Please also listen to Father Broom's talk on How to Prepare for a Holy Death.
To hear more of his recorded talks, please click HERE
St. Catherine of Siena, one of the
three women doctors of the church states, “The two most important moments in
our life are the present moment and the moment of our death.” This is exactly in agreement with the prayer
that Our Lady loves most, the Hail Mary:
“Holy Mary Mother of God pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our
Given that this moment—the moment we
die and none of us can escape it—is so important—we should do all in our power
to prepare ourselves for this moment. Either we will be saved and go to heaven
for all eternity or we will be lost and go to hell for all eternity. There is
no other possibility! Therefore, let us
set up a plan for ourselves and our loved ones on how we can prepare ourselves
so as to have a happy encounter with Jesus. May Jesus be our Redeemer and not
our Judge! Let us reflect seriously on
the reality of death, what happens after death and the awesome and stark
reality of eternity--- which is forever and ever and ever….
Reflection on the reality of death
can be very healthy for our spiritual life.
Modern world and modern means of communication has a tendency to shun
the reflection on the reality of death because for the “worldly” minded person
all that really matters is the world and what the world has to offer. The motto for the worldly is “You have one
life to live; get the best out of it!
Let us eat, drink and be merry and have fun!” Maybe you have heard these: “You deserve a break today…. And do not kill
If only this passing world and all
that is in the world is what there is to enjoy, then this philosophy is fully
understandable. However, being
followers of Christ we believe that there is much more than what this world has
to offer. Jesus offers us much more and most important He offers us Friendship
with Him in this life and if we die in this friendship then He offers us the
greatest gift which is the gift of eternal life in heaven!
On the reality of death Jesus speaks
clearly. He says that we must be alert,
be prepared and live soberly in this passing world. The Lord says that death will come like a thief
in the night, at the moment you least expect it. He also reminds us of the
times of Noah, when people were marrying, eating and drinking and the flood
came and buried almost everybody except a few people and pairs of animals.
Parable of Rich Fool
In Parable form Jesus teaches us
through the “Rich fool”. He had an abundant harvest and had to tear down his
barns because there was no longer enough space in his barns to contain the
abundant harvest. After the harvest he has it all planned out to the “T”! He said, “Now I have abundance and a long
life ahead of me. Therefore, I will eat, drink and relax.” Jesus comes down quick and hard on this man
and on this philosophy, calling the man a fool! The reason?
That very night his life will be taken from him and where will all of
his riches go?
As followers of Christ we must
cultivate a deeply spiritual perspective of our life, our destiny and all in
the light of the reality of eternity.
Eternity by the way means forever and ever and ever….
St. Ben. & Rule
St. Benedict in his famous Rule
states that we should think about death twice a day. This is wisdom! St. Alphonus Liguori, among his many works,
he wrote a classic with the title “Preparation for death”. Personally he made a meditation on his own
death on a weekly basis. By the way, now
he is in heaven praising the Lord for all eternity. The classic by Thomas Kempis, “The Imitation
of Christ” says that it is not important a long life but a holy life.” Also the same author reminds us that it if we
meditated frequently on death then we would quickly change our lives.
St. Ignatius of Loyola in his classic
“The Spiritual Exercises”, in the week on sin, insists that the retreatants do
a meditation on the “Last things”--- they are death, judgment, heaven and
hell. A powerful meditation on the
shortness of life and the reality of hell and heaven as our two options, can be
a potent means to move us away from sin and towards the true life in
Christ. Ignatius challenged Francis
Xavier to do the Exercises quoting Jesus, “What would it profit a man if he
were to gain the whole world and lose his soul?”
St. Ignatius & Xavier
We should remind ourselves of our
mortality—that we do not have a permanent house here on earth, that we are pilgrims
and wayfarers heading to the city that will never end, the city of God—Heaven!
When driving by a cemetery we should
form a habit to pray for all of the deceased that if they have not already
arrived in heaven that they will through our prayers. At the same time, we
should remind ourselves that one day—and it is really not too far away--- we
will be there laying next to those who are underneath the ground! We should cling to no person, place or
thing--- especially not to sin--- but only to Jesus the Lord.
When attending a funeral Mass we
should pray fervently for the dead for whom the Mass is being celebrated and
not canonize him before his time. But also this should be a reminder that one
day the coffin, the funeral Mass, and then the burial will be mine! Life is
short in comparison to eternity. The
great Saint Augustine says that our life in comparison with eternity is only a
blink of the eye. St. Peter expressed it in these words: “For God one day is a thousand years..” Our heartbeat is like a marching band heading
to death and eternity--- forever and ever and ever….
May we intensify our prayer life so
as to be prepared to meet our Lord and Savior Jesus the Lord the moment of our
death. Let us turn to Mary and beg for the grace of a holy and happy death by
praying the Hail Mary frequently, full of faith, and fervently, that she may
attain for us and holy life and a holy and happy death. “Holy Mary, Mother of God pray for us sinners
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.