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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 death.” Amen

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 yourself.  Relax!
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.
Nobody ecapes!
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.