Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Death that Brought Back the Life of Faith

Atheism comes in many forms: weak and strong. Often we hear of those who abandon their atheism for religion and religion for atheism. The reasons are varied: some  are intellectual and some emotional. An article in With Bible magazine, a weak atheist  puts aside his  atheism for a very emotional reason: the death of his  80 year old  grandmother who he dearly loved and wanted to see again, and writes about the change that came during the three day wake service.

The grandchild had in the previous months lived with great doubt about God and felt resentment, and turned away from him. He gave up on prayer. Let's us grant that there is a God than all he could do was pray, he wouldn't see the grandmother again. 

He paraphrases the words of Blaise Pascal the writer of the Pensées on God's existence. "If we consider that God does not exist, and he doesn't exist, there is no gain or loss by my life. However, if I live my life without God,and he does exist than my life is a big  minus. In the same manner of speaking if I live believing there is a God, and there is, than I will have great joy here and hereafter." These words gave the writer peace and consolation. 

The grandmother, he tells us, lived with the rosary in her hand and the Bible beside her. She raised her children with a faith life always recollected and  conscious of God.

To realize the hope of seeing his grandmother again the priest in his funeral sermon gave him the way. In his sermon to the  bereaved family: "You must show in your lives that what your grandmother believed and valued was true by the way you live your lives."  

When he went to the grave site he learned it was not  only his grandmother with these values but there were many others buried at the site with baptismal  names that were inscribed on the tomb stones that went back to his great, great, great great grandfather. 

Catholicism came to Korea in the 18th century and from these early days the faith was  passed down to his immediate family. Grandmother had family members who had died as martyrs and she wanted to hand on this faith to her own family. The grandchild at the grave site was determined to put aside his  unbelief and to start living his faith and to pass it on to his children. 

The writer wanted to meet her again, without any embarrassment; this was the gift that she gave him with her death: returning to the faith that he had lost with a new understanding of what he had abandoned.

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