Death was the subject of Fr. Wade Menezes, CPM, first conference in Ottawa Sept 30 – Oct 1/16. Not the most enlivening subject but it is essential that we understand and prepare for it. Having gone through RCIA 23 years ago, I have forgotten the details of what the Church teaches on this subject. Hence I needed a refresher. Fr. Wade’s teachings were drawn directly from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) and sprinkled with frequent scripture references:
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
And everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. (John 11:26)
The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Cor 15:26)
- death is the end of our earthly life (CCC 1007)
- God the Creator had intended man not to die
- death entered the world as a consequence of sin (CCC 1008)
- Jesus accepted death willingly as an act of submission to the Father
- death is transformed into a blessing by Jesus Christ (CCC 1009)
- through our Baptism, we have “died with Christ” sacramentally in order to live a new life (CCC 1010)
- physical death completes this “dying with Christ” so that we can live with Him again
- death is the end of our earthly pilgrimage (CCC 1013).
- God offers us his grace and mercy right up to the moment of our death, so that we may work out our earthly life in keeping with the divine plan and to decide our ultimate destiny
- our goal is to die a happy death in a state of God’s grace
- we should prepare ourselves for the hour of death (CCC 1014)
- “From a sudden and unforeseen death, deliver us, O Lord.”(Litany of the Saints)
- ” Mother of God, pray for us at the hour of our death” (Hail Mary prayer)
To die in a “state of grace” means at the moment of death to be free of unabsolved sin and ideally of any “temporal punishment” associated with absolved mortal or venial sin. At the moment of death, our soul is separated from our body (temporarily). More on the subject of JUDGEMENT to follow. St. Joseph is the patron saint of a happy death, something I did not know:
Fr. Wade went on to explain that the taking of morphine or other pain killers for comfort purposes when the body is in the process of shutting down for death, is completely acceptable. However, requesting assisted suicide i.e. premature to the body shutting down for death, goes against natural law and hence is not permitted.
Since beginning to draft this post, thousands of people have died suddenly and unexpectedly. I am thinking of the 900+ who were killed in Haiti in the recent hurricane, people who were killed in Aleppo, Syria and elsewhere as a result of war and people killed in accidents, one right near our Arnprior home. Were they prepared? It underlines for me the need to prepare spiritually for death as outlined above, which can and often does come unexpected.
Finally, I attended a funeral for a middle aged man who apparently committed suicide. It was a somber one but one also filled with hope. The pastor said that the family members should not dwell on the feeling that they could have done more to prevent this tragedy. We cannot save those we love – only Jesus can. Furthermore, Jesus turned to this man at the moment of his death and said “Peace be with you, I give you my peace.”