Our Fate; Our Choice

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2015/11/20 at 12:00 AM

On the left side of our church we have this beautiful stained glass window of our Lord crowned with thorns. I love this window – in large part because it is dedicated to the memory of a dear friend of mine: Fr. Peter Conroy.
Fr. Peter and I met in Eastern Europe almost 20 years ago, and by providence we ended up in the same seminary a year later where we were classmates and close friends.
Fr. Peter was ordained in June of 1999 for the Diocese of Portland, Maine, and I was planning a trip to see him in November of that year, when he died quite unexpectedly in his sleep. Today is the anniversary of Fr. Peter’s death. He was 39 years old.
Fr. Peter was a priest on earth for only 5 months, but now he is a priest for all eternity.
When I look at this window, I think not only of my good friend, but I am also reminded of
the brevity of life and of how none of us knows when we’ll have to face our Lord and His particular judgment of us.

Certainly that is the theme of our readings today. Both our first reading from the Book of
Daniel and St. Mark’s Gospel speak in apocalyptic terms, reminding us of the great, final battle between good and evil and the subsequent Final Judgment.

As we come to the close of the liturgical year and prepare for Advent, Holy Mother Church
leads us in the liturgy to meditate on death, judgment, Heaven and hell – what we traditionally call the “Four Last Things.”

And Holy Mother Church encourages us to meditate on the Four Last Things bearing in mind
that we do not know the day or hour when we will be asked to give an accounting of our lives.

So while we trust whole-heartedly in God’s mercy and goodness, we also know that we need
to prepare ourselves to see Him!

Our second reading today reminds us that our sins are forgiven through Christ’s sacrifice on
the cross, but all the same we must be sorry for our sins, ask forgiveness, and make reparation for our sins if we hope to enjoy the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice!

The prophet Daniel tells us in very clear language of the eternal punishment that awaits those
who have refused to repent of their sins, but he also speaks so beautifully of the eternal reward that awaits the just!

He says that, “the wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who
lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.”

And so we must give very careful consideration to our death, knowing that once we pass
through that great and mysterious veil separating the invisible from the visible, there will be no going back.

The judgment rendered in that first moment that we step into eternity will be final and

As a priest it has been my observation that most people die as they live. What I mean by that
is that, if you live your life for God, seeking to love and serve Him; if you have a real relationship with our Lord, placing yourself in His presence daily through prayer, then you will – in all likelihood – know His presence at your death and pass away peacefully.

But if you’ve fought God and His commandments your whole life, if you’ve refused His mercy by refusing to repent of any of your sins, then chances are you won’t repent on your deathbed.
It is the sad lot of serious sinners that they tend to die in despair rather than in peace. Even when at death’s door they know they have sinned against God, so many refuse to trust in His mercy that our Lord gives so willingly and freely to any who ask for it.
The point is that we must begin preparing for our death now, even if we’re young.
Death is a mystery. For the soul who knows our Lord, who trusts and loves our Lord, death
can be beautiful and joyful. But for those who have turned away from our Lord, death can by horrifying.

This is because the soul knows its eternal fate before it passes into eternity. Indeed, none of
us will be surprised by the final judgment rendered upon us by our Lord. For in the depths of our hearts we know whether or not we are truly God’s friends.

So how do we ensure our names are written in the Book of Life that Daniel mentions? First
of all, we must repent of all sin – especially our mortal sins. This means that not only must we be sorry for those actions, but we must try never to commit them again.

For Catholics it is imperative that we participate in the sacramental life of the Church, going
to confession regularly and receiving Holy Communion regularly.

We must seek to follow all the tenets of the Church, and we must do our best to serve our
Lord and show our love for Him by serving and loving others.

But most importantly, my brothers and sisters, we must pray daily. We must cultivate the
silence necessary to truly listen to our Lord. For this is how we develop a lasting relationship with Him that will help carry us into eternity.

In prayer our Lord gives all the graces we need to fulfill our vocations and live holy lives. In
prayer our Lord reveals His will to us so that we know what it is that He wants us to do.

But He also reveals His heart to us in prayer so that we come to love Him more than we love ourselves. And this is the key! For it is when we love God more than we love ourselves that
our contrition for our sins becomes perfect and we make great strides in holiness.

We are very blessed here at St. Ann’s to have Eucharistic Adoration 33 hours each week, for
in Adoration we can enjoy the profound experience of seeing God in the Eucharist.

By faith we know that at every Mass our Lord humbly descends from Heaven to come to us
under the appearance of bread and wine. Our Lord is really, truly present in the Eucharist, and in Eucharistic Adoration we can worship Him at length.

Truly, my brothers and sisters, spending time with our Eucharistic Lord is the best way to
prepare for Heaven, for by being in His presence we get to see Him Whom we hope to adore for all eternity. If you don’t already come to Adoration, make it a point to do so.

Death comes for us all. But for Christians death should be a joyful and peaceful event. It can be just that: joyful and peaceful, if we are willing to live our lives in communion with
our Lord.

May we all resolve to dedicate more time to our Lord in prayer. And by doing so, may we all
be well prepared for that moment when we must render an account to God for our lives.

St. Joseph, Patron of Happy Death, pray for us.
18 November 2012

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

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