Wednesday, July 18, 2012

We Could Die Today

Life is unpredictable.  But there is one thing that is very predictable--guaranteed even--for every single person.  And that undeniable, unavoidable aspect of life is the fact that life on this earth will end.

You may die today.  I may die today.  We all may die today.

Every day that passes is one step closer to our death.  But it's not pleasant to think about this, and so we often choose to pretend it's not going to happen.  That's why we refer to "life insurance," when it's quite the opposite: it's insurance for after we die.  It should be called "death insurance."  Though, as I said, that's uncomfortable and so we choose a more pleasant title.

Death will come though.  Perhaps when you are old and gray.  Maybe unexpectedly and at a very young age, like the case of little Maddie.

What if death came to you today?  Would you be ready?

Now, I'm not talking about "ready" in the sense that you ascended to the top of your career ladder, completed the items on your Bucket list, traveled the world, or bought your dream home.

Would you be ready for what comes next?  Swiftly following death is judgment, the moment when we appear before our Creator.

Judgment is as inevitable as is death.

The only thing that you can bring with you to that moment of judgment is what you have done with your spiritual journey.  How did you love God and others during your life?  How faithfully did you follow God's commandments?  How well did you carry the crosses given to you? 

I fully know that if death came to me today, I would not be ready.  I'm on a spiritual journey, but I'm not where I want to be, nor where I should be.  I could be a better wife and mother, a better friend, a better daughter, a better worker, a better disciple.

Perhaps you, too, could confess likewise.  "I know I need to pray more."  "I've really failed in my relationship with ____."  "I'll admit I'm not a good Christian."  "I know I need to stop _______."

So, if we know we will die and face judgment for our life and we know we aren't where we should be in our spiritual journey, it begs the question: what are we doing about it?

It seems we should live our lives with a sense of urgency, like the man or woman whose doctor has only given him or her weeks to live.  Our time here is so short, maybe even shorter than we might think.  It reminds me of those final days before Christmas.  It's almost December 25!  The company's coming!  I've got to get my act together, clean up the house, get my presents wrapped, trim the tree! 

Well, death and judgment are coming!  I've got to get my spiritual life in order, clean up my soul!

But, when I wake up in the morning, my first thought isn't about really working on that particular bad habit or striving to truly reach out and love that person I'm having trouble being in the same room with.  No, I'm more thinking about what cereal to have and if there are any bagels left in the cupboard.

And here is where this week's vice lies.  This week we're talking about sloth.

Sloth is a spiritual laziness.  It's a lukewarmness about living the Faith.  Living virtue becomes almost repulsive because of the effort it involves.  "Yeah, I know what the Church teaches about so-and-so, but I'm not going to follow all that.  My life's fine the way it is and it's going to take too much effort and cause too much trouble to stir things up and start following such a demanding teaching."

The funny thing about us humans is that, even if we could be happier, we settle for something less because obtaining the greater happiness demands sacrifice, work, and effort.  When offered a bar of Godiva chocolate, we say, "No thanks; I've got my Hershey's."

God offers us eternal happiness in heaven, as long as we cooperate with Him by following His teachings, living virtue, and loving Him and our neighbor.  Sloth creeps in and, oh it's so hard, and thanks so much, but I'd rather not bother.

Regardless of where you find yourself on the spiritual journey, sloth will find you.  Let me share with you my latest combat with sloth: so I try to dedicate 15 minutes each day to time of mental prayer--an opportunity for me to have a heart-to-heart chat with God.  Fifteen minutes shouldn't be so hard, right?  

Well, the best time to do this is during Mary's nap when I naturally can give God my full attention.  It never fails that, as soon as her head hits the pillow, I'm checking my email or looking at Facebook statuses or pinning new recipes on Pinterest.  And if the prayer happens, it happens very last.  Sometimes I run out of time before it can happen at all.

What's the problem, might you ask?  Well, if I'm really thinking about where I am on my spiritual journey today and where I actually need to be...I should be running to pray, to ask God to grant me the strength to love more generously, more fully, more faithfully.  Because, in the ultimate scheme of things, that email or Facebook album aren't going to mean much, but the state of my soul will.

If you were to die today, what's the area of your life that you would be most ashamed for God to see?  

If you know something is wrong and yet you continue to do it...why?  

What if you don't have a tomorrow to make things better? 

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