You Know Not the Day
There is a moment in the future that we all know is coming. Unlike December 25, April 15, or the first day of school, we actually believe at some level that it will never arrive.
About this day, St. Paul writes: “you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night” (I Corinthians 5:2). Whether this is the end of the whole world or just the end of life, it is coming.
Part of the work of the Church is to help us to come into relationship with Christ Jesus so we will recognize him and he will recognize us (I John 3:2), and the world will witness this great reunion (Matthew 25:34). The Church helps us in our illness, our dying and in the final surrender of our bodies as we pass into eternal life.
Sadly, many people pretend that they will never die. This can place heavy burdens on those who are left behind.
One simple step in the direction of care and responsibility for loved ones is to start a file. Call it “Death,” “Going My Way,” “Farewell Notes,” or simply “Good-bye.” The name is unimportant: its accessibility is crucial.
The purpose of the file is to be a gathering place for thoughts, instructions, and desires surrounding your final passage. When you hear a hymn at Mass you’d like sung at your funeral, make a note (sign and date it for authenticity) and drop it in the file. If you attend a funeral and are impressed with the funeral director’s services, make a note. If you’ve always meant to leave directions to be cremated or buried in a particular spot, make a note. Would you like to have donations made to a particular charity or ministry in lieu of flowers? Make a note. Does a Bible reading strike you, or is there someone you know who would proclaim the Scriptures well? Make a note. The same goes for pall bearers (if you want them), a wake service (if you desire one), even details for your obituary. Each note will relieve your loved ones of one more decision, large or small.
Of course, you can also tackle one or more of “The Big Three.” (1) See an attorney to craft a will and leave medical and end-of-life instructions; (2) visit a funeral home and make your own arrangements; (3) see Deacon Kenneth in our parish office to discuss funeral plans.
You don’t know the day or the hour. When it comes, will your loved ones have to carry the burden, not only of their own grief, but of all the planning and arrangements as well?