April 2, 2005

"This evening or this night, Christ opens the door."

I'm touched by the beautiful photographs of throngs of people gathered in Saint Peter's Square, praying for the dying Pope, the great man, Karol Wojtyla. But when a very old, very sick man dies, though we are sad to lose him, there is no need to pray that he stays alive longer. Do we pray for his eternal soul? "This evening or this night, Christ opens the door to the pope," Bishop Angelo Comastri, the vicar of the Vatican, said yesterday. Not to say anything against all the reverent people gathered in the square and praying all over the world for the Pope, but wouldn't it make more sense to pray for all the obscure people who are dying all the time and whose eternal souls are in far greater danger than the Pope's?

UPDATE: A reader writes:
We’re not praying for him, really.  We’re praying for ourselves and for our Church. At a time when the Catholic Church desperately needs principled leadership, we’re losing one of our greatest leaders. So, although we do pray for his peaceful death and in gratitude for his life of service, we pray mostly for guidance and grace in a time of great uncertainty.

I appreciate that. I just can't help but think, in a week where I've seen big crowds of people praying for Terri Schiavo and the Pope, that there are so many people who are dying alone right now. I imagine them watching the TV reports, seeing all the people lavishing care on these two souls, and feeling terribly sad and lonely. These throngs of people standing in high-profile vigils could disperse and go individually to thousands of bedsides and visit those who suffer in isolation.

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