Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Mystery of Death

(Photo taken of a photo at the visitor center at the Abby of Gethsemane)
It is when faced with death that the enigma of the human condition is most evident.  People are tormented not only by pain and the gradual diminution of their bodily powers,but also, and even more, by the dread of forever ceasing to be.  But a deep instinct leads them rightly to shrink from, and to reject, the utter ruin and total loss of their personality.  Because they bear in themselves the seed of eternity, which cannot be reduced to mere matter, they rebel against death.  All the helps made available by technology, however useful they may be, cannot set their anguished minds at rest.  They may prolong their life-span; but this does not satisfy their heartfelt longing, one that can never be stifled, for an after-life. 
While the imagination is lost before the mystery of death, the church, taught by divine revelation, declares that God has created people in view of a blessed destiny that lies beyond the boundaries of earthly misery.  Moreover, the Christian faith teaches that bodily death, from which people would have been immune had humanity not sinned, will be overcome when that wholeness which they lost through their own fault will be given once again to them by the almighty and merciful Savior.  For God has called men and women, and still calls them, to attach themselves with all their being to him in sharing for ever a life that is divine and free from all decay. 
from the Second Vatican Council's Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes 18 & 22)


  1. As an alternative to that mystifying mumbo-jumbo please find an Illuminated Understanding of death, and therefore everything else via these two related references.
    The first is easily the most beautiful set of words every written about the all important subject of death.

  2. Thanks, Anonymous. Truth comes in many layers and forms. I've found that what is mumbo jumbo in one setting (time and place) can become clear in another, and it's not always consistent but seems to have a dynamic (evolving) nature. You can't really pin it down.

  3. Often I inwardly sigh on realising that the Liturgy of the Hours has chosen part of a Vatican II document for the Office of Readings - but this one speaks to me...

  4. 2Cents -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    o my you just cant blame “ god “ not the god of love and
    goodness, for death entering the human condition so you gotta
    have a fall guy so you gotta have a fall story a explanation
    you just gotta know in your adult maturity the fall story in the garden thing is just myth -
    Do you have a soul ? Church has no doctrine that posit the existence
    of a personal entity called a soul – N.T. The hope of the christian is in the
    Resurrection - not in the concept of soul – O.T. As animals die
    so dose man die there is no device in the grave – the fear of death
    arises from attachment and giving up possessions both body, family and
    all that goodie stuff -it was all here when you got here and its all going
    to be here when you exit - Well if dead in the grave you just gotta sit tight
    to Jesus comes back and if he dose not you will not know it anyway -
    The problem is that what is called god is only a name for the mystery of all
    that exist – I do not think what is called god is Catholic - Buddhist -Baptist -
    or any other name that can be named -

    Blessings --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    1. agree, bob. totally. Especially that God is the name for everything that exists - God is not a being; God is Being itself.

      I would say that the fear of death comes not trusting what you already know.

  5. (finally figured out why I wasn't able to leave comments)
    This is a beautiful photograph showing the loving-kindness of monks (Gethsemane?) for their brother. The mindfulness is striking; the monk being buried isn't regarded, it seems to me, as "mere matter" but an emanation of the spirit.


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