In his living and in his dying. Michael knew the joy of contemplating God and the delight of living virtuously.
Without realizing it, such people are fulfilling St Benedict’s injuction to keep death daily before our eyes. They would be surprised if anybody called them morbid; rather, they would insist that they had found a better way to live. Keeping death daily before our eyes means thinking about how our own death could be happy. This not only enables us to accept the reality of death as part of life, it also helps us to live life now with full attention to what is truly important and so is an important part of finding happiness.
Apart from the usual features of daily care and nourishment, a happy death might involve: the absence of mind-numbing pain (but the total absence of pain is not essential); the absence of anger, either because it has been passed through to acceptance or because it never occurred; a sense of communion with loved ones and with God. Ideally, it also involves a conscious awareness of what is happening so that there can be a letting go- no greedy clinging or demanding things of others. It may include a grateful looking back at life and expressions of gratitude to loved ones.
Monastic Steps for a Fulfilling Life
Abbot Christopher Jamison – Weidenfield & Nicholson