We were never meant to fear death. It was never God’s intention that we be afraid to die. This fear comes from a lack of trust in God, like the lack of trust that our first parents experienced. Yet, just as we turn to Our Blessed Mother as an example of how to live, we can also look to her on how to die, because it is precisely how she lived that teaches us how to die.
Tradition tells us that Mary was assumed into Heaven body and soul at the end of her earthly life. In moving from life on Earth to eternal life in Heaven, Mary’s transition is described as “falling asleep.” And that is exactly how God intended earthly death to be for us: a gentle, peaceful falling asleep. What makes the difference between a fearful death and a holy, peaceful death is a total trust in God.
Mary had the grace of a perfect trust in God throughout her life, as we see in the Annunciation, when she responds generously to the angel’s message, saying, “Be it done unto me according to your word!” That perfect trust in God is a grace that Mary had from the moment she was conceived without sin. And for all of us, far from immaculate like our Heavenly Mother, this perfect trust in God is received each time we are encouraged by His Word, strengthened by the Eucharist, and healed in Confession. In these real, yet veiled encounters with Our Lord, we repeat again and again: “Jesus, I trust in You.” And as we get better at living Mary’s words, “May it be done to me according to your word,” death transforms from a fear into an anticipation for the day when we will wake up in the arms of Jesus and see Him face to face.
By: Carol Mahar