First Stones

I’ve been reading some online discussion of Ted Kennedy’s funeral. Does he deserve a Catholic funeral? He was quite the sinner…maybe he shouldn’t be allowed to have one!
All I can think is that I love that he got a Catholic funeral. I love that he was able to benefit from the Sacraments at death’s door. I love that he – a great, big, public sinner – might be in Heaven ahead of me.
Who, of any of us, deserves a Catholic funeral? Who, of any of us, deserves the Sacraments?
Which of us is really fit to throw stones at him, now that he’s died, when we honestly cannot say we know the state of his soul?
Pointing out his many faults at this point is useless. What is useful, however, is to pray for his soul. Pray that he’s in Purgatory, being purified. Pray that he had a deathbed conversion. Pray that he repented of his public sins, as well as his private ones.
Pray that, one day, you’ll see him in Heaven and embrace him there.
So you’ve got a choice now. You can pray for his immortal soul, or you can pick up a stone.
Which will it be?

10 thoughts on “First Stones

  1. I really like this post. You don't see this sentiment often enough, I think. There has been a lot of discussion among Catholics about witholding Eucharist to politicians who are pro-choice. To me, that leads to the question of withholding the Eucharist from every sinner. Then, we wouldn't even have to worry about distributing the Eucharist, would we? Christ died for sinners, and every sinner should have access to Him.

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  2. Actually, though, when he was alive, I was very much against his causing scandal and receiving Holy Communion. We *should* worry about who receives the Eucharist, for St. Paul warns us that no one should receive it unworthily, and that, according to the Church, means that those who repeatedly demonstrate a public sin without any sign of repentance should not present themselves for Holy Communion. To receive so unworthily is, in itself, a sin. So the proper reasoning for calling for Catholic politicians who support abortion, embryonic research, gay marriage, cloning, etc. is to keep them from piling sin upon sin and endangering their souls. Profaning the Blessed Sacrament by receiving Him and then turning around and thumbing your nose at Him by disregarding basic and unchanging teachings of the church is a danger to one's soul. When I did it, I was in grave danger of losing my soul. When a Catholic politician does it, so are they. The big difference is that when I sin, most people don't know, but when a Catholic politician does (and Kennedy was by no means alone), people *do* see it.Again, with Kennedy, we don't know the final state of his soul. He deserves and needs our prayers. With Catholics who are alive and promoting abortion, cloning, research on unborn humans, contraception, and gay marriage, we need to be very clear in reminding them that while they support and promote these things, they ought not present themselves for Holy Communion. This does now use the Eucharist as a weapon. Not when it's done with the right reasons in mind. And the right reasons are that we do not wish to profane Christ, present in the Blessed Sacrament, nor we we want someone to further jeopardize his soul by doing so himself, thereby piling sin upon sin. One last thing, just to I'm clear. Not all sins are equal. The Catechism is VERY clear that no one in a state of mortal sin should present himself for Holy Communion. If I am contracepting, that is a mortal sin and I should not receive Holy Communion until I repent of such a thing. But if my sins include things like telling lies, neglecting prayer, and losing my temper, these are not mortal sins, but venial. Venial sins are actually healed through the prayers of Mass and Holy Communion. To present myself for Communion with these kinds of sins is vastly different than to present myself when I have been promoting abortion as a right, or gay marriage as a right, or encouraging research on human beings. Because not all sins are equal, not all sinners are instructed to refrain from receiving Holy Communion, but only those who are in mortal sin (grave sin) are asked to refrain.

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  3. I appreciate your thoughts on receiving the Eucharist, and I've heard these explanations. We must be able to discern but not judge, which is not easy. And I do think abortion is grave sin. But, I also think businesspersons who directly causes death to people through strongarm tactics or indirectly through depriving food and health care to the weaker classes also commit grave sin. But do we trace these business practices to see the damage they do? Do we deprive these types of people the Eucharist? And what of the other people who benefit from these practices, through cheaper goods at someone else's expense? Who is going to judge all these cases? I understand we don't like when Christ is treated badly, but He allowed Himself to be treated badly. I think He gives people time to come around. He has more patience than we do.

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  4. Kay, I understand your concern for people being taken advantage of, but I don't know exactly what kind of situation you mean when you say that a businessman can cause "death to people through strongarm tactics." And food and healthcare are available to people, really. There are safety nets for both. No, a business should not keep a person from being able to eat, which means that people ought to be paid fairly. But these are not listed as mortal sins as far as I know. And this is what a grave sin is. For a sin to be mortal, the first key is that the Church must teach that it is a mortal sin. Just because I think it is wrong for someone to do X, and it might be wrong, or even a sin, it does not mean that X is a mortal sin. Also, for the sin to be mortal, the person committing it must also know it is a mortal sin. I would find it difficult to believe that a Catholic in politics would not know that the Church teaches that abortion, research on unborn human beings, cloning, and gay marriage are intrinsically evil, and that the Church teaches that they are mortal sins. If a person has been told that it is a mortal sin according to Holy Mother Church, they cannot claim that they don't know it. Not agreeing with something is not the same as not being aware of what is taught.The third key to a sin being mortal is that a person willfully commits this sin. Support for abortion in the act of voting to keep restrictions from being put in place or for using taxpayer money to help pay for abortions or for helping embryo research be paid for with our money has all been denounced as sinful by the bishops. Again and again, bishops have stated that it is formal cooperation (and thus a mortal sin) to give legislative support to pro-abortion groups while making it more difficult to promote and build a Culture of Life by preventing the restriction of abortion.

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  5. Christine, thank you for the time you have taken to answer me. I understand your points and don’t want to belabor mine. Since you said you are not aware of these business situations, I’d just like to give a few links as examples. I think a lot of Americans are not all that aware of US business practices in Latin America and how they have hurt the populations there. I have been there, and I can tell you the situation for many, many people is extremely terrible. An example of a recent case is pretty well summarized here . Also, a book called Open Veins of Latin America by Eduardo Galeano gives case after case of how businesses through the years have drained the lifeblood either directly or indirectly from indigenous people. (I hope my links work—I’ve never tried them in a comment before.)

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  6. Kay, I wouldn't trust that book, as it's a communist propaganda tool. Chavez gave it to our president, and Chavez has done more to hurt his people than any American possibly could. He is tight with Castro, he is shutting down all non-state media, he is trying to control the Church there…he's even trying to shut down golf courses, for goodness' sake! Your other link, I'll be happy to look at, but I would not trust any propaganda tool of the communists.

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  7. For more details on Chavez's totalitarianism in Venezuela, see this article. You don't have to agree with the politics of Charen, but you can't ignore Chavez's actions, which are merely reported here. I'd be suspicious of any book he highly recommends for shaping our policies in Latin America.

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  8. I just left a message but I don't think it went through, so forgive me if I repeat–I won't re-do the whole comment. I am impressed by your blogging enthusiasm, and followed your links to the other blog and article, which I skimmed. I do not support Communism, and I do not rely just on Galeano but history from other sources to know that business and political practices have sometimes resulted in deaths. I am not accusing the Church of taking land from Native Americans, but someone did. Have any politicians or businessmen had the Eucharist withheld because of that? Has the Church made it its business to research any deaths due to greed, and thereby withhold the Eucharist? I do not know of incidents like this, but I'd be glad to learn of them if you do.

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