mercredi, mars 14, 2007

A beautiful testimony

I met Pierre Panis seven years ago, while I was beginning my priestly ministry in Perpignan (south of France). Since Pierre is unable to move, I would go to his home to say Mass and to give him Our Lord. It was, for me, a rewarding experience, because beyond the joy of offering him the Sacraments, I also received from him a beautiful lesson of life and Faith. Pierre’s vocation is certainly to remind us that there is only One Necessity. May Our Lady keep his Faith intact. Here is a letter that he recently wrote.

I was born in 1952 and I married in 1977. I was a winemaker and tree farmer, very dynamic by nature. I used to live happily and I enjoyed life very much. One day, at the end of 1985 – I was 33 years old – I began to be bothered when using a screwdriver. Six months later, I was in a wheelchair, and three years later, unable to hold my head up straight, I took to my bed… that I have never left since that day.
Today, I am totally paralyzed, with tracheotomy, connected to a breathing apparatus. I can only move my eyes. This sickness - Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis– causes an inexorable degeneration of all the muscles and rapidly puts the sick in a state of total dependence.
Fortunately, I have a computer with software which allows me to write with my eyes. Thanks to this equipment, I can write today.

After the first period of dejection, I turned toward Heaven and I asked: “Why me?” My fate seemed to me unfair. There are so many “ professional unemployed ”, so many people without faith; so, why me?
I wanted to understand…and I understood. I understood that I needed this sickness to realize that I satisfied myself, as so many people do, just by attending Mass on Sunday. But in fact, I was far from following the way of the Lord. Today, I am totally paralyzed; I can only move my eyes. But I am happy.
I am happy to walk again in the way of the Lord.
I am happy to live in accordance with my ideal.
I am happy to be modestly useful to my God.

I am originally from and old squire Catholic family of churchgoers and I have always had Faith. So when I found out about my sickness, I frantically flew into Faith with despair like one marooned on his life preserver. In spite of the extreme pain – dismay lasts as long as the descent into hells lasts – I kept my confidence in God.
The descent lasts as long as there are still some muscles to immobilize and to paralyze. Then, when you have reached this bottom, when sickness no longer finds anything to nourish its demolishing appetite, you enter into what the eminent specialists call the terminal phase. I have been in the terminal phase for 17 years. I have grown accustomed to it, and – maybe I will surprise you – I am happy: My joie de vivre has swept away and obscured all the inconveniences and constraints of my state. My mind is clear and I have no desire to complain. Would I dare to say: au contraire! Because this sickness is for me a constrained sanctification… to some it may seem to be cruel and unjust. Glory be to God! For the great majority of people, this reaction to misfortune is beyond understanding, but God fills my life and I lack nothing. Would happiness be subjective and totally independent from human enjoyment?
Everyone can meditate on this thought, which is a direct approach of God’s permanent influence on our lives by an action both permanent and elusive on our hearts, our feelings and our fundamental evidences.
Yes, soreness, physical or moral, exists, but it is written in the Bible: “Come to me, all you that labour, and are burdened, and I will refresh you. Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is sweet and my burden light.” ( Matthew 11; 28-30)
I am here to give testimony of this. I have often cheered up the home-health aides despaired by light and transient pains. But I rarely get myself down and I never lost hope because I never doubted of God’ love.
How can you think about euthanasia if you have God in your heart and if no suffering can spoil your confidence in Him? We have to be sorry for “people without God”, because they don’t know the incommensurable happiness to feel loved by God and they cannot imagine the real succor of which the true friends of God benefit in their trials. When hell rages against us, we know that it is only another hardship destined to test our Faith and our confidence in Almighty God, Creator of everything.
We should acknowledge that we have been created because of the great torrent of the infinite love of God and that all our sufferings are necessary for our purification and for the preparation of our happy Eternity in the presence of God.
Yes, when hell rages against us, we intensify our prayers, we beg Heaven, and we keep our confidence, while “people without God” despair, call the death and claim for the right to die. They call this: “ dying in dignity”! Is it not rather desperation and cowardice? The most grave thing, because it is irreversible, is that they refuse God’s will which is Light, and they dash into death which is darkness. God respects their choice and their free will, and He lets them go to the eternal darkness, because it is their free and deliberate choice.
He who accepts and offer his suffering unite himself to God’s will, because he demonstrates humility, obedience, submission, confidence and love for our Creator and Redeemer. Suffering, when it is accepted and offered, is a protection against hell and is our safe-conduct to purgatory of which it can reduce the term.
Thus, euthanasia is twice rightly criminal: for Time and for Eternity. As it is a radical refusal of the Divine Will, it is a ticket for hell. It is the same thing with abortion. The culpability of the abortionist is even worse, because of a selfish comfort, she removes the life of her own child who has an immortal soul, and who will live eternally in Heaven as a martyr of his own mother.[1]
But it is important to know that God forgives the worst criminal who begs His pardon with sincere regret. Anyone can decide to return to God at anytime, but it would be wise not to wait too long.
To conclude, whatever the reality of our life may be, let us offer it to the Divine Justice with joy and let us be faithful friends of our God of Love and Mercy; let us be slaves of Love, because we know that we will spend the Eternity in His Glory and that eternal bliss will perpetually capsize our hearts in rapture and ecstasy.

[1] This is the opinion of Pierre. I personally believe that these souls go to the Limbo, according to the more traditional theological opinion.

1 commentaire:

Anonyme a dit…

Indeed, a beautiful testimony! What an encouragement to all of us in the Church Militant!