Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Dying Wish of my Brother, Danny Manthei

My brother died on Sunday, August 10, 2014. Just a week prior, on the feast day of St. Alphonsus Liguori (August 1 or 2, depending on the Liturgical calendar you use), he wrote a letter which he intended for all the Catholics in his area to read or hear from their respective Priests.

Part of his dying wish was that all Catholics would be encouraged to learn their faith more deeply and thoroughly in order to grow closer to God and prepare for our eternal destination. By this time, he had held a catechesis meeting with the local parishes, and led a discussion with a local Confirmation class, which I had the honor of sitting in and listening to. Shortly after writing this, on Tuesday, August 5, he had a friend record a video message in which he delivered a catechesis/apologetics lesson, followed by a Q&A session.

I made minor edits [in brackets] to this letter, but the message was not changed in any way. This is my brother's death-bed letter:



[Recipients' names redacted]

It is my dying wish that your parishioners will either read this letter in the bulletin or hear it from the pulpit. I give you full permission to edit this document so that it would be suitable to you and give you complete freedom to make necessary changes.


As I lay here dying from Stage IV cancer, I am going over the shortcomings in my life, knowing that I will soon stand before my just judge.

One major regret I have is the fact that I never shared my gifts that God gave me. God gave me the great gift of being able to store and recall information and regurgitate every Catholic book I’ve ever read. I know how to prove from history alone that we belong to the original Church and that none of our teachings have ever changed.

In the past I was too much of a coward to evangelize and now I will soon stand before my Lord. When I found out I was dying, I got a small group together at my house, averaging two parishioners per parish at each of the three parishes here in [name redacted] County. We have only had one meeting and these people are pumped up and notice some of the same things I do.

1. To me it seems we view our Church as a democracy instead of what Christ truly established (Matthew 16:18). Many times I have heard of complaints against our priests over small and insignificant matters, such as not being able to understand the accent of the priest during a homily, or the priest exercising his proper authority over his parish. To this I say, without a priest you cannot go to heaven. Not even the Blessed Virgin Mary can consecrate the Eucharist or hear your confession. St. Alphonsus says that the priest has a dignity higher than the angels because only he can bring you Jesus in the Eucharist, which John 6 tells us is necessary for our salvation. All the Saints gave the utmost respect to their parish priests, and I, all to often, see people wanting to run the parish and push the priest out of the way.

2. While I am certainly no one to judge, I do notice that in Mass the communion lines are always full, but the confessional lines are always empty. This tells me there are two possibilities: either you don’t know what sin is or you no longer believe in the true presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. In John 6, Jesus makes it crystal clear that it is not a symbol. St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 11:29 that we damn ourselves by taking communion without discerning whom it is we are receiving. My own opinion is that most of us have forgotten that the piece of bread actually becomes Christ, and that when you receive Him, you become one with Christ. Do you not realize that when you walk out of Mass you are a living, breathing tabernacle with Jesus' DNA in your blood? The greatest gift Christ gives to us is Himself at every Mass, and only the Catholic Church does and believes this. If you don’t believe that it is truly your Lord, then why receive Him? Why are you Catholic?

3. Something I have heard continuously from fellow parishioners is the idea of universal salvation, which is basically the idea that everyone gets to heaven as long as you are a good Christian, and that it doesn’t matter which denomination you belong to. I don’t know about you, but I am grateful for the grace of being Catholic. We should all be so grateful of the grace to belong to His church. We are the only one, true Church with all the tools that Christ gave to us in order to be saved. We are not a denomination! Read Matthew 16:18, where God the Father selects Peter to be the first Pope, and Jesus ratifies this decision. Jesus calls us, “My Church”! He doesn't say “a church” or “churches”, but “My Church”. Jesus doesn’t claim ownership in many things, but He does establish His Church. While the various 40,000+ denominations have some truth, we have the fullness of it.

Allow me to share with you some of the rich history of our faith that makes me so proud to be a Catholic. For instance, did you know we put the Bible together in 382 AD at the Council of Rome and finished defining the New Testament Canon in 397 AD at the Council of Carthage. We told the world which books were the inspired scriptures by comparing them to our oral traditions handed down from the Apostles. Jesus gave us the authority to do this. Today 40,000+ denominations all have 40,000+ different interpretations of the Bible.

Also, the first time the word “Catholic” was used was all the way back in 107 AD by St. Ignatius of Antioch. He does not explain what the term means, which leads one to assume that everyone already knew what it meant.

There is evidence of Papal Authority being exercised in writing as far back as 90 AD by our 4th Pope, Clement. St. John the Apostle's Revelations and the 4th Gospel had not even been written at this time. There was a rebellion against the bishop of Corinth and St. John happened to be within walking distance to this area. Instead of St. John the Apostle reprimanding the people of Corinth, the letter comes from Pope Clement, in Rome.

