We are almost at the end of our 33-day pilgrimage. It brings to mind that, relatively speaking, we are almost at the end of our pilgrimage through life. Even if you are in the prime of your life, bursting with energy and future prospects, memento mori (“remember death”). In the perspective of eternity, our lives on earth are infinitesimally short. I’ve been a priest for 28 years, but it seems like yesterday that I was ordained. I will cover another 28 years in the blink of an eye. But in 28 years I will probably be dead.
“Today,” writes Fr. Calloway, “many people are not prepared for death.” Why should we be? Our health care systems, our food and shelter delivery systems, our political systems—they all guarantee security and a long, pain-free life full of exciting activity…. until they break down, like they did a month ago. The Coronavirus pandemic has terrorized us by destabilizing our security, but it has also lessened our fear of death. Sometimes I say to a full church on Sundays: “no one gets out of this room alive,” which draws some chortles but also some panicked looks.
St. Joseph is the “Patron of a Happy Death,” or more accurately, the patron of those who are dying—which is every one of us. We begin to die the moment we are born, but with St. Joseph beside us, we have nothing to fear and everything for which to be thankful. His Son’s resurrection has transformed death into hope and joy. We all need to prepare for death, and one of the best ways is to develop a devotion to St. Joseph before it’s too late.