In this life there are many things to prepare for, but the most important is for our entrance into the kingdom of heaven. I will take you with me, should you want to come along, on my personal journey to the door which will lead to eternity, through which every soul must pass. Where the angel of death waits to ask the all important question, "Are you prepared for the Kingdom?"

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Location: Anacortes, Washington, United States

Two years ago I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I was one of the fortunate ones who survived surgery along with chemo/radiation treatments. Recently, it was discovered that the cancer had returned and although I am again on chemotherapy, in all probability I have perhaps one more year to live. During these last months I would like to share what I have learned about the most important thing we'll ever do in this life and that is, prepare for the kingdom of God.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Sudden Death

Monday of this week, I heard about a woman from the parish who went to bed and didn’t wake up again. She was 55 and apparently suffered a massive heart attack.

Last February, my uncle came in from working out in his garden and went into the bedroom to take a short nap. He also did not wake up again. He was in his 70’s.

Today on the Internet, I read about the N.Y. Yankee pitcher whose small airplane crashed into the 40th floor of a condominium complex in New York City. He and his instructor were both killed.

These people had no knowledge of the sudden death that was waiting for them. None of us have any real knowledge of when death will take us. Some of us know that the time is short, but these people had no warning. Were they prepared?

My uncle who died last February had been a Deacon in the Roman Catholic Church for over 30 years. I had just visited with him and my aunt in California the previous week. He looked perfectly healthy. I know that he was prepared for death. His life had been one of service to God, his family and the community. In his last homily given on the Sunday before he died, he preached on being prepared for death. I am told that his last words of that homily were “Are you prepared for death? Be prepared! I am prepared.”

Maggie, the woman from our parish who suffered the massive heart attack, was also a woman of service to the Church and the community. I did not personally know her, but those who did, talked about how much she did in the parish. She was the church caterer.

I have less knowledge of the two men who died in the plane crash in New York, but when I read about their deaths, I had a strong urge to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet for them, which I did.

One of the points that I try to stress in my writings is that we don’t know when our time will be. There is a reason the Fathers continually tell us to keep death in front of our face at all times. When we go to bed at night, what guarantee do we have that we will wake up the next morning? When we get up in the morning, what guarantee do we have that we will go to sleep that night. We don’t know, hence the reason to be prepared.

I heard the following prayer somewhere, I don’t remember where, but I try to say this every night when I get into bed, “My bed is the Father, my pillow the Son, my comforter the Holy Spirit,” and then I add, “Most Holy Trinity, Glory be to You.” When I say that prayer, I feel that the Holy Trinity surrounds me and if I die, I am in good company.

Something I am going to start doing, is examining my day right before I go to bed and ask for the Lord’s forgiveness for anything I have done to offend Him or anyone else or for anything I have failed to do.

I also say the following prayer: O God, be merciful to me a sinner, O God, cleanse me of my sins and have mercy on me, O Lord, forgive me, for I have sinned without number. This is a prayer taken from the Divine Liturgy, which is said just before approaching the priest to receive Holy Communion. I find that it comes to me quite often throughout the day.

I don’t think we can ever be too sure of ourselves when it comes to death. The greatest of saints have been concerned about coming before the judgment seat of God. That should be an important lesson for us to contemplate. To the end we must show humility and never think that we’ve earned the right to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only One has earned that for us and to Him we must show our humble respect by acknowledging our human weaknesses and calling on His mercy.

Don’t be caught unprepared. Pray for the desire to be consciously aware of the mortality of this life, so that if death comes unexpectedly, as the Lord has warned might happen, “Like a thief in the night,” we can be ready to present our souls to Him as one who comes before the great King dressed in a beautiful garment. And may we hear His beautiful words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”


Blogger forget me not said...

Laura I just peaked in to ask if you were ok, since I hadn't seen any new posts recently. I'm very happy to have found this. Thanks for your thought provoking suggestions. I often think about these issues, thanking God for my family and the gifts He has bestowed upon me. I do this, knowing that we just "don't know" when our time or that of our family members will come. But more than being an anguishing prospect. it helps me appreciate the here and now more.

2:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes :-)

Having worked in nursing homes, I have to tell you: Death always comes unexpectedly to the die-er. The mind not only fools itself, but sets new goals, makes new adjustments each day. Indeed, it is important to be/stay in a state of grace.

But our being born into full human life came unexpectedly to us, too.. and look what it gave us. Family. We couldn't be hugged in the womb, nor could we hug any who already loved and welcomed us.

Oh, we will be Hugged by Scarred a different way. Family.

7:47 PM  
Blogger Gabrielle said...

I like very much your simple, bed-time prayer to the Holy Trinity, Laura. I'm thinking it is one which would be very good to teach to young children and grandchildren also, one which would stay with them their whole lives, like the prayer to our Guardian Angel.

8:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i LOVE what you wrote it is so true I am not ready for death I should pray more and ask Gods forgiviness for my sins thanks for the inspiring writing blessings to you joanne

6:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Wonderful words. I have been corresponding with Abbot Joseph and I found your blog on his site.

I am in desperate need of prayer, and I think your soul is being purified in such a way that God may, indeed, hear you quite clearly, both now and when you enter his presence unshackled by the flesh.

I have just taken up writing icons as a spiritual discipline. I'm studying at the Prosopon School of Iconology.

If your wish, please email me at

and I'll be specific in my prayer requests.

11:48 AM  

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