Friday, March 5, 2010

Are You Ready to Meet God?

Not too long ago I attended my brother Shannon’s funeral – he was 35 years old when he died. Before that, I attended my sister Linda’s funeral – she was 32. In between these, my niece Callie was 2 years old when she was ripped from this world. No one saw any of these devastating and sudden losses coming. All three were healthy only hours before. Each of their bodies failed, almost instantly, in different and unexpected ways. Each of them lived as if they had long lives ahead of them. Each of them were wrong. One moment they were healthy, spending time with family, playing, eating, sleeping… and then they were suddenly standing before God.

What did they see? What will you see? When will you find yourself standing before God? In the next ten minutes? The next hour? Tomorrow? Next week? Are you ready?

Have you got a backup plan to avoid hell? Some believe they do. They believe that some day they will get around to the all-important task of developing their spiritual lives, but that if they don’t, they are willing and ready to endure the backup plan – purgatory. This sounds plausible on its face, but what if we miss the mark? Aiming for purgatory and missing can be a hellish mistake.

~ Dan Burke, from A Hellish Backup Plan ~

"Hell… definitely not a good subject. But the thought of it can lead us to wake up and shed our spiritual sloth. The children of Fatima were granted a vision of hell from our Lady, and it turned them into ardent apostles of prayer. Christ himself mentions it in the Gospel for those who would rather not take the narrow path but instead choose the wide and easy one. He mentions the fire that is never extinguished and the worm that dies not. This is not just a scare tactic to get us to worry, but as the Catechism says, “a call to the responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his eternal destiny… and at the same time, an urgent call to conversion” (CCC, 1036). I think that is the reason we should contemplate the eternal truths: they give meaning to our lives. They get us to pull our heads out of the sand and realize what life is really about and where we are heading. They turn us back to God and teach us to value him and his things above all else. God is not a bookkeeper, keeping track of our faults and sins and waiting for the proper moment to cut us down and cut us off. He is a loving God who loved us so much that he sent us his only Son to show us the way to him. Meditating on the last things enables us to grow in love for him and his mercy."

~ Fr. Joseph Burtka, LC, from Catholic Spiritual Direction ~

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