Not the warm-fuzziest of paintings, I know…
In about a week we will come to the end of our liturgical year and enter once again into a new year beginning with the season of Advent. As I’ve mentioned in my last few Sunday homilies, the Church helps us prepare for the end of this year by drawing our focus to two different ends: the end of the world and the end of our own lives—both of which are inevitable and are coming at an unknown time.
I mentioned this past Sunday that such a focus is not a morbid attempt by the Church to instill crippling fear in us or make us depressed or anxious, but rather to help bring back into perspective something that we often lose sight of: namely, our end goal of Heaven.
The Church has been encouraging her faithful to keep this in mind for centuries since we don’t know the day or the hour when Our Lord will come again or when our life breath will leave us. There even are stories of Saints throughout our 2,000 year history who would keep a skull on their desk as a reminder that death is coming and we need to be prepared for it—you may have even seen this depicted in paintings or statues. Is it kind of creepy? Yeah, maybe a litte…but only when taken out of context or misunderstood.
No one in Sacred Scripture warned and taught about the end times/end of our own lives more than Jesus. There are many accounts throughout the Gospels where He taught His disciples to always be prepared and vigilant and to not get so consumed by the things in this life that they forget the life to come.
I know that I am personally grateful for the Church’s annual reminder of this. It is easy to get bogged down by busyness, “administrivia”, and the craziness of this life that does nothing but rob us of our joy. But in the middle of it all, Our Lord offers us His peace (Jn 16:33) if we but unite ourselves daily to Him in prayer and in the Sacraments—the love language He speaks to us through His Church.
So, as we quickly approach the end of the Church year, memento mori. Remember that death is a part of each of our lives and that the way we spend our time living will determine how we spend eternity. Take some time to look over the things in your life that you know you need to change before you go before Him. And with the help of His Grace, make the resolution to do whatever it takes so that when the end does come, nothing will stand in your way, and you’ll be prepared to spend everlasting life with Him.