Death is the fate we all face in this world—some run from it, some are in denial of it. Jesus assures us that death is nothing to be feared. Instead, death is our gateway to eternal life. Therefore, meditating on death is not a gloomy and macabre practice. Bodily death is not the final chapter for any of us, and Jesus gives us the key to understanding its meaning and offers us the hope that death can be the gateway to eternal happiness.
Encounter this sobering topic in our latest chat installment. Connect with the hopeful reminder that true peace comes from uniting ourselves to Christ. Jesus has the answer to pain, suffering, and death. Come and see.
If you like the chat below, check out the Living Jesus Chat Room of the Visitation Sisters. Join us at 7:30 p.m. ET each Sunday! We read a passage or letter from St. Francis de Sales and gather great insights and sharing!
Denise: This is good topic tonight. I have been following the Memento Mori Devotions.
Visitation Sister: What is that, Denise?
Sherry: Easter is very appropriate to that topic.
Denise: Memento Mori…remember you will die.
Visitation Sister: Ah, yes!!
Sherry: Yes…a freeing memorare.
Denise: Daughters of St Paul, Project. I think its thedaughtersproject.com.
Peace in Pain
Visitation Sister: The first question was good to ponder: How can pain be peaceful?
Hazel: Uniting yourself to Christ on the Cross, I find peace in doing that.
Visitation Sister: Peace is certainly Jesus’ gift to us.
Sherry: For me there are two ways of peace in pain: 1) I know that it is fully in God’s will and will lead to consolation, therefore. And 2) I can feel Jesus+ right in the middle of the pain (have not had that experience often but twice, very intense)
Denise: I right away thought physical pain, but not necessarily so.
Hazel: Sometimes it is emotional and spiritual pain too.
Sherry: Yes, Peace is Jesus’ gift to us. “Peace be with you.” I just recently started to pay attention to this. I think it is much deeper than I understand it. If it is a gift from Jesus, why am I not more often stretching out my hands to receive this gift? Why do I so often think I have to create it, instead of receiving it?
Denise: I believe pain could be part of meditating on our death. And dying. Because…it has to do with dying to ourselves.
Sherry: Denise, do you mean that it is painful to meditate on these themes?
Question 2: Why is it so important to meditate upon death? Why do you think the world is so afraid of death? In what ways have we possibly been influenced by these ideas/thoughts?
Sherry: I find it interesting that people are so afraid of death and still use death so often as a solution to their problems (like unwanted pregnancies, physical suffering, ethnic strife, etc.) Cain, the first human after Adam and Eve, already started to see death as a solution for his jealousy. We are creating a culture of death because we do not know how to live. And at the same time, we fear our own death more than anything else. This is crazy.
Hazel: Most people are afraid of the unknown, and death is the unknown. When I was young, I used to think that if we in the womb realize we would be born, we would be afraid to be born. I believe this is the same, death is the unknown. Yes, we believe in everlasting life, but we haven’t experienced it yet. I have seen a few people die, and I saw such peace in them.
Sherry: I totally agree. That’s why when we know God better and better, we kind of “know” more about the afterlife, and the fear of the unknown gets smaller.
Denise: In general, we’ve dismissed talking about death, avoiding. As a nurse I have been around death often. More so I have been reading some of the books these sisters write and now the Lenten series.
Sherry: You mean the Daughters of St. Paul?
Denise: Yes. I’m looking for a link. www.pauline.org They are easy to find on all social media and the web. Then look for Memento Mori devotion books, etc.
Sherry: Thanks, Denise. I have done some retreats with them.
Denise: With these sisters? Awesome!
Sherry: Yes, they are here in Toronto. I think one of the most beautiful things in life is to be allowed to be with a person who dies in peace.
Hazel: Yes, it is. You know God is there. We are made for intimacy with God, and at the moment of death, we receive that intimacy fully with God.
Sherry: Yes! Finally united!
Visitation Sister: Eternity: we can’t even imagine it.
Hazel: I believe the beauty and joy and love cannot be described.
Sherry: My favorite daydream.
Hazel: Whenever we have experienced an intimate moment with God, multiply that always.
Sherry: That’s a good way to describe it.
Hazel: What I think Heaven is, our union with God: us giving Him the Love we have shown Him on earth and Him giving us all His Love. It’s like a circle, my love, and His Love for always. Plus, much more.
Sherry: As for heaven: The thing that is so amazing for me is that this love will grow infinitively. Forever. Never stops. Like C.S. Lewis said – like a book that gets better with each chapter.
Visitation Sister: Question 3: St. Francis often told St. Janes that his heart was hers. In today’s parlance that sounds romantic, but in the days of this celibate Bishop, how are we to understand what this means?
