Tombs, Bones & Time

by Steve Ray on November 25, 2005

Tombs, Bones & Time

Reports are that each day 20,000 people file past the Tomb of Pope John Paul the Great. We were fortunate to visit when the crowds were small so we had time to spend 10 minutes at his tomb remembering his legacy and to pray.

We came into the Catholic Church on May 22, 1994 — so he was always the Pope in our minds. I wish I would have converted sooner but God knows what he is doing. John Paul II had a huge impact on our lives and made us proud to be Catholics. We learned much about the faith by watching and and listening to him.

It was a great honor last Sunday to hear the Angelus prayed by the new pope and to receive his blessing and then to descend into the grotto of St. Peter's to pray and remember the last pope at his grave. We remembered and were grateful for the impact he had on us — and on the world. His very life calls us to be witnesses for the truth no matter what the cost and to lay down our lives every day as martyrs for our King.

By the way, did you know that the Greek word used for “witness“ in the New Testament is marturios — martyr!

There is no time to waste in life. We have only a limited number of days, hours and minutes. They are measured out and may end today. We don't know. We are not invincible. Death is one thing that is certain — though many of us act as though we will never die.

Paul tells us to "make the most of our time for the days are evil” (Eph 5:16). These two popes are great examples of using every minute for the glory of God. I asked a friend of mine, "When do you sleep?" He said, "Sleep, I can do that in heaven. There is much to do for God with the short time I have left.“

There is an underground church in Rome which is decorated with the bones of its monks. There are hundreds of skulls everywhere and thousands of bones in piles, in chambers and used as decorations and framing throughout the church. Morbid? No, realistic. Their motto is: "They once were as you are now; soon you will be as they are now!"

We should remember our death always and live in light of that. Being a saint is all that counts. To hear the words, "Well done my good and faithful servant!" are the only words worth hearing.

I wanted to buy my coffin ahead of time and use it as a coffee table in our living room — to remind myself every day that I would eventually end up in that box and be eaten by worms (until the resurrection). My wife vetoed my idea. But, we still talk about it and prepare for our end nonetheless.

“Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world — have mercy on us!“

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