Do you think about death much? I asked a friend that question, and she said she didn’t.
Maybe it's the “monastic” training I've received from my spiritual director that has led to my habitual consideration of death; monks are supposed to think about it daily. I also read a book about purgatory a few years ago: Hungry Souls. Now there is a book that will make you think long and hard about death!
Sometimes when I really "see" my sins, I realize what an affront they are to God; then I experience a horrible feeling of filth on my soul, and it makes me want to escape from myself because it is so awful – but of course, there’s nowhere to go! You can’t escape from yourself, not even (maybe especially) in death. When we die, we face God, and I think we will finally have a realistic sense of our own sinfulness; the pain I feel concerning my sins here on earth is probably a drop in the bucket compared to the pain I will feel at the moment of death and judgment.
In purgatory, I think, that stain of sin will be so visible and painful that it will be practically unbearable, and yet I will have to bear it until it is purged from me! And that leads me to the thought of how truly awful hell is. And all of that makes me resolve to avoid sin, though of course I soon forget the horror of it and fall back into old habits. But I think I have improved a little bit!
I read something about death on a blog the other day; the blogger was commenting on the actor that recently died in a car crash. The blogger’s thoughts sounded like he was reading my mind! He wrote:
I do not know, as I was saying, much of Paul Walker’s life. … What I do know is that when he got up on Saturday morning his guardian angel, the Blessed Virgin, and the Holy Ghost knew he would never wake up alive again. And I know, I know, that some serious work was going on in the background as Paul Walker’s immortal soul lived its last hours on earth.
Whenever I read about a local death, even if I don't know the person, I think about it exactly as he is saying above. And I think, "What is it like to stand before God and suddenly be aware of every sin you've ever committed? Of all your shortcomings?" Etc.
It sounds morbid (ha!) and depressing, but I don't think of it that way, generally speaking. It's just...well... reality. We're all headed in that direction!
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!