Monday, February 16, 2015
Fr. Daniel P. Martin - St. John Vianney College Seminary
As a priest, I encounter death on a weekly basis. It could be a funeral or an anointing at a local hospital or even a conversation with someone in spiritual counseling. It’s not something that we like to talk about as a culture, but it’s an inescapable part of human life. How we approach death tells us a great deal about how we approach life. If we do not understand death, we will never truly understand life.
The ancient Romans were wise in this regard. Whenever their triumphant generals rode into Rome with great fanfare and celebration over their recent victories, the Romans were sure to place a man by his side to whisper in his ear, “Remember that you will die.” They must have figured that it would keep him on the straight and narrow path. Some of our most beloved saints, like St. Francis of Assisi, meditated on their death often. It did not make them morose.
Instead, it gave them a different perspective on life. After all, how important do our daily struggles and problems appear from that vantage point? Will any of our current anxieties matter then? As Jesus says, “Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your lifespan?” (Lk 12:25)
Our Catholic faith helps us to approach the mystery of death not with inconsolable despair, but with patient anticipation and hope, as we look forward to a greater encounter with God and, therefore, a greater encounter with all things in God. The mystery of death ultimately melts into the mystery of God, for death is the portal through which we must walk into the light of God.
By God’s grace, we become partakers of the divine nature: the greatest Communion a person can receive. If we could only appreciate this mystery of death, how differently we would live this present life. We would know what was truly important, and free from fear and anxiety, we would not be afraid to truly live.
Little Flower Church will be hosting a day-long seminar on "Passing from this Life to the Next: Practical Helps and Pastoral Considerations for Catholics," on Saturday, Feb. 21, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., in Comber Hall. For more information, click here.