If it were up to me, death would be a door we walked through when the time was right rather than something that comes for us.
During deeply spiritual moments, we sing God’s praises and embrace eternity, but most days, death scares us. Since no one gets out of here alive, we might as well surrender our lives to God and begin living for eternity today. For once we die to ourselves, we can begin to truly live.
Live Fully by Dying
"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it." Luke 9:23-24
"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." Jn 12:24
There are many ways to die to ourselves; through prayer and fasting, putting others needs before our own, staying out of department stores, etc. The last one is my way of not wanting so many things in this world. Put me in any department (except the tool aisle) and I’ll find a multitude of things I want; a multitude of earthly goods that I can’t take with me.
Most days, I don’t think of death but I do try to think daily of dying to myself and living in Christ. Scripture tells us as much. "If we died with him we shall also live with him." 2 Tim 2:11
Walk with Jesus
I’ve also become a big devotee of accompanying Jesus on his death walk through praying the Stations of the Cross. Not until the writing my book, Catholic Truths for Our Children: A Parents Guide did this prayer become important to me. In the last chapter, I was putting in an assortment of Catholic prayers. It had been a long year of working on the book and I was very tired that afternoon. The baby was napping and I put 3-year-old Teresa in the room with me with a big pile of children’s books to keep her occupied.
I had typed in traditional Catholic prayers including the rosary and the Chaplet of Mercy. When I considered the "Stations of the Cross” my fatigue took over. That will be long and monotonous to put in and no one will miss it if it's not in here, I thought. At that exact moment, Teresa was at my side. "Here, Mom," she said. "You need this." I looked down to see The Children's Stations of the Cross.
“What did you say?” I asked. I had heard clearly but was in awe at what had just happened.
"Here Mom, you need this," she repeated. Teresa handed me the book and returned to her pile of books, leaving me to contemplate the magnitude of what had just happened. She had not said, "Here, Mom, read this to me," but rather: "...you need this."
“Okay, God, they are in,” I prayed. I knew such a message at that exact moment, could only have come from him. Not only did I stop wondering if I was really supposed to be writing that book, but also I realized that the Stations of the Cross must be a very important prayer.
The Stations of the Cross is a popular Catholic reflection to follow Jesus Christ on his way to Calvary. According to Fr. Victor Hoagland C.P. “It is one of the most important devotions honoring the passion of Jesus.”
He writes on the Passionist Website on Stations of the Cross:
“What matters most in the Stations of the Cross is to follow Jesus Christ in his passion and to see ourselves mirrored in him. To face life's dark side in ourselves and in our world, we need images of hope, and Jesus offers images of hope in his passion.”
Jesus goes before us always, so walking with him to Calvary, I believe we will feel his presence walking with us in life and also as we enter into eternal life. And with him at our side, we have nothing to fear and can best can on with living.
Copyright 2012 Patti Maguire Armstrong
About the Author
Patti Maguire Armstrong is host of the TV talk show Ladies of Another View and an award-winning author and journalist. She was managing editor and co-author of Ascension Press’ bestselling Amazing Grace series. Her latest book is Holy Hacks: Everyday Ways to Live Your Faith & Get to Heaven. Patti and her husband, Mark, live in North Dakota, where they raised their 10 children.