In the year 150 AD, Justin Martyr describes the Mass word for word in writing to the Roman Emperor. And, again in 215 AD, Tertullian describes the Mass just as we have it today. Everything we believe now can be seen in the first 50 - 100 years of Church history written and defended by the Church Fathers. There is not a shred of evidence supporting rumors of protestant beliefs until Martin Luther comes along 1500 years later. And even Martin Luther believed in the Immaculate Conception of Mary.

I want each and everyone of you to be proud to be Catholic: to learn your faith, know your faith, and live your faith. Look at the state of our world: abortion, euthanasia, wars, etc. Do you want to reclaim our country? Only the Catholic Church can change the world. That is why Jesus established it. Don't wait until you are on your deathbed [to act].

With deepest love for all of Christ’s flock,
On the Feast Day of St. Alphonsus of Liguori, 2014,

Danny Manthei

5 comments:

  1. WOW. Very powerful. I pray his words are taken seriously by all. My heart aches for a man I never met but whom sister I have had the pleasure. This brought tears to my eyes. It also proves that the work we have to do has to be done now, today, on earth because there comes a time when we must answer the question as to if we evangelized.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Beautiful. May he intercede for us in this . May he rest in peace.

    ReplyDelete
  3. May god have mercy on his soul

    ReplyDelete
  4. I received the news of Danny’s death a couple weeks too late – too late to say goodbye, too late to attend the funeral. The news came to me in the most unusual way that I have never experienced before. I received an email from the most recent director of the Men’s ACTS retreat at St. Thomas Aquinas. Since I attended the women’s ACTS retreat a month ago, I have been receiving several emails a week with information, prayer requests, etc. This particular email was sent as inspiration for the upcoming Called and Gifted Workshop. I didn’t have time to read through the whole thing, but I thought I would at least skim through it. I noticed a bold title that read, “Dying wish of my brother, Danny Manthei.” Then I saw Danny’s photo. All of a sudden I was very confused. Did one of Danny’s brothers die? Or did one of Danny’s brothers send this letter from Danny? After frantically searching the email, I knew it was Danny. I’m not sure which brother wrote the email, but he said that Danny wrote this letter about a week before he died. My heart sank when I realized what this meant.
    The letter that Danny had written to his brother was perfect. I could hear him saying those words. The words that he wrote made my mind flash back to years ago when he would talk about these things, things that really mattered. I am thankful that Danny wrote it, thankful that his family shared it, and thankful that God put such a beautiful soul into the world.
    I took Danny’s death very hard, which surprised me a little because we have not been close friends since I was in college (about 10-15 years ago). After thinking about him for a while, I began to realize why I was grieving so much. Danny had a big impact on my life, especially as a Christian. His death was not immediate – he knew his time was short, and had I known as well, I could have told him the impact he had on my life and what it meant to me, and what it still means to me. I had the same feelings when my beloved teacher Mrs. Kirkpatrick died. That regretful nagging of “if I had only known.” This time, instead of dwelling on useless wishes, I want to tell Danny’s family what I would have told him. I think he would have wanted that.
    Danny and I met at St. Mary’s in College Station. We were both in the 7 o’clock choir. I played trumpet and he played guitar. Sometimes we would all go eat dinner together after mass. I can recall conversations with Danny that were deeper than those I had ever had before. The one I can remember most was when he was working for Budweiser. He mentioned the pictures of barely-clothed girls that were pinned up on the wall behind his coworkers’ desks. He talked about how he needed to get out of there, because that kind of temptation, among many others, is everywhere in the beer business. I will never forget his wisdom. He made a big impact on a young impressionable college student who grew up in a small town, but was now faced with the challenges of a great big world. He knew the truth, and he lived the truth. We were only close friends for a couple years, but I am so thankful for that time and for his friendship. Watching him walk the walk was such an inspiration to me.
    Danny had three younger brothers. David (who sang in our choir) and Darren were twins, and Dustin was the youngest. Danny was always trying to talk me into going out with his youngest brother, Dustin. He said I would be a good influence on him. At the time I just laughed and shook my head, but now I realize what an honor it was that this righteous and spiritual man thought I would be a good influence on someone he loves. (continued below)

    ReplyDelete
  5. After I graduated, I didn’t see Danny again for a several years. The next time I saw him was at a Coalition for Life volunteer appreciation dinner. That’s when I got to meet his beautiful family – Sonia and their children (I think there were only two at the time). I remember thinking how blessed they were to have him as a teacher. We spent some time catching up that night. If I would have only known that that was the last time I would see him, I would have used that opportunity to tell him the effect he had on my life, and how grateful I am.
    When I think back to all the friends I’ve had in my life, many good memories come to mind. But only a few of them had such a big impact on my path to Christ that really stands out. Danny was one of those friends. The world is full of hope and promise because of people like Danny who commit to follow the Lord always. He will live on in those of us whose lives he has touched. I count my blessings to be among those lives, and I am really looking forward to seeing him again one day.
    Toni (Palma) Eubanks

    ReplyDelete