Shuffling off this mortal coil

A little while ago I had some symptoms which indicated a real possibility that I had a fatal disease. You will, I hope, be glad to hear that the symptoms resolved themselves, and I am fine. However, for a day or two, I was faced by a prospect which has given me a degree of insight. I did not want at that stage to tell my wife, so I was left with my own thoughts.

The first issue was whether or not I should go for a cure or leave the illness to take its course. It came as a surprise to me that, subject to much information which I did not have, I was tempted towards the second possibility. I have had a longer life than many and have no particular desire to stay indefinitely in this vale of tears.

While I considered my wife in all of this, I happen to know that she feels the same way about herself. A naughty thought was that my children (who are very good to me in these matters) would certainly benefit from an early inheritance. More practically, I would be able to get financial matters into comprehensible order, and instruct my wife in some technical household issues she has never had to master.

But, more importantly, I was much relieved by the thought that I would have quite enough time to prepare for death. There would be no likelihood of my sliding into dementia, depriving me of the power to use my free will. And I had a reduced risk of sudden death through an accident or a sudden heart attack. I would have the time I needed to prepare – Last Sacraments and all. Indeed, having done my Nine First Fridays, the promised gift of grace at my deathbed would surely be available.

Of course, before you tell me so, I shouldn’t need all of this. As a good Christian Catholic I should always be ready to meet the thief who comes in the night. I have no right to claim an opportunity to prepare. I cannot rely on William Camden’s (16th cent) hope “Betwixt the stirrup and the ground, mercy I sought and mercy I found”. But sadly my life is patchy, and there is always much to do.

I wonder whether any of you have had the same experience of the potential proximity of death. And, if so, has your reaction been the same or different from mine? And if you have not yet had such an experience, do you nevertheless keep yourself prepared for death? Or do you continue merrily on your way – confident that it will all be OK in the end?

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
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37 Responses to Shuffling off this mortal coil

  1. Galerimo says:

    Good to hear that all went well for you Quentin.

    I have not have such a close brush as yet but I have made a ‘Health Care Directive’ and lodged a copy with my GP while keeping my own. What to do in case I am not conscious enough to make ultimate decisions, what treatments to stop and what treatments not to start. And no resuscitation. That sort of thing. I discussed it all with my family at the time of drawing it up, a few years ago and it gives me some peace of mind now when I think of it. I thought it a prudent thing to do since I have witnessed so much medical intervention that has prolonged death for weeks and months on end. Stressing patients and their loved ones further than is necessary.

    I would like to think that I would be able to endure a certain amount of pain in imitation of Jesus and in some true way unite with his death especially after having led such a privileged life in a very affluent society. The extraordinary means seem to have become the ordinary means of sustaining life in our culture.

    But you make a fair point when you take into consideration the feelings of those close to you and how they will have to endure the illness and loss of their loved ones.

    Again I like to think that a feeble and sick and non campus mantis condition is also an iteration of me that I would be able to accept and endure for a time before death. I would like to know that loved ones could be close by for a time but not all the time for their sake.

    I am sure you have often heard it said that it not so much death as the process of dying that frightens people and think it is true. I often project into my own death as there is strong change I will not be very aware of it. In those projections I like to talk with Jesus and the conversations have revealed a lot to me e.g. I remember how good I felt when I thought I would not be able to sin again and for once my “never more to offend thee” promise would come to be true.

    oops sorry for going on so long. Its the topic that occupies a lot of reflection at my age. Thanks.

  2. Brendan says:

    I sense that I may be one of the younger ones among’st …. ”we happy few , we band of brothers [ and sisters ] ”….. and therefore I’m not sure how to approach issues thrown up , other than from this moment in time. I am not ready for my Maker , and my wife – the next important person to me – feels the same. But one can never be sure. Fellow bloggers may deduce things about me in my past postings which relate to my current feelings on the matter at hand.
    I am happier and contented with myself now ,than I have ever been in the past. Financial matters are more or less settled for my wife and I , into the foreseeable future . We have no health issues to speak of and I feel close and at peace with relatives and friends.This is not an outbreak of spiritual pride when I say that it is my firm and unshakable belief that ‘ my ‘ brand of vicissitudes in past life has been a preparation for fulfillment for this life now and I believe in later years. I am content with that ‘ meaning ‘ of my own life so far nd bow in deference to God – in – Christ who made that possible …..” While I do things that I mean not to , and do things that I hate…….. neither death nor life , nor angels , nor principalities ……..will be able to come between us and the love of God , known to us in Christ Jesus our Lord . ( Romans )

  3. John Candido says:

    Death is sobering! I haven’t had the experience that Quentin refers to but as a 58 year old I am getting on. A neighbour of mine once said that as he gets older the thought of dying mysteriously gets a little easier to bear. Am I prepared for death? No. I don’t want to die as any other person doesn’t want to die.

