Friday 16 May 2014

Search for the Secret of Life and Death

Metron, drawn by Jack Kirby, riding his Mobius Chair through
multiple dimensions. One of the most interesting characters in the
Fourth World series devised by Kirby before his death in 1994.
Why can’t we all live forever? It seems a terrible flaw in the fabric of the world—that death haunts us from the moment we are born, injecting a note of tragedy into everything. And yet how could it be otherwise, if reproduction is equally a part of the fabric of space-time?

An image of the endless search for the answer to this paradox is drawn by Jack Kirby in his comic book The New Gods. Metron is a character from New Genesis. His chair carries him wherever he wishes, and yet we can take him as a symbol of a search that never finds what it is seeking, in an ultimate sense. Though not the hero of the stories (very much a peripheral character, like Lightray) he offers the image of a powerful archetype.

Why life and death?

Everybody comes to death eventually, either by disease or by “old age.” There’s a part of me, suffering from prostate cancer, that wants simply to get it over with. In that case the simplest outcome is to stay with the illness I have and see it through. Alternatively, I could recover, somehow, and in this way buy a few more weeks or months or years of life.

And yet, and yet…. For God wants us to have a certain treasure, a wealth, that we can have only in a certain way—and that cannot come to us by taking something from him prematurely. “I can find that divine wealth that God, by his adoption of us, intends us to inherit. Wherever I turn, I shall find him. Whether life has smooth ways or rough, whether it hangs my path with lights or hides me in gloom, I am the heir to all that earth or sea or sky can boast of as their possession.”

The “rich things of God,” are the things he wishes us to claim from him. For “I have a claim upon even more. I have a claim upon the very source of this wealth, that is, upon God himself, for he is the sole source of all his greatness.” There is no doubt about it. “I have a right to God himself. He is mine. He who holds in the hollow of his hands the fabric of the world, who with his divine power supports, and with his Providence directs, the intricate pattern of the world, has himself by creation entered deeply into the world; at the heart of everything he lies hidden.”

The author of this remarkable passage (Magnificat, May 2014, pp. 198-9) is the English Dominican writer, Father Bede Jarrett, O.P. He adds that God “comes in a fuller, richer way into the depths of the soul” by grace. It is by virtue of this grace that “here in me are Father, and Son, and Spirit.” And we must conclude that God wishes to give himself to us completely, and in no other way than this. God gives himself to the whole world through us, by giving himself through life and death.

God entered deeply into the world—so deeply that we can call it a merging, a uniting of his own nature with the world itself. It is no illusion, but a real uniting. We can participate by joining in the rhythm of life and death. God hides himself deeply within the world, not as an extension of life, such as an experience or two, but as the totality of being. At first it all seems inaccessible and impossible. The Cross seems impossible, incredible. It seems foolish, crazy. But we must join fully, deeply, truly. And we must start as soon as possible.

This article will seem far too Christian to many readers, as will many on this site. I wrote it at a very strange time. As I approached the end of my life from prostate cancer, my family organized a remarkable event—a private viewing of the second Captain America movie by Marvel. Members of the cast that I admire are getting in touch and wishing me well. So many of my “last wishes” are being fulfilled at this time. One of them is to have just completed my new book, Not As the World Gives (Angelico Press). Other books I have written are described here. If you read the article above, know that it expresses my beliefs. Know also that it expresses a particular hope—the hope that the goodwill aroused by the actions of my family will touch and open the hearts of many who read it. – SC.


  1. You continue to inspire me, my old friend. I am touched at the peace you have always shown.

  2. Dear Stratford

    I am gladdened to hear of the graces you are experiencing. You endure your own cross in the knowledge that your writings have touched the hearts of many (some known to you, but most unknown) and brought them closer to the sacred Triune Mystery at the heart of all things.

    Every blessing

  3. I checked in this blog just as I was about to begin reading Beauty in the Word. It will now be all the richer. Thank you.

  4. It really saddens me to hear of your condition.

    I personally find you to be one of the finest (if not the finest) Catholic thinkers today ... a Chesterton for the 21 century.

    Whether in your books, articles or blog posts, you truly capture the beauty as well as full breath and depth of the genuine Catholic Tradition in a way that is refreshing and timely. Your words put to shame much of what passes as Catholic theology today. Few so-called Catholic writers can equal the brilliance of, say, your "The Radiance of Being" among others.

    And i love the fact you enjoy (as i do) Marvel comics and the recent Marvel films and use it has a basis for deeper reflections.

