top of page
Search

Reflection-Death




The name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Seeking our Lady's Intercession. Let us pray.

Hail Mary, full of Grace.

The Lord is with thee.

Blessed art thou among women,

and Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,

pray for us sinners

now and at the hour of our death.

Amen.

 

Good morning, brothers, and sisters. As you know, this Tuesday is the solemnity of our patron saint, Dorothy. We'll have a special mass Tuesday evening in her honor. And we're having adoration. Of course, we started Friday night and it's going to go until Tuesday evening. And normally, of course, we do 40 hours, but this year we're doing over 80 hours because it's our 80th year of being an official parish and more in regard to adoration is usually better. So, I just want to begin by thanking those of you who signed up to spend time with the Lord so that we could accomplish this, but also those of you. And there are many of you who sign up for multiple holy hours. So again, thank you all very much. I was a little concerned that I was going to have to spend a lot of time in adoration over the next few days if we didn't fill up all those hours. So not that that's a bad thing. But so, because of the way in which we're preparing ourselves for our solemnity, I've decided to preach on four topics over the next few days. These are what the Catholic Church calls the four last things. Like, you should all know what this is the four last things death, judgment, heaven, and hell. These are always called the four last things, because all of us are going to experience death and judgment, and some of us will experience heaven and some will experience hell.

 

That's why the church kind of has this saying, and that's why they're often preached together. So, at the Sunday masses that I started last night, and for the two masses this morning, I'll be preaching on death. It's always the first of the four tonight, if you want to come back to church. During adoration at 6:00, I'm going to preach on judgment. Monday night we'll have masses six. I will preach on hell. And then Tuesday night for the solemnity of Saint Dorothy's, I will preach on heaven. I thought we'll save heaven to last, since that's Dorothy's feast. I don't want to preach on hell, on solemnity. So, but today I'm going to be preaching about death. And, you know, in my sermons, I often talk about death because it's something that all of us are going to experience. I can say with some confidence that I'm 99% certain in 100 years from today, all of us will be dead again. It's very possible that some of the babies may live over 100 years, but it's highly unlikely in a hundred years from today, none of us will exist in this world. That's a very important and sobering thought.

 

Now, last night at Mass and, you know, a lot of times the older parishioners will go to the vigil mass. I had to curtail that and say in the next 30 years. But, you know, they understood for the most part, I can honestly say in 100 years, all of us have will have experienced death and ultimately judgment. It is coming and on a natural level that should concern us. You know, people who are afraid of death or are afraid of suffering have a reason to be afraid of these things. Why? Because when God created human nature, when he created Adam and Eve, they were immortal, not just in their souls, but in their bodies. They could not get sick, and they could not die. Sickness and death are a direct consequence of sin. We were never meant to experience these things. They weren't made for us  and so it's obviously painful and difficult to experience that sickness and death. They always go hand in hand. However, even though on a natural level, it's understandable that we don't like these things and we can even fear these things on a supernatural level. It is irrational for a Catholic, a Christian, to be afraid of sickness or death. It is irrational. I find it to be one of the most scandalizing things when someone claims to be Christian, and yet they're terrified of death. You know why that scandalizing is? Because Jesus already conquered it. What are you afraid of? It's. This is the main message of the Christian faith. This is the gospel. Christ has conquered not only sin, but death itself and those of us who come to Christ and seek to live within his life, in his church, we share in those graces already. We know that, yes, we will die one day. But we don't have to be afraid of that because it's just temporary. Now, the main reason for a Christian to fear death is they're fearing their judgment. We'll talk about that tonight at six. But there's a very simple reason why you shouldn't fear your judgment. The sacraments. Have you heard of the sacraments? Baptism forgives all Sin removes original sin. If you commit sin after being baptized, confession or reconciliation, that removes to. What are you afraid of? Our Lord has won the grace to forgive all sins for as long as you exist in this world.

