In the final week of Lent, death is front and center. Ever since the Fall, death has been the enemy, the constant source of pain, despair, sadness and woe. People seek to battle death in a million ways, all of them doomed to failure. Many of those who fight death most desperately believe nothing exists beyond this temporal world and life. They want to live forever. But as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI noted in his encyclical on hope, “To continue living for ever — endlessly — appears more like a curse than a gift. Death, admittedly, one would wish to postpone for as long as possible. But to live always, without end — this, all things considered, can only be monotonous and ultimately unbearable” Spe Salvi( [“On Christian Hope,”] No. 10).

The Christian perspective is that, yes, death is evil and horrible, but death can only be conquered by death. For the Christian, the darkness of the grave is the passageway to resurrection and everlasting life.

This is made possible by the death and resurrection of Christ, as expressed by St. Paul in the epistle on the first Sunday of Lent: “If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit dwelling in you” (Rom 8:11).

Prayer

“I love you, O my God, and my only desire is to love you until the last breath of my life. I love you, O my infinitely lovable God, and I would rather die loving you, than live without loving you. I love you, Lord, and the only grace I ask is to love you eternally. ... My God, if my tongue cannot say in every moment that I love you, I want my heart to repeat it to you as often as I draw breath.”

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