    As I haven’t lived a life that I had hoped to have lived there is not much time left for me to make amends. I suppose that is part of the vale of tears that this life is noted for. I am consoled by the fact that whatever shortcomings that are a part of my life; I am confident that other people will fill the gap.

    • St.Joseph says:

      John Candido.
      I see death as just passing through a door, we can have brief moments of the Beatific Vision here on earth, by seeing things with our soul with the relationship we grow to have with God the Father, Jesus and The Holy Spirit as friends and Our Blessed Mother and the Saints.
      I am not afraid to die, that does not mean that I presume to go straight to Heaven, but I hope to . I don’t feel I need to despair, as we ought not to anyway.
      We learn to live in the expectations of the Life Eternal. Perhaps at my age now I probably know more souls who have gone through that door, and loved ones too, so my expectations are very comforting!

  4. Nektarios says:

    Yes, I have had a few brushes with death. Another, I live with three conditions that nowadays could kill this old body, this useless bag of bones.

    I have come to understand, that there is only two ways to die. We can die in our sins, or in Christ. Please read, John Gospel 8:21-24. It is important as it is one of the few times Jesus repeats Himself emphasising His message.
    All other references we make about dying are of the the body, how it will die, with disease, old age, accident, another war, but then one is only talking of the mode in which this body will die.

    Is their a more important question than, how am I to die?
    In this life, if we sin, we can repent. If we mess up our lives we have the chance to turn our lives around. If we have marital problems, we can patch that up or start over if necessary.

    But, then comes dying and death. The question then is how are we to die, in sin or in Christ?
    No time to change, no energy to turn our lives around, live morally, no time to patch up ones marriage. one is on the threshold of death.
    No second chance remains, our time has almost run out.

    Perhaps ones life will flash before ones mind. One may remember becoming a church member,
    being enrolled on the communicants list as a child, did we truly understand as children the message of the Gospel. Perhaps we grew up and argued philosophically, from a humanist, secular or liberal, or scientific point of view on the Gospel and what we thought about Christ.
    All that has come to nothing, as we are about to die. Only two questions need to be answered,
    are we dying in our sin or in Christ?

  5. St.Joseph says:

    Nektarios.
    What you say is very understandable to Christians who have been baptised with Water and the Spirit. Even if they do not attend church or receive the Sacraments. obviously like us all will sin and repent when we are given a chance to before we die. What if one of us as Christians don’t get a chance and die suddenly are they lost souls?
    Another thought is of a person who does not believe in Jesus Christ and lives their life and don’t live in Christ as you say, are they dying in their sins because there beliefs are not in Christ but their own personal opinions of God?
    I see more than two questions.
    I believe The Lord in His Divine Mercy is the only judge when we die.
    Judge and we shall not be judged, and pray for the souls in Purgatory,
    That does not mean that we need not evangelize, because that is our responsibility, but we do it with the love of God and for souls, He has no hands but ours!

  6. Nektarios says:

    St Joseph
    What did our Lord say in John’s Gospel 8:21-24? Remember he is addressing those who claimed to know, but did not know Him and presumed what they thought was right.

    You ask: What if one of us as Christians don’t get a chance and die suddenly are they lost souls?
    Our Salvation is of God. God has predetermined us to be His people. I dare say, there are those who are His people in His love and mercy, will be rather surprised to find themselves in heaven.

    You ask again, Another thought is of a person who does not believe in Jesus Christ and lives their life and don’t live in Christ as you say, are they dying in their sins because there beliefs are not in Christ but their own personal opinions of God?

    A person who does not believe What our Lord said in John 8:21-24 is the truth.
    I don’t think you fully understand what it means to be in ‘in Christ’ yet, though you may be in Christ in actuality, but it is never a matter of their own personal opinions.
    Consider, it was part of the same crowd that was baying for His blood, away with Him, Crucify Him.
    that was their opinion of Christ then.
    Then mercy or mercies, when the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, they were some of the same people who believed, repented and were baptised and were added to the church some 3000 souls.

