We live in a society that doesn’t like to talk about suffering or death. On social media, everyone seems to be having a great time, traveling to the most exotic destinations, and celebrating endless achievements; couples are perpetually in love, the sun always seems to be shining, skin is free of blemishes, and every smile gleams like it was on display on a Colgate commercial. We love to post life’s greatest hits but hate to share the moments that never even made it to the popular charts.
In Los Angeles, Hollywood has fostered a “forever young” culture. Actors are always wearing the hippest wardrobe, driving the newest cars, and participating in the hottest trends. Old is boring, last month is so, like, five minutes ago. Millennials and Gen Z’s are trapped in Peter-Pan syndrome; they play video games well into their adult years, jump from one job to another because they hate the way the boss looked at them, and they get married, uh, well into their late thirties...maybe.
Abortion activists talk about a woman’s right to choose, but we never hear about the psychological effects an abortion has on the mother, let alone do we see the horrifying images of the ripped-up baby. We enjoy buying products on Amazon and dining out at restaurants, but never really see the tons of food and used products that are piling up in our landfills. And we hardly ever hear about the emotional distress, like depression, anxiety and suicide prevalent in the LGBTQ community. If we are going to help people, we need the whole story.
We have become accustomed to seeing only the good side of things and of people – and of our own selves – and have done everything possible to ignore the other side. In Spanish we say, “Queremos tapar el sol con un dedo” (literally, we try to block the sun with one finger), that is, we try to bury our head in the sand, we choose to see what we want to because it’s convenient. The same goes with death. One day we will all die, but we don’t want to think about that now. Right now we just want to watch “Netflix and chill”. We’ll worry about death when it comes, we think. The only problem is that we are already dying a very slow death with every breath we take.
Christianity has placed death at the center of its faith; God took on the form of Man in order to suffer and die on a cross. Jesus teaches us that suffering and death have purpose. However, death is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. In other words, Jesus did not come to save us from suffering and death, but through them. Jesus Christ overcame death and His Resurrection was proof of it. Therefore, we should not be afraid to suffer; we should not be afraid to die.
If we need to amend our life with God, the Catholic faith offers us the Sacrament of Reconciliation. If we are sick and need the soothing blessing of the Father, the Church offers us the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. And if we need peace to accept His will, we are called to partake in the Bread of Life, Christ himself in the Holy Eucharist.