Although we are not huge fans of David Bowie’s music (his Lets Dance album was his best), he certainly was an interesting man, and played a part in our lives through his decades long music playing and thespianism. As we everyday pray for the souls of the departed, faithful or not, we hope that Bowie had a last minute conversion (we often pray for the soul of the former lead singer of Boston, Brad Delp, because Boston simply rocks and Brad was a sad and sweet man). Steve Skojec, (from the outstanding onepeterfive.com blog) as always, explains our feelings well on the subject of Bowie’s unexpected death.
Imagining David Bowie in Hell
Born in 1977 to young parents, I grew up with a lot of that era’s music in my home. My father’s record collection had quite a range, from the Beatles to the Doobie Brothers, Chicago to Dire Straits, The Eagles to Steely Dan. If he had a David Bowie album, I don’t remember listening to it, and I listened most of what he had on vinyl or, later, cassette tape.
For me, David Bowie will forever be immortalized in his role as Jareth, the Goblin King, in the 1986 Jim Henson fantasy classic, The Labyrinth. It was a memorable film, and Bowie’s acting performance, as well as the unique brand of music he added to the movie’s few musical numbers, demanded attention. I loved him in that movie (even if I wasn’t a fan of those pants) and ever since, that role was my point of reference when encountering him in a movie (like Zoolander), a show (like Extras), or even discovering some of his very eccentric music. I could never have been classed as a David Bowie fan, but I was certainly aware of who he was and the strange breed of iconic status he once enjoyed.
Yesterday, when I heard he had died at the young age of 69, I was as surprised as anyone. As I approach 40 myself, I’m living through the time when more and more of the ubiquitous figures in my life — both personal and cultural — have passed, or are passing away. When it’s a family member or the parent of a friend, I always have some idea about who they really were and how they lived, and there’s a consolation in that whenever I come to understand that they were men or women of faith, close to God in the sacraments and in the lives that they lived.
It’s a much more ominous feeling, though, when I hear that a celebrity has died. We tend to be aware of their personal proclivities and behaviors too, but often their worst ones. Bowie was famous for living the stereotypical life of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Whether it was his flamboyant, androgynous, and obviously chemically-fueled performances as Ziggy Stardust, or his open claims of bisexuality, or any of the other excesses he was known for to even a non-devotee like me, his was not a life that would ever have been construed — from the outside — as one that courted the sanctifying grace necessary for salvation.
Perhaps I’m just morbid, but when I hear that someone like David Bowie has just died, my first impulse is to think what a horrible shock the particular judgment must be. It’s terrifying enough for me to contemplate as a believer (and sinner) who expects it; what must it be like for those who live their lives as though such a thing does not exist?
Last night as I was getting ready for bed, I found myself imagining David Bowie in Hell – which led immediately to praying quietly for his soul. Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and all the souls of the… and here I pause. Every time. Can I say “faithful departed” about someone like this? Can I hope that maybe in his last days, unbeknownst to us, or in his final moments, unbeknownst to anyone but he and God, there was a moment of grace? Of conversion? It could be! …all the souls of the faithful departed…and all the departed (just to cover my bases) through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.
I know what the Church teaches. I understand the necessity of Baptism and the Eucharist and Confession and lived faith and even membership in the Church for salvation.
But the idea of Hell is so awful, the reality of eternal suffering in the knowledge that you could have kept yourself from it so horrifying, I find myself fervently hating the idea that anyone, even someone as weird and as openly amoral as David Bowie, being there.
After all, I could very well wind up there too. I could never take delight — not in this life anyway — in such punishment, even knowing that it is perfectly in accord with God’s justice.
There but for the grace of God go I.
So I pray for souls like Bowie’s. I hope that God, in His infinite mercy, gave him a moment to see, to choose, to understand, as did Dismas on the cross beside Jesus, that even a life spent largely in the pursuit of vice is no impediment to final repentance.
If I love souls, it is because God loves souls, but also because I see in others the same possibility of damnation that I see in myself — and the same opportunity for eternal beatitude.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but this is why I despise the promotion of the idea of universalism, that numbing self-deception that seeks to soothe our troubled minds with a belief that all men are very likely saved. If that’s the case, why bother trying? Why not live like David Bowie? Or for that matter, like Hitler, or Stalin, or Pol Pot? Why make sacrifices or observe meatless Fridays or live chastely or go to Mass or practice the works of mercy or spend time praying or any of a hundred other things we must do on our path to sanctification, and ultimately, heaven?
