July 20, 2010

Praying Toward Death

I liked the concluding oration for Morning Prayer today: "Increase in us, Lord, the faith you have given us, and bring to a harvest worthy of heaven the praise we offer you at the beginning of this new day." (I don't know 'what the prayer really says' because I'm staying with my parents and don't have my Liturgia Horarum with me.)

Everything we do contributes to who we will be at the moment of death when our lives shift from time to eternity. What we choose to do makes for habits, both of thought and behavior. Our habits define what sort of people we are in this life. Death, from the perspective of morality, is the moment at which our lives cease to be subject to revision. At that point, like it or not, we have decided who we have been in this life. Punk rockers The Vandals described this in negative terms in their song, "People That Are Going to Hell:" When their lives are over and they've done what they've done, they're the people that are going to hell.

For us who are still on the pilgrimage of this life, this is good news. Our lives are still revisable. We can avail ourselves of grace and do our best to consent to become saints at the moment of death. But there is urgency to this; as moments and days and years go by, our lives become that much less revisable. Since we do not know when we will die, let us surrender to the sanctity that God delights to give us. Let us give in to the destiny that Jesus Christ is dying to give us, and become the harvest worthy of heaven.


Greg said...

This post inadvertently raises the question of Purgatory.

Is there a post-mortem period during which we still address our nature?

Much here to contemplate.

Brother Charles said...

Indeed, and this precisely why the doctrine of purgatory is neither morbid nor depressing, but an encouraging expression of God's mercy. Life is not just a test God puts to us to see if we can pass or fail; even if we have not completed our road toward sanctity in this life, a period of purification is provided afterward. This is how much God has favored our salvation.