Death. Judgment. Heaven. Hell.
These are the Four Last Things—that is, the last stages that we will go through in our existence. The first two are certainties; the last two are the possible outcomes, the two possible destinies of the human soul.
The Four Last Things have been the subject of the meditation of mystics, the teaching of Doctors, and the everyday thought of holy men and women throughout history. In fact, we can’t achieve sanctity if we aren’t spending time thinking on these things.
This is not a morbid exercise. Rather, it is a wise one; a joyful one, in fact, if we are striving to live a holy life. As the Book of Wisdom says:
But the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and the torment of death shall not touch them.
If we are maintaining our souls in a state of grace and working to gain heaven, the idea of facing God—while certainly inspiring a holy fear—should fill our souls with joy and longing. We were meant for Him, after all, and He is our final resting place, as St. Augustine said.
Judgment is scary, of course, and hell a real possibility—so that should be a sobering thought if we are tempted towards complacency. The hour of our death is unknown to us, and could come suddenly, so we should strive to keep our minds on it and prepare for it daily.
One aspect of the Four Last Things that, perhaps, we don’t think about enough is purgatory—the purifying fires that prepare souls for heaven. Good Catholic’s brand new series Purgatory: Cleansing Fire is your guide to this often-misunderstood doctrine. You’ll learn about the nature of purgatory, who goes there and why, and how you can avoid it and help those detained there. This fascinating series will be released on August 22nd, but if you sign up now, you’ll get 20% off! Your series will begin automatically when the 22nd comes. You don’t want to miss this one! Sign up today!