"Death is a debt that all men must pay... [and so] only a fool forsakes truth for error."- St. Justin the Martyr
I've been thinking about this quote quite a bit today. Birthdays have a tendency to do that to me; that is, to put life in perspective. They are a reminder that, yes, I am growing older and I will die some day. Every thought, every action, every chance for grace is unrepeatable and won't be given again, though other new opportunities will be most likely granted. There is verse from Ecclesiasticus that goes like this: "In all thy works remember thy end, and thou shalt never sin." (Ecclesiasticus 7:40 Douay Rheims, and throughout this blog post). The Scriptures are right, as always; a profound sense of death is a powerful cure for sin, and is something that prompts sobriety of thought and action even in the young, if they seek wisdom.
"Young men, in like manner, exhort that they be sober."- Titus 2:6
"Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour."- 1 Peter 5:8
That second passage in particular applies remarkably well to death itself:
"Therefore because the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he (Christ) also himself in like manner hath been partaker of the same: that, through death, he might destroy him who had the empire of death, that is to say, the devil: and might deliver them, who through the fear of death were all their lifetime subject to servitude."- Hebrews 2:14-15
You see, death itself is the empire of the devil, it is his power, it is the result of sin entering the world through his enticing. The very fact that Christians still die is proof that he, though defeated by Christ, still for a short while possesses some hold over the world, over the order of things. Therefore, as we know that it is our fate to die, as being in the world and still subject to it's unfortunate current order, let us hold the dignity of our faith ever tighter. Realize that death awaits you, embrace it, surrender to it, yield to it; offer your own future death up to Christ and bear the dying of Jesus Christ in your own life, even now while you are still alive, so that your death may be meaningful through Christ's own death, by being joined to it and by being an extension of His mortification for sin. Never forget in the midst of sobriety that we also have cause for rejoicing in the face of the devil who is the co-author of death with the human race; for Christ has defeated the power of the devil in his glorious resurrection. "The Passion is our Resurrection," as St. Ignatius of Antioch declared before his martyrdom. The ultimate goal of the Catholic's life is to get to the point where, in a consistent state of Grace, you are able to say to all of nature, all the specters of Hell, and humbly to all of Heaven, what St. Francis of Assisi said long ago: "Be praised, my Lord, through Sister bodily Death from whom no living man can escape! Woe only to those who die in mortal sin; but blessed are those who have done Your most holy will; for the second death can cause them no harm!"
If this is your prayer, if you live in sobriety, if you embody the season of Lent in your heart through penance in union with the Passion of our Lord Jesus and through faith in union with the Resurrection of our Lord from the dead, you will, along with the Blessed Mother, Daughter of Zion, scoff at the devil, and dwell within the Most Holy Trinity, and the Trinity in you, until you are assumed, like unto her Assumption, into the everlasting life of the Beatific Vision of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; where we shall see Christ as He really is. "And every one that hath this hope in him, sanctifieth himself, even as he (Christ) is holy"- St. John the Evangelist. Mary, our lovely and beautiful Mother, thus is our example:
"This is the word that the Lord hath spoken of him (of the king of the Assyrians, and, in a mystical sense, satan himself, the ruler of the hordes of Hell [albeit temporary, until that fateful day when Every Knee Will Bow to God made man, Christ Jesus our Lord]): the Virgin the Daughter of Zion hath despised thee, and laughed thee to scorn: the Daughter of Jerusalem hath wagged the head after thee. Whom hast thou reproached, and whom hast thou blasphemed, and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thy eyes on high? Against the Holy One of Israel."- Isaiah 37:22-23
"I will put enmities between thee and the Woman, and thy seed and her Seed..."- Genesis 3:15