Tuesday, January 9, 2007


1. Death, like suffering, is the result of sin: Through sin death (Rom. 5:12). But it is more than a punishment for sin. It is also a liberation for the just who, like St. Francis of Assisi look upon death as the good sister who will come one day to set them free and unite them with Christ in everlasting happiness. Desiring to depart and to be with Christ.. (Phil. 1:23).

Death is certainly a fearful thing. It is the violent separation of the soul from the body. The mere thought makes us tremble, for our eternal happiness or misery depends on this moment. But if we lead good Christian lives, if we strive with the help of divine grace to avoid sin and to do what is good, death is no longer terrible. Death is now a reward. It is the paradise which awaits us. Even in the mystery of death, the justice of God is interwoven with His mercy. As He punishes us in order to correct us, so He makes us die in order to bestow on us the joys of Heaven.

2. In theory, everybody believes in death. In practice, many live as if they did not believe in it. So it is necessary and helpful for us to meditate on death. We began to die on the day we were born. People say: "I have lived twenty, thirty, or forty years." But if they said "I have used up my twenty or thirty or forty years of my life", how many would then be left? We do not know. We only know that death will come at the very moment when we least expect it. Let us always be prepared. You also must be ready, because at an hour that you do not expect, the Son of Man is coming (Luke 12:40).

We must always be ready. Let our faith be lively and active and our minds turned towards God Who is waiting for us. There is no need to be afraid. He is good and merciful. He desires our salvation. This is a wonderfully consoling thought. God desires my salvation! Let us surrender ourselves to Him, therefore, as if we had to die this very moment.

3. The greatest lesson in life springs from reflection on death. Whoever does not learn from death how to live will never learn anything from anybody. We must die, and we die only once. This is a test which we shall never have a chance to repeat. This thought should inspire in us a healthy fear of sin and an ardent desire to be more closely united with God and more faithful in the observance of His law.

As a special fruit of this meditation, let us form the resolution of asking for the last sacraments at the hour of death, instead of waiting until our relations are obliged to exhort us to receive them. It is not a sentence, but a gift for which we ask. It is the greatest gift which God's mercy could grant us in that final and decisive moment of our lives. There is another resolution which we ought to make. We should live every day as if it were our last, but we should work as tirelessly as if we never had to die.

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