This is another one of those titles
a reader might be inclined to skip over.
However, death is a part of life
as much as is birth.
It is at the same time "an end" and "a beginning".
Jesus revolutionized the meaning of death.
He did so with His teaching,
above all by facing death Himself.
"Dying He destroyed death,"
says the liturgy of the Easter season.
Jesus wished to share our human condition from start finish
and to open it to new horizons,
to the horizon of hope and eternal life.
In Christ human life is a departure
"from this world to the Father";
a departure from time and an entrance into eternity.
With deep faith Saint Francis looked forward to death
like welcoming it as a member of a family.
In his "Canticle of Creatures" he writes:
"Praise be to you, my Lord, for our Sister Bodily Death."
Saint Paul had that same faith:
"For me to live is Christ and to die is gain."
But there is a death which one must fear,
and that is death of the soul,
called by the Book of Revelation "second death"
(cf. 20:14-15; 21:8).
"The second death" is when a person
dies in the state of mortal sin,
locked in prideful rejection of God's love.
That person excludes his or her self
from the Kingdom of life.
God forbid that anyone should meet such an end.
It might seem strange to speak of "a happy death"
but actually Saint Joseph is called
the patron of a happy death.
According to tradition,
he died in the arms of Jesus and Mary
and so had the best possible death.
"Mors certa, hora incerta" is an old Latin phrase meaning
"death is certain, its hour is uncertain "
Since that is an un-deniable truth,
its well to recall Jesus' words
to be prepared for we know not the day nor the hour.
The best way to have a good death is to live well.