Passage into Eternity

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We are all children of Adam and Eve; we are all made up of body and soul, and condemned by original sin to the eventual parting of body and soul that we call death.  This parting leaves the body without any life, and it falls back to dust.  But the soul does not fall back into nothingness; the soul was made to live forever.

God gave us his very own Son to take the penalty of death upon himself to redeem us from sin.  Through Jesus we have the hope of living in Heaven with God, although we must still undergo bodily death.

The bishops of the Catholic Church at the Second Vatican Council wrote: "Through Christ and in Christ the riddle of sorrow and death grow meaningful . . . Apart from his gospel, they overwhelm us."  The mystery of death can only be answered by faith.  With faith, we see death as it really is: a doorway, not a state.

Jesus said to his apostles, "Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Have faith in God and faith in me.  In my Father's house there are many dwelling places; otherwise, how could I have told you that I was going to prepared a place for you?  I am indeed going to prepare a place for you, and then I shall come back to take you with me, so that where I am you also may be.  You know the way that leads where I go" (Jn 14:1-4).

Every prayer we have ever said, every sacrament we have received, every good work we have ever done, every grace we have been given, helps to prepare us for the moment of death.  We ought to face death with hopeful joy, for Jesus said to Martha: "I am the Resurrection and the Life: whoever believes in me, though he should die, will come to life; and whoever is alive and believes in me will never die" (Jn 1-25-26).

Particular Judgment

Jesus, who knows our every thought, will judge each of us individually as soon as our souls leave our bodies.  The truth of his verdict will be made clear to us.  With complete clarity we will immediately be aware of three things:

1.  the exact balance of good and bad in our life and what we truly are;
2.  the perfect justice of our future lot, in Heaven or Hell;
3.  the presence of the Divine Judge, Jesus.

St. Paul says: "He will repay every man for what he has done: eternal life to those who strive for glory, honor, and immortality by patiently doing right; wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness" (Rom 2:6-8).


Jesus compares us to servants awaiting the return of the master of the house.  He said, "Look around you!  You do not know when the master of the house is coming" (Mk 13:35).  Jesus recommends a healthy awareness of the reality of death.  It should not be a morbid thought; we just have to face facts.  If we prepare ourselves for death, we will find joy and peace of mind that death cannot destroy.

We prepared for death by taking advantage of the means our loving Father in Heaven has given us.  We do our best to live according to his will.  We develop a spiritual life of prayer and the sacraments.  We study the truths of our religion in school, by reading on our own and being open to learn more about these truths.

Of course, we are aware that we often fail to keep God's laws, in little things if not in big; and so we must often turn to God's mercy and love.  Knowing all this, the Church tells us how we can make up for our sins.  We can offer prayers, especially the Rosary; we can do charitable deeds for others; we can do penance and offer sacrifices (for example controlling the kinds of food we eat, and being positive in our thoughts and conversations).

Above all, we should serve God generously, not measuring everything with the minimum required by law.  For Jesus said: "With your own measure it will be measured out to you again."  The closer we come to Jesus through prayer and acts of love, the more confidence we will have in his care for us and his mercy.  If we live for him, we will learn more and more to see death as the beginning of a new and wonderful life with God.

Prayer for the Dead

Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.  May they rest in peace.

 Used with the permission of The Ignatius Press 800-799-5534

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