Baltimore Catechism, Lesson First
Q. Why did God make you?
A. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven.
As many of you know, I was diagnosed with lung cancer over seven years ago, and have undergone various treatments to deal with it. My options have run out, and I am now under the care of Hospice, preparing for the final transition of my life. I am grateful to Father Ivan for inviting me to share with you some reflections about this journey so far.
We all know, intellectually, that we are going to die. I have been given the opportunity to discover what this means existentially: I am standing at the doorway of a path that clearly has my name on it. It is the culmination to my journey, my life. To paraphrase St. Paul, I have been blessed to encounter God “through a glass darkly.” I am about to see Him face to face. This is why I was born.
I am aware, as I begin this transition, that our lives are made up of a series of “little deaths”—beginning with the one when we leave our mother’s womb at birth to take our first breath in a world that is radically strange and threatening. We must let go of the past, and risk an unknown future as we move from infancy to childhood, to adolescence, to maturity with responsibilities as parents, educators, leaders, mentors, etc. Each little death is scary, because it demands we leave the familiar; it is also exhilarating, because it opens us up to dimensions of our lives that we never knew existed.
Our faith provides us with the template for this transition from death to new life: God is with us every step of the way, particularly in this final, definitive transition. In fact, this is “the mystery of faith” proclaimed in the Eucharist. We reenact the death of Christ, and affirm that, joined with Him, death is the doorway to resurrection. The Eucharist feeds us, providing us the nourishment to proceed on our way to the fullness of life for which we were created.
And we do so arm-in-arm with each other, incorporated in the Body of Christ. Though I’ll likely not be able to attend Eucharist with you, do know that I am configured with you in this deep mystery. I am grateful for your many prayers. Be assured of mine for you. The refrain from one of our communion hymns expresses this sentiment well: “We hold the death of the Lord deep in our hearts. Living, now we remain with Jesus, the Christ.”
We are children of the resurrection!
Death, where is thy sting? - Dan Cawthon