Do you see death as a blessing? It is an intriguing question, especially for November – The Month of All Souls. St. Ambrose has some interesting ideas as we see below.
Let us show Christ crucified in our lives.
The Apostle tells us: The world is crucified to me, and I to the world. We are to understand that this death by crucifixion takes place in this life and that this death is a blessing. So he goes on to urge us to bear the death of Jesus with us in our bodies, for whoever bears the death of Jesus in his body will bear also in his body the life of the Lord Jesus.
Death must be active within us if life also is to be active within us. “Life” is life after death, a life that is a blessing. This blessing of life comes after victory. The victory when the contest is over. The victory when the law of our fallen nature no longer rebels against the law of our reason. The victory when we no longer need to struggle against the body that leads to death, for the body already shares in victory. It seems to me that this “death” is more powerful than “life.” I accept the authority of the Apostle when he says: Death is, therefore, active within us, but life also is active within you.
Yet the death of this one man was building up life for countless multitudes of peoples! He, therefore, teaches us to seek out this kind of death even in this life. Thus the death of Christ may shine forth in our lives. This blessed death by which our outward self is destroyed and our inmost self renewed. When our earthly dwelling crumbles away and a home in heaven opens before us.
The person who cuts himself off from this fallen nature of ours, and frees himself from its chains, is imitating death. These are the bonds spoken of by the Lord through Isaiah: Loose the bonds of injustice, untie the thongs of the yoke, set free the oppressed, and break every yoke of evil.
The Lord allowed death to enter this world so that sin might come to an end. He gave us the resurrection of the dead so that our nature might not end once more in death. Death was to bring guilt to an end, and the resurrection was to enable our nature to continue forever.
“Death” in this context is a passover to be made by all mankind. You must keep facing it with perseverance. It is a passover from corruption, from mortality to immortality, from rough seas to a calm harbor. The word “death” must not trouble us; the blessings that come from a safe journey should bring us joy. What is death but the burial of sin and the resurrection of goodness? Scripture says: Let my soul die among the souls of the just. Let me be buried with the just, so that I may cast off my sins and put on the grace of the just. Let me be like those who bear the death of Christ with them, in their bodies and their souls.
(St. Ambrose; Cap. 3, 9; 4, 15: CSEL 32, 710. 716-717)