“We interrupt this broadcast to report unprecedented dramatic events. World leaders have closed communication with the press and have unexpectedly cancelled events. The White House, Bellevue Place, Kirribilli House, Elysee Palace, Zongnaihai, Buckingham Palace, the Kremlin, and the Vatican have been confirmed by our News Agencies to have shuttered their doors and key staff retreated to interior corridors of powers.”
An unprecedented notification like the above would create quite apprehension. Most would suspect we are on the verge of war, a terrorist attack, or an assassination of a world leader has disrupted our world view once again. Some survivalist would consider stocking up on water, bread, milk, canned goods, generator, ammunition, and cash. Governments encourage you to be prepared.[i] Conspiracy groups count on people’s fears and market extreme survival strategies.
You should be prepared for at least three days. Natural and man-made disasters are on the increase. Help may get to you in hours or days. What if the disaster was not man-made or a natural disaster? What if help was not hours or days away – but an eternity for the unprepared?
Everyone will not escape this earth without facing this demon – either individually (alone) or with the great company of the masses at the end of time. Given that the earth is 4.5 billion years old and we have only inhabited it for a fraction the latter possibility is not without some degree of risk, especially given how ungrateful we are as stewards of the planet. Check out our Grant Earnhart’s 4.5 billion year review for perspective.[ii]
The demon of our mortality is a given with 100% certainty! Actuaries calculate your probability of death every day, not because they don’t like you (I believe), but because they can profit by tilting the mortality scales in favor of a getting a few shillings from you.
Are you prepared for either eventuality – facing mortality alone or facing it at the end of time? Dying is not something you can prepare for when you are at death’s door. It is something you live for and prepare for all your life. Our mortality gives our lives meaning. Every moment is a treasure of untold value as we do not know when no more moments will be afforded us.
The Catholic Season of Advent can be an invitation to “sobriety, to not be dominated by the things of this world” and “an invitation to vigilance, because, not knowing when He will come, we must always be ready to depart.”[iii]
What would we do if the news event that started this post out was announcing a man has descended from the heavens proclaiming the second coming? Or as Orson Wells did in 1938 predicted the War of the Worlds and potential certain death. Or closer to home, a doctor’s call informs you nothing can be done?
We need not wait for these eventualities. Do not wait for the bell to toll for you. Take care to be rid of regrets now.[iv] You can easily tackle many worldly concerns now or at least attempt to so you can to your final resting place without having tried.
Preparing to meet God is a higher order task. Negatively speaking people often slip into existential rubric measurements of past shame and counterpoints of sincere goodness, like the actuary above, tilt the scales in their favor for that final meeting. The Bible reminds us that “it is appointed for men to die once, and after this the judgment.” [v]
Positively speaking practicing living well will do more than rubrics calculation. The Sermon on the Mount and St. Augustine’s is a good starting point:[vi]
“Therefore, whosoever hears these words of mine, and does them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.”
The Sermon on the Mount can be found here from the United States Catholic Conference Bishops website with annotations here: http://www.usccb.org/bible/matthew/5
After having read this chapter – living “Christian Living” is not about perfection. Jack Mahoney gives a good review of living the Sermon on the Mount that is not so imposing:[vii]
“Christian morality must be understood as part of an embracing love of God as well as of neighbor. Both the Decalogue and Sermon on the Mount begin with the gift of God and his covenant, and sketch the response of members of the chosen people, the ancient and then the new Israel, as they attempt to live with God’s gift and grace in their lives.”
When read with careful thought and sincere prayer the complexity of the beatitudes and the Ten Commandments melt into a simplicity that is congruent with rational human ethics that include a spiritual mandate of authenticity and authority. Given that we are bound to be imperfect, the writings are a guide to strive for perfection, while recognizing human infallibility and the grace of God go hand in hand.
You have a blueprint for preparing for the next “We interrupt this broadcast” regardless of cause: man-made, natural disaster, or spiritual crisis. The next 28 days is an advent adventure for me. Thank you for joining me by reading this post. Advent is perfect for a self-directed retreat adventure.
[iii] Pope Francis, November 27, 2016