Anything that absolves us of our sense of responsibility to live our faith, or to “go forth and make disciples of all nations” or to “instruct the ignorant” or “admonish the sinner” is a damnable lie, and will surely make it that much easier for souls to fall into perdition. Any attempt after death to canonize the dead instead of pray for them, or to simply cover over the reality of the Last Things with some empty sentiment is a grave injustice to the departed. After all, God transcends time, and thus, so can our prayers. If we do not know that a soul is lost, we can pray even after their death that He gave them that final grace of repentance.
Does Hell exist? It does, without question. Are people there? Yes, though we know not who. Is David Bowie in Hell? I certainly hope not, though at this very moment, he is somewhere, and ignoring it changes nothing.
Will I go to Hell? Please God, let it never be so. But there is nothing in my life that is so worthy of being called a Son of God that I could preclude it as a possibility. I may not live a life of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, but I have a long way to go before I am even consistent in practicing virtue. So I pray for the perfection of my soul, and salvation of the souls of others — even those who gave the appearance that they never gave a damn about being damned — because we’re all in this together.
The article below details how the composer Chopin died a happy death because of one holy and humble priest that was persistent in his efforts to save the soul of his childhood friend. The lesson in this is to never give up on the souls of our friends and family that are away from the Church and always continue to pray for them. God’s will will be done!
The Death of Chopin
The great nineteenth-century composer, Frédéric François Chopin (1810-1849), was born in the wake of that horrid reign of “enlightened” barbarity, the French Revolution – the age when Masonic philosophers boasted that Reason had finally triumphed over “the Galilean,” Jesus Christ – and he lived through two more successive outbursts of that same hellish Revolution. Chopin was very much a product of that age. Though never an advocate of its contrived rage as was the radical Richard Wagner, he nonetheless absorbed enough of its underlying corrupting spirit, particularly from the writings of Voltaire, to lose his Catholic Faith. But for the persevering prayers of a simple yet determined priest, the Abbé Jalowicki, who was the composer’s longtime friend, Chopin would surely have lost his soul.
What follows is a personal and indisputably reliable account by that holy priest of the miraculous deathbed conversion of the estranged soul, Frédéric Chopin. It beautifully exemplifies the generous, unfailing love and forgiveness that our Divine Redeemer holds out to all sinners. But even more, it dramatically illustrates the power and force of prayer in the face of hopelessness, as well as points up the enormous flood of graces that Our Lord in His particular providence pours out to each one of us, especially at the hour of death. And, finally, it demonstrates the inevitable triumph of faith and of “the Galilean” over the blindness of false “reason.” We think its reading will be a grace in itself to many souls. – Editor.
For many years the life of Chopin was but a breath. His frail, weak body was visibly unfitted for the strength and force of his genius. It was a wonder how in such a weak state he could live at all, and occasionally act with the greatest energy. His body was almost diaphanous; his eyes were almost shadowed by a cloud from which, from time to time, the lightnings of his glance flashed. Gentle, kind, bubbling with humor, and every way charming, he seemed no longer to belong to earth, while, unfortunately, he had not yet thought of heaven.
He had good friends, but many bad friends. These bad friends were his flatterers that is, his enemies – men and women without principles, or rather with bad principles. Even his unrivalled success, so much more subtle and thus so much more stimulating than that of all other artists, carried the war into his soul and checked the expression of faith and prayer.
The teaching of his fondest, most pious mother became to him a recollection of his childhood’s love. In the place of faith, doubt had stepped in, and only that decency innate in every generous heart hindered him from indulging in sarcasm and mockery over holy things and the consolations of religion.
While he was in this spiritual condition, he was attacked by the pulmonary disease that was soon to carry him away from us. The knowledge of this cruel sickness reached me on my return from Rome. With beating heart I hurried to him, to see once more the friend of my youth, whose soul was infinitely dearer to me than all his talent. I found him not thinner, for that was impossible, but weaker. His strength sank, his life faded visibly. He embraced me with affection and with tears in his eyes, thinking not of his own pain but of mine; he spoke of my poor friend, Eduard Worte, whom I had just lost.
