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Image: The Crucifixion by Peter Paul Rubens, 1610-12 [Museum of Fine Arts Boston]

By Stephen P. White, The Catholic Thing, March 29, 2022

Stephen P. White is executive director of The Catholic Project at The Catholic University of America and a fellow in Catholic Studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.


Stephen P. White

Last week marked the fifth anniversary of my father’s death; he was barely 60 years old when he died. He died during Lent, which will never not seem fitting to me. Lent is a good time to be reminded, however painfully, of how fleeting life is. It is also a good time to contemplate how the meaning of human frailty is transformed by the glorious events for which this Lenten season prepares us.

For a son who has lost his father, it’s easy to wish things were not as they are. It’s tempting to dwell on the innumerable “what-might-have-beens,” to grasp at possibilities unfulfilled – grandchildren unmet, songs unsung, joys unshared. But indulging in such sadness – and I confess, there is a certain sweetness in it – only masks the splendid gratuity of life, however brief. That all is not as I would have it be is an infinitesimal price to pay for it having been at all.

Lent is a time of preparation, of looking ahead. ….

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