Ironic Catholic: Now and at the Hour of Our Death

The following is an excerpt from Ironic Catholic’s comments on my Mass Report post last week. I think this paragraph should be required reading for anyone who is going to die:

Not that I have any control over this…but when I die, I want someone to remind me about the love of Jesus Christ. I want someone to ask me about repentance and offer reconciliation. I want someone to challenge me that the best is yet to come, that this suffering joins me with Christ, and like his suffering, it is not the last word. God is here and God will be there and has already broken my path for that journey. I want to receive the anointing of the sick, and be told that God will raise me up. I don’t want someone asking if I’m “in touch with my values.” And especially if I am weak and in pain, I hope the person helping me have a holy, joyful death will not expect me to “take the lead.”

This stirs up a lot of thoughts and emotions for me. How in the past I may have had the opportunity to deliver this message to a dying friend and how I failed, how embarrassing death is and how tongue-tied it can make us, what a bastard death is but how radically and profoundly our faith in Christ confronts it. I’m reminded of how Walker Percy shined the light on this in his fiction — recall Lonnie’s death in The Moviegoer and how Binx responded to questions from Lonnie’s siblings about the hope of the resurrection, and recall the deathbed baptism scene in The Last Gentleman, how matter-of-fact and therefore how good the priest was — and of how Percy approached his own death. Percy himself often pointed to the witness of Flannery O’Connor and how she confronted death with courage and a clear vision of God’s grace. Anyway, I want to thank you, IC, for these good words.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.


  1. Doh! Needed a spoiler on that one. I’m half way through The Moviegoer.

  2. The Ironic Catholic says

    Wow, you’re welcome. And I must admit some of my wondering about death and conversations has to do with my aging father, who is “spiritual but not religious and I don’t want to talk about it”…what will I say?

    But to be fair, I think the role of a family member and friend is different than that of a spiritual “guide”–whether that is a chaplain or priest or whatever. We’re there to love the person, and often our presence speaks more than words.

    You’re right, though. What is it about death that shuts us up? The fear that we’ll blow it? or do we get tongue tied because there are no words to convey what we want to say?

  3. In a few weeks I have to give a talk to RCIA on death judgement heaven and hell. I am debating either going the schollarly route or asking them to imagine that they are on their deathbed and what it is they want to know and going from there.

    I think if they are going from the premise that they are soon to die, thier questions will be more real.

    This is probably the most scared I have ever been about any talk I have ever given.

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