    I also would like to thank you for your writings on education, our home-schooled children are being moulded in heart and mind by this recovered vision.

    Lastly, I will keep you in my prayers.

    In paradisum deducant te Angeli; in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres, et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Ierusalem. Chorus angelorum te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere æternam habeas requiem.

  5. Thank you for your inspiring devotion to your vocation. God bless you now and always.

  6. Dear Dr. Caldecott,
    a few years ago a member of my family became seriously ill.
    We prayed uncountable times to God to cure him (doctors words: there is no cure!).But nothing happened, instead it got worse.

    We struggled and we thought that God forgot about us.That he didn't listen to our prayers.That maybe we were not good enough to be loved by him and to deserve his help.

    Many times during sunday service the priest mentioned that sometimes God helps us in ways that we do not recognize at first. His help does come in a different way that WE want him to help us and sometimes our hearts and minds are too "closed" to recognize the help he already sent us.

    We met several people in different situations of life,who were very focused on a right nutrition. First we didn't see that this was our help.The help we had prayed for such a long time.Until one fine day that we could finally make a connection to the illness and the nutriton.

    We couldn't believe it,but then we tried and we educated ourselves,
    spent many hours and days and months on research about the right nutrition for several illnesses..and then we found it..very hidden...but we did.

    We bought the highly quality vitamins & nutrition and started to treat our family member..and after a week..there were positive results! God let us find the cure that we prayed for and that doctors denied and didn't want to acknowledge as possible,because it wouldn't bring them any profit.

    Now we know that God sent us the help we were waiting for right in the beginning-we just didn't see it,'cause we wanted him to help us the way we wanted the help-a miraculous cure in a heartbeat.

    We are very thankful that we met all those peolpe who led us unwittingly on the right path to help our family member.

    There is a saying:"God helps them that help themselves."
    But I think he gives us the "tools" and the power to help ourselves and that in the end is his help,too.

    When I was a child we were told about this poem during sunday school. Every time I feel abandoned by God,I rememeber it and although it is not from the bible it gives me hope and helps me to believe in Gods love & help for us.

    Footprints in the Sand,by M.Stevenson

    I read that your health status is very bad. While researching the internet a few month ago,I found this site about a man named "Vernon Johnston".He had the similar diagnosis that you have (he had a class IV Aggressive Prostate cancer that spread to the bones).Doctors sent him home to die.

    But he cured himself within 10 days(!), by drinking a solution of baking soda&molasses a few times a day. The sodium bicarbonate (which has to be aluminum free) makes the body alkaline so that cancer cells can't survive, because they want to live in an acidic environment. So it is helpful too,to avoid food that makes the body acidic.

    I researched that an oncologist named "Dr.T. Simoncini" recovered that cancer is a fungus. He successfully treated patients-who were sent home to die-with sodium bicarbonate.
    ( , ,there are also many videos on youtube).

    I remembered the article of Vernon J. when I read about your illness and I felt the urgent need or impulse to write this to you. I don't know if you will try it or if it would cure you..but maybe I was driven to write you out of the same reasons those people came to me and my family to educate us about the right nutrition to cure our family member.

    Either way I'll pray for you and I hope God sends you as much power you need to endure everything you have to go through.

    JUDGES, 6:23
    "And the LORD said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die."

  7. I have only just been introduced to your work and am slowly working through "Beauty in the Word". I am saddened by your suffering, yet I know this hope we have in Christ. Confronting cancer as a believer comes with mixed be in the presence of the Lord sooner, yet with sorrow at leaving family and friends behind. My dear friend Margie suffers so, and I grieve for her yet see God's amazing hand more clearly than I would had she not endured this cancer.

    Blessings on you, peace and a lessening of the pain if at all possible. Thank you for the many words I hope to read. I, too, will keep you in my prayers.

    Kristin in Arizona

  8. Hi,

    Would it be all right reprint your beautiful words on 'Why Life and Death?' in our parish magazine?

    With prayers for you and your family at this time,


  9. Mr. Caldecott,

    Thank you for your books on education and the inspiration you have given my family. My wife and I have enjoyed your writings and use them as we home-school our children. We have on average four other children that come to our house for the day or for various classes.

    Thank you for the reintroduction to Silver Surfer! Please enjoy this superhero song written and performed by my 13 year old daughter (she has certain aspirations...):

    It is called "Save The World"

    We pray for your Peace. Glory to God for All Things.

    Billy and Susan in Indiana

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