Seeing Past Endings to Focus on the Resurrection of Jesus.
FR. GREG FRIEDMAN, OFM
In the month of November, the Church reflects on “endings.” Our liturgical prayers focus around All Saints’ Day, All Souls’ Day, and Scripture readings for weekdays and Sunday liturgies about the end of time and the Second Coming of Christ. We are encouraged to pray for our beloved dead during these days.
We may find it uncomfortable to think about death—until that reality becomes a part of our lives, through our own illness, advancing age, or the impending death of a loved one. But in a video message sent last month to a world meeting of young people in Mexico, Pope Francis reflected on the meaning of death. He addressed our reluctance to face it: “I know some will say: ‘Father, don’t put on a funeral face.’” But he insisted, “The question of death is really a question about life. And keeping the question of death open, perhaps, is the greatest human responsibility towards the question of life.”
How does death focus us on life? Pope Francis explained, “It is the end goal that allows a story to be written, a painting to be painted….” But he added that death is not a just far-off reality, but rather something which leads us to “pay attention to each small purpose of everyday life. Not only at the end of the story – we never know when it ends – but at the end of each word,
at the end of each silence, of each page that is being written. Only a life that is conscious of the fact that this exact instant will end, works to make it eternal.”
At the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land, our founder, Franciscan Father Godfrey Schilling, wisely included a “Purgatory Chapel” to remind visitors to keep the end of our lives in sight, so that we might return to daily life focused on the Resurrection of Jesus.