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Catechism of the Catholic Church
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II. Dying in Christ Jesus
1005 To rise with Christ, we must die with Christ: we must "be away from the body and at home with the Lord."562 In that "departure" which is death the soul is separated from the body.563 It will be reunited with the body on the day of resurrection of the dead.564
1006 "It is in regard to death that man's condition is most shrouded in doubt."565 In a sense bodily death is natural, but for faith it is in fact "the wages of sin."566 For those who die in Christ's grace it is a participation in the death of the Lord, so that they can also share his Resurrection.567
1007 Death is the end of earthly life. Our lives are measured by time, in the course of which we change, grow old and, as with all living beings on earth, death seems like the normal end of life. That aspect of death lends urgency to our lives: remembering our mortality helps us realize that we have only a limited time in which to bring our lives to fulfillment:
Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, . . . before the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.568
1008 Death is a consequence of sin. the Church's Magisterium, as authentic interpreter of the affirmations of Scripture and Tradition, teaches that death entered the world on account of man's sin.569 Even though man's nature is mortal God had destined him not to die. Death was therefore contrary to the plans of God the Creator and entered the world as a consequence of sin.570 "Bodily death, from which man would have been immune had he not sinned" is thus "the last enemy" of man left to be conquered.571
1009 Death is transformed by Christ. Jesus, the Son of God, also himself suffered the death that is part of the human condition. Yet, despite his anguish as he faced death, he accepted it in an act of complete and free submission to his Father's will.572 The obedience of Jesus has transformed the curse of death into a blessing.573
The meaning of Christian death
1010 Because of Christ, Christian death has a positive meaning: "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."574 "The saying is sure: if we have died with him, we will also live with him.575 What is essentially new about Christian death is this: through Baptism, the Christian has already "died with Christ" sacramentally, in order to live a new life; and if we die in Christ's grace, physical death completes this "dying with Christ" and so completes our incorporation into him in his redeeming act:
It is better for me to die in (eis) Christ Jesus than to reign over the ends of the earth. Him it is I seek - who died for us. Him it is I desire - who rose for us. I am on the point of giving birth .... Let me receive pure light; when I shall have arrived there, then shall I be a man.576
1011 In death, God calls man to himself. Therefore the Christian can experience a desire for death like St. Paul's: "My desire is to depart and be with Christ. "577 He can transform his own death into an act of obedience and love towards the Father, after the example of Christ:578
My earthly desire has been
crucified; . . . there is living water in me, water that murmurs and says
within me: Come to the Father.579
Lord, for your faithful people life is changed, not ended. When the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death we gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven.583
1013 Death is the end of man's earthly pilgrimage, of the time of grace and mercy which God offers him so as to work out his earthly life in keeping with the divine plan, and to decide his ultimate destiny. When "the single course of our earthly life" is completed,584 we shall not return to other earthly lives: "It is appointed for men to die once."585 There is no "reincarnation" after death.
1014 The Church encourages us to prepare ourselves for the hour of our death. In the litany of the saints, for instance, she has us pray: "From a sudden and unforeseen death, deliver us, O Lord";586 to ask the Mother of God to intercede for us "at the hour of our death" in the Hail Mary; and to entrust ourselves to St. Joseph, the patron of a happy death.
Every action of yours, every
thought, should be those of one who expects to die before the day is out. Death
would have no great terrors for you if you had a quiet conscience .... Then why
not keep clear of sin instead of running away from death? If you aren't fit to
face death today, it's very unlikely you will be tomorrow ....587
from whom no living man can escape.
Woe on those who will die in mortal sin!
Blessed are they who will be found in your most holy will,
for the second death will not harm them.588
562 2 Cor 5:8.
563 Cf. Phil 1:23.
564 Cf. Paul VI, CPG # 28.
565 GS 18.
566 Rom 6:23; cf. Gen 2:17.
567 Cf. Rom 6:3-9; Phil 3:10-11.
568 Eccl 12:1, 7.
569 Cf. Gen 2:17; 3:3; 3:19; Wis 1:13; Rom 5:12; 6:23; DS 1511.
570 Cf. Wis 2:23-24.
571 GS 18 # 2; cf. 1 Cor 15:26.
572 Cf. Mk 14:33-34; Heb 5:7-8.
573 Cf. Rom 5:19-21.
574 Phil 1:21.
575 2 Tim 2:11.
576 St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Rom., 6, 1-2: Apostolic Fathers, II/2, 217-220.
577 Phil 1:23.
578 Cf. Lk 23:46.
579 St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Rom., 6, 1- 2: Apostolic Fathers, II/2, 223-224.
580 St. Teresa of Avila, Life, chap. 1.
581 St. Therese of Lisieux, the Last Conversations.
582 Cf. I Thess 4:13-14.
583 Roman Missal, Preface of Christian Death I.
584 LG 48 # 3.
585 Heb 9:27.
586 Roman Missal, Litany of the saints.
587 The Imitation of Christ, 1, 23, 1.
588 St. Francis of Assisi Canticle of the Creatures.
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