Fonticulus Fides

Thursday, September 04, 2003

I've been mulling over the execution of Paul Hill for the last couple of days, wondering if I should even make an attempt to blog anything worthwhile about it. It's been hard to sort out all my feelings about it, but as I have been preparing to make another confession, our Merciful Lord has provided me some clarity of thought, and I really do think I have something to say after all.

Leaving aside the whole "How can a pro-life person commit two murders without regret?" thing (it's addressed on plenty of other blogs and on-line communities), I find myself peculiarly interested in the speculation of Mr. Hill's current (post-execution) state. Mr. Hill, his pastor, and his family are all convinced he's enjoying a great reward in heaven. I've read some Catholics speculate as to Mr. Hill's surprise to find himself in purgatory with a long, arduous journey ahead of him before he can reach the gates. And then there are a whole lot of people from all different faith/non-faith traditions who think his soul is burning in hell as we speak. One fellow on an electronic bulletin board posted, "Geoghan will be there to greet him."

I thought about this a lot since reading those words. And it occurred to me that what people are really saying -- between the lines -- is, "I don't want heaven tainted with the likes of him!"

I have to say, I understand the sentiment. There are some people who have walked this earth that make me recoil inside. I wouldn't want to stand in line behind them at the Safeway, let alone spend eternity with them.

But therein lies the problem.

I am closely related to two people whom I don't like. Throughout my life, they have been alternately abused me or dismissed me as a non-entity. I have long considered them people without honor and I've done just about everything I can do to remove myself from all association with them. This is not to say I don't forgive them -- I do. But forgiving them hasn't changed their behavior and probably never will. And I've got two little kids now, plus another on the way, whom I must protect from the potential abuse this pair can dish out.

Trouble is, they are my parents.

You don't get to pick your parents. You're stuck with who you've got. I got a couple who I honestly believe probably should never have been parents. I say this after 38 years of reflection on who they are and how they behave, with the added advantage of being a parent myself now. I wasn't raised properly -- I wasn't taught to say please, to do my chores properly, to be kind to my siblings, to be industrious, to be honest, to be modest, to respect authority, etc., etc., etc. The whole concept of "family" was perfectly meaningless to me until I took a job as a nanny and watched how other parents and siblings operate.

But hey, that's the lot I was given, and I haven't let it rule my life. I put my childhood experiences aside and came to know God and learned from other people what a family is supposed to be. I'm different from my parents. My marriage is different from theirs. The family my husband and I created is different from the one I grew up in. And in a lot of ways, I thought I was over it.

Except for one thing. I haven't been able to bring myself to pray for my parents' souls. Oh, I've given lip-service to it here and there since becoming a Christian 14 years ago. But to be honest, I simply don't want to see them in heaven. I don't want to have to deal with them for all eternity.

And that's a sin.

I mean, really. What is it to me if my parents or Paul Hill or John Geoghan are eventually welcomed into Heaven by God? Do I think He is so foolish as to allow somebody into His presence who shouldn't be there? Do I think somehow that I will have to go through the purification process but they won't?

Well. I'm off to work this through with a priest and to do my penance and change my ways. Regardless of how I feel about my parents...or Paul Hill or Geoghan...their souls are precious to God. It is such a little thing to pray for a person -- takes hardly any effort at all. I need not let my own sinful attitudes prevent me from offering such a small act of charity.



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