The funeral of one of the victims of the Manchester terror attack, a 14 year old Catholic girl from Scotland, took place today. Her Parish Priest preached a homily in which he naturally praised the teenager, and said: “In 14 years [she] packed a lot into her 14 years. 14 happy years. That’s so important for us to remember today – [she] was a happy girl, she had 14 happy years and in the last few days of her life she was the happiest you could ever imagine. The last thing in [her] life was happiness – she had spent a wonderful weekend away [from Scotland] going shopping, going to nice Cafes, going to the cinema and then going to her pop idols (sic) concert – Ariana – she was the happiest she had ever been- and that’s what we hold onto today- the happiness of [her] life… ”
I couldn’t help contrasting this priest’s assessment of a happy teenage life with a recent conversation I had with another 14 year old – a young Scots boy who is currently participating in the Chartres pilgrimage. Last week he was very excited about the pilgrimage, telling me details of the event, explaining that he would be able to win graces; he was also, of course, excited at the prospect of his first ever trip abroad, first plane journey and looking forward to meeting young people with whom he has been in internet contact through his homeschooling programme. Yet, through all of his excitement, he was keen to go to Confession before making the trip. “Between the possibility of a plane crash” he said “and a possible terrorist attack, I want to be ready to go to my judgment!” At one time, that was the standard Catholic attitude to death: to be prepared, not least when going on a long journey.
Pray for the repose of the soul of the young Scots girl struck down so cruelly in the Manchester attack, given the possibility that hers was an un-provided death. And let’s pray, too, that more and more young people are led, by Divine Providence, one way or another, into the traditional Faith. I’m told that the Chartres Pilgrimage is a very effective way to do this. What do you think?