I availed myself of his softened mood to speak to him about his soul. I recalled his thoughts to the piety of his childhood and of his beloved mother. “Yes,” he said, “in order not to offend my mother I would not die without the sacraments, but for my part I do not regard them in the sense that you desire. I understand the blessing of confession insofar as it is the unburdening of a heavy heart into a friendly hand, but not as a sacrament. I am ready to confess to you if you wish it, because I love you, not because I hold it necessary.” Enough! A crowd of anti-religious speeches filled me with terror and care for this elect soul, and I feared nothing more than to be called to be his confessor.
Several months passed with similar conversations, so painful to me, the priest and the sincere friend. Yet I clung to the conviction that the grace of God would obtain the victory over this rebellious soul, even if I knew not how. After all my exertions, prayer remained my only refuge.
On the evening of October 12th, I had with my brethren retired to pray for a change in Chopin’s mind, when I was summoned by orders of the physician, in fear that he would not live through the night. I hastened to him. He pressed my hand, but bade me at once to depart, while he assured me he loved me much, but did not wish to speak to me.
Imagine, if you can, what a night I passed! Next day was the thirteenth, the Feast of Saint Edward, the patron of my poor brother. I said Mass for the repose of his soul and prayed for Chopin’s soul. “My God,” I cried, “if the soul of my brother Edward is pleasing to Thee, give me, this day, the soul of Frédéric.”
In double distress I then went to the melancholy abode of our poor sick man.
I found him at breakfast, which was served as carefully as ever, and after he had asked me to partake I said: “My friend, today is the name day of my poor brother.”
“Oh, do not let us speak of if!” he cried.
“Dearest friend,” I continued, ‘‘you must give me something for my brother’s name day.”
“What shall I give you?”
“Ah! I understand. Here it is; take it!”
At these words unspeakable joy and anguish seized me. What should I say to him? What should I do to restore his Faith, how not to lose instead of saving this beloved soul? How should I begin to bring it back to God? I flung myself on my knees, and after a moment of collecting my thoughts I cried in the depths of my heart, “Draw it to Thee, Thyself, my God!”
Without saying a word, I held out to our dear invalid the crucifix. Rays of divine light, flames of divine fire, streamed, I might say, visibly from the figure of the crucified Savior, and at once illumined the soul and kindled the heart of Chopin. Burning tears streamed from his eyes. His Faith was once more revived, and with unspeakable fervor he made his confession and received the Holy Supper. After the blessed Viaticum, penetrated by the heavenly consecration, which the sacraments pour forth on pious souls, he asked for Extreme Unction. He wished to pay lavishly the sacristan who accompanied me, and when I remarked that the sum presented by him was twenty times too much he replied, “Oh, no, for what I have received is beyond price.”
From this hour he was a saint. The death struggle began and lasted four days. Patience, trust in God, even joyful confidence, never left him in spite of all his sufferings, till the last breath. He was truly happy, and outwardly expressed it. In the midst of the sharpest sufferings he expressed only ecstatic joy, a touching love of God, thankfulness that I had led him back to God, contempt of the world and its goods, and a wish for a speedy death.
He blessed his friends, and when, after an apparently last crisis, he saw himself surrounded by the crowd that day and night filled his chamber, he asked me, “Why do they not pray?” At these words all fell on their knees, and even the Protestants joined in the litanies and prayers for the dying.
Day and night he held my hand, and would not let me leave him. “No, you will not leave me at the last moment,” he said, and leaned on my breast as a little child, who, in a moment of danger, hides himself in his mother’s breast.
Soon he called upon Jesus and Mary, with a fervor that reached to heaven; soon he kissed the crucifix in an excess of faith, hope, and love. He made the most touching utterances. “I love God and man,” he said. “I am happy so to die; do not weep, my sister. My friends, do not weep. I am happy. I feel that I am dying. Farewell, pray for me!”
Exhausted by deathly convulsions, he said to the physicians, “Let me die. Do not keep me longer in this world of exile. Let me die; why do you prolong my life when I have renounced all things and God has enlightened my soul? God calls me; why do you keep me back?”
Another time he said, and with mild irony, “O lovely science, that only lets one suffer longer! Could it give me back my strength, qualify me to do any good, to make any sacrifice – but a life of fainting, of grief, of pain to all who love me, to prolong such a life – O lovely science!”
Then he said again: “You [physicians] let me suffer cruelly. Perhaps you have erred about by sickness. But God errs not. He punishes me, and I bless Him for this. Oh, how good is God to punish me here below! Oh, how good God is!”
