Quotations from Saint Josemaria
What are “the Last Things”?
Christian tradition uses the term "the Last Things" for what faces each person at the end of his or her life on earth: death, judgement and eternal destiny - heaven or hell. Through the liturgy, the Church brings these realities before us particularly in November, and invites all Christians to meditate on them.
St Josemaria speaks to us about how time passes:
I want to talk to you about time, that passes so swiftly… For us Christians the fleetingness of our journey through life should instead be a spur to help us make better use of our time. It should never be a motive for fearing Our Lord, and much less for looking upon death as a disastrous and final end.
When I reflect on this, how well I understand St Paul’s exclamation when he writes to the Corinthians, tempus breve est, time is short. How short indeed is the time of our passing through this world! For the true Christian these words ring deep down in his heart as a reproach to his lack of generosity, and as a constant invitation to be loyal. Brief indeed is our time for loving, for giving, for making atonement. It would be very wrong, therefore, for us to waste it, or to cast this treasure irresponsibly overboard. We mustn’t squander this period of the world’s history which God has entrusted to each one of us.
Friends of God, 39
Death comes and cannot be avoided. What empty vanity it is, then, to centre our existence on this life. See how much many men and women suffer. Some suffer because life is coming to an end and it pains them to leave it; others because it is going on, and they are sick of it. In neither case is there room for the mistaken view that makes our passage through this world an end in itself.
One must leave that way of thinking behind and anchor oneself to another, an eternal one. A total change is required, to empty oneself of self-centred motives, which pass away, and to be renewed in Christ, who is eternal.
Time is our treasure, the “money” with which to buy eternity.
Don’t make a tragedy out of death, for it is not one. Only unloving children do not look forward to meeting their parents.
When you think about death, do not be afraid, in spite of your sins. For he already knows that you love him and what stuff you are made of.
If you seek him, he will welcome you as the father welcomed the prodigal son; but you have to seek him.
Not death but Life
Death, my children, is not something fearful. Death is the door that opens onto Love, Love with a capital L – to happiness, rest and joy. It isn’t the end, it’s the beginning. For Christians, death is not death: it’s life. Life, again, with a capital L. Face up to death with confidence. Take it into account; it will come necessarily… Why should it scare you? Why should we bury our heads in the sand in a panic? Lord, death is Life. Lord, for Christians, death is rest, and it’s Love, and that’s my final word.
St Josemaria, answering a question on how to deal with the fear of death, in Peru; quoted in San Josemaría y los enfermos by Miguel Ángel Monge (ed.), Palabra, Madrid 2004
A true Christian is always ready to appear before God. Because, if he is fighting to live as a man of Christ, he is ready at every moment to fulfil his duty.
When facing death, be calm. I do not want you to have the cold stoicism of the pagan, but the fervour of a child of God who knows that life is changed, not taken away. To die is to live!
The qualification that really counts
He acquired a Doctorate in law and in philosophy, and was applying for a post as a professor at the University of Madrid. He had specialised in two demanding subjects and had done brilliantly in both. He sent word to me: he was ill, and wanted me to go and see him. I arrived at the lodgings where he was staying. He greeted me with the words: “Father, I am dying.” I comforted him affectionately. He wished to make a general confession. That very same night, he died.
An architect friend and a doctor helped me dress the corpse. Seeing that young body, which soon began to decompose, the three of us agreed that two university qualifications were worth nothing compared to the definitive qualification which as a good Christian he had just obtained.
There is an answer to everything, except death. And death is the answer to everything.