Dying Over and Over Again....what does this mean?


There was a homily given where the priest was talking about people being absolutely terrified of dying, and being with them in that moment of death.

He said people can be immature and need to practice dying over and over again, to develop the maturity to die with grace.

I get confused when death is talked about like this. One moment it sounds like he is talking about the physical death of a person’s body, then in the next, it sounds like he is talking about dying to sin, and having the grace to accept dying to sin.

Does this sound right? Does anyone have any insight as to what he could have meant by practicing dying over and over again?


Generally speaking, that means letting go of the part of yourself that is not destined for heaven: your self-identification with your career, your accomplishments, your titles, your social group, your status, your love of comfort and of your material possessions, your expectation that you’re in control of your own life and that your time belongs to you, that kind of thing.

When the time comes for physical death, all these other kinds of “death” are also forced upon us. As death approaches, we need to be able to peacefully and willingly let go of everything we can’t take with us. This is also what is needed to become holy. That is why refusing to do it is spiritual immaturity, and why waiting until the matter is forced upon us is foolishness. Death does not always give notice that it is coming. We should always be ready for it, like the wise virgins who had enough oil for their lamps.

We become so attached to the passing things of this world that letting them go for the sake of the eternal is something that takes both will and some serious practice. To be fruitful, these little deaths must not just renounce passing things, but must do so out of love of the eternal. It is done by relying on God in the practice of penance, prayer, almsgiving, and other forms of positive self-denial, in pursuit of the virtues, and in order to put our whole selves at God’s disposal.

That is how I would interpret that homily. If I could just do it, I’d be all set. :rolleyes:


There is alot of wisdom in this post. In 2003, I found myself dying during chemo for cancer. All these things went through my head. This detachment goes right to the soul and trusting in our Lord to take care of our loved ones and giving ours lives to Him should be practiced daily so it is not a shock when the final battle comes. Great post. Tim


Hi cknick,

Without hearing the homily, I can only surmise that father was referring to dying to sin, and to the attachements to sin.

I might also take it that we should not fear actual death, as it is simply a bridge to everlasting joy. People my age sometime sit up and take notice when death is mentioned in the homily.

Blessings to you and yours.


How would this be practiced over and over again? What would that look like? If I were to guess, it would be…

Making sacrifices of different kinds (quietly.)
Detaching from material possessions.
Asking to do Gods will, and letting go of your desire to do your own.
Increase of prayer life.
Increasing mercy and forgiveness toward others.
Practicing poverty, chastity and obedience.

I believe that God wants us to exercise free will to choose to let go of things in order to move closer to Him. I don’t know how this process could be forced and still look like free will. In other words to die to self is clearly a selfless act for the the love of God, which is based upon freedom-right?


You might say that the ancient Egyptians understood something that we modern types don’t . Our whole life on on earth is pretty much about preparing for our physical death. …unless, of course, if the Lord returns first.

But the way we should go about preparing for death is going to vary due to our circumstances. A newborn baby, a newly married man, and an old woman suffering from a fatal disease are all in very different places. Any kind of “death” that we must practice is really to make room for something better.

The baby has to die to dependence on his mother and move to dependence on God. (Granted, this will take many years to achieve.) The young married man needs to die to selfishness so that he may become one with his spouse. But he’s not ready to give up all good things in this world because his wife and children are going to need them. The old woman has to die to pretty much all good things in this life (to family members, to work, to processions, and to life itself) in order to be present with the Lord in heaven.


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