His usual language was always elegant, with well-chosen words, but at last to express all this thankfulness and, at the same time, all the misery of those who die unreconciled to God, he cried, “Without you I should have croaked [krepiren] like a pig.”
While dying he still called on the names of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, kissed the crucifix, and pressed it to his heart with the cry, “Now I am at the source of Blessedness!”
Thus died Chopin, and in truth, his death was the most beautiful concerto of all his life.
Below is a classic post from Father Peter Carota on the importance of the Latin Mass. This is a great way to start the new year . . . to devote yourself to the Latin Mass in 2016 for the sake of your and your family’s soul.
Ancient Catholic Missals show that the Latin Mass Canon has been basically the same ever since Pope Gregory the Great (560-604). Pope Pius V (1504-1572), only slightly modified this ancient Gregorian Missal, along with some of the rubrics. He did not modify the Roman Canon itself. He then promulgated this ancient Roman Latin Mass in all places (except where there was still in use another Rite that was 200 years or older). This did not include where the Byzantine Rites were being used. But remember, the vast majority of Catholics are Roman Rite Catholics.
Since then, slight changes have been made, like new saints feast days, but the Tridentine Missal, or St. Pius V Missal was in use all over the Roman Rite Church for 400 years.
But then, in 1965, this Tridentine Missal was translated into the vernacular (in our case, English) and no longer was obliged to be offered in Latin only. The Novus Ordo, (New Mass), of Pope Paul VI was promulgated and began being offered all over the Roman Rite world in December 1969. The Latin Tridentine Mass was then suppressed in the Church, (except for a few places and for old priests who did not want to offer the new mass or could not learn it).
At the exact time that Latin was being removed from the Catholic Church’s Sacraments, all hell broke out in the world. Many attribute the break down of society and the down fall of the Catholic faith to the “drugs, sex and rock n roll” revolution of the late 60’s. I contend that it was the devil, and his friends (demons), who brought on the revolution.
Remember that the devil hates Latin and the sacred ancient Latin Sacraments, Rites and prayers of the Catholic Church. So you can see that it was precisely when Latin was being removed, (1965-69), that all hell broke loose.
Many ask why the devil hates Latin and why it is used in Exorcisms and has power over the devil. The answer is that ecclesiastical Latin is a sacred language that was reserved only for the divine service of the Church of God, in prayer and in the Sacraments. (There is classic Roman Latin of Cicero that is also studied today. But it is significantly different for the sacred ecclesiastical Latin.)
Our profane language is English. It is used to cuss with, to curse with, gossip with, to lie with, to deceive with, to corrupt souls with, along with all the other common ways it is used to communicate with.
On the other hand, ecclesiastical Latin is only used for holy things, and is a dead language that does not change and has been reserved for centuries just for prayer, (especially the Latin Mass). For this reason, the devil hates it.
It is so sad when Catholics say they hate the Latin Mass. They literally say they do not like it, or, in some cases, say they hate the Holy Latin Mass, just because it is in Latin. They also say that they do not want to go because they cannot understand what is being said. I tell them, please, God gives you everything all week long, 24-7, can’t you just offer God one hour in sacred prayer, the way He likes it? Why hate what the devil hates? Why not love what God loves?
The proof that God love’s the Latin Mass is the it was He that had His Church offered it that way, in the Roman Rite Church, for the last 1800 years? The only other answer is that God and His Church had it wrong all those years, and finally, 1800 years later we got it right. How absurd.
My theory is that when the popes removed Latin from the Roman Catholic Church, and suppressed the Tridentine Mass, that is what allowed all hell to break out on earth. We need to return to the Latin Mass and other Latin Rites and prayers to fight the devil.
I talk about the Roman Rite or Roman Catholic Church because Latin is our sacred language. Other rites use other sacred languages like Greek, Russian, and Aramaic. Most of these rites have not had their Divine Liturgies altered since Vatican II and are still basically in their ancient form.
Let us all do our part to get rid of hell out of this world by bringing back the Latin Mass, all the Latin Rite Sacraments and the Exorcisms. We are so blessed to be traditional Catholics and have these nuclear weapons to fight the devil.
Robert Lockwood has written a great article how far the enemies of the Church will go to raise up “heroes” of their secular faith.
How Fact Becomes (Anti-Catholic) Fiction
Robert P. Lockwood