After many months of work, I am happy to announce the proximate publication of my latest book, “Dying to Live – Reflections on Life after Death”. As you will see by clicking on the title, the book has been written primarily for people who don’t know what awaits them when they die.
It begins by arguing from reason and experience, and then progresses to the Catholic Church’s teaching on the question, which should fill everyone with hope. The book should be out in the next few weeks, and you can order it online at the link above, or obtain it from a bookshop. We all think this book can do a lot of good and I ask your prayers for that intention.
I trust that you will get some helpful insights from reading the book and I thank you for your support.
One of the most consoling truths of our faith is the reality of the Communion of Saints – the Church triumphant in heaven, the Church suffering in purgatory, and the Church militant on earth, all helping one another. In this meditation we use texts from Scripture, the Catechism, St Bernard, St Thomas More, St Therese of Lisieux and St Josemaria to consider how:
The saints in heaven “fix the Church more firmly in holiness” by their example and prayer for us
We should have as the goal of our life to be with them for all eternity
The souls in purgatory suffer greatly and are exceedingly happy, relying on our prayer for them and interceding for us before God
In the Church militant, we are helped by the prayers of all in this Communion and we should feel responsible to help the others by our struggle for holiness and our prayers and works.
Athletes go through a rigorous training regime in order to achieve their goal of competing, or winning a medal, in the Olympic games. The goal of Christians is much higher: eternal life with God in heaven, and we too need a training regime. In this meditation we use texts of Scripture, St Augustine and St Josemaria Escriva to consider how, like athletes, we need:
Determination, singlemindedness, to reach our goal
Commitment to training, involving regular times for prayer
A spiritual diet of grace from the sacraments
A doctor to heal our injuries: the sacrament of penance
Pope Francis called the Communion of Saints one of the most consoling truths of our faith. Indeed it is. In this meditation we use texts of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, St Bernard, St Therese of Lisieux, St Josemaria, Pope Francis and Kimberly Hahn to pray about this union of the saints in heaven, the souls in purgatory and the faithful on earth, all helping one another on the way to heaven. We consider how:
The Communion of Saints is both communion in holy things and communion of holy persons.
We should endeavour to grow in holiness and increase our desire to be one day with the saints in heaven.
We should pray much for the souls in purgatory.
We should pray for those on earth and help them to come close to God so that they too may be one day in heaven.
By our good deeds we contribute to the Communion of Saints and by our sins we withdraw from it.
One day God will call each of us through the gateway of death into the next life where, after a particular judgment, we will enter into heaven, either immediately or through the purification of purgatory, or we will go to eternal damnation in hell. Meditating on these realities helps us to focus our lives so that we can be found worthy of heaven when we die. In this meditation we use the Scriptures, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the writings of saints to consider:
Death is not the end but the beginning of eternal life
In the particular judgment we will see our life as God sees us and we can prepare for it by being sincere here on earth
Hell is a reality and we should do everything possible to avoid going there
If our soul is not completely pure when we die we will be purified in the fire of God’s love in purgatory
We should pray very much for the souls in purgatory
Our goal is the supreme, definitive happiness of heaven, where we will see God face to face.
In this meditation we continue our journey through the Last Things, praying today about hell. Hell is a reality and if we pray about it from time to time we are most unlikely to end up there. But God needs us to help others avoid hell too. In this meditation we use texts from Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the writings of saints like St John Vianney to consider:
Christ’s teaching on hell
God’s mercy and desire to save all souls
That those who go to hell choose it by failing to repent of their serious sins
The vision of hell seen by the three children at Fatima
In the moment of our death we will undergo a particular judgment which will decide whether we go to hell, purgatory or immediately to heaven. The judge will be Jesus himself, the Son of Man and his judgment will be just as well as merciful. In this meditation we consider how:
we should not care about how others judge us
pride colours our judgment about ourselves
in the particular judgment we will be judged on how we made use of the many gifts God has given us
we can prepare for the judgment by being very sincere in our prayer, our daily examination of conscience and in spiritual direction
Many people look on death with dread, as the sad ending of it all. With Christian faith we look on it very differently, as our final journey home to eternal life with God. Our Lord has told us that he has gone ahead to prepare a room for us in the Father’s house (cf. John 14: 2-3). This is what awaits us if we live and die well. In this meditation we consider:
The Christian meaning of life and death
The many passages of the Bible that speak to us of our preparation for eternal life with God
The need to be prepared at every moment to meet Our Lord
The importance of storing up treasure in heaven, not on earth