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Sept. 11 is a reminder that ‘You will not know the day nor the hour’

On the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, Sept. 15, I was awakened in the night by a phone call. It was the police, and an accident had just occurred. A man had been killed in our church parking lot. When I went out to the accident scene, I was deeply shocked by the tragedy, I had a small glimpse of what so many people must have experienced who were so close to the tragic events of the terrorist attack Sept. 11. I knelt down and prayed.

The reality of death and the words of Jesus, “You will not know the day nor the hour,” echoed through my mind in a new way. We often forget about death. Young people tend to think of themselves as invincible. Even as one gets older, we can often deny the signs that death is approaching. Someone once asked me if I was going to use Rogaine to combat my hair loss as I approach middle age. I answered, “Absolutely not!” My baldness will help remind me that death is coming closer every day.

Why do we often live in denial of death? Fear. In the letter to the Hebrews, we read that through fear of death, the devil has held us in slavery. (Hebrews 2:15). Fear causes us to avoid the issues surrounding death—especially our own preparation—but when death visits unexpectedly and suddenly, our weak illusions and denials crumble. We turn to God.

Church services were packed the week after the terrorist attack. Thank God. Many people returned to Church but have struggled with fear ever since that day. Spiritual fitness requires us to “be not afraid,” and be ready for death whenever it may come. For faithful Christians, death is the door to Christ and our eternal home. (cf. Phil 1:21)

To be free of the fear of death, we are to keep our eyes on Jesus whose love for us will cast out all fear. He is our refuge and rock. He is Emmanuel—God with us. When He died on the cross, He took death captive and rose to destroy death’s power and hold on us. “...’Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).

Spiritual Fitness Exercises

1.    Spend 10 minutes each day before the Cross of Christ this month, and before Christ in the manger. Jesus was born into this world to die for us. Reflect on our Lord’s own preparation for His death and how we can imitate Him. He spoke openly about His death and He continued to serve others even with His last breath. “If we die with Christ, we shall also rise with Him.”

2.    Involve yourself in the work of Christ. Don’t procrastinate from doing all the good things God has called you to do for we “do not know the day nor the hour.” We saw much heroism during and after the terrorist attacks. People thought of how they could help. They gave blood, money, and time to help rebuild and educate. It’s a great response and we need to keep such a response going from day to day. Jesus told us to keep busy doing work for God’s Kingdom for “it will go well with the servant whom the master finds busy on His return.” (Matthew 24:46).