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Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Abbe Pierre speaks about death
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 In 2000, the Abbé Pierre had some conversations with a group of young children. These were recorded in a book, entitled: 'What is Life? Why Death? ... Explained to Children.' Some extracts follow: Child: "What did you do the first time you saw a dead person?" Abbé Pierre: "This happened a long time ago. I was more or less your age, between 10 and 11 years old. I will let you in on a secret. They still laugh about it today in our family. Now you'll know why. The first time I saw a dead person, it was my grandfather. I loved him a lot. When he died, my parents, who were worried about my reaction, told me very tactfully: "Grandfather has gone to be with the good God." "I didn't understand. If he is here, then he is not with the good God ... and, why do you all look this way? Grandfather was very good and he will surely be well received in heaven. Now his teeth won't hurt anymore." "As you can see, I was not very impressed by this first encounter with death. However, I think that since then I have had a wish that has never left me: not to delay in going to meet him. Death no longer caused me anxiety." Child: "Even if you are not afraid of death, I think it is hard to watch those you love die, don't you think?" Abbé Pierre: "In the face of some deaths, I have also felt a certain rebelliousness and in the name of love for men and for God-Love, when the unacceptable happens, I continue to cry with all my remaining strength: 'I cannot agree!' ... "I remember a sad event. On the night of January 3, 1954, there was a government debate before a vote on funding for low-cost houses. The winter was terrible and it was urgent to find an immediate solution to house those in need. It was late at night and the senators were tired. They could think of nothing but returning home, so the approval of our project was delayed. "The next morning I heard the terrible news. That very night, while the Senate debated, a boy died of the cold. At moments like that, death is unacceptable, and you feel like screaming. No one did a thing to avoid that boy's death. France was in mourning, a national mourning, but for me it was a national disgrace. "Following that drama, thanks to the mobilization of the media, of the French people, and also of the politicians, a rescue service was organized. That huge national support marked the beginning of a long story, of a long struggle, of Emmaus. A hope was born. " Child: "Do you believe that the little boy who went to heaven started a new life?" Abbé Pierre: "Yes, but he didn't begin it, he simply continued it. After the death of my grandfather, and of those I have accompanied, I am convinced they all rest in peace, as will happen to me when my time comes. I have never experienced a feeling of annihilation in the face of death. "I had the rare experience of remaining alone with my father, my mother, and later Miss Coutaz, during there last moments of life, taking them by the hand, feeling their pulse until the last beat. I did not cry a tear for any one of them. "Yes, they have died, but they are up there. The absence of those I loved is painful, and to live it as a final goodbye does no more than accentuate this pain. I prefer to think of "see you later," as you say to a friend when he is going on a long journey." Child: "You don't believe in reincarnation, then?" Abbé Pierre: "Truly, I do not see the need, and I don't at all want to relive all this again. I have had a really full life and I think I deserve some rest." "To return to your problem: Indeed, I am not afraid of death. Many think of death as a separation. This is true for those who remain behind, but for the one who dies, what is announced is a great journey. He leaves us to discover the most fantastic meeting that it is possible to imagine with God-Love. "I don't know how, but I am convinced that this being who leaves us goes to meet the 90 billion human beings who have lived before us. Since I have known that billions of galaxies have been calculated, each one of which has more than 10 billion suns, immensity doesn't create a problem for me. I await death in complete serenity." Child: "Can the meeting with God end badly?" Abbé Pierre: "It's a good question. When accompanying someone who was dying, I used to recite a Hail Mary, but I changed the last words 'at the hour of our death' to 'now and at the hour of our meeting.'"
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