Kempis concludes regarding Practices of a Good Religious with the words above (IC 1,19). He urges them to remain steadfast in their resolutions, examinations, devotions, and observances. He wants them to consider themselves “not well prepared” so as “to prepare ourselves better for our departure.”
Today’s Old Testament excerpt is from Ezekiel (18:21-28). Ezekiel relays these words from the Lord God firstly, after which the Almighty expounds on them by imploring all sinners to repent, and His desire that it be so. God conveys His great mercy to those who turn away from sin, but to those who embrace evil, or return to evil ways, remaining unrepentant until the end of life, they will not achieve life, but rather, death.
I’m reminded of the old saying: “Treat each day as your last because one day it will be.” For the terminally ill who have come to accept their situation this may be relatively easy. But for most of us, the thought of our own demise is not something we care to dwell on. While we should not obsess on death, it is worth reminding ourselves daily that there will be that moment for each of us when we stand before the Lord in judgment.
A good practice is to recite before bed the Night Prayer the Church gives us in the Liturgy of the Hours (here; it is quite short — five minutes or so). Two great lines from it serve to remind us of death — the first taken from Jesus’ last words on the cross followed by Simeon’s conversation with Mary and Joseph:
Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.
Now, Master, you let your servant go in peace.
How prepared are we for the eventuality of our own deaths?
Administering the last rites (Dutch School, c. 1600)