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Question

Reverend Father,
Thank you for Your tireless mission!
Glory be to God!
I’m a thirty-three year old man, and a practicing Catholic, who is discerning a monastic vocation. I’m, therefore, trying to live and taste the joy of the Gospel, in the midst of daily difficulties and doubts.
Recently, my slightly older cousin passed away. He died of sudden cardiac arrest at thirty-six year old, to the dismay of not only my aunt and uncle, but, above all, his wife, who’s a few months pregnant, and his six year-old daughter.
I shared the devastation I felt during this hard trial with my spiritual director, who is also the priest who celebrated my cousin’s funeral.  Also for him,  it was hard to deliver an homily he would have never thought, nor wanted, to write.
I talked about this with an old friend. She’s a very devout grandmother. She shares my doubts: why does God allow these unspeakable tragedies to happen to people of God who are good, meek, generous, honest…?
This woman’s son has a special child: she’s autistic. She’s a wonderful kid. Still, her grandmother asks herself why God allowed her to come into the world with a life already marred by a serious disability, in a society where the throw-away culture dominates, even though she’s surrounded by the love of her parents.
So I ask myself, and I lament, almost like the prophet Jeremiah: why has God called to Him a devoted husband and son like my cousin?
I thank you for Your kind and truthful explanations.
I entrust to Your prayer Giovanni’s family, the family of this pious woman and my discernment journey as well.
In Christ,
Michele


Priest’s answer

Dear Michele,

1. The death of a young person, who other people rely on, in this case his wife and especially his children, prompts all of us to ask God many questions.
Only in the next life we will see the Lord’s designs for good. Now, everything seems an evil to us.
So, we bow our heads and adore.

2. There are many considerations we could make.
You’ve probably heard many beautiful ones during your cousin’s funeral.
But I’ll put forward three.
The first: a dramatic event like the one you talked to me about reminds us that nobody has a right to get old and, most of all, that “there is no permanent city for us here” (Heb 13:14).
Therefore “we are looking for the one which is yet to be.” (Ibid.).

3. Next Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent (2019), we will hear in the Gospel these words of Our Lord: “Then of two men in the fields, one is taken, one left” (Mt 24:40).
An expression that can also mean this: at any moment, one can be taken away by death and the other left.

4. The second consideration: Jesus’ words “So stay awake, because you do not know the day when your master is coming” (Mt 24:42) become even more urgent.
In a world that’s asleep (and seems to have forgotten the next life we should be ardently preparing ourselves for) the death of a young family man is like an interior earthquake.
Who knows how many earthquakes the death of this young friend of yours might have provoked in people!
There might have been some conversions, which are like resurrections.
God doesn’t love us according to our standard, but with the standard of eternity.

5. The third consideration: of course, the immense pain remains for that broken family, for that young widow, for the child that is suddenly left without a father and for the other one who will come in to the world and grow up without having him by her side and without ever being able to see him or listen to his voice.
One who is without faith remains in the dark.
Faith is a light that comes from Heaven: it assures us that God is Father and takes care of his children even though it sometimes seems to be the opposite.
Even the tragedy of Calvary, from a human perspective, seemed irredeemable. But that wasn’t the last word.
A few hours went by and people realized that that tragedy was preparing something big — rather, eternal. 

6. Finally, you talked to me about that grandmother who has an autistic daughter and asks why God has allowed a life marked by a serious disability to come into the world, in a society dominated by throw-away culture, even though she’s surrounded by the love of her parents.
Here also we are forgetting about the fact that the present life is not the only life, but it’s rather the promise of another life, the one that really counts and about which the Lord has guaranteed that the first in this life risk being the last, meaning they risk coming to a bad end, forever, while the last (the throwaways…) will be in Heaven together with those who lovingly took care of them in the present life. 

7. On the other hand, I’m happy about your orientation towards the monastic life that you’re discerning.
In your own way, you are screaming at the world the Gospel message that there’s only one thing that counts: choosing the Lord and having chosen the best part.
I’m with you in prayer and especially with your cousin’s family as well.
I embrace you in the Lord, I wish you well for your future and I bless you.

Father Angelo