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Catechism of the Catholic Church

The meaning of Christian death

1010 Because of Christ, Christian death has a positive meaning: "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." 576 "The saying is sure: if we have died with him, we will also live with him. 577 What is essentially new about Christian death is this: through Baptism, the Christian has already "died with Christ" sacramentally, in order to live a new life; and if we die in Christ's grace, physical death completes this "dying with Christ" and so completes our incorporation into him in his redeeming act:

It is better for me to die in (eis) Christ Jesus than to reign over the ends of the earth. Him it is I seek - who died for us. Him it is I desire - who rose for us. I am on the point of giving birth .... Let me receive pure light; when I shall have arrived there, then shall I be a man. 578

1011 In death, God calls man to himself. Therefore the Christian can experience a desire for death like St. Paul's: "My desire is to depart and be with Christ. " 579 He can transform his own death into an act of obedience and love towards the Father, after the example of Christ: 580

My earthly desire has been crucified; . . . there is living water in me, water that murmurs and says within me: Come to the Father. 581

I want to see God and, in order to see him, I must die. 582

I am not dying; I am entering life. 583

Notes:

576 Phil 1:21.

577 2 Tim 2:11.

578 St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Rom., 6, 1-2: Apostolic Fathers, II/2, 217-220.

579 Phil 1:23.

580 Cf. Lk 23:46.

581 St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Rom., 6, 1- 2: Apostolic Fathers, II/2, 223-224.

582 St. Teresa of Avila, Life, chap. 1.

583 St. Therese of Lisieux, The Last Conversations.

English Translation of the Cathechism of the Catholic Church for the United States of America © 1997, United States Catholic Conference, Inc.

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