    To be ‘in Christ’ is an action of God who places us in Him. We don’t place ourselves there. You have not chosen me but I have chosen you.
    Our response to the truth is to say ‘yes’ to Jesus Christ our Lord and God.

  7. St.Joseph says:

    Nektarios.
    Thank you for that explanation.
    I will think about what you say.

  8. St.Joseph says:

    Nektarios.
    I have given your comment a lot of thought.
    First though I do know I am in Christ I believe all who follow Jesus and try to do His Wii are in Christ.
    Secondly I am confused with regard to ‘I have chosen, you have not chosen me.
    I have always taken that to mean that God has chosen certain people for a particular mission in His Church by the power of the Holy Spirit.
    Do you mean those who do not follow Him, that God has ‘not chosen them to follow Him.
    I am wondering if by any reason that your limited saving of some souls are because the Orthodox do not believe in Purgatory, Or does it?
    Maybe I am getting a bit mixed up. But Jesus died for every one Greek Jew so can you clear up my confusion I do respect your comments on the understanding that we are different.
    After all I was going to become an Orthodox either that or Pius X10when I felt things were going wrong in the 70s with all the modernism in the Catholic Church in the UK.I only stayed by my conviction of birth control.

  9. Nektarios says:

    St.Joseph
    Thank you for you thoughts.

    You say, ‘I am confused with regard to ‘I have chosen, you have not chosen me.
    I have always taken that to mean that God has chosen certain people for a particular mission in His Church by the power of the Holy Spirit.
    Do you mean those who do not follow Him, that God has ‘not chosen them to follow Him.’

    I can understand your way of thinking and how you arrive at it. However, that cannot be right, because we have not chosen Him, but He has chosen us, because none of we sinners would choose Him. We could not see nor understand that Him. We like those gone before us could not understand from where He came, why He came, why He died on a cross, why he rose from the dead. and why the Father sent the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

    His Kingdom is the Kingdom of God. It is spiritual, therefore the natural man cannot perceive it, because they are spiritually discerned.
    To perceive spiritual things truly, one needs to be born again as Jesus our Lord said to Nicodemus.

    His Church are therefore not of this world, but chosen out of it. Those who are His are part of His body. The nature of that is spiritual and He is the head. It has nothing to do with denominations, but whether we are in Christ or not.

    Of course I don’t expect the worldly world to understand, and they don’t.
    It is true God uses His people for the furtherance of His Kingdom. To truly follow Him, one must be born again, this is an action of God, and not of ourselves.
    It is not for me to say who is chosen and who is not, He alone is the Judge of all things.

    You now ask, ‘I am wondering if by any reason that your limited saving of some souls are because the Orthodox do not believe in Purgatory, Or does it?’

    Like the Apostle Paul, I was called to preach the Gospel, through which we might save some.

    As far as I know the Orthodox Church does not believe in Purgatory. Christians are made perfect in Christ. We cannot realise that perfection because here we live in the flesh, and its weakness, but at death, we appear before Him as one whom He died. Whose sins are all forgiven and there is no condemnation by anyone, not even the devil.

    • Quentin says:

      Reading Wikipedia on purgatory and the Orthodox Church tells me that the issue of Purgatory is complex, and the emphasis varies in different branches. While purgatory as such is not acknowledged different way of dealing with the imperfect soul after death are described. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purgatory#Eastern_Orthodox

      • Nektarios says:

        Quentin

        I read through Wikipedia on purgatory.
        It seems to me the theorising by many contributors have not understood the spiritual state
        really, but theorise after the natural man. This comes out in their speculations, art, and various written works like Dante, the Divine Comedy, but there are many others.

        I also notice in the passing concerning the theory of purgatory, the place of priestcraft in all of that. This abuse by clergy with indulgences – a fear loaded myth supposedly to deliver peoples loved ones out of this imaginary place called purgatory.

        There really is no OT or NT doctrine on purgatory at all. It is not part of Apostolic doctrine and teaching. Why one may ask?

        I confine myself to speak of one in Christ – the true Christian – there is no other.

        There are many reasons why purgatory cannot exist for the believer in Christ.
        The main reason for the absence of any doctrine by our Lord or Apostolic teaching on purgatory with all its inventions, is because of Our Lord Jesus Christ’s work on earth – it was a perfect work, a finished work, nothing to be added to it at all, least of all by priests and indulgences.

