Monday, March 8, 2010

Before I Go

Women of Faith:

I have been reading a book entitled, “Before I Go, Letters to Our Children about what Really Matters” by Peter Kreeft.

In my profession I often hear, “There are two things in life that are certain, death and taxes.” J And quite obviously I deal with both every day. The older I get though, the more aware I am of how different death can be for people. I remember the deaths of my great grandparents when I was just a child, my Dad’s death when I was a teenager, old and young friends who have died early in life and well into life, deaths that were expected and deaths that came with much grace, dignity and suffering. And I see life, well lived and in God’s grace, accepting of life’s sufferings, and those who know no God and suffer each day trying to “find” a purpose. And our family is fortunate to have a Grandma who makes each day count at 102!

I have seen “regrets” at funerals. Stories about times that weren’t forgiven and now it is too late. And I have heard and witnessed beautiful stories of “how I would want to be remembered. “

In Kreefts’ book he says it this way: “Memento mori. That’s Latin for ‘remember death.’ It’s a medieval saying, and it’s a good test of our perspective. Death (our own) puts life into proper perspective. Things that seemed important recede into triviality when you’re dying—things like fame and money and ‘stuff.’ And things you usually ignore—things like love, trust, honesty, self-giving and forgiveness—these stand out as infinitely more important.”

Do I know when I will die? No. Is death facing me at the door? Today, hopefully not, but, yes, everyday, because of death I am certain. So what are some of the things I would want to tell my own children, before I go, about what really matters.

First, pray unceasingly. God is always there for you. He will answer your call and take care of your needs. He is the only one who can perform a miracle and the only one who can save us. We cannot save ourselves. If you open your heart to Him He will show you how to accept suffering and handle burdens with dignity. He will guide you to use your talents and ultimately your treasures wisely. Prayers will help to change the parts of your life which cause others hurt. He will pick you up and hold you up. Jesus’ example of dying for us, is our example of how to live unselfishly for others. But we must pray always, for Him to be a part of our lives.

Next, answer the opportunities to love and to forgive. Be quick with forgiveness and have a short memory when you are wronged. Take care of others and don’t hold grudges for human shortcomings. Spread God’s message by being your own living example, by caring for and forgiving your neighbors (those you already love) and your enemies (those who are downtrodden and need your love). Look for God’s greatness, His example, and His love in the poor who must truly trust in His generosity to meet their needs. People are important, not things.

Finally, there is no one more important than God, your spouse and your children—in that order. You are not important. God is. Always make time for God and Church. For if you give unselfishly to God, you will give unselfishly to your spouse and ultimately to your children and others.

Always be humble and willing to take off your shoes, bare your soul and walk on “holy ground.” “When the LORD saw him coming over to look at it more closely, God called out to him from the bush, Moses! Moses!”He answered, “Here I am.”God said, “Come no nearer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. I am the God of your father,” he continued, “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.” Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.” Ex 3:1-8a, 13-15

Our time here is uncertain, because death is certain, so always be ready to face God. I can’t know the day or the hour when I will be called to walk barefoot to meet Him. The most difficult suffering is to live with regret, with having not forgiven someone because of a human weakness, regardless of how much it hurt at the time. We can hate an action, but we cannot hate a person, because we are all created in God’s likeness. Let the people you love know that you love them. Death might be today, it might be tomorrow, or we might be here praying unceasingly (as St. Paul said) at 102.

Dear God, I give praise and honor to you for each day I have to live in your love. I am sorry for the days when I have put my own needs ahead of yours. Thank you for giving me a new chance each day, for wiping the slate clean and giving me your ultimate forgiveness on the cross. Help me to change each day, each hour to be more like you. Help me to accept my sufferings and to not be afraid. Help me to always be ready to take off my shoes and walk on your “holy ground.” Amen.

Blessings on your week,

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