Week of November 20, 2022

A Note From Fr. Timothy

Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell

As we approach the end of the Liturgical year, it is good to reflect again on the four last things: Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. These are topics for meditation throughout our life. St. Philip Neri recommended it especially for beginners in faith so that they might recognize the importance and necessity of faith, but everyone needs reminders of these things. In the month of November, as we pray for all those who have died and implore the intercession of the saints in heaven, it is a fitting time for us to reflect on our own death and what we will face.

We all face death. That is a sobering reality, but it is the truth. As much as we might want to ignore, forget, or run from that reality, death is inevitable. An honest reflection on that can help us to get serious about what we need to do to prepare for our death. Preparing for death does not mean that you simply arrange your material goods, but that you must also (and most importantly) arrange your spiritual goods. It is a good reminder to go to confession and be forgiven for any guilt of sin. To seek to live more virtuously, growing in the capacity to love and be loved. And to deepen faith in Jesus Christ and the resurrection.

We also remember that we will be judged. Each person’s conduct throughout life will be the basis by which they are judged. Nothing will be hidden; nothing can be a secret before God. God sees how we act, and we will face judgment for those actions – whether for good or for ill. Each person receives an immediate, personal judgment at their death, and then at the end of all ages, Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead. It is then that both his justice and mercy will be revealed fully to the world.

Heaven and Hell, while unfortunately not often contemplated or talked about in our lives, are still real and worthy of consideration. Though we cannot know exactly what one might experience in either place, we know one is full of goodness and the other is the absence of goodness. In reflecting on these things, we should be motivated to seek that which is good! Heaven should be our goal, but if we do not study the road map on how to get there, or properly prepare for the journey, arriving at our destination becomes much more difficult. Similarly, saints have taught in the past that if we do not ever think about Hell and what we can do to avoid it while we are alive, we run the grave risk of going there when we die.

The four last things are worthy of consideration and especially important for us in this time. May we who are mortal be reminded again of our need for immortality in Christ, for the forgiveness of sins, and the incorporation into his body, the Church. That we might, through the grace of God, come to enjoy forever the joys of heaven with all the Church triumphant.

Fr. Timothy Gapinski