Monday, March 17, 2008

Preparation for Death: A Palm Sunday Reflection

Work has been so crazy. Family has been so crazy. Well, LIFE has been so crazy! As I said before, I needed some time to just think and relax. Thank goodness for the weekend! I’m caught up again on sleep – and I’ve pretty much spent the weekend on retreat in my room! I finished a great book on Socrates and then opened up the Collected Dialogues of Plato. I read the Apology of Socrates, the Crito (in which Socrates defends law and justice – even if it costs him his life), the Euthyphro (where Socrates connects faith, reason, and ethics), and the Phaedo (the death of Socrates and his proof for the immortality of the soul).

After reading the tragic tale of the last days and death of Socrates, it was curious that I ran across an interesting book…

It was after Mass tonight. I was looking through the parish library and noticed this book by St. Alphonsus Liguroi; it was titled: Preparation for Death. I grabbed it from the shelf, opened it up, and began to read. Oh, it’s not simply morbid, it’s truly death staring you in the face. It was filled with nice details not only about how your body decays after death, but also about how, after a relatively short time, the people you know forget about you and move on – and with their deaths, you fade out of memory altogether. Harsh, but true.

The bad news of death in its fullest always comes before the Good News of Christ and the hope He brings. So I decided this would be my Holy Week devotional reading.

When you think about it, this is exactly what’s going in the life of Christ this week: preparation for death. Death, however, is not the end. Not a hole in the ground, but a doorway to victory. We pass through Good Friday to enter Easter Sunday. And not just for Jesus, but for ourselves as well. His suffering transforms ours. In each suffering, we face a little death (and to some extent, these sufferings prepare us for death – the Final, Big Suffering). The Good News is that by dying in Christ we will also rise with Him. Christ has defeated death. Now we only fear it when think of the body and forget the soul – when we (like Peter) look to the waters below us and not to Christ in front of us.

When we keep out eyes on Christ, He will raise us up from death just as He raised up Peter from the deathly waters.

So that’s the key – or rather He is the key. So in response to my reality check from Tuesday, I answer (as always, what a surprise…) with: Jesus! I need to remember (and so do you in your own life!) that I don’t live for belongings (like my beautiful laser red Mustang!), or for my job, or for my parish, or for my family, and especially not for myself! In the words of St. Paul: “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

I do not fear death. Instead, I will prepare to face it with Christ and in Him I will triumph over it.

Have a blessed Holy Week!

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