941. The fear of death perplexes many. Where does this fear come from in people if they have before them the whole future?
“This fear is misplaced, but what do you expect? People have been thoroughly brainwashed since childhood to believe in heaven and hell, and who have retained this belief, along with the notion that most likely they will go to the latter, because whatever belongs to human life is a mortal sin for the soul, are understandably fearful. However, most people who are indoctrinated at an early age manage to throw it aside when they grow up, i.e. if they are capable of forming a little judgment. They become atheists or materialists because they are unable to accept it. Thus, the natural effect, though unintentional, of such teaching is to make people believe that there is nothing beyond this present life. People who persist in their mistaken childhood beliefs fear eternal fire that burns without destroying.”
“Death should not instill fear in virtuous persons because, with faith, they have the certainty of a future life. Hope leads them to expect a better life than the present one, and charity, which has guided their actions, gives them the assurance that they will not encounter anyone that they may have reason to dread in the spirit world.” (See no. 730)
Carnally minded people, more attracted by physical life than by the spiritual one, only know material pains and pleasures. The only happiness they feel is in fleeting satisfaction of desires. Their minds, constantly occupied with the difficulties of the present life and painfully affected by them, are tortured with perpetual anxiety. For such individuals, the thought of death is terrifying because of doubts about the future, and because they have to leave all their feelings and hopes behind when they leave Earth.
Spiritually minded people, who have raised themselves above the artificial wants created by the passions, experiences