        The person who is a Christian is not perfected or can reach perfection in this life because he/she has to live it out in the flesh. We are told the wages of sin is death.
        For the Christian he/she is a new creation altogether, not a patch up job, but in Christ perfect in Him already.
        The Christian may well fall into sin, backslide, and for a time may even go back into the world, but they can never be at ease there, will have trials and troubles, just like the parable of the prodigal son, but he/she will return to the Lord.
        What say some if they don’t return to Him? Their sins shall be forgiven them.

        So what happens to the Christian at death?
        They say, we die alone. Often that is true, but, when one dies we find we do not walk alone.
        There are others alongside us. We are bourne to heaven by angels. Crossing the little brook and entering heaven, we are taken by the hand by another, none other than the Lord Jesus Himself and presents us – wait for it, – spotless and without wrinkle, perfect in other words to the Father. We shall see the Father for we shall be like Him. and the end of the people of God. is peace.

        As a footnote in conclusion, purgatory with all it suggests and theorises about would make the finished work of Christ rendered imperfect. It suggests we have to make ourselves perfect apart from that finished work of Christ, something that has to be added in addition.
        Perhaps this is the reason those who believe in purgatory can not, or do not have blessed full assurance in the finished work of Christ.
        So the theory of purgatory does not proceed from faith, but unbelief. it is an evil theory.

      • Quentin says:

        Think of Purgatory as a process. We describe it as a place only for convenience. It is certainly true that Christ’s merits are sufficient, but God had given us free will. That’s lucky because without it we couldn’t freely choose Christ. But by the same token we are also free to sin. That makes it likely that we will die with our will not fully and completely turned to God.

        In Purgatory we are, so to speak, refined, like 24 carat gold, so that we are ready at last to face the Beatific Vision. It is a place of mercy rather than punishment. Catherine of Genoa saw, in her vision, that the souls in Purgatory were happy to be there. Having at last realised their unworthiness, their only goal was to be purged so they were fit for the goodness of God.

      • John L says:

        It is true that the doctrine of Purgatory is not explicitly taught in the Gospels. However, Our Blessed Lord said some would be saved as though by fire. Note, not “by fire” but “though as by fire”. What did He mean? What it means to me is that if I stand before him I shall burn with shame at my sin. One expects Purgatory to be in God’s environment, namely in eternity rather than in time. This suggests to me that Purgatory is a matter of degree rather than length of time. The greater the sin, the greater the shame.
        This may not be the case, but it seems logical.

  10. St.Joseph says:

    Nektarios
    Thank you.. You probably can understand scripture more than me. I have not studied it only understand what I read and so I would not disagree with you, as I say purgatory and contraception is what I have faith in, not because the Church teaches it because I believe God is Love and He will not leave anyone wanting. Otherwise I respect your thoughts.

    (I am pleased Ireland won at Rugby they retrieved themselves from their disappointing last few results)

  11. St.Joseph says:

    Nektarios.
    You say ‘I confine myself to speak of one in Christ, the true Christian there is no other’.
    To me that is a perfect description of presumption.
    I am not accusing you of that as I believe you do not really understand what you say, or else I have misunderstood you.
    I confine myself to speak of one in Christ too, however there are other Christians who perhaps have not yet the Grace to be fully able to understand what you or I have grown in faith by the Grace of God, and to compare this as an example of young people who have not had the opportunity of the knowledge that we have had over the years.
    You and I are in the our twilight years and can with God help to gain the knowledge of understanding.
    To raise the point of the abuse of priests is a little unfair by way of comparing that with those who are unfortunate not to know Christ as you or I do, but can still be good people and believe in Him.
    God knows what is in peoples hearts so he is the judge in the end, and if we can offer up prayers for the intention of the poor souls who are misguided not by evil but by lack of opportunity by distributing our graces towards their salvation I believe God takes this into account,
    Probably if we had lived in the time of Jesus’ Sacrifice on the Cross, we would have instant conversion’s, but we have now the continuation of The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass an unbloody means for our Salvation every day every minuet all over the world .
    My mothers anniversary todays 40 years ago, I still have Mass for her, today as a thanksgiving and memory of her. Without her I may not be writing this .
    I hope this helps to explains my thinking to you, I understand the difficulties when one belongs to different denominations.

