Monday, May 2, 2011

Thinking About Osama bin Laden, and What Father Lombardi Said

I don't expect what Father Federico Lombardi said to change the minds of any zealot. But stranger things have happened.

I wrote, yesterday, why I wasn't exulting in the death of Osama bin Laden - or speculating on what he'd be doing for the rest of eternity. Basically, I don't need that kind of trouble. (Matthew 7:1-5)

Someone at the Vatican made a more eloquent statement on that general topic. No surprises there. An excerpt from today's news:
"The Vatican says it does not rejoice in the death of Osama bin Laden.

" 'Faced with the death of a man, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibility of each and every one of us before God and before man, and hopes and commits himself so that no event is an opportunity for further growth of hatred, but for peace,' spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, S.J. said on May 2.

"Fr. Lombardi’s comments follow the announcement earlier today that the Al-Qaeda leader had been killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan. ... A U.S. official quoted by the Associated Press said Bin Laden's body has now been buried at sea....

"...'Osama bin Laden – as we all know – was gravely responsible for promoting division and hatred between peoples, causing the end of countless innocent lives, and of exploiting religions to this end.'..."
(CNA)
That burial at sea, by the way, seems to have been an effort by American forces to respect and follow Muslim customs for disposal of a body (CNN, FoxNews.com) My guess is that there will be bitter complaints about that - coming from several directions.

Oh, Hell: You Mean I Can't Stay Dead?

Although I grew up in a region where malignant virtue was endemic, my parents and church were nice, normal, mainstream Protestant Americans. I knew about folks claiming somebody would be going to Hell: generally 'those sinners over there.' But the fire-and-brimstone approach wasn't part of my personal experience.

By the time I was into my teens, I knew about Luke 18:13: "...'O God, be merciful to me a sinner.' " Not that I could have rattled off the book, chapter, and verse. And that's another topic.

The point is, I knew about God, Heaven, and the alternative. I didn't like the idea that Hell existed: but I didn't see what else could be done with folks who refused to be with God. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1033-1037)

A factor I have to keep in mind, when making decisions, is that I can't die. Not permanently. Nothing special about that: it's part of being human. On the other hand, we all die. Even if we avoid disease or injury, after a little while - we die. (Catechism, 1006-1014) (A special case like 2 Kings 2:11 is just that - a special case.)

If my body's death was the end of my existence, I could try optimizing the decades I had available, for maximum pleasure and minimum unpleasantness. Or to punish as many people as possible because they weren't like me - or for some other purpose.

Pursuing selfish goals isn't, I think, a good idea: because when I die, I've got a sort of final review to look forward to. The Church calls it the particular judgment. (Catechism, 1020-1050, especially 1021-1022) I hope and pray I'll have the good sense to follow the repentant thief's example. (Luke 23:42)

Osama bin Laden, Lazarus, and Me

I wrote a little about my reaction to Osama bin Laden's death yesterday. (May 2, 2011)

Aside from the Matthew 7 thing, bin Laden's death reminds me that I've got a limited time to work with.

I'm not quite in the position of either man in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. (Luke 16:19-31) But, despite being used in a medical experiment and dealing with major depression plus something that's ADHD-inattentive, Asperger's, or maybe something else1 - I think I'm closer to being in the rich man's position.

Those apparent afflictions have given me a great deal to think about, over the decades: an opportunity not many folks get. On top of that, God equipped me with a seriously overclocked brain. No bragging: my only contribution was deciding to use what I've been given.2

Osama bin Laden's death reminds me that I've got a limited span of time to work with. And, although I must rely on my Lord's mercy, it seems pretty obvious that we're supposed to do something with what we've been given. (Catechism, 1422-1473, 1846-1848), I've also read Luke 19:12-27 and Matthew 25:14-21)

I don't think I'm morbidly dwelling on death and all that. On the other hand, now that medication has put my brain in better working order: I feel like I've got some serious catching up to do.

Related posts:In the news:
1 See:2 See:

2 comments:

Brigid said...

There's an odd punctuation mark here: "a special case/)"

And this is just wonky: "I must rely on my Lord's mercy (Catechism, 1422-1473, 1846-1848), I've also read Luke 19:12-27 and Matthew 25:14-21) It seems"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...

Brigid,

I'd already fixed the "a special case/" - and that wonky bit - was really bad editing on my part. And now is fixed. Thanks!

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From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.