Thursday, December 29, 2011


To mortals death is a paradox. It is both awaited and postponed. It is completely contrary to life, but it is intimately involved in the complete living process. “Though man’s nature is mortal, God had destined man not to die,” says the Roman Catholic Catechism. It is not that man does not know how to die; he does not know how to do it well. Scharz reminds us that “there is no good death, as the term ‘euthanasis’ (meaning ‘good death’ in Greek) intimates. Death is always ambiguous; it can be a release from suffering, but it is always the loss of life.” We do not know how to die well because we do not know how to preserve life (not speaking merely biologically)—that which we have always striven to maintain. Jean-Paul Sarte saw death as a loss of meaning, but it is only so if life already lacked meaning. If we see life only being healthy vital signs then death is simply a period marking the end of life. But that would fail to acknowledge any meaning in the actions that have been lived. It would be the same as saying that there is no difference between breathing and laughing or that a runner has no more meaning because the course was is completed. The Apostle Paul speaks in the same metaphor revealing the only way to actually die well: “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”


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