“We must learn to risk fear as we risk death; true courage is to be found in this risk” - Georges Bernanos, Dialogues of the Carmelites.
During these singularly graced days of Lent, we are invited to do exactly what our Savior said if we want to follow Him, which is to take up our cross. Although the crosses each one of us carries are individual, and tailor-made, every last one of us will die. As we follow Christ to His Passion, Death and eventual Resurrection, these next days must become a time when we seriously consider our own inevitable death. It is only in this manner that the true priorities of life will become manifest.
In order to learn to die well, we should look to Christ the head of His mystical body, in order to learn how best to prepare. A careful reading of the Gospel accounts of Our Lord’s Passion will make it pellucid that, in His human nature, Christ was oppressed with sadness in the garden of Gethsemane. “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.“ Luke 22:42. And elsewhere we learn in the Gospel of St. John (John 11:35) that “Jesus wept” over the death of His friend Lazarus.
From these references, we see that, in itself, our death is an evil, the result of the Original Sin and its punishment. And yet, we are told in the texts of the Church’s liturgy that this sin was a “Felix culpa”, a happy fault, so it would represent the highest prudence to think on our eventual death frequently, daily, in order to prepare for it well. In a very real sense, our death is the supreme moment and the frame of our life. During the reflections of this week, we will look at death, so that we may prepare ourselves well for the supreme moment in our lives.