"You are dust and to dust you shall return" Genesis 3:19
It is an ancient Catholic custom to always have the remembrance of death before us (Memento mori).
This evening I found out that one of my Aunts had a heart attack and died whilst at the wheel and crashed into a tree. This was very shocking news for me. I was surprised by the suddenness of my aunt's death, but I wasn't exactly shocked that she had died. It is not because I am heartless but rather because I am a Christian.
As a Christian I am always aware of my mortality and the need to be ready to "meet my maker" at any moment. I do not take my life for granted, as I know that every moment of my life is a gift from God which can be taken away at any moment. This does not mean that I am always living as I should, or even that I am always in a state of sanctifying Grace. However I am always aware that I need to be in a state of sanctifying Grace and have a continual conversion to the Lord.
Whenever I sin I try as soon as possible to repent and ask God for forgiveness in Jesus' Name. Then when it is possible I go to Confession to receive sacramental absolution with the knowledge that I am guaranteed the forgiveness of my sins by God through the Priest.
The bible tells us that the day of our death (when we will meet the Lord for our Judgement) will come like a thief in the night.
Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame." Revelation 16:15
Therefore, be on the alert-- for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning--" Mark 13:35
Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. Matthew 24:42
For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. 1 Thessalonians 5:2
So we can see and we are warned to keep VIGIL, to STAY AWAKE and to BE ALERT.
We do not know when death will strike us down, but we do know that if we always stay close to Jesus that He will be faithful to His promise to us of eternal life.
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he will also deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself. 2 Timothy 2:11-13
Let us always keep in mind the words from St Alphonsus Ligouri in his book on Preparation for Death. In Consideration III he writes:
What is your life? It is like a vapor, which is dispersed by the wind, and is no more. All know that they must die; but many are deceived by picturing to themselves death at such as distance as if it could never come near them...At present our passions make the things of this earth appear differently from what they really are; death tears away the veil, and shows them in their true light, to be nothing but smoke, dirt, vanity and misery...if you believe that you must die, and that there is an eternity, and that you can only die once, so that if you then make a mistake, that mistake is forever and irredeemable, how is it that you do not resolve from this very moment, in which you read these words, to do all you can to secure yourself a happy death?...Give yourself to prayer, frequent the Sacraments; quit dangerous occasions, and, if necessary, leave even the world; secure your eternal salvation; and be convinced that to secure this no precaution can be too great.
HOLY MARY MOTHER OF GOD, PRAY FOR US SINNERS - NOW AND AT THE HOUR OF OUR DEATH. AMEN