  12. Iona says:

    Scriptural basis for purgatory: Can’t give exact reference, but somewhere in the Book of Maccabees (one of them): “It is a holy and a helpful thought to pray for the dead, that they may be released from their sins”.

    • John L says:

      Iona – Problem for Protestant Christians is that they exclude Maccabees from the Bible on the grounds that it is apocryphal. Don’t ask me why – I read is as a piece of Hebrew history.
      I refer you to Our Lord’s saying which I commented on earlier.

      • tim says:

        It’s tempting to think that Maccabees was excluded from the Protestant canon because of the text that Iona quotes was found objectionable. Maybe someone can suggest a better reason?

  13. Iona says:

    How we feel about death seems to relate quite strongly to how close we think it is. Having passed my threescore and ten a couple of years ago, I now feel very much as Quentin describes in the second paragraph of his post. All my children are grown up and independent, earning their own livings, and I have no real responsibilities apart from those I have taken on for myself, volunteering for this and that. So in theory I would be happy to go, any time. How I would actually react if told that I had only a matter of weeks left, however, I don’t know.

    • John L says:

      I try to be in a fit state to die, being ill and pushing 80. Like Good Pope John I ought to be at rest “with my bags packed”. However, God has put me in a body which is designed to struggle to stay alive, so it is hard for the process to be calm.
      I am at one with Spike Milligan – “I don’t mind dying, but I don’t want to be around when it happens.”

  14. Nektarios says:

    St. Joseph

    You say, ‘I confine myself to speak of one in Christ, the true Christian there is no other’.
    To me that is a perfect description of presumption.
    I am not accusing you of that as I believe you do not really understand what you say, or else I have misunderstood you.’

    The reason of confining myself on the issue of purgatory is simple – if I covered every angle that could be covered it would be well over 600 words and Quentin would rightly remind me of the guidelines. So yes, unfortunately, I seem to have conveyed the wrong idea in so confining myself to speak only of those in Christ at that point.

    You further say, ‘if we can offer up prayers for the intention of the poor souls who are misguided not by evil but by lack of opportunity by distributing our graces towards their salvation I believe God takes this into account.’

    This we do ceaselessly for those who are alive.
    Once one is dead, one has entered into the eternal state. Died in sin, or died in Christ. There is no third position i.e. limbo, purgatory or whatever.

    Lastly you say, Probably if we had lived in the time of Jesus’ Sacrifice on the Cross, we would have instant conversion’s, but we have now the continuation of The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass an unbloody means for our Salvation every day every minuet all over the world .
    My mothers anniversary todays 40 years ago, I still have Mass for her, today as a thanksgiving and memory of her. Without her I may not be writing this .

    Let me remind you, the Mass, or Holy Communion are solely for believers, in Christ. It is good to give thanksgiving to God at anytime and for your Godly mother and memory of her.

    Salvation in Christ is not a matter of man’s devising. It is the operation of the Holy Ghost.
    Souls are still being added to the Church as a direct operation of the Holy Ghost Communicating Christ to people.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Nektarios.
      Am I to believe that Hell will be overflowing and Heaven half empty with the rate that Christians are in numbers with the other religions in the world. Or have I misunderstood you.
      I will stick to my belief that God is Mercy , even though one will have to suffer in Purgatory until made ‘perfect’ this is not Hell Fire where the damned go.
      Therefore I will still pray for the holy souls who are not yet perfect in the full knowledge of God’s saving Grace , the Sacrament of Confession, which I am not sure whether the Orthodox have this Sacrament or not.
      November will still be a month for the Holy Souls for me and I will continue to pray for the dead, and please God when I die people will pray for my soul, as I may at any time drop my halo and not have time to repent!

      Iona. Maccabees 2 is the ref you mentioned.

      • Nektarios says:

        St Joseph

        We are told in Scripture, that those in heaven will be so numerous, no man could number.
        God will have pre-eminence in everything.

        God is not willing that any man should perish. So let us make sure of our high-calling in Christ Jesus, looking unto Him the author and finisher of our faith.
        For the believer the day is coming when ones faith will be swallowed up in sight and victory.
        The day is coming after our death, when we shall awake and we shall see Him as he is, for we shall be like him.Let us abide in Him and He will abide in us. Even in death, we shall not be separated from Him and the love in Christ Jesus.
        The end of the children of God is peace.

