Friday, June 14, 2013

Was He Ready to Die?

by Steve Ray on June 14, 2013

IMG_9875It was just a normal morning — alarm clock, shower, espresso, dress and a saunter down the sidewalk to work. For Paul is was another day with a whole lifetime ahead of him. But today was different.

Someone else got up this morning too. They had their coffee dressed and jumped in the car. They tried to catch up on their phone calls along the way and didn’t notice the car stopped in front of them. He swerved and his car jumped the sidewalk.

Paul didn’t even have time to blink. The car slammed into him as he walked to work and he was dead. It was over. No time to think. No time to call out to God. He was dead in an instant.

Was he ready? Where is he now? I don’t know.

IMG_9872The other day in Rome I was just out for a run along the same sidewalk. I saw the memorial bolted into the wall with flowers and prayers. Paul’s family hopes he is in heaven. They still bring flowers, light candles and pray at the place he was instantly killed.

I stopped my running. I pondered the memorial — Paul’s picture. He was a young man; looks like about 30 years old, handsome and full of life. Did he leave a wife and kids behind? Was he a church-goer or had he dropped out for more important things?

Flowers, candles, prayers, tears, longing, hope, sorrow, lonliness, regret. All of this was obvious from the remembrance placed on the sidewalk.

IMG_9874I crossed myself, said a prayer for Paul though I have no idea who he was — or is, I should say because life does not end at death but goes on in heaven or hell.

I suspect he didn’t know his life would end at 8:46 AM that morning. Nor did anyone else. Makes one wonder if his life was in order. Had he gone to confession? Did he harbor grudges against family or friends?

As I prayed and meditated a bit on the sidewalk, I thought of my own life and once again realized how fragile we are and how crucial it is to be right with God and the world at all times. We never know when a cell phone call, or an absent-minded driver might snuff out our life.

It’s a good time to take a quick evaluation of your life. Are you ready to die?

For my story The Last Nightmare: the Story of a Soul, click here.

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Another banner day! Travestere is a unique and ancient quarter of Rome across the Tiber River. It is where the Jews lived prior to the time of Christ. The first converts in Rome were Judeo-Christians and it was to them that Peter and Paul first visited. 

We had Mass at Santa Maria in Trastevere which is arguably the world’s first church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. We had Mass with Cardinal Paglia who is President of the Pontifical Council on the Family. He was delightful and charismatic and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the Mass in his ancient basilica and his talk afterwards.

Fr. Pavone’s homilies are carefully prepared to be site-specific meaning that he carefully weaves the history and meaning of the current church into his homily which each explores the meaning, defense and importance of human life and dignity. Listen to the homily at Santa Maria in Trastevere here Pavone 6-14.

Then we had two hours to roam the streets of quaint Trastevere to eat lunch and shop before heading to the North American College which is the United States seminary here in Rome.

We had a great time with the seminarians, heard several vocation stories and took a tour of the seminary. For many of the pilgrims it was a highlight of the pilgrimage. We took up a free will offering at the end and collected $900 for the five who spent time with us.

Then we had Dr. Liz Lev come to the hotel and for one hour gave the most incredible introduction to the Sistine Chapel using color slides and her amazing whit, artistic knowledge and orthodox Catholic theology. Everyone was in awe.

Then we had attorney Alan Sears present our group with a talk on the dangers in America and how we are losing our freedons, especially religious. The bishop in charge of the Council for Life also addressed our group while we ate a good Friday fish dinner.

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