Monday , May 21, 2018

Vugt: Talking about death in the family

WHEN we talk about death to the children in the family, we tend to speak in distant terms. Usually we cannot even conceive of what it meant to have died. We have learnt about heaven, about forgiveness, about sin and salvation, but they remain abstract concepts to us.

In stark contrast to this, we may vividly remember the first time that it really sank in, the apparent finality of it all. It is somehow of a source of shame to admit that it was nothing noble that taught us this lesson.

Personally, I remember the death of a good friend of mine. He was killed by the NPA (New People’s Army) in the mountains of Agusan on suspicion of being an infiltrator in their ranks. This prompted me to leave the priesthood and adopt his six young children. I married also his wife who was an active social worker in our parish in San Francisco. I never would have believed that I would leave the priesthood, because the priesthood was sacred to me.

At present, I have noticed that our adopted children and grandchildren got a trauma, because of what had happened to them, that they had lost their father at such a young age. It is really not easy to deal with them.

Maybe this is the time that I and my wife should talk to them about what happened in the past, the death of their father. This might give them a chance to experience a real change and awakening. They may discover their faith, build a closer relationship with God, come to understand the importance of religion and receive the Sacraments while they are under our care. I am reluctant to think that I can design or plan for any transformation of thinking about something so fundamental.

We should not be afraid to talk to our children about death. All of us one day will have to face death. That is how we have been created by God. God is the owner of this world we are living in. According to Pope Francis God is a God of mercy.

So we should not be afraid to die. Our faith tells us that after death we will go to heaven. That is why we were created by God. Christ has died for us in order to redeem us. He has redeemed us and the whole world around us. God is in control of everything through his Spirit. The theme of my columns in Sun Star is the living Spirit. Theologians have invented that there is a purgatory and that there is a hell. Personally I don’t believe that there is a hell. God did not create us in order to condemn us for all eternity.

So let us not be afraid to talk to our children about death. Death is our destination. All of us will die some day. We always should be ready to die. If we have sinned, God knows how to deal with sinners. We must trust in God’s love and mercy. But we should put into practice what we have learned from the teachings of the Church and its commandments. Moreover we must obey the commandments of God: love your neighbor as yourself.

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