        Fear not. ‘In my Father’s house there are many mansions, if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, , I will come again to receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.’ John 14:2-3

      • St.Joseph says:

        Nektarios.
        Thank you for that comment.

  15. Geordie says:

    Nektarios, in Quentin’s tips for contributing to the blog, he says that 200 words, not 600, is too long

    • Quentin says:

      The maximum limit is 600 words. But I recommend that 200 words as the normal maximum if you want others to read it or reply. The joy of a blog is that you can have a conversation rather than mini essays.

  16. Martha says:

    Days, weeks, months, years, go by with increasing speed as we get older. They rush along, like the waters in Hadyn’s Creation, and I am increasingly conscious of the relatively short time I have left, even if I make it to 100 as an aunt has just done. I had rather anticipated that from about 60, I would have plenty of time to make my soul, as people used to say, but it was not to be, certainly not in the way I had expected, as family responsibilities continued apace, and still do, and for some situations there is as yet no answer, and maybe there never will be this side of the grave. I have had several near misses with death over the years, so I think the Lord has been giving me more time to grow in His love, and to understand it better, to make amends for past failures, and to have more to offer Him. I am very grateful for the current great emphasis on the inexhaustible mercy of God, and I am learning to trust that it is indeed continuousy available to me and to us all. I hope, very urgently, this will include adult children who appear to be offending or ignoring God and His church, that they will be covered by our prayers, and by Christ’s prayer on the Cross for His persecutors, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

    I do wonder how I will die, slow decline, sudden illness, or accident, and, not being very brave, to say the least, I fear any pain that may be involved, and also hope I will be strong enough to withstand any temptations to take the easy way out which may be offerred. There was always fear of evil and torture by Stalinist communists when I was a child, and it is revived now by the unspeakable horrors which Daesh/Isis are inflicting, and thoughts about so much being asked of some of Christ’s followers in comparison with the comfortable life we still enjoy. Purification in Purgatory probably awaits, which means sufferring, but I am encouraged by the teaching of St. Catherine, mentioned by Quentin, that the joy and sight of the greatness of God will make it more bearable.

    • St.Joseph says:

      I believe that Purgatory is for those souls who have not repented for their sins.
      A ripe old age gives us the opportunity to repent and a time to examine our conscience.
      If we have confessed our sins I believe they are forgotten by God.
      The saying somewhere I think in Scripture that Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery ,something like this ;’ Does anyone here accuse you, then neither do I. Go sin no more’!
      We pray for those who do not have the opportunity to say sorry. Even if it comes on our death bed, .God will know each one of us by name. I don’t think I will be St. Joseph probably Mary my Baptisimal name.Which I have to sigh on documents. I don’t know why my mother called me another pet name, it is something they do in Ireland. .

  17. Iona says:

    I don’t know if the Orthodox accept Maccabees? – I know Protestants don’t.
    We are enjoined to pray to St. Joseph for a happy death (St. Joseph, spouse of Our Lady, not St. Joseph on this blog!). And thank you for reminding us of the Nine First Fridays, Quentin.
    John Henry Newman (The Dream of Gerontius) also sees Purgatory as a place of happiness, though combined with suffering.

    • St.Joseph says:

      We were told as children to examine our conscience every night, and say an Act of Contrition
      It is a good habit to keep.
      We still ought to confess venial sins, if we are to be judged by these when we die.
      A local Church bulletin said last week ‘we are obliged to go to Confession once a year if we commit a mortal sin’. I thought we had to confess venial sins as well. Is too much left to conscience now.
      Perhaps things have changed. Does anyone know.?

  18. Alan says:

    Continuing on my merry way. Not because I think it will be OK but because I don’t think there is a reasonable alternative. Like Mark Twain I suspect death will be no more inconvenient than it was when I was not alive and that suspicion means that anything but a merry way feels like a terrible waste. The run up to dying is a different matter, but there’s only so much I can do about that.

  19. Martha says:

    I remember being told as a child, about a saint, whose name I cannot recall but I think he lived in Tudor times, who was asked what he would do if he knew he was going to die within the hour. He replied that he would continue with his current activity.

  20. Martha says:

    The biblical description of David, and Moses, I think, being “gathered to his fathers” always sounds very peaceful and gentle and reassuring.

  21. Peter Foster says:

    We are reminded of our death in the Hail Mary, nevertheless in practice we think of the inevitable with a benign indifference. In justification, the Our Father draws our attention to life rather than death.

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