Postage for Pakistan and other parts of the planet

Monday, January 7, 2013

In this life, I will live forever

When I taught religious education to junior high and high school students back in Necedah, WI, the church there had its churchyard (i.e., cemetery) right next door. Once it got late enough in the year for the sun to still be out after 7:00 p.m., I would take my students into the churchyard and give them a scavenger hunt: Find the oldest tombstone, find the newest tombstone, find the oldest person buried here, find the youngest person buried here. One guy had died at around 100-year-old, and there was a baby buried there who lived a few days. The oldest tomb dated to the 1800s, the most recent, well, recently.

That's not the point. The point is that in scouring all these tombstones, my hope and prayer was that my kids would see that their life could end at any moment. None of us has any guarantee we will live into a ripe old age, as we say in the US. As the Italians say (and as thousands of sepulchers across Europe testify, although we sadly do not have this tradition in the United States), Memento mori ... Remember, you will die.

Cheery thought, I know. But this story just proves the point. (Actually, look at the news every day, and you'll see stories that tragically prove the point.) This guy was 27. He was just hanging out, having fun, doing things guys his age do. He had a bright future ahead of him. And now, no longer. And he leaves behind a fiancee and very young daughter who will now grow up without her daddy. What a bummer, man.

Still, it reminds us: Be prepared. If today, your life and an account of your soul were demanded of you, would you be ready to face the judgment seat of the Son of God? Are you ready for your particular judgment?

For me, every day, it's an up and down question to the degree I am a state of grace. By God's grace, I'm rarely in a state of mortal sin, but sometimes I sure am glad I'm alive and not being called to account that day. There's always time to still become a saint. God's mercy is unfathomable and can overcome any sin any one of us have committed. That's truly the "good news" (i.e., gospel).

In the meantime, appropos of nothing, listen to this really interesting polyphony by Luca Marenzio titled "Amor è Ritornato." It's almost like a melding of Buddhist and Gregorian chant. Fascinating. I love Marenzio.

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