And so it goes. The judge ruled against Terri's parents this morning, which I assume most of you already know. They're appealing, and while we don't know what the result of that will be, one must wonder if we're being asked to prepare for the inevitable. For there has been an air of inevitability about it all, for me at least, and I ask myself if this pessimism is a contradiction of my faith.
One can only gasp at what Terri's parents have gone through, for the experience has been so tiring for those of us following it at a distance. We have not been involved in it personally, as so many volunteers and bloggers have, and if we are tired we can only imagine how it must affect them. They are performing heroically, and we hope their rewards will be great.
So what happens now? Well, there is always hope - we must never forget that. Continue to pray, continue to work, continue to fight. And yet I can't help but ask myself the question looming in the outer edges of my mind, as it moves nearer and nearer the center. What if?
If, then, we are being readied for the worst, we must realize what Our Lord asks of us. No bitterness, no hatred, no sense of despair. If Terri dies, we will pray that she will soon join her Creator where she will know no more tears, no more suffering, no more pain. For her husband, the judges, and those others who joined in making her death possible we will pray that this event, in some way known only to God, will change their hearts and convert their actions. We know God's promise that even those workers who enter at the eleventh hour will share in the rewards of Heaven, and so we hold out hope for those who at this time may seem to us hopeless. All the while we marvel and give thanks that God's storehouse of mercy is so much stronger and more vast than our own.
The news does seem dismal. Cruxnews.com carries this report of fresh fears for the Pope's health, and we think to ourselves, "Oh, great. Just what we need." I recognize a certain selfishness in my own thoughts - the idea that this news is bad for me - before remembering that I am hardly affected in the same way that the Schindlers are, or the Holy Father. Donne reminds us that "No man is an island," and I suppose that explains why bad news about those close to us, or those whom we have come to care about, affects us to the extent that it does.
However, this being Holy Week, we must try to draw strength from the message of redemption that Christ offers us. No matter what happens to Terri, no matter what happens to JPII, we pray that we will someday be joined with them in Heaven, where they might thank us for the prayers we offered for them, and where no doubt we will discover the times they prayed for us. Is that too sentimental an idea? I hope not, because I'm not really one given to sentimentality. If it is, though, then I'll chalk it up to my inability to adequately translate the hope that is at the center of God's message to us.
Continue to trust in that hope. Pray for Terri and her family, pray for JPII, and pray for the grace and peace that only God can give us, that no matter what the outcome, we will not let the forces of the Evil One infect us with despair and hatred. Tears, yes; sorrow, certainly. But hope, always.