Friday, April 16, 2021

Facing Death Calmly

 In the Catholic Times column in Theology Looks At the World, a priest director of a research Institute gives the readers some thoughts on growing old.

■ Looking at the aging body

He becomes more and more conscious of age and thinking about death; finds signs of extinction and death in everything. The excitement of starting the new year has disappeared, and it is doesn't help his spirit to see the calendar days go. Hope and expectation for the future disappear. He is  always the same age in consciousness, but the  body has to  endure the weathering of time. The physical strength to study is not the same as before, and the body begins to revolt all over. However, he is  grateful and proud of his body for dragging him through  life. Even an old body that becomes uncomfortable in the eyes of others and the world, he continues to love and appreciate.

Old age means  the body ages. It is regrettable that reading is no longer what it was, the general weakening of the senses, and the decline of the body's balance and control ability,  prevents one  from doing what he used to do. The old body is excluded from the gaze of others. It is sometimes an object of disgust. Of course, today's world is becoming a little more tolerant of old age and the old body. Still, it is a sad state of life.

■ Living is a feast for the senses 

As we grow older, we realize the importance of our bodies. It is often said that the spirit and soul are more important. Philosophy and theology have emphasized spirit and soul more than body. But at least in this life, the spirit and soul do not exist without the body. The body is the place and foundation of the spirit and soul.

The body contains all  the senses. We see,  hear, taste, touch, and smell. Our lives feel  alive through the senses. More than the sense of desire but of vitality. Death means the loss of this sense. Death  is sad because one no longer sees, hears, tastes, touches, and smells.

A Korean poet in his recent collection: "Even if it's just for one day," is full of regret that the joy of sensation disappears with death. The sense that the poet loved was, above all, the joy of hearing and sight. Inside the collection of poems, there is still a lot of joy in listening to music, gazing at the landscapes of various places in traveling in his car and the scenery of objects encountered in daily life.

We are alive as long as we have sensation. It is lonely and sad to grow old, and there are fears of death. However, walking on the path of old age in faith is the path to completion.

■ To grow old in faith

Old age shrinks the body and mind.

He gets rid of many outer artificiality and sometimes tries to pose as other-worldly but realizes it's just a fleeting bluff. It is still difficult to embrace old age calmly and with grace. A believer is a person who relates daily life to the story of Jesus as one's starting point. However, it is not easy to find the implications of old age in the story of Jesus. In the tradition of faith, one has no choice but to learn from the good people of faith who have wisely faced old age and death.

Romano Guardini emphasized internal and religious acceptance of aging. Whether young, middle-aged, retirement age,  or old, every generation has its own style and value. It is hard for a generation who plans for life and prepares for the future to think about God. At the end of life, we think of the whole context of our lives. Old age should be a time to look back on the context of life with courage and honesty. And most of all, it should be a time to face the meaning and value of death. Death means extinction in this world, but on the other hand, religious completion. We  hope that walking on the path of old age in faith is the way to completion, and determined to live with joy. 

■ Facing death the way you have lived

Still, growing old is lonely and sad. We are afraid of extinction. Reason and Will give meaning and value to old age and death, but emotions don't easily follow our rational reflections and willpower. Memories of the past come to mind like perfume.

But I don't want to live with memories of the past. If youth was a time with five talents, old age may be a time of only one talent. I don't want to live in the way  of the foolish servant that envies five talents and hides the one talent in the ground without doing anything (Matt. 25,14-30). He hope that the time of old age will also have its own role and meaning.

You should study, reflect, and continue your daily routine until the moment you die. If life is not beautiful, death will not be  beautiful. A man will die in the way and manner he has lived. Life and death are always connected. If you live today with faith, you will live with  faith tomorrow. Even if tomorrow is the day of death.

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