After teaching the law so prolifically, experience with the lowly changes him. The bishop is affected deeply by the execution of a condemned murderer. “We may be indifferent to the death penalty and not declare ourselves either way, so long as we have not seen a guillotine with our own eyes. But when we do, the shock is violent, and we are compelled to choose sides, for or against.”
I have been loose with my lips in expressing opinion from a distance about a lot of things. Beyond that sin, I have been loose with my thoughts in not fully thinking things all the way through. I suspect that I too would be affected as the bishop by the site of the Avenger… “the phantom of social justice took possession of him.”
His highest calling was to stand near death and comfort the bereaved, urging them to consider their loved one in heaven and to NOT think about what might have been: to “transform the grief that contemplates the grave with the grief that looks up to the stars.”
Having faced death myself, I was presented with these two options. The contemplation of the grave was associated with visions of my family after I was gone – a most disturbing contemplation indeed. But then my close friend having died just after my experience seemingly, without the dread, proved the truth of the healing power of such transformation for both the dying and the bereaved. For since his passing there are two contemplations that help:
1. Picturing my friend in heaven, fulfilled in the presence of God.
2. Knowing that time is an illusion to us in time-space, and that he is not missing out, for he is already has already been fulfilled.
Bishop Bienvenue was there for the bereaved, often in silence, but a constant hope.