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Awaiting Judgment


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Awaiting Judgment

At the end of our earthly lives, we will not be able to dispute the truth of who we really are

By Michael Amodei11/1/2023
 

Have you thought about what the Church calls your “particular judgment”? This is the eternal reckoning at the moment of our death, when each of our immortal souls will be judged based on how our life was lived in reference to Christ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1022). It is also the instant when God declares whether or not we will go to heaven — either immediately or after purification in purgatory — or to hell.

Thinking about death and our particular judgment may stir up feelings of anxiety, uncertainty and dread, which is why most us put off such thoughts, at least until we face a serious crisis or illness. But as the Church traditionally dedicates November to honoring the dead and praying for the souls in purgatory, it is a fitting time to reflect upon our own death. As we were reminded when first joining the Order: Tempus fugit. Memento mori. (Time flies. Remember death.)

We don’t know exactly what awaits us at death, but we can imagine what it might be like. First, though, consider what it won’t be like. Archbishop Fulton Sheen cautioned, “Do not think when you go before the judgment seat of God that you will argue a case. You will plead no extenuating circumstances, you will not ask for a new trial or a new jury; you will be your own judge! You will be your own jury. … God will merely seal our judgment.” Our particular judgment will be “an evaluation of ourselves just as we really are.”

In that vein, I imagine my judgment day to be set in a dark movie theater, where I am completely alone. :snip: 

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“Then I fell at his feet and thought, Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honour) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him. Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than to be Tisroc of the world and live and not to have seen him. But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome. But I said, Alas Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me. Then by reasons of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one? The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted. Dost thou understand, Child? I said, Lord, though knowest how much I understand. But I said also (for the truth constrained me), Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days. Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

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