“What you are now, we once were; what we are now, you shall be.”
This is a quite shocking inscription which can be read while contemplating the skeletons of thousands of Capuchin friars beneath of Our Lady of the Conception Church in Rome.
It is a reminder, of course, of the quick passage of life on earth and of our mortality. If you have heard the expression “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die,” maybe it has occurred to you that we are afraid of our death because we know that we are not prepared. It’s also because we are afraid of leaving what we know and are familiar with, or maybe we don’t truly have faith that there is life after death.
In any case, we have to be prepared because we can’t choose when we are born or when we die, but we can choose how to live.
Lent brings us another opportunity for repentance and for the transformation of our souls. It is a reminder that we have to focus on what still lies ahead and beyond, and to meditate on how ephemeral life is.
On Ash Wednesday, the ashes that we receive symbolize temporal life in this world. As the priest applies the ashes to a person’s forehead, he speaks the words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Our physical life will come to an end on this earth. But not the soul. The soul will live, and for those who have died and are saved through God’s grace, they will, at the Resurrection of the Dead, be re-united with their glorified bodies to eternal life with Christ.
Our spiritual lives matter, and now is the time to be transformed by God’s loving mercy. Our hope is to be with the Lord, but we have to be worthy and work for it every day of our lives.