Are You Ready For Death?

Each and every one of us have to face two things in life that we will encounter whether we like it or not. The first thing is tax or taxes. As long as you are living in a civilised society with various amenities, public services and other forms of purchases of goods or services, we will be taxed. If you drive a car, you will be taxed with road tax, tax when you purchased the car, and even tax already included in your petrol purchase. When you go to a restaurant, you will be taxed a service tax, the food you purchase has some items which are taxed, and in some cases you would be expected to tip the waiter or waitress (which is like a form of 'tax', so to speak). So, as you can see, tax cannot be avoided, as we are all taxed in one way or another, left, right, front, back, top, bottom and centre.

The other thing we will face eventually is death. Death can come at any time. It does not matter how old, young, healthy, sick, fit or unfit we are, we will die one day. This is where we need to make the necessary preparations, so that we would be prepared for the eventuality of death. Some of you may say, "Yeerrr, this padre so terrible (or morbid) one. Why talk about death aaa?" But that is exactly the point: we should be talking about death because our lives here on earth are only temporary. We are merely pilgrims, and we should be prepared and ready to meet the Lord and be with Him at any time. This does not mean that we should become over-cautious or paranoid about death, but we can still take some time to make some preparations.

We know that Rome wasn't built in a day, and doing things little by little can accumulate into good habits and practices, which would help in our preparations to return to the Lord some day (or some may say in Bahasa Malaysia, "balik kampung" or "go back to eternal village"). So what ought we to do? Here are some points to consider:

Temporal or Worldly Matters

  1. Get all your worldly affairs in order. This includes your wealth, debts and other matters concerning you on earth. A will may be helpful so that those you leave behind will know what you would want to do with your wealth and belongings (your "barang-barang").
  2. I will not speak further about this, but I hope you will look seriously at your worldly affairs and do the necessary, so that you do not leave behind your loved ones with problems and hardship.

Spiritual Matters

  1.  Be regular with your Sunday and weekday Masses. Some of us may be regular with Sunday Mass, but what about weekday or daily Mass? Don't you want to be spiritually nourished with bread from heaven, Jesus' body, each day?
    • We are particular about the food we eat so that our bodies are hopefully strong and healthy, but what about our soul? Don't we want our soul to be strong and healthy too?
    • We have to pay for the food we eat (and some of us are willing to travel long distances to savour delicacies, and in some cases pay exorbitant prices), but Jesus body in the form of the Eucharist is offered each day FOC (free of charge).
      • If we are invited to a restaurant and are told the food there is FOC, we would soon be faced with a stampede as everyone would want to grab as much as they can.
      • Seems strange that some are not keen or enthusiastic to partake in Holy Communion, which is food for the soul, food that will last.
  2. Be regular with your prayer life and meditation. How do we grow closer to God if we do not pray regularly, consistently and fervently? How do we listen to His voice if we do not spend some time to meditate and let Him talk to us?
  3. Read the sacred scriptures and other books on church teachings, lives of the saints, books on spirituality and other books concerning the faith. Books about the lives of the saints, for example, may inspire us to follow their example and encourage us to strive towards holiness.
  4. Be regular with the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We spend so much time and effort to keep our bodies clean by bathing regularly and nice-smelling by putting on perfume and other scents. But how much time and effort are we making to keep our soul clean?
    • I find it interesting to note that there are some who come for confession only once or twice a year (some even after a few years), especially during the Advent and Lent confessions.
      • Either these folks have not taken the trouble or made effort to identify and admit the sins they have committed and go to confession to seek forgiveness and absolution, or these folks must be saints or angels already.
    • Why are some of us dirtying our soul by keeping all our sins inside? It does not matter whether one has committed one sin, two sins or several. It does not matter whether it is a venial or a mortal sin. A sin is still a sin, and if we do not go for confession, the sin continues to stain our soul.
      • Would you allow a stain to remain on your body or your clothes for a long period? Isn't it strange that you would quickly get the stain removed so that your body or clothes would not be damaged?
      • What about your soul then? Is not your soul even more important than your body and clothes?
  5. Seek a spiritual director. The spiritual director would be able to help and guide you to grow in your spiritual life. We make so much effort to earn degrees and other qualifications, but what about our spiritual "qualifications"?
  6. Observe God's commandments faithfully. God's commandments can be summarised into two: love God, and love neighbour. If we take the time to understand and discover what it really means to love God and love neighbour, we would soon realise that it is not as simple or easy as it seems. We may have failed in one way or another to observe God's commandments at some point of our lives, and this is where the Sacrament of Reconciliation would be helpful.
  7. If you or someone is quite ill and hospitalised or housebound, do inform your parish priest so that you or the person can receive the Sacrament of Anointing.
    • The parish priest or an extraordinary communion minister may also bring Holy Communion to the sick or housebound.
    • If the need arises, the parish priest may administer Extreme Unction (also known as Food for the Journey), especially when the person appears to be quite critical or dying.
    • The important thing here is to inform the parish priest or the parish office so that the sick and the housebound would receive the necessary spiritual care as well.
What I have written here are merely some of the many ways we could consider and practice, as we continue life on earth. When the time comes for us to meet the Lord, would we be ready and would our soul be clean or spick and span? Don't we want to hear these words from the Lord: "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!" (Matthew 25:21). Let us not procrastinate further but do our part faithfully and consistently, little by little, so that we would be ready and happy to "Come and share our master's happiness!"

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