The Common Doctor of the Church states that even though the end of an action is last in the order of execution, it is first in the order of intention. (cf. S.T. I-II.1.1). In other words, the end comes first. For the modern secularist, death is the final end. There is nothing after death. It is the annihilation of the soul. For the Christian, the soul is immortal and there is eternal life to come after our death: heaven or hell. Our goal is heaven and nothing less. However, there is the mysterious door to eternal life which is death. The door of death is important for the Christian because of its finality. There are no more choices after death. The aspiring saint prepares for death in this life. To summarize the classic little text The Art of Dying Well, St. Robert Bellarmine concludes that the art of dying well is to live well!
So how do we live well with death in mind?
The key to much of the interior life is right order. Supernatural things have a higher place than temporal things. We should not just think about death like planning for a funeral but go deeper; we must meditate on death.
In the classic, The Spiritual Life, Fr. Adolphe Tanquerey states that meditation is discursive mental prayer which is “need[ed] to acquire convictions or to strengthen them.” He continues to state the effects and fruits of meditation.
1. It detaches us from sin
2. It makes us practice all the Christian virtues
3. Initiates our union with God and even more, our transformation in Him.
(Tanquerey, The Spiritual Life. TAN Books, pg. 320-323)
Meditation involves sober cooperation with God’s grace to look at a particular aspect of the Faith and seek to see what God has revealed. This involves the mind, the will, the heart, and the imagination. We must do more than simply think about death; we must pray about death in meditation.
TAN Books wants to begin the year with the end in mind, not just any intermediate end but the Final End. The door of death is part of this journey, and we want to help you along this journey so that when you knock on that door, you are prepared.