To One Who Fears Death and Dying
"Have the Gates of Death been opened unto thee?
Or hast thou seen the Doors of the Shadow of Death?”
It is finished
Christ spoke these words upon the Cross when the
will of the Father had been accomplished, done, fulfilled, consummated.
If we have been faithful and obedient servants, at the end of our
own journey we will recognize that the purpose of our life
in Christ has, at last, been fully accomplished.
We have no more to do, nothing more to offer.
The hour is come.
It is the hour, not of darkness nor desolation,
not of dereliction, but of fulfillment: the Father’s
will has been fulfilled, accomplished, in us. Who would not
rejoice in this realization?
It is not an end. It is a consummation; the divine purpose for which
we had been created has finally been fulfilled. This will
be cause for joy.
God is not “the end”
of our being,
the fulfillment of our being, and even this is not an end.
When we reflect upon our lives we find that it has not so much been
a being — as a continuous act of becoming, of becoming
perpetually more than we were, more than we are.
Death as an ending? No ... in the most profound sense it
is the end of all ending — which, as such, and necessarily,
must be a beginning.
Do we instinctively fear death? Or is the fear of death
learned or acquired? Children do not fear death, and
we can only speculate that animals fear death rather than
pain. The answer to these questions must be sought elsewhere and
is beyond the scope of this book. One of the most common answers
to this perplexity is that: “We fear what we do not know”
But is that so? It is certainly the case that there are many things
that we do not know — and do not fear. But more apropos of
our present reflection we can turn to Plato’s Apology in
which Socrates is condemned to death. His friends Crito,
Simmias and Cebe plead with him to flee, but Socrates refuses on
these (among other) grounds:
… fear of death is indeed the pretense of wisdom, and
not real wisdom, being the appearance of knowing the unknown;
since no one knows whether death, which they in their fear
apprehend to be the greatest evil, may not be the greatest good.
Is there not here conceit of knowledge, which is a disgraceful
sort of ignorance? (Apology, 29a-b).
If Socrates, 399 years before the birth of Christ, reasoned that
we had no warrant to fear death … how much more do we have
greater hope still since we have been baptized into Christ’s
own Death and Resurrection?
Unless we have lived evil lives, immersed in sin, moral turpitude,
and insolence — disdaining God and all that He requires of us —
any fear of death is not simply a pretense to knowledge that we
do not possess, but an implicit offense against the Theological
virtue of Hope which is
to our salvation.
What awaits us is far more beautiful than ever we
hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered
into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared
for them that love Him.” (1 Cor. 2.9)
Boston Catholic Journal
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Totally Faithful to the Sacred
Deposit of Faith entrusted to the Holy See in
opera tua ... quia modicum habes virtutem, et servasti
verbum Meum, nec non negasti Nomen Meum”
know your works ... that you have but little power,
and yet you have kept My word, and have not denied My
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