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December 22, 2004
Doing My Penance For Blake Magaoay

Tonight I fulfilled a promise to the First Mate and took her to a midweek Mass and reconciliation -- what we used to call confession before making it sound more friendly. Our pastor celebrates Wednesday night Mass in our chapel, due to the small turnout it receives; on a typical Sunday Mass, our church gets hundreds of people, but tonight less than 20 attended. (The below-zero temperature in Minnesota might have something to do with that, too.) With the smaller group, the congregation volunteered our own intentions rather than just having them read off to us, reminiscent of prayer groups I've attended in the past.

After Mass, we went directly to confession and wound up near the front of the line. While I am not a big fan of confession -- I've written about this before -- I always find it cathartic afterwards, especially when I pray as my penance while the First Mate does her confession. Tonight, however, the priest had a different plan for the penitents. In a basket in the library where our confessions were being heard (we don't have traditional confessions at our parish), the priest had placed slips of paper with the names of American servicepeople killed in service to our country in Iraq. He asked that instead of praying for ourselves, that we pray for these brave men and women instead.

The name I drew was Lance Corporal Blake A. Magaoay, and I dutifully lit a candle and prayed for his soul, using a prayer that the priest wrote as well as my own. When I got home later, I looked up Cpl. Magaoay and found out a little more about him:

U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific, Camp H. M. Smith, Hawaii (Dec. 8, 2004) -- Overcast skies mirrored the somber hearts of Hawaii residents and Marines as they mourned the loss of one their own.

Pearl City native, Lance Cpl. Blake Magaoay, 20, died as a result of enemy action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, Nov. 29, according to a Department of Defense press release. He was assigned to the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Of course, Cpl. Magaoay left behind a family that grieves at their loss of a fine, brave son:

Tony Magaoay periodically paused and exhaled as he struggled to maintain his composure while he spoke of his son, Lance Cpl. Blake Magaoay, who was recently killed in Fallujah, Iraq.

"When he first told me he was going to join the Marines, I asked him why," said Magaoay during his burial service. "He said, 'That's what I want to do, Dad.' But I found out later why he joined. It was because he wanted to show his parents he was a man, and to make his parents proud," he said, his voice quavering.

"Blake, you made me and your mother proud," said Magaoay, pulling black sunglasses down from the top of his head to cover his tear-filled eyes.

I'm not unmindful of the Catholic Church's opposition to this war, and while I disagree with them, I respect their point of view. I suspect that part of the reason why these slips were handed out at confession is a small bit of protest, but for those of us who support this war and the overall mission, I also feel a responsibility not to shade my eyes from the results of the policy. In a way, that's what confession is all about; taking responsibility for our choices with our eyes open. Even the good choices have consequences, permanent ones that must be acknowledged.

So I'm asking CQ readers to assist me in my prayers for Lance Corporal Blake Magaoay, a good young man whose loss we all feel. Corporal Magaoay gave his life to protect us and to give Iraqis a chance to live in freedom. Here's the prayer that the priest gave me, but feel free to add or substitute your own:

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

May the families of those who have lost a loved on receive compassion from God's people and peace from God.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 22, 2004 10:28 PM

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