For you are dust, and to dust you shall return (Gen 3:19).
Most everyone agrees with this sentence irrespective of their views or religious beliefs. Unless we are alive for the Second Coming, each of us must die one day. Sometimes death comes to us like an uninvited guest, terrible and blunt. Recently, I read an open letter from a 27 year old named Holly, who was dying of bone cancer. She wrote 24 hours before her death:
“It’s a strange thing to realize and accept your mortality as a 27-year-old. That’s the thing about life; It is fragile, precious and unpredictable and each day is a gift, not a given right. […] Since I have been sick, I have met the most incredibly giving and kind people and been the receiver of the most thoughtful and loving words and support from my family, friends, and strangers. […] I hear people complaining about how terrible work is or about how hard it is to exercise […] I swear you will not be thinking of those things when it is your turn to go. It is all SO insignificant when you look at life as a whole…”
I must admit that I was moved by her words. The death of a woman who is three years younger than me raises many questions and reflections in my own heart. I realized how often I attach great importance to non-essential things. Thanks to her, I was reminded once again how important it is to recognize the goal to which we are heading. As Christians, we believe that life is not limited only to this earthly perspective.
In the course of our lives, we set for ourselves small goals through which we organize and subordinate our actions. In all of this, we may not pay much attention to our final goal – our salvation. We must regularly reconsider if our life is wholly oriented to this goal. If all eternity depends on our short life on earth, then the matter of our faith and relationship with God should always hold the first place in our lives. Jesus tells us what the most important thing in our lives is: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind… You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37,39). In this should we primarily invest our energy. This is the source through which we love other people and ourselves more and more deeply. This is the source of real peace in our lives.
Lent is the time for penance and reparation for our sins. By our fasting and penance, we make space in our hearts to encounter God. Lent is also a good time to rethink the priorities and goals we try to follow. It is a good time to steer our lives to the right course again. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21).
Br. Andrzej Monka, O.P. | Meet the Student Brothers in Formation HERE