Living by D.E.A.T.HBy Francis Ongkingco
Cebu Daily News
My friend’s text message came in unexpectedly. He would frequently greet me and ask me for prayers for his mother who is fighting stage 4 cancer. After his short petition, he would normally add that he was also praying for me and my intentions.
One day, however, Beep! Beep! Beep! I clicked and read his message: “Father, praying 4 u & ur intentions & 4 ur HAPPY DEATH! ;).” Someone else who might have read this message would have not been so amused at such a morbid sense of humor.
But my friend wasn’t joking nor was he expressing a desire that I should see my Maker soon. He was only being realistic, by reminding me about one of life’s most real and predictable moments: that one day, you and I will have to go. In a more precise and straightforward expression: you and I will one day die.
Naturally, death—despite being a daily experience around us—isn’t a favorite topic among the living. Our passion to live is rooted in God’s creational designs. But we meted for ourselves the punishment of death by choosing to “live as gods without God.” Thus, we fear death physically and spiritually because it has become a singular yet powerful instantaneous existential experience that ends our earthly existence.
It is only in the light of our Lord’s Death and Resurrection that we will understand how death no longer holds any unexpected terrors for man. Christ’s victory over death has given it a new meaning. Although man will still experience the sorrow of parting with life, death no longer has a claim as ultimate end of man’s existence. Now it is a mere gate through which one passes into life.
But our passage into life through an event that is totally beyond our control is one that we must prepare for. What follows death is the consequence of our free choice, which God will judge at the world’s end: either into heavenly bliss for having chosen to do God’s will or into eternal condemnation for choosing to do our own will.
The Church, throughout Her history, never ceased to exhort us to vigilance and preparation for the hour of our death. In the ancient litany of the saints, for instance, She has us pray: “From a sudden and unforeseen death, deliver us, O Lord.” (Roman Missal, Litany of the Saints)
The author of the “Imitation of Christ” cannot give a sounder advice on how to live one’s life: “Every action of yours, every thought, should be those of one who expects to die before the day is out. Death would have no great terrors for you if you had a quiet conscience … Then why not keep clear of sin instead of running away from death? If you aren’t fit to face death today, it’s very unlikely you will be tomorrow…” (1, 23, 1)
But how can we give a positive twist to the reality of death which for those who are reluctant to consider or to accept? I read through my friend’s text message again and reflected. Then it hit me that the answer could be found in the very word DEATH.
I texted him back: “Live your life with the joy that God wants you to be totally His one day—if we do as He wills—in Heaven. Thus, live life by D.E.A.T.H. Doing Everything Always Thinking of Heaven.”
The acronym, I later on reflected, isn’t only meant to inspire. First, it helps us to be vigilant and live our earthly life with Christian realism; second, this Christian realism will make us fully value and engage the world without allowing ourselves to become worldly; third, it reminds us to make the sincere effort to make all our desires into deeds of love; fourth, it will give us the optimism to urge others to discover the same path towards Heaven.
Thus, living by D.E.A.T.H., nothing in our life will be insignificant and this consideration will constantly fill us with an attitude of trust, joy and abandonment in God’s Fatherly hands.
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