Recent Hollywood deaths lead to a renewed focus on how to gracefully handle grief and suffering

momento mori

I find the practical and simple words of St. Jane de Chantal incredibly comforting and useful. She wrote this letter to her own brother, who was the Archbishop of Bourges, and was indeed suffering from mental and physical difficulties:

When you are experiencing some physical pain or a sorrowful heart, try to endure it before God, recalling as much as you can that He is watching you at this time of affliction, especially in physical illness when very often the heart is weary and unable to pray. Don’t force yourself to pray, for a simple adherence to God’s will, expressed from time to time, is enough. Moreover, suffering born in the will quietly and patiently is a continual, very powerful prayer before God, regardless of the complaints and anxieties that come from the inferior part of the soul.

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2 Comments

  1. Long time no see, Doug. Glad you’re back.

    It interests me how certain–not all–celebrity deaths evoke the relevant spiritual work of mercy in some Catholics. After all, we never met or knew these famous people. Their awareness of or care for any of us was likely, well, nil.

    We grieve and reflect rarely because the deceased was Catholic, good or bad. It is almost entirely because of how the celebrity’s artistic persona affected us. The public persona may have been reprehensible (not the case here), but the fictional portrayals of the late artist’s oeuvre were what connected to us and resonated within us.

    Finally, what matters are the prayers inspired: for the salvation of this person and the solace of the surviving family. What counts even more is the offering of similar prayers for all: the high and the low, the known and the unknown, the probable saints and the obvious sinners. And all in between.


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