More Thoughts About Death
There are on the Remnant some beautiful reflections of Michael Matt about death in general and John Vennari in particular. You will hear in the video that Mr Matt has also suffered a very recent bereavement, and I am sure you will want to join me in my prayers for his sister.
Today I would like to add some reflections of my own as an unworthy addendum to what has been already said so well.
I am not a complicated guy. I am not the “doubter” guy. I believed in God before even knowing His name. There has never been a day I did not believe in God. Faith, to me, was never something conquered. It has always been there. What was not there was proper instruction, and when Providence finally led me to give this proper instruction to myself every piece fell into place, and every capital question in my little world was answered. When the desire took me to deepen some aspects of my faith (not in order to believe, but in order to better understand), Providence again guided me towards those sources which allowed me to quench this thirst, too.
I am a simple guy. I do believe that the Church has all the answers. Simple, by the way, does not mean “dumb”. Ask the atheists who dare to debate me on the faith.
This leaves me, more often than not, with a rather crushing question: will I be saved?
The beauty of Church thinking is not deprived of harshness. It is not the easy lie accepted by the Evangelicals, naively believing that their faith will save them. Actually, I sometime think in jest, I should be a Protestant, because my faith being so strong this would make me so comfortably assured of heaven!
Well, not. How strongly one believes an error does not make the error right. It only makes it easier for him to get in the hands of the devil in the end.
My faith is strong, and I am afraid of hell. I am afraid of hell because I can see all too clearly that the devil is looking for those whom he might devour, and it would be very stupid (and arrogant to boot) of me to think that I am safe from him. Of course, I try to practice the Catholic virtue of hope, and reflect that doing my duty and carrying on day after day, one day at a time, will get me through in the end. This is also the main reason why I pray the Rosary every day. But you see, the problem is not what happens if we persevere. The problem is whether we will persevere in the first place! How many wish for themselves a very long life, and do not reflect that a very long life is, in itself, no more than the postponing of an all-important verdict! A verdict which, if favourable, makes the length of said life irrelevant; and if unfavourable, the same.
This is why I do envy those like John Vennari. Those who have most clearly persevered to the end, and had the added grace of being able to prepare themselves so well. If I die with the grace of the Last Rites and knowing that I have persevered to the end, I cannot imagine any real sadness in my last hours. Yes, I will be sad to leave those I love. But I will also have the anticipation of meeting, one day, many more who left before me and got their prize already!
Life is overrated. Death is ignored. This is how the modern world goes to hell.
The only sensible way for us to go through life is by thinking every day of the end of it, and the all-important stake attached to it.
I do not wish to live 100 years. Lord, make me die tomorrow with a strong faith and a soul free of mortal sin, rather than making me live a long, long life in which I lose contact with You and merit damnation in the end.
Those who have persevered to the end are to be envied indeed. They have done already what we may only hope and pray we will be able to do.
May this be told, one day, for your humble correspondent, the ones he loves, the ones who read him, and the ones they love.