100: Correcting the Christian View of Death

Yes, He is risen! Yes, Christ has conquered death! But are we ignoring the obvious?

Have Christians lost sight of the powerful natural and supernatural aspects of dealing with the end of our earthly life?

In this special 100th episode of the Art of Catholic, I bring back John Henry Crosby, founder and president of the Hildebrand Project for a fascinating discussion revolving around a small, but powerful book titled Jaws of Death: Gate of Heaven by famous 20th philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand.

You might remember both John Henry and von Hildebrand from my very first episode of the Art of Catholic. In that episode, we discussed how von Hildebrand was a major thorn in the side of Adolf Hitler.

In this episode we’ll discuss some thought-provoking insights from von Hildebrand about our passing out of this life and into the next, such as:

  • Why too many Christians take the “horror of death” too lightly
  • Identifying hints of the eternal in natural life
  • How the death of a loved one points to eternity
  • Why natural life without death would be a kind of Hell
  • The vital role of beauty in preparing us for a faithful death
  • How the virtue of hope prepares us for death

It sounds weird, but dwelling on death was never so enlightening:).

God bless!

Matthew

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The Tragic Beauty of the Cross

There is only one way to be saved….period.

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.”

These words of Christ in John 14:6 are some of the most famous in all of Scripture.

But what most people don’t realize is that Christ declares them at the Last Supper, shortly before the start of his brutal Passion.

In fact, at the end of this chapter, he and the Disciples leave for the Garden of Gethsemane.

And understanding this context puts a little deeper spin on how we understand apply Christ’s declaration. This is no generic call to “seek Christ.”

It’s something far more intense.

He’s calling us to the tragic beauty of the Cross. He’s telling us that in order to be saved, we must be nailed to our crosses in union with His.

We must crush our self-love and mimic the humility of Christ, who

though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.”

Phil. 2:6-8

And realize that this union with the Cross – this dying to self – to which we’re called is not a one-time event.

It’s a daily picking up of our crosses and following Christ to Calvary.

St. John of the Cross describes our entire to journey to God as a kind of “Dark Night,” in which we are more and more conformed to the crucified Christ.

It sounds a bit scary, doesn’t it? But thank goodness, it’s not the end of the story.

The tragic beauty of the Cross lies in the fact that it’s only the first half of the story.

After the Crucifixion comes the Resurrection.

Good Friday is always followed by Easter. Salvation is at hand!

And the joy of our new life in Christ far outweighs the difficulties and crosses of this earthly life.

That’s the beauty of the Cross. It prepares us for eternal ecstasy.

As St. Paul declares in Romans 8:18, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

So cling to the tragic beauty of the Cross of Christ! Don’t let go! The Son is on the horizon.

Have a blessed Triduum!

Matthew

P.S. It’s coming shortly after Easter! CLICK HERE to sign up for the wait list to be notified when it goes live.

The most dynamic, clearest path to spiritual transformation you’ll find anywhere.” – Mike Aquilina, Author & EWTN Personality

Did You Have a R-ASH Wednesday?

“I’m giving up all tv (except for March Madness), Facebook, and coffee is a thing of the past.Super Catholic

In fact, nothing edible will grace my gullet for forty days. And I’m going to read the entire Bible front to back in Hebrew and Greek while wearing a hair shirt that would bring Bigfoot to tears.”

Sound familiar? We’re all big talkers at the beginning of Lent, aren’t we?

We’re going to get really holy, get really in touch with our Lord’s sacrifice on the Cross. We’re strong enough! Who needs food! (It’s a scientific fact that most rash Lenten resolutions are made on a full stomach.)

So how’s it going? Uh-huh…thought so.

If you’ve struggled to keep up with your lenten resolutions just take a deep breath and relax. It’s hard to sacrifice. It’s meant to be hard.

And for those of us who bit off more than we could chew, it can be discouraging because we weren’t able to perfectly keep our promises. We failed!

But let’s keep a couple things in mind.

First of all, be realistic. If you’re trying to do too much, take a step back and get real. I’m not trying to get anyone off the hook, because the whole point is to be sacrificial and it’s never easy.

But at the same time, it would do us good to recall the famous line from Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry character in Magnum Force: “Man’s got to know his limitations…”

Second, the Lord is merciful. He’s not mad at you for failing. He might be chuckling at your inability to put down the Oreo and walk away, but he’s not mad. He’s the most merciful person in the world!

Remember, Lenten sacrifice isn’t for him. It’s for us. It’s meant to help us take our eyes off of this world and focus on the next. It’s meant to help us love Christ more, not get down on ourselves.

So if you’ve fallen a few times already, stand up and brush the Little Debbie crumbs off your pants. Then pick up your Lenten cross and start again…but maybe with one made from a little lighter wood.

God bless!

Matthew

 

P.S. As a special Lenten gift, I’m giving you “Beer, Chocolate & Value-Added Suffering” for FREE. It’s chapter 5 of my book Louder Than Words: The Art of Living as a Catholic. 

Click the image of the book or the link above and it will come right to your inbox. God bless!