by Michael O’Connell
Death is an inevitable phenomenon that is very much a part of us whether we like it or not. One day, sooner or later, will be the last we spend in physical form on this earth. To many this is saddening, so it is overlooked. Some may even go through their lives completely ignoring any thoughts of death. Death may invoke a sense of uneasiness, but this is no way to approach the reality of such a thing.
Catholic teaching speaks of the last things: death, judgment, and heaven or hell. From a Catholic perspective, death does not signal the end for us, but only the beginning. The theological virtue of hope is ultimately the defining factor when we are facing death and what comes after.
The fear of death still haunts the general population of the Catholic Church, as well as other Christians. This fear of not knowing tends to be brushed aside. We become caught up in our daily lives and try not to think about this. Going to class, laboring over homework, planning for our future jobs, and every other pressing issue in our lives can distract us from thinking about why we are really here. We may be the children of God, but this is sometimes difficult to accept with all of the stress that goes into our daily lives. Even in weekly Mass, the concept of death tends to be overlooked, but the question remains: how do we not fear death and what may come after?
By living a virtuous life under the guidance and direction of God, our savior Jesus Christ, we have nothing to fear. While our end in this world may seem like the last stop on our journey, just know that Jesus will be waiting for us at the gates of heaven. Although we are so easily distracted by other things in our lives, as well as tempted by sin, it is never too late to connect with God. Our final judgment rests upon how we live our lives on earth, so if we live to the best of our ability with God in mind, we should not fear death. Those who do not think about the concept of death will be much more scared when that day comes, but those who accept it as something that is greater than us should not fear it. Be not afraid of death, because it is only the beginning, the beginning of the rest of your life. You may leave your body behind, but your spirit shall live on if you let God into your heart.