Try to read this slowly and carefully, not just reading the words but following the guidance of this meditation in your heart and mind.
For whom do you have the greatest love and affection,
the most dear and joyful collection of memories with,
the most nostalgia-causing home videos of,
the deepest connection between?
Likely your mother or father, son or daughter, husband or wife, brother or sister.
Think of all your love for this person. Think of all you have done with him or her;
the shared joys and sorrows,
the laughs and the cries,
the simple pleasures of warm conversation over a home-cooked meal.
If you are able, I would recommend even pulling out some pictures or videos of this person that will warm your heart like nothing else.
Think of all that this person has done for you and let your soul taste the yearning to be with him or her; that yearning that you have no doubt felt many times before; when lonely, when sorry you hurt him or her, or just when the pleasant thought of him or her comes into your mind.
Holding all this tenderness within your heart, now consider a magnitude 9.0 earthquake begins roaring through your house and you recognize that you only have seconds to live.
You are then struck, as if by lightning, with the truth you have always, like a child closing his eyes striving to protect from danger, procrastinated considering, : “…unless we both enter into heaven, then our relationship is nothing but a twinkling of the eye, a passing dream, dust in the wind – only to be forever forgotten by all, as if it never even happened in the first place.” So much for the memories, the tender compassion, the shared joys and sorrows; all that felt so essential and meaningful and almost transcendentally beautiful… it is gone forever. Unmade, as it were.
We all will die, and we all have people in our lives for whom we feel these emotions. So this exercise is anything but futile; rather it is a mere consideration of precisely that which is guaranteed to soon happen to you: in a few hours, days, or years.
So what is the lesson?
To pray all day, mortify our bodies to the extreme, and abandon the world to live as a cave-dwelling hermit? (For such measures are, with absolute certainty, well worth the cost considering what they strive after) Perhaps worth a try, but unless you are a rare soul this is not your calling, and you will soon fail miserably in this pursuit and realize you have wasted your time.
Rather, and this is for each and every one of us, let us use this as a lesson to pray fervently. You need not dedicate your whole day day or even hours a day strictly to prayer, but please, when you do pray (and hopefully this is at least one hour a day), let it be from the heart, with every ounce of fervency you can muster up. Use this meditation to find that fervency, for it is no pointless daydream but a warm up for what will soon happen to you. Beat your breast and cry out to God for mercy; for yourself, for your loved ones, and for the whole world. Do not only say your prayers but mean every word of them with every morsel of your being. Never again rush through your prayers, never again be satisfied with permitting yourself to defeated by distractions, no longer value your work or school or play above your prayers, no longer procrastinate your prayers until everything else is done….for that would be no different from whistling as you stroll over to the river to save the drowning man you spotted from afar.
Do not assume you are free from the worries of sudden death due to youth, health, or riches. Besides the ever present great danger present in normal life from accidents, murders, sudden diseases, and the like: there is also, worth recognizing, a recent enormous spike in Acts of God: hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, volcanoes, record-breaking storms… and other types of turmoil: flash mobs, rioting, unrest, revolutions, possibilities of war. Nobody is safe.
“Whosoever dies clothed in this garment shall not suffer eternal fire.” - Our Lady on the Brown Scapular. www.FreeBrownScapular.com
This meditation came to me when I was standing among a crowd of a few hundred anxious souls huddled together, listening to an ominous and foreboding countdown booming over the loudspeakers, “…FIVE…FOUR…THREE…” Though I was merely about to begin a race, in my soul I suddenly felt as if I was standing with a group of soldiers about to engage in a battle that would likely be the massacre of us all. In that moment I was then struck with the thought of my own mother and the tender compassion between us, how meaningful and essential the relationship between us feels to me – and how, if I were about to die, that relationship would be nothing but eternally forgotten and meaningless, lest we both are saved. My heart then broke for all the people in the world who, when faced with death after living a life apart from God, are no doubt crippled with unimaginable suffering from the despair that must flood their consciousness at that moment, especially as they think of their loved ones. I would like to save as many as possible from that fate.