Give Me Sixty Seconds On the Clock PleaseCAROL KENNEDY
When I saw the headline declaring that the Columbia crew may have had as much as one minute knowing what would happen before their ship exploded, my Catholic mind sighed with relief. But this was not the response of the writer of the article, or of the world.
Why is this? Is it because I am some sort of masochistic fanatic who wants others to suffer? Or is it because the world has little idea of the importance of those last sixty seconds before we die.
Catholics have a habit of praying for a happy death. For a long time, growing up, I thought this meant a painless death one with little suffering. But this is far from the truth. The truth is closer to what a good friend used to say: the best way to die would be on a plane you knew was going down, sitting next to a priest. In the Catholic mind, a happy death is one in which we have the opportunity to meet death with a willing heart, and a recently cleansed soul.
It is common for the loved ones of those
who have died to console one another with the words that the deceased “didn’t
suffer”, “went quickly” or “died in their sleep”. And in many ways these phrases
can be comforting. No one wishes that a loved one would suffer. However, imagine
that loved one had things in his life he regreted but had never asked for forgiveness.
Or perhaps he had behaviors and habits that turned him from God and he had stubbornly
held onto them.
However, our death could come today, tomorrow, in ten years, 30 years
or... in 60 seconds. Think of the great gift of one small minute when an untimely
death comes upon us. In that sixty seconds I can quickly bring to mind the ways
in which I have offended God, and ask him for forgiveness. I can recite the Act
of Contrition a perfect formula for getting right with God. I can even
offer my suffering, both mental and physical, in reparation for my sins or for
a loved one whom I will leave behind.
Carol Kennedy. "Give Me Sixty Seconds On the Clock Please." Catholic Exchange (February, 2003).
This article reprinted with permission from Catholic Exchange.
Carol Kennedy is a Catholic writer with an MA in Theology and Catechesis from Franciscan University of Steubenville. She is the former DRE for the Spiritus Sanctus Academies in Ann Arbor, MI. Carol writes from Northern California where she lives with her husband and infant daughter. You can read more of her writings at www.carolscomments.com
© 2003 Catholic Exchange
Not all articles published on CERC are the objects of official Church teaching, but these are supplied to provide supplementary information.