Thursday, August 10, 2006

Consider Well

As a society, we don't often like to contemplate death. We see it as an unpleasant business. (Caution: generalization coming with many exceptions not discussed....) We put out parents in nursing homes so we don't have to take care of them or see them very often as they approach death. Aging reminds us we are not so all powerful over our own fate-so we try to avoid it.

Everything is advertised by the young and the beautiful so as deny aging exists. We are willing to kill and experiment on our young (and voiceless) so we can eliminate disease. The fountain of youth is sought by our scientific research for a culture and a people who see no value in pain, suffering, or death.

Yet the Church has always encouraged us to contemplate death and our destiny (the four last things). I think the more you contemplate death, the less afraid of it you become in general. You may still fear damnation as you look upon your sins, but the whole idea of death not being an end but a beginning or at least a transition is not so frightening in and of itself. As man, most of us still want to hold on to this life (unless we have reached those spiritual heights and union with God which we should through a deep prayer life) as we have a natural (or maybe fallen) fear of the unknown. But HOPE blossems in the contemplation of death.

We can't truly put our treasure in Heaven and live for a new life in Heaven if don't contemplate Heaven and those things which go with it-namely death.

So what prompts all this discussion this morning? My sister sent me a poem she came across by Sir Thomas More which discusses these very things-and also, most practically, the way to ask for the grace when under the assault of temptation. Without further ado, I give you Sir Thomas More:

Consider well that both by night and day
While we busily provide and care
For our disport, our revel and our play,
For pleasant melody and dainty fare,
Death stealeth on full slily; unaware
He lieth at hand and shall us all surprise,
We wot not when nor where nor in what wise.

When fierce temptations threat thy soul with loss
Think on His Passion and the bitter pain,
Think on the mortal anguish of the Cross,
Think on Christ's blood let out at every vein,
Think of His precious heart all rent in twain;
For thy redemption think all this was wrought,
Nor be that lost which He so dearly bought.

Thomas More tried to spend every Friday afternoon in the chapel contemplating Christ's Passion.

It is also appropriate to think of these things on today's feast of St. Lawerence-Mrs. Curley's name saint.

St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr-ora pro nobis!


Nicole said...

Thanks for posting St. Thomas More's poetry! I have only read one other of his pieces, on the same subject, which I enjoyed very much: Momento More, Domine.

JCurley said...

Nicole-thanks for the comment. To me, everything Thomas More is worth posting-so maybe there will be more to come.