Monday, December 12, 2005

Saddled Up: Prayer Request Update

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

For myself I am an optimist—it does not seem to be much use being anything else.

Sir Winston Churchil

This was a quote that graced the web site of my friend and former neighbor, Don Cook, for a while.For all its sensibility of the power of positive thinking, it betrays a type of defeatism Churchill carried through his life. Edward Short has an essay in the December issue of Crisis that examines the Old Lion's disdain for religion. One thing that Short notes is that Churchill believed that death meant extinction and that eternity was a nightmare possibility, which strikes me more as a fearful notion rooted in an ultimately nihilistic sentiment, also excerpted by Mr. Short:

If you tried your best to live an honorable life and did your duty and were faithful to friends and not unkind to the weak and poor, it did not matter what you believed, or disbelieved. All would come out all right.
Once you get below the surface of this, as anybody who faces a real, personal challenge knows, what many call sufficient for "having a good heart," is often inadequate for addressing crises until you can grasp what is honorable, duty, faithful, and kind in truth. Unfortunately, such has been the kind of crisis facing Don and his family, yet thankfully, though they may not realize it, they are better equipped than Churchill in this regard.

Defying a long track record of his own real optimism, Don's condition continues to decline. The Cooks' friend Gina has posted recently that:

Things have been very difficult for the Cooks... Sleep doesn't come easily for anyone and emotions run high. Now bedridden, Don is not in any real physical pain, but his mind will not allow him to relax.
He is no longer accepting outside visitors, or calls, save the network of family and very good friends in Austin.

Perhaps the quote that still remains on his site from John Wayne can be a key:
Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.
I only imagine that he wrestles with Churchill's "fear," as I watched my father wrestle in his own Gethsemane for a time. And I pray Don finds (continues to find) the courage to practice Faith, Hope, and Charity, the theological virtues, respectively, by which we

1.) Believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself [CCC 1814]

2.) Desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit [CCC 1817]

3.) Love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God. [CCC 1822]

It is through truth and grace that understanding and accepting the mystery come. Gina has asked that we pray for peace in the Cook household. Indeed. Please, God, may Your face shine upon them and let Your cloak of truth shield them from further discord.

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