Dying: Beginning or End?

A little Archbishop Fulton Sheen for you on All Souls’ Day:

From this clutching at goods results a fear of death, a dread that we may lose whatever we have accumulated, that our temporal security will vanish into eternal insecurity. This fear of death, suffered by the modern pagan, differs from the fear of death of the faithful in several ways. The pagan fears the loss of his body and his wealth; the faithful fears the loss of his soul. The believer fears God with a filial fear such as a devoted son has toward a loving father; the pagan fears, not God, but his fellow man, who seems to threaten him. Hence the increase in cynicism, suspicion, irreverence, strifes, and war; the neighbor must be killed, by word if not by sword, because he is an enemy to be dreaded. The modern pagan, in refusing to continue life by the procreation of birth, becomes the sower of death. Denying the immortality of his own soul, he refuses immortality to the race by stifling his reproductive function, and thus he doubly courts the fear of death. Freud has said that Love and Death are related which indeed they are, but not in the way Freud imagined. Love, understood as sex alone, does bring death when it sacrifices the race for the pleasure of the person. Love, understood not as glandular but as intellectual and volitional, also involves death, for it seeks to die that the beloved may live; this love, however, conquers death, through a resurrection. But to an unbeliever death, instead of being an empirical fact, has become a metaphysical anxiety. As Franz Werfel profoundly remarked on the subject: “The skeptic believes in nothing more than death; the believer believes in nothing less. Since the world to him is a creation of spirit and love, he cannot be threatened by eternal destruction in his es­sential being as a creature of the world.”

The world fears the very things Our Lord told us not to fear. He said we were not to fear dying, nor to fear being “called on the carpet” for our faith, nor to fear economic insecurity, nor to fear the future (http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2280066/posts).

This idea that the believer believes in nothing less than death is reflected beautifully in Romans where Paul wrote,

Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death,  so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life (6:3-9).

We believe in nothing less than death, because as Paul so beautifully articulates, it is our dying with Christ that begins our Christian Life.  It is the springboard into all of the mysteries of true life; a sharing in the divine life of the Trinity.


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