Friday, April 25, 2008

Marge Asher: A Holy Death with Dignity

Long-time KIC members, Catholic homeschool supporters, vendors, and speakers will remember Marge Asher, a most valiant Catholic woman who was called by God yesterday morning, before dawn.

Marge joined the KIC List years ago, sometime around 1999-2000. As a homeschooling mother herself, Marge's interest in supporting Catholic home education led her to various roles and sources, including our humble email list. Eventually, Marge became one of the quiet, behind-the-scenes pillars of Catholic homeschooling.

Marge is remembered as a gentle woman with amazingly beautiful blue eyes and a sweet, peaceful smile, a lady who - as both time and her eyes, the mirrors of the soul, taught me - pondered many things in her heart. I last saw her in 2005, as she, Dr. Alice von Hildebrand, and I shared a meal and a very cozy conversation. Shortly thereafter, Marge was diagnosed with an formidable type of cancer, which she faced with supernatural charity and many other virtues, offering all of her many deep sufferings for the good of the Church.

As her husband, Greg, wrote with a full heart on the morning of his beloved's passing:

"Throughout her sickness, she constantly reminded me, His Will be done...In God's own time and according to God's plan.'...She deeply believed that her own suffering was for the Greater Glory of God." What a holy example she set, generously responding to the many graces given her, truly offering all of herself to Our Lord, Head of the Mystical Body! How courageously she picked up her last Cross and followed Him!

Marge's passing was truly a Catholic "death with dignity," which means a holy and sanctifying death. In God's eyes, that is the only real meaning of the phrase, for a holy, natural death is a death with dignity - one that is charitable, in the truest sense of the word, and submissive to the Will of God.

Burdened with extreme suffering, Marge proved - in her words and, more importantly, her actions - that she had received the grace of final perseverance. She submitted herself to the will of God in everything, even as she prayed and sacrificed and waited for that Will to manifest itself. Those who love her - I purposely do not say the past tense, loved, because Marge exists still and she is loved even as she still loves - asked for her cure. Such a request is one which we have every right to ask, even as we must understand the ultimate decision is God's. Through it all, Marge's prayer was the same as Christ's in the Garden of Gethsemane: My Father, if this chalice may not pass away, but I must drink it, thy will be done. Like Christ, she also had compassion and words of solace for those who suffered grief in witnessing her passion.

Certainly her long passion of suffering and her holy death with dignity is an example to the faithful, an example which has nothing to do with what so many today call "death with dignity." A sanctifying death with dignity is not akin to what is meant when contemporary supporters of euthanasia speak when they use the phrase, "death with dignity" - which is their euphemism for murder of the mentally and/or physically disabled and chronically or terminally ill, regardless of age.

As Marge's spouse wrote on the morning of her death:

As I sat with her through the long nights not knowing when the Angel of Heaven will come to guide her soul, it occurred to me that not only is Marge suffering greatly for the good of her faith and those around her, but that she is also showing us how to die with dignity and grace that comes with the great gift of life from God. Her faith allowed her to teach us about dignity and Grace. Our physical dignity and comfort on this earth pales under the bright light and love of our spiritual dignity. We too are suffering the pain of our loss and our suffering magnifies the glory of Marge's suffering, not in the pain, but in the spiritual dignity it presents to our Lord as gift of our love and devotion. I think we need to offer up our individual pain and suffering for the Greater Glory of God and the Life that awaits each of us. Marge has taught us how to die with spiritual dignity and grace that comes from our acceptance of the Lord's will."

Please remember in your prayers and Mass intentions the soul of this dear, valiant lady, as well as her family.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord. May the perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

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