Every November, Catholics have traditionally honored their deceased loved ones by having Holy Mass offered for them, by visiting the gravesite of our loved ones, and by personally contemplating the mysterious reality of ... death. The ancient Latin phrase is recalled by the Living during November: Memento mori -- "Remember you will die." Here is The Fifth and Final Part of a reflection to help our Academicians enter the Catholic spiritual perspective on living... and on dying.
Death has been conquered, as proven by Christ's resurrection. Death was rendered toothless by one Individual's obedience to the will of God. This Individual was human and divine: Jesus Christ. Therefore, if we live with Christ, we will live with Him forever. If we die rejecting Christ, we reject Him for all eternity.
Because death is the decisive moment in the history of each person, we are foolish if we do not prepare for death.
|Holy Souls Being Led Into Heaven, by Hans Memling|
Each of the Sacraments, in its own way, helps us to journey with Christ in this life's pilgrimage toward death and beyond death:
- Baptism is the gateway.
- When sin separates us from God, the Sacrament of Penance/Reconciliation restores us to His life.
- The Eucharist allows us to enter the mystery of Christ's sacrificial death, to offer ourselves with Him, and to celebrate His Resurrection and the promise of our own eternal life.
- Confirmation is a renewal and strengthening of our Baptism, enabling us to meet the challenges of adult Christianity, including the challenge of death.
- Marriage is a death to selfishness and a mirror of the love that exists between Christ and His Church -- the love we will share in a very particular way after death.
- The Anointing of the Sick is a spiritual fortification of grace against serious illness attacking the unity of our body and soul; Anointing also provides for our immediate preparation for death.
|The Damned Entering Hell, by Hans Memling|
Those who lead their lives in union with Our Lord Jesus and His Church have no fear of death. They can approach the hour of death with confidence that "They will see the Lord face to face, and His name will be written on their foreheads," as The Book of Revelation says.
For them, "It will never be night again and they will not need lamplight or sunlight, because the Lord God will be shining on them. They will reign for ever and ever." [Revelation 22:4-5]
And, so, dear Academicians: Memento Mori!
(Hey, Academicians: If you'd be interested in a continuation of Catholic teaching on these topics, including what Christ and His Church teach about Heaven, Purgatory, Hell, Limbo -- essentially the branch of Catholic theology known as Eschatology -- please let us know through your comments!)