not always the effort to live longer. It is a struggle for meaning and our integrity. For death confronts us with meaninglessness and disintegration. It alienates our bodies from its generative power, our souls from our bodies, and our life from this world. We find ourselves haunted by memories that we have not yet dealt with and we feel the need to confront these -- to find the truth, to find meaning, to find mercy.

Sometimes, as a man dies, there are voices that try to shame him because he fights for life. Not only in the inner circle, these voices echo among the culturally powerful that are themselves afraid of death. Yet, faith unleashes a different power, one that confounds and consoles at once.

The Word of God is not silenced by any cacophony of fear, shame, and anger. His Mercy is forever.

In the majesty of His splendor, the Most High is not unconcerned about the trials faced by the dying. He knows the alone-ness of death, its terrible tedium. He knows that it takes courage to die well - for both the person dying as well for the family and friends who support him. If he who dies is haunted by memories, questions and disappointments, a man's death is still the most supreme moment of his life, his final offering to God. God waits for us to surrender the puzzles of our heart and He can make sense out of them all. The gift of faith, no matter how frail it may be, is enough to make this offering right and just, acceptable to the Lord.

The Lord has destroyed death by death, and at one's own death, the Fire of the Holy Spirit burns the brighter as we cling to the Lord by faith. The Lord never abandons those who call to Him in this final battle. He rages with them against death and gives a love that is stronger than death. This Bridegroom does not neglect the Bride for whom He laid down His Life. If shepherds abandon the sheep, this Shepherd stands firm. The Son of the Father has taken up our cause and the Fire of the Holy Spirit burns bright in this terrible darkness because the Holy Trinity His implicated Himself in our plight.

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