Denise: I believe he speaks of God’s love.
Sherry: I think for both of them God was their first love. And in that their hearts overlapped – they found in each other the love for GOD. Not sure if I worded that well – sorry.
Denise: You did! The closer we come to God the more holy we become. Christ lives in us, and it is him that is loving through us…or something near this.
Hazel: Very true.
Denise: Sister, is this theologically correct?
Visitation Sister: I THINK SO. Deep friendships as they had centered in God, how often does that happen.
Sherry: Yes. Friendships centered in God. I like that.
Visitation Sister: There are examples of this among several saints.
Sherry: St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross?
Visitation Sister: Yes, and St. Clare and St. Francis.
Denise: It is a childish terror to fear death but not to fear sin. (St John Chrysostom). Also, St Augustine.
Visitation Sister: GREAT STATEMENT.
Sherry: That’s a great quote.
Denise: In the Memento Mori Lenten meditations, she quotes this saint often. Profound he is.
Hazel: A fear of death can also come because of the knowledge of the serious sins committed and the outcome at the moment of death.
Denise: Here is St Augustine, Tractate 33 on Gospel of John: “You know not when your last day may come. Are you ungrateful because you have today on which you can improve?”
Sherry: Yes. I have seen that in some people. They know that they are “not ready to die” – that they have not made peace with God. In some ways, they are not afraid of death, but of a death that is ‘to soon” – before they have prepared.
Denise: We are so blessed in our Catholic faith to have so much and so many to draw from to learn from.
Sherry: I agree. What a timeless treasure. Literally.
Hazel: Confession, the Sacrament that allows us to experience the Love and Forgiveness of God and truly Go in Peace.
Denise: I love His mother wanted to hear three chapters of Introduction! So beautiful.
Sherry: It seems that she prepared her soul very carefully for her dying.
Denise: Formal…we can pray in unison with others. Spontaneous…. Reminds me of the term.
Hazel: Spontaneous prayer, not sure, is more of a friendly prayer, like talking with a friend. Formalized prayer is more centered.
Denise: I cannot spell it. Sorry. But the simple cry of a child to our Father.
Sherry: I find it so hard to pray with formalized prayers. Specially in groups.
Miriam: Formalized prayers, especially those in honor of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus & Mary and those of our beautiful saints, draw us into meditation and toward more spontaneous moments of prayer which hopefully draws us closer to the Heart of Jesus.
Denise: So, during Mass we pray in unison with others.
Denise: Thank you, Miriam!
Sherry: Yes, Miriam, but my problem is, that the others go on of course in the prayer. Where my heart is fully drawn in meditation on something.
Sherry: I do pray the Divine Office as much as I can though. But I pray it alone – and if an Antiphon draws me into deeper meditation – then I allow myself to sit awhile with it.
Visitation Sister: That’s the advantage of being “alone”!
Miriam: Daily Mass and reception of the Body & Blood of Jesus is for me a must and some private time afterwards in church.
Denise: The Rosary.
Visitation Sister: In choir, we just keeping moving along, but we can go back and reflect personally later.
Miriam: Rosary ministry in my home for 20 years every Tuesday from 1:30 – 3:00. Also am professed secular Franciscan since 2018.
Sherry: I think so too. But then there are days when I listen to the prayers of the Divine office. Just so I hear the community praying and can join. So – we obviously do need both.
Denise: A wonderful ministry, God’s blessings.
Miriam: The Little Office of the Blessed Mother is also a form of the liturgy of hours.
Visitation Sister: Different spiritual streams that we all represent, yet ultimately united.
Visitation Sister: That was the original office the Visitandines used, Miriam!
Sherry: Yes, and if I am not mistaken, that it was the official prayer rhythm of the first Visitation sisters.
Denise: A question. With St Francis’s mother, it says she had the Protestation marked in the book, what is this?
Sherry: Yes, I was also wondering about this.
Visitation Sister: I have to look into that one, Denise, I don’t actually know.
Denise: Ok, it’s an interesting sentence.
Visitation Sister: I will try to find the answer by next week. It is in the Introduction, I think.
Miriam: Need more info on the “Honor guard.”
Visitation Sister: It is a special devotion, Miriam, to the pierced Heart of Jesus. An hour that you offer no matter what you are doing. Https://www.guardofhonor-usa.org/.
Sherry: I have to leave now. Are we meeting next Sunday, Sister?
Visitation Sister: Yes, I will be here if you want.
If you like the chat above, check out the Living Jesus Chat Room of the Visitation Sisters. Join us at 7:30 p.m. ET each Sunday!