Not An Easy Loss

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James Bernard Frost recounts his own struggle with faith, in the face of his mother's illness:

This man, this agnostic, sits in a folding chair in the back corner. The service has long since startedhe's arrived late purposefully. His timing surprises him; he's arrived at the perfect moment, the moment when the congregation prays the Prayers of the Faithful. The priest lists the names of the parish's sick, his mother's includedhe's phoned in and asked them to pray. He watches the hundreds of heads bowed, hears the silence of their mental words, feels the force of their faithful wills.

And then, choking up, he gets up from his folding chair and leaves. He knows what happens next in the Catholic Litany: the Kiss of Peace, the moment when the parishioners reach out to the person next to them and wish them well.

He owes them a hand shake of gratitude. But it is not a cross that he can bear.

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