Fr. Tom Rosica started his blog entry here as follows: "I was never a fan of Senator Ted Kennedy for a variety of reasons," and I concur. From my vantage point, 1,000 miles away, it is easy to look at his flaws, and failings and think I know something about him. Truth is that I don't know anything about the man. Fr. Tom goes on to speak of God's mercy, and our need to show it ourselves.
As I read his entry, it reminded me of something closer to home.
Many years ago, a woman who was a friend of mine had a father dying in hospital from cancer. She was about 50 at the time, and her father has sexually abused her repeatedly when she was young, which she had spent many years learning to deal with. She was a woman of great faith and her faith and her actions at the time of her father's death inspired me greatly, as to her character and as to the character of God. While her father lay dying, her only concern was for his immortal soul and eternal rest. She received permission from her parish priest to take him communion. She visited with him and took him communion regularly. She arranged for her pastor to hear her father's last confession. On her birthday that year, he passed away, peacefully. She knew that he went into the loving arms of God.
She knew something that I often forget. "God's justice is mercy." She prayed and worked fervently in those final weeks and days, while all the others around her watched and many of them scoffed at her actions. I am sure that God answered her prayers and the dedication of her choice to love her father, not for what he had done, but because of who he was.
I hope that the Senator too was able to die in peace, fully reconciled to God, as this woman's father was.
I will conclude with Fr. Rosica's final personal words:
"Let us pray for the repose of the soul of Senator Kennedy. Now that he is reunited with his brothers John and Bobby, Rose, the Catholic matriarch of the Kennedy clan and her husband, and other members of the Kennedy family, let us learn from what they tried to do in their lives, albeit imperfectly, and work for the building of a culture of life and hope, justice and peace, with God at the center. Let us also pray that some of the Kennedy children and grandchildren, so visibly present throughout last weekend’s ceremonies, and often identifying themselves as Catholic, learn from the gestures of mercy of their Church, and be more courageous in living and expressing their Catholic faith in a society that longs for the Gospel message and their living witness of that message."