Sunday, November 2, 2014

Life, Death, and Hope

I'm going to die.

That's what happens to humans.

Elijah's departure, described in 2 Kings 2:8-11, was a special case. So is Mary, and I talked about that yesterday. (November 1, 2014)

How we deal with awareness of life and death depends on culture and an individual's unique experiences and personality.

By the way — my diabetes, hypertension, and assorted other health issues, are pretty much under control: so my death is probably years, maybe decades, away. The clock's ticking, though.

Memento Mori


"Memento mori" — Latin for 'remember your death,' more or less — makes sense: if done with common sense. Recognition of impending doom can have a wonderfully focusing effect. (May 20, 2011)

However, I don't have a skull mounted on my desk: reminding me that my days are numbered. For one thing, I don't think that'd be consistent with respect for the dead. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2299-2300)

Carpe Diem


There's some wisdom in "carpe diem," too. The phrase, from a Latin poet's "Odes," isn't the oldest suggestion that enjoying the 'now' makes sense. The idea goes back at least as far as the "Epic of Gilgamesh" and Ecclesiastes 2:24.

The options aren't limited to morbid fascination with death or fleeing this fact of life by focusing on immediate pleasures.

God made and is making a good and beautiful world. (Genesis 1:1-2:9; Catechism, 31-32)

There is no problem with pleasure, enjoyed in moderation:
"3 There is nothing better for man than to eat and drink and provide himself with good things by his labors. Even this, I realized, is from the hand of God.

"For who can eat or drink apart from him? "
(Eccelsiastes 2:24-25)
Human nature being what it is, I'd better add this footnote:
"[24] Unrestrained indulgence is not advocated here, but legitimate pleasure and the cheerfulness it begets."
(Footnote 3, Eccelsiastes 2, New American Bible (November 11, 2002)

Planning Ahead


I will live forever.

That's good news or bad news, depending on what I do with the package I've been issued. I've discussed faith, works, and James 2:17-26 before. (October 5, 2011; August 27, 2011)

Right after I die, there's a final performance review: my particular judgment. (Catechism, 1021-1022)

I'm not looking forward to that, but it's unavoidable.

After the particular judgment, there's Heaven: or Hell. Purgatory is not a 'get out of Hell free' card. It's more like an ICU or emergency room for souls, and that's another topic. (Catechism, 1023-1037)

Bottom line, we get one life, one soul, and one chance at eternity. Hope is a virtue, despair is not an option, and hope lasts as long as we live. (Catechism, 366, 988-1014, 1021-1022, 1501, 1817-1821, 2091)

After that, there's this creation's closing ceremony — the Last Judgment — and we see what's next.

There's been a great deal of speculation about what Creation 2.0 will be like: some of it informed; some not so much.

I've indulged in that sort of guesswork: but I think this pretty well sums up what we know:
"I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, God's dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people 4 and God himself will always be with them (as their God).

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, (for) the old order has passed away.' "
(Revelation 21:3-4)
I'll see you there: I hope.

More of my take on long-term planning:

2 comments:

Reconciled To You said...

Brian... I smiled, I pondered. I even LOL'd... great blog on what can sometimes be a scary thing to think about!

Brian Gill said...

Scary, indeed, Reconciled To You.

Thank you for your good words.

I see that I haven't written much about death: and even less about depression and despair.

They're not easy topics.

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