 

I often tell people, especially in confession, that there are two paths to heaven, two paths to holiness and salvation. The first is this. This is the ideal way. Never, ever, ever sin again and always do what God tells you to do. So, if you do that, you're assured of salvation. If that was the only path to heaven, give up and go home.  You know that there's. There's no hope for us. That's why we have the second path. And it's not really a separate path. It's just, so to speak, the other side of the coin. And that is if you fail in the first way, repent. That's it. If you fail in the first way, meaning you sin and you don't always do what God tells you, then repent. If you can't be perfectly virtuous and following Christ with His grace, at least be perfectly repentant and he can still save you. Again, we know this, we know this, but we don't act on it. We don't respond in this correct way. We have such weak faith that sickness and death still causes us fear and anxiety. And it's not just our own sickness and death. This even happens when we're afraid of the sickness and death of our loved ones. No, Christian has the right to be afraid of these things. Death is not our enemy. Death for us is a blessing because it is the gateway through which we go to live in heaven with God. We should be looking forward to death. We should often think about death. Remember death not only so that you're ready for it when it comes, because that's really important. But keep in mind the glory, the life that is offered to us in heaven with the Lord. When you have that on your mind, you can't. You can't fear these things.

 

Some of you know, probably many of you know I'm a huge science fiction geek, nerd. I don't know what the right term is. I love science fiction. Loved it my whole life. Science fiction, books, movies, whatever it is. Right. Love them all. You must be careful. They're not all good or moral. So, you know, be careful when you choose them. But I love Star Trek. Huge Trekkie. Okay, I'm not like the cosplay Trekkie where I get the pointed ears and go around and, you know, 99 or whatever it is but I still love just the science fiction of it. Now, in the original Trek universe, there is a race of warriors called the Klingons. Everyone loves the Klingons. They are warriors to the core. All they dream about is conquest and honor in battle. And for them, the greatest death is a death in battle. And they prepare their children from a very young age to have this goal in mind.

