Monday, November 11, 2013

"Faith helps us to see a horizon beyond this world"

Today, we honor all of our veterans who have sought to protect our nation, our liberties, our families, our lives. We pray for them all, but especially for those who gave that last full measure of devotion, sacrificing their lives so that others might live and be free.

In November, we come to the end of the liturgical calendar on the Solemnity of Christ the King, which this year also concludes the Year of Faith, which has been a time of fruitful grace for the Church and the world. Beginning with All Saints Day and All Souls Day, the month is a time set aside by the Church for us to contemplate the last things, not only the end of the entire world, but the end of our own personal worlds, that is to say, the endings of our own individual lives and the lives of our loved ones.

Last week, our neighbor across the river, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, began a series on the end of life. In his first installment, he reminds us,
as we hear on Ash Wednesday, “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” One day, our bodies will fail. Death comes for us all, at least biologically, and it could come at any moment, whether after a lengthy illness or a sudden event. The ending of life on this earth, however, while it may cause some understandable apprehension, need not be cause for despair.

The Lord “is not God of the dead, but of the living” (Luke 20:38). Life in this world is preliminary to what lies ahead.
Given that death might come at any time, Cardinal Wuerl counsels, it is prudent for us to prepare. Most importantly, he said, we need to make spiritual preparations to ensure that the deaths of our loved ones and our own death is a "good death," and not a "bad death," that is, a death in this world that leads to eternal death. With a "good death," we need not fear, but instead are given hope.
We do this, we prepare for a “good death” as Saint Paul did, by continuing to run the race, competing well with a charitable and virtuous life, and keeping the faith, maintaining our hope and love in the Risen Lord until the appointed time of our departure is at hand (cf. 2 Timothy 4:6-7). One way to express this same idea is found in the spiritual adage: “The best preparation for a good death is a good life.” . . .

Faith helps us to see a horizon beyond this world. Together with family and friends, if we let him, Jesus will comfort and shepherd us through the valley of the shadow of fear, suffering and death, and by his love for us, he makes all things new.

Our bodies will give out, but love endures and triumphs even over death. . . . That we and our loved ones will inevitably take our last breath does not mean that we are made for death. Faith opens us to a “hope that does not disappoint” (Romans 5:5). . . . Made in the image and likeness of the eternal God who is Love, we are made for a life – and a love – that is everlasting.
Please read the rest of Cardinal Wuerl's reflection, Preparing for the Grace of a Good Death, at his blog Seek First the Kingdom.

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