"There are no saints without a past. There are no sinners without a future." - Unknown
My blogfriend Deacon Greg Kandra tells me that Oscar Wilde said this. I trust Greg, but I could not find it attributable to Wilde, so I will just say unknown and keep looking.
**Update** Greg Kandra to the rescue... Here is the source for the quote. Thanks DGK!
Ted Kennedy, requiscat in pacem. A legendary man has left this earthly life and the quote at the top of this post really seems to ring true, along with the great editorial cartoon from John DeRosier, right here from our Albany, NY newspaper.
People often want to put someone on a pedestal or to throw them down the garbage disposal. You can see many instances of both of those things during this Ted Kennedy coverage. I have read some things that make him sound like a god, other things that make him out to be the devil incarnate.
Ted Kennedy did some messed up things - no doubt about it. Ted Kennedy also did some truly amazing things - no doubt about it. The question becomes whether or not one can be redeemed.
As a Catholic Christian I absolutely believe that we are all redeemable... In fact we have already been redeemed, it is ours to accept that grace and then to live it. I can't enter the channels of anyone else's soul nor can one enter my own.
And redemption doesn't happen one day, like an item checked off of a to-do list. It is a daily journey and one that Ted Kennedy, like anyone else, had to make.
And in the end, it has nothing to do with what "I" can do. It is important for me to be the best person that I can be, something I fall woefully short of on a very regular basis. No wonder so many have no interest in God, worship and a life of faith seem an endless exercise of tasks that may or may not work.
Frankly all this endless do-gooding in order to please God can take the focus off of God. It is then put it on the humans doing these tasks, which results in a large number of very self-righteous people.
Ted was flawed and he was brilliant. Which is pretty much the human condition one way or another, saint and sinner all in one and he kept doing all those good works. He seemed to do them from a deep place and for that I have to give him a lot of credit. We will never know what happened in his heart and soul from the darker days of long ago.
So for me - in the end I think that Ted Kennedy redeemed himself. He never got to be president but he got to grow into a great man. That he did not get to be president may have been his greatest gift, that took a lot of pressure off! No matter what his station in life, he never forgot the little guy who, unlike the Kennedy family, had no money, no connections, no hope. Hope is the elemental Christian virtue and Ted and embodied hope, that is a gift. And that is also Catholic Social Justice teaching at its very best!
It occurs to me that Friday, the day this post goes up, is the Feast Day of Saint Augustine, one who knew his own sinner and saint path very well.
The words of the Song of Farewell come to mind... "May the choirs of angels come to greet you, may they speed you to paradise. May the Lord enfold you in His mercy, may you find Eternal Light..."
This song is frequently used as a song of sending at Catholic funeral liturgies; it is one of my favorites.
You can listen to that if you wish, click below. (Before I publish, I thank fellow blogger Contemplative Catholic, who has a post up that influenced what I wrote here today.
Song of Farewell - Duncan Archard [Organ]