If you want real glory, lasting glory, you must die in battle. It's a shame for a Klingon to die of old age in later Trekkie universes. There was also another race in another galaxy, and they were called the Vashti. If you really know them, I'm impressed. Don't worry if you don't.  Really liked them because they had a lot in common as a totally different race of aliens. But again, they were very battle oriented. They were all about war and conquest. And they had a tradition that every night with their children while going to bed, they would help their children come up with a new way that they could die in battle. That's the kind of bedtime stories they had with their kids. You could get your head chopped off. Imagine that. You know, somebody swinging a sword, or you could get shot with a laser gun, right? Whatever it is each night you're putting your children to bed with the idea of thinking about their death, keeping their death in mind so that they could never fear it. Because that's an important thing about being a soldier, right? If you're afraid of death, you're not going to be a good soldier because a soldier has to approach death in regard to their occupational responsibilities. Now, I'm not saying we should necessarily follow this trend with our own children. It's not necessarily the perfect way to do it, especially when they're little. However, there's something important about that. One thing that we see in so many of the great saints is their desire for martyrdom. They don't just want to die. They want to die for Christ. One of my favorites is Saint Francis of Assisi. He always wanted to be martyred. He wasn't, but he really wanted to be martyred he got permission to go to the Middle East and to find the sultan, the head of the Muslim empire, and to preach Christ to him, to preach Christ to him, because he knew he would probably be killed for it. and that's what he wanted. So, he goes there, and he gets an audience with the sultan. He's telling them, you’re all pagans and you need to convert and come to Jesus Christ, you know, and be baptized and so he's hoping he's going to get martyred, but the sultan's not ready to martyr him, Francis says, I'll make you a deal. You build This is a true story. You build the biggest fire you can, and you choose some of your most faithful and holy imams, or like priestly leaders among the Muslims. And we will all walk into the fire together and whoever comes out alive has the true God. He actually said this, and the sultan was like, okay, I'd like to see this. We had this giant fire built. Francis was standing there waiting to walk in, but the imams that were chosen were so terrified that they ran away, they wouldn't walk into the fire and Francis turn to the Sultan. He goes, That's okay. I'll do it by myself. And he turns around and begins to walk into this this giant bonfire and the sultan sends his soldiers to tackle Francis and to drag him away. And then he has his soldiers send him away from that land. And Francis was like, why just let me walk into the fire? He goes, no, because if you come out alive, I'll have to convert. But that was the zeal that Francis had. He had he was fearless in regard to suffering and death. I'm not saying you have to be that fearless. Okay. Right. You don't have to kind of go after martyrdom the way we see some of the saints do. However, you need to be ready for it. We should always be ready. Christ, who has given his life for me, deserves at the very least that I be willing to give my life for him. I can't even think about that if I'm afraid of death. You are going to die, and many of you are going to die far sooner than you think. And for those who aren't in Christ trying to prepare themselves for death, Jesus tells you what's going to happen. You call yourself a Christian. You're not ready for death. You're not ready for your judgment. You know what's going to happen. I'm going to come to you. You will die when you least expect it. We have no excuse for not being ready to die at any moment. Jesus has warned us if we're not always trying to get ourselves ready through prayer, right through confession, then he's going to come when we're not ready. But if I'm striving to stay in the state of grace.  Going to confession, praying, especially my rosary. If I'm doing these things, he won't surprise us. We will be ready and even if something happens where it seems like, you know, we can't get sacraments like the last rites before we die, our Lord will find a way. Like he wants to save everybody. If you're trying to stay in his good graces and pray and be ready for this inevitability, he's not going to surprise you. That's why I always love this story. A priest told when I was at seminary in Philadelphia. There was a huge snow snowstorm in Philly one winter, 30, 40 years ago. And the priest, who was the chaplain of the local hospital in downtown Philadelphia, could not get to the hospital because the snow drifts between the buildings were like 20, 30 feet high. It was impossible. Nobody could even leave their homes.  He gets a call in the middle of the night is a Catholic who's dying. They need last rites. He can't even get out of his door. And he's devastated. As a priest, you want to be there, but he can't be there. And he says, I'm sorry. There's just no way for me to even get the few blocks. I can't even walk. And he just goes to the chapel and starts praying that God, you know, provide a priest. This person is dying in the hospital. Obviously, there's a lot of commotion with nurses and doctors coming in and out. And the man in the next room, an elderly man who was bedridden, he couldn't sit up even was woken up because of all of the noise and he calls to one of the nurses coming by and he says. What's going on? And the nurse said, Mr. So-and-so, you're Mr. Smith from the next room is dying. And because of the snowstorm, the priest can't come and give him last rites. And this old man, bedridden old man, says, That's okay. I'm a priest, and I always keep my oils and my stoles with me. But the nurses didn't even know he was a priest. Now he couldn't walk into the other room, so they unhooked his bed and wheeled his bed into the other room. They lined up the bed beside the dying man, and he was so frail and elderly, this priest that he couldn't even, like, reach over or sit up himself. So, the nurses had to, like, tip him over so he was close enough to anoint him. He gives them the sacraments that all of the sick, the apostolic pardon, his forgiveness sins, and within a short time that man dies. God knew the hour of death, and he knew it would happen at a time when the normal priest and chaplain could not get to the hospital. So, you know what? He arranged that a sick old priest would be assigned to the room right next door so that when the time came, this child of his that he loved would have the graces that Christ had won for him. This is one of the reasons why, as Catholics, we pray the Hail Mary prayer because what do we say at the end of the prayer? Right. Pray for us now and at the hour of our death. It's that last hour that's so precious and important. Yes, I need grace throughout all my life. But that last hour is the most important because it's that moment that determines ultimately how I will be judged. That's why praying to our lady is so important and to any of the saints and angels that they not only help us always be ready for death and judgment, but in the end that we know that Christ will be there with his his loving hand in his mercy. So, again, death is imminent, and it will be challenging for most of us in one way or another. But at the very least, Christ doesn't want you to fear it. Don't underestimate his love for you. Don't underestimate his desire to save you. But don't wait on his mercy. Seek it today. Today may be the last day. The last day of your life. In the name of the Father and of the Son. And of the Holy Spirit.

Amen

 

Homily begins at




Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page