This is from a homily by Pope St Gregory the Great:
And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding that, when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.
The Lord cometh at the hour of judgment. He knocketh when, by the pains of sickness, He biddeth us know that death is nigh. To Him open we immediately, if we receive Him in love. Whoso feareth to leave this body, will not open to the Judge when He knocketh, for he dreadeth to see that Judge, Whom he knoweth that he hath despised.
But whosoever knoweth that his hope and works are built upon a good foundation, when he heareth the Judge knock, openeth to Him immediately, for to such an one that coming is blessed, yea, when the hour of death is at hand, such an one haileth with gladness a glorious reward.
Oh yes, I think about that. I’ve written about death a time or two here. I think about it daily, because, really, we should. We know not the day nor the hour, right?
Sometimes I think I would welcome death, because I want to go to Heaven. When you really consider what Heaven must be, there is nothing on earth that could compare. Once, while praying, I seemed to have had a glimpse of maybe a “shadow” of Heaven – and that “shadow” was more brilliant and clearer than anything here on earth. “Refulgence” is the word that always comes to my mind when I think of that experience.
So of course, I would like to make my way toward that wonderful country! But then I begin to wonder if I’ll make it. Most likely (okay, certainly) I will be in purgatory for some time! I want to limit that time, though, and I would rather do my penance here on earth than in purgatory where it is bound to be much more painful. In that sense, then, I “feareth to leave” my body, because I know all too well the sins I have committed, and even if not actual sins, I know my weaknesses and imperfections. I know weaknesses are not necessarily sins, but they surely contribute to my need for purgation!
So at least as often as I think I would welcome death, I beg God for some extra time to amend my life and prepare myself to meet Him.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.
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