Thursday, March 13, 2008

Praying For Death

In the Passionate Mystic of the Double Abyss, an important spiritual document, Blessed Angela of Foligno speaks of the deaths of “my mother who had been a great obstacle to me” and her sons and husband’s deaths as a kind of gift. Angela had recently entered the mystical “way.” She indicated that it was “bitter for me to put up with all” of her sons’ and husband’s “slander and injustice.” Bitterness, slander, and injustice might indicate that Angela was in an abusive family situation. She may have longed for these family members’ death because there might have been, in her mind, no other feasible type of release. Angela felt consoled at these family members death, deaths that she had prayed for so that she could more fully enter mystical union with Christ.

Angela’s prayer for her abusers death reminds me of a story a friend told me. Joe said that his Irish mother occasionally “prayed” for people like Mary Kelly. “I don’t like that woman,” she’d say, “and I wish her an early and holy death.” She always qualified her statement with “and that’s not sinful.” Joe, her son, a good Catholic boy, tried to argue against this sentiment. However, his mother adamantly asserted that her prayer was completely moral. *

I wonder if the tradition of Blessed Angela’s pray for the death of family members, difficult people in her life, has carried down through the centuries, altered somewhat.

*Story compliments of “Spider” Joe Burke.

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