The Reality of Death

All of us are afraid to die.  When we speak of death, we describe it as the most tragic and horrifying experience in life.  We are afraid to face the reality of death because we don’t want to leave this world unfulfilled with our personal missions, agendas, dreams and commitments in life.  Before we die, we see to it that everything is fulfilled in our lives.  We do our best not to face death, because we cannot deny the fact that we are not yet ready to leave behind the people who became significant and special in our lives, the honor, fame and everything that we are experiencing and enjoying here on earth, the lifestyle that we have, the plans and dreams that we are aspiring and striving to be fulfilled for our lives, ourselves and most significantly our future.

Death may seem so frightening and distressing in the perspective of some of the people, but in the perspective of God, death is something to be embraced, cherished, and not to be feared.  Although death is the end of the person’s pilgrimage here in earth, it assures us that through death, being in union with God is possible.  Death is the final stage of our lives physically, the culmination of everything that we have traveled in this physical journey God has given us, yet it is our starting point, a new beginning, a new voyage in order to see God face to face and being with him to live in His presence.  Death is a manifestation for all of us that the ultimate goal in our lives is God Himself for He is the way, the truth, and the life.  Hence, according to St. Paul, at the point of death, God assures us that we too might live in newness of life and be united with Him in the resurrection just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father if we believe.

 Yesterday’s commemoration of all the faithful departed reminds us that death is a reality yet a participation in the death of Christ so that we can also share His Resurrection if we die in His grace.  Every tomb that we see in the cemeteries speaks to us that we have only limited time here on earth and we are not the authors of our life.  All of us will experience death.  But, if we die with a desire to be with Christ it is a guarantee that to live with Him is a possibility.  We should not be afraid about the reality of death.  We should think of those people who have gone ahead on us especially our loved ones, for sure they are now enjoying their lives with God.  Every faithful departed is a reminder for each and every one of us that even they died physically their presence is still alive in our hearts and refreshed by Christ.  Let us continue to pray for them that they may fully reached and lived the newness of life in Christ.

 

5 thoughts on “The Reality of Death

    1. Thank you for your question:). In some sense you are correct in saying our departed loved ones are now ‘in Christ’ and there’s no need to pray for them or no more prayer required. As a Catholic, I believed to pray for them is important. Why do I need to pray for the soul of our departed loved ones? I would like to share to you my professor’s notes in 2 Maccabees as an answer to the question;

      It is mentioned how 2 Maccabees has influenced the Christian positive valuing of sufferings. This book is important for Catholic theology on two points.
      First, Catholic theology puts significance on 12,42-46. The epitomist presents Judas as a believer in the resurrection of the dead, shown by his admirable deeds of offering prayers and sacrifices on behalf of his soldiers who perished in battle. The epitomist believes that such act is futile if the dead will not rise again (12,44). In the same way, the action of Judas brings to the forefront the notion of prayers for the dead (12,45), also a hot issue in Judaism (2 Esdras and 4 Ezra 7:104-5). The text above is also used rise again (12,44).
      Other Christian religious traditions have registered repeatedly, and many times harshly, their objections to the Catholic doctrine of purgatory. How would the biblical text bear on this teaching? To answer this, I am following the article of C. Stuhlmueller, published in The Bible Today. Before proceeding with his arguments, Fr. Stuhlmueller lays down the difficulties:
      (1) The idea of individual existence after death developed in the OT quite late
      (2) The Hebrew canon does not admit the books of Maccabees
      (3) life after death of individuals does not receive extensive coverage even in the NT, the concerns of which are mostly about the time of the messiah, the triumph of good over evil and the place of the just in the Kingdom of God.
      What he wants to say is that there is not a well-defined teaching on purgatory and the fate of individual after death. Having clarified that, Stuhlmueller puts forward his ideas for reflection. I present below the thoughts of Stuhlmueller in toto, as I take liberty to reformat the text for the purpose of ease in reading:
      [1] Whether or not 2 Maccabees belongs in the Hebrew canon of sacred Scripture, it represents the belief of pious Jews and the practice at the Jerusalem Temple a century before Christ. These people looked upon their belief in a transitory state for the deceased as compatible with their Scriptures.
      [2] Early Christian practice in the Greek and Western churches relied upon this passage for supporting and inspiring prayers that the deceased may be completely purified and enters into the heavenly kingdom of God.
      [3] As Solomon Zeitlin, writing from a Jewish perspective, points out in his commentary on 2 Maccabees, prayers for and later to the dead became a widespread custom in Judaism; the custom continues today in the Kaddish prayer recited in the 7th day of mourning and on the Day of Atonement.

      sorry for a long reply. I hope this may help you to know and understand why it is important for us to pray for the soul of our departed loved ones

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      1. Wow, that is a big response. Problem is that God’s word is quite clear “absent from the body is present with the Lord”. Our salvation comes down to our personal acceptance of the work of Christ – not the prayers of caring loved ones. I respect your comment but am concerned about your eternity, you seem to have placed your faith in the wrong source, my sincere regards, Graeme

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