Friday, February 19, 2010

Two Deaths

Throughout my spiritual reading, I have come to see that there are two main kinds of deaths. The first death is the physical death that we all participate in when our Beloved calls us from this world: ‘remember, you are dust and unto dust you shall return’. The second death is death to self. This death is only experienced by those who seek perfection. I would like to take a moment to reflect more on both of these.

Physical death is something that most people dread to speak of. Today, you can even find a large number who believe that there is nothing following the death of our bodies. On top of our own death, the death of a loved one carries its own pain. Some don’t even care if they die nor in what condition they do die, they only seem to care about the ‘stuff’ they leave behind.

However, we must not see our physical death in the dark light of pain, suffering, and a complete end. We have been giving the amazing grace of a new hope and a new understanding in Jesus Christ! The Incarnate Word came down from heaven to obediently accept death in order to defeat death. It is in this victory over death that our souls fill with total joy. In the victory of the Cross of Christ, the Incarnate Word opened wide the gates of Heaven! He also released the floodgates of mercy, grace, and love so all may understand.

God desires us to remember that it was the Son of God who endured the physical pains of the beatings from the guards, the scourging, the crowning with thorns, the carrying of the cross, and the crucifixion. It was the Incarnate Word who endured the internal wounds for us, the wounds of constant mockery, the temptations of pride and disobedience, and, the deepest wound, seeing His mother weep. Christ suffered all of this out of complete, overflowing, absolute love for you. He defeated death so that you may enter eternal life. If it was only for your soul, He would endure all of this again.

Oh, how glorious and merciful our God is! May the most holy and glorious Trinity praised forever!

The second death I am placing out there is the death of self. As I said before, this death is for those who seek perfection in our Beloved. Many think of St. John of the Cross’ ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ when speaking of death of self. Although the ‘Dark Night’ may indeed be part of death to self in some cases, it may not be experienced in this death of self.

Death of self is an intense time in which God places the soul in the ‘seven-times hotter’ fire in order to burn all the impurities out, all those things that are displeasing to the Holy Trinity. Also, while the soul is being purified in the fire, being purged from such impurities as pride, relativism, and disobedience, God shapes the soul in a particular way that reflects true obedience, true humility, and true selflessness. It is within the death of self that our Beloved allows us to see glimpses of how our God sees us, both good and bad aspects.

The struggles that we have to face in the death of self and the intensity of this death greatly depends on upon God’s Divine Will for us and our abandonment to Him. A few things, however, can be certain about this death. First, this death is a road of true humility and true obedience (see The Rule of St. Benedict). This path, and in general the path of perfection, is not for the faint of heart and requires much reflection upon self and upon God.

Second, when on the road to perfection, it is God who will call you to death to self when He sees you are ready. You may work on growing in virtue and in self-knowledge, but it is God and only God who brings you to die to yourself.
Third, although it is a hard and difficult step on the way to perfection in our Beloved, when you have truly died to self, your soul will rise within the heart of Christ. Then, as an adoration prayer I know indicates, your hands will be His hands, your feet will be His feet, your mouth will be His mouth, and your heart will be His heart. It is then we can really live every present moment in complete abandonment to our Beloved and His Divine Providence.

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