Catholic Faith Corner

Living in the Light
of Jesus Christ

Sea of Galilee at Sunrise

Catholic Faith Corner

Living in the Light
of Jesus Christ

From Death to Heaven: Preparing Now

Looking down from my balcony, I saw this lovely tree in full bloom. Quite an Easter-y sight!  A few days later 60-mile-per-hour wind gusts stripped the tree and carpeted my balcony with its white petals. The shadow on the left side of the photo was like an omen of what would befall the tree. And me.

                  As I grow older, I appreciate each day and each experience more. I realize that my time on earth is running out like the sand trickling out of an hourglass. How will I spend what’s left of my life? For one thing, I definitely must declutter, especially my clothes closet.

                  This month Michael Amodei from Ave Maria Press shared with us at Notre Dame Village his thoughts on making the most of our senior “golden” years.  He wrote a book about it: Reaching for Heaven: 14 Spiritual Goals as You Grow Older. His advice is worth repeating here. His theme is preparing for Judgment Day, something we don’t usually think about. But for a full explanation of the goals and for the interesting, frank, personal examples that punctuate the text, you might purchase his book from Amazon.

                  Here are a few suggestions in the book:

                  Pray regularly and attend daily Mass. This guarantees that when you meet Jesus, he won’t ask, “Who are you?”

                  Read and study Scripture. Maybe join a Bible study group. This bestseller is how God communicates with us personally.

                  Make a pilgrimage.  I’d love to walk the Camino de Santiago, the Way of St. James, in Europe. Have you seen the film The Way with Martin Sheen?

                  Support the poor. Do you remember the spiritual and corporal works of mercy? You can carry them out alone or with an organization, which would be more fun.

                  Exercise. Don’t be a couch potato. Take elderly champions as your models and inspiration. Florence Chadwick swam across the English Channel at the age of 66. Mike Fremont holds world records for marathons at age 80 and age 90!

                  Find work after retirement. As Jude Mead, C.P., our retreat director, would say, “I want to die with my boots on.”  Your new career might be a hobby or a way of bringing joy to other people.

My friend Carolyn and I visiting at Notre Dame Village. Photo compliments of Jason.

                  Cultivate friendships.  Today a friend I’ve known since kindergarten is coming to visit. After years of separation, we met by “chance” at the top of the Washington Monument in 1984 and have tried to have lunch together once a year ever since. Facebook is a means to reconnect with old friends and relatives.

                  When and how our life will end are mysteries. But it surely will. You know your final hour is drawing near when friends, relatives, and other people your age have passed on; when doctors, police officers, and firemen look like teenagers to you; when to find the year of your birth you must scroll far down the list; and when you awake and wonder What body part is not going to work today? As my mom liked to say, “Old age isn’t for sissies.”

                  It helps to have a sense of humor as we cope with growing older.  Here are a few age-related cartoons.

                  Heaven is worth striving for, as these words of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen illustrates:

“Have you ever noticed that your happiest moments have come when eternity almost seemed to get inside your soul? When you are not conscious of time at all. This is a hint of what heaven must be. It must be outside of time, where you can possess all joys at one and the same full moment.”

                  • In the Appendix of Amodei’s book, he offers ten more ways to live a good life.  What would you add?

• What older person is your inspiration? A grandparent? A friend? Why

Now’s the time to take advantage of being alive on our amazing planet:

4 Responses

  1. I really appreciate reading your books, and your humorous quotes on Facebook. You are truly gifted.

  2. Thank you for the kind words, Sister Kathleen! It was great to visit you at your beautiful home.

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Jesus depends on us to spread the Good News of God’s love, offering the world hope and joy. Mary Kathleen, a Sister of Notre Dame from Chardon, Ohio, responds through writing, speaking, giving retreats, and teaching. Her motto, adopted from Eddie Doherty’s gravesite, is “All my words for the Word.”

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