Death And You
Childhood, as the psychologists have pretty well proven now, is more or less a dress rehearsal for adulthood. The girl who was trained in modesty by her mother's example, becomes the wife and mother some man is lucky to get hold of. The boy, who spent so many hours tinkering with his dad's machinery, grows up and opens a garage. The child who was reluctant to go to bed becomes the adult who is afraid to die, unless he had a caring mother who told him, "Don't be afraid, your father and I are right in the next room."
Fortunately, where our childhood fears are eased by parental love, our adult fears are dispelled by God's great love, given us by our Faith. We should think about death - not morbidly, but with the curiosity and reality of created creatures who know that every man born into the world must one day die. One of the very first questions we ask when we begin to comprehend the world around us is: where did we come from?
We came from the same place we are going to when we die From dust to dust. From God back to God. We come from the womb of eternity. We leave time through the womb of the earth, and return to eternity.
We come, not by the will of man but by the Will of God, and for the same reason that Christ Himself came out of eternity into time - to do the Will of the Father, we return to give an accounting; to receive whatever reward His love and His Justice must decree for us. That, is the business of life and death. It could be used as a theme for daily meditation for the rest of our lives, It could - and it should - serve as the motivation for the education of every man. In the end, it is the only principle that matters very much.
Yet for all that, death is never a pleasant subject for most people to contemplate. Most of us do dread death - and for a very good reason. Death is not "natural" to man. Adam left it to us as a legacy, in exchange for a bite of forbidden fruit. The Arch Deceiver of all time told Adam
(or Eve, if you wish) that if man dared to eat that fruit, he would become like God, immortal. He received, instead, this sad sentence: "Now, man, you must die. From dust I created thee, and to dust thou shalt return." That is why we dread death. We dread it, of course, for another reason, too. It isn't "natural" for our souls to be one place and our bodies another, here in time. death brings about that frightening separation. From that thought springs an instantaneous truth; that separation of soul and body could not possibly be natural in eternity, soul and body must be reunited...and, of course, will be. The point is, the very reason we dread death is simply because everything in us reminds us we we are born for immortality.
We cannot escape our true nature, no matter how feverishly we try. We want immortality - every last one of us. Aside, possibly, from diabolic possession, why would any man want to waste his life becoming a dictator - unless it were to gain a sort of human immortality? Why the feverish search through the ages for a "fountain of youth?" Why the mad accumulation of money, property, power; the desire to be famous as an author or scientist; the endowment of colleges and erection of status in a public park? Was there ever a saint desiring such earthly immortality? Plain and simply, no. Not that the saint does not desire immortality; it is because he knows what kind of immortality is worthwhile, and he couldn't care less about human fame. The fact that we mold statues of our saints is not so much to give them fame, as to give ourselves an example to live by. And to die by.
It is no wonder that the atheist, the agnostic, the unrepentant sinner is upset! All their lives they have seen God's reminder that death must come - in the darkness that blots out each day, in the fall that ends the summer. For some of them, these last moments are a terrible despair; a childlike tantrum in which they desperately keep telling themselves "The grave will be the end! And if it isn't, God won't hold it against me when I never knew any better." But for those who fought the good fight, God makes it relatively easy. He starts already when we are very young and very frightened and takes us by the hand, talking to us in the stillness. He shows us the world as it really is - a place, where the body ages and the senses become so weary. How we die is not important, it is the state we are in that matters. God gave us life that we might live, with Him in eternity. He gave us not only His Church to instruct us on how to live in accordance with God's Will, but He gave everyone a conscience that guides us if we let it.
Whom shall we see face to face at last? Is that not the moment we have prayed for all our lives?
"Show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb - Jesus!"
Source: Fr. J. P. Gillese The Challenge of Suffering.