A Very Catholic Death
A Catholic friend passes along this interview with Prof. Mario Palmaro, a Traditionalist Catholic lay leader, who gave it late last year, before he died. This part struck me as both noble and beautiful, and characteristically Catholic:
Believers are united on the essential and are divided on controversial issues. Everyone, however, is called to respect and accompany those who are burdened by suffering and the fatigues of life. How does one’s spiritual sensibilities change when suffering passes through the days with violence, as is happening to you?
The first thing that shakes you up about sickness is that it hits us without any warning and at a time we do not decide. We are at the mercy of events, and we can do nothing but accept them. Grave illness obliges one to become aware that we are truly mortal; even if death is the most certain thing in the world, modern man tends to live as if he should never die.
In sickness you understand for the first time that life on earth is but a breath, you recognize with bitterness that you have not made it that masterpiece of holiness God had wanted. You experience a profound nostalgia for the good that you could have done and for the bad that you could have avoided. You look at the Crucifix and you understand that this is the heart of the Faith; without sacrifice Catholicism wouldn’t exist. Then you thank God for having made you a Catholic, a “little ” Catholic, a sinner, but who has an attentive Mother in the Church. So, grave sickness is a time of grace, but often the vices and miseries that have accompanied us in life remain, or even increase [during it]. It is as if the agony has already begun, and there is a battle going on for the destiny of my soul, because nobody can be sure of their own salvation.
On the other hand, this sickness has allowed me to discover a remarkable amount of people who love and pray for me; families who recite the rosary in the evening with their children for my recovery. I have no words to describe the beauty of this experience which is an anticipation of the love of God and eternity itself. The greatest suffering I experience is the idea of having to leave this world which I am so fond of and is so beautiful even if also so tragic; of having to leave many friends and relatives; but most of all, of having to leave my wife and children who are still at a tender age.
Sometimes I imagine my home, my empty study, and the life that will continue there even if I am no longer present. It is a scene that hurts, but it is extremely realistic: it makes me realize what a useless servant I have been, and that all the books I have written, the conferences and articles, are nothing but straw. But my hope is in the mercy of the Lord, and in the fact that others will pick up part of my aspirations and battles and will continue on in “the ancient duel”.
After Palmaro died, it came out that he had resorted to an ingenious solution to make sure his funeral mass was in the Traditional rite. Brilliant! When I was a Catholic, I was not a participant in the Tridentine Rite form of the liturgy, and did not love it as some of my friends did, but I never did understand the hatred so many in the institutional Catholic Church have for the Old Mass. I still don’t. Many Catholic bishops and priests will tolerate all kinds of un-Catholic, even anti-Catholic, expressions in institutions and communities under their control and leadership, but the one thing they won’t tolerate is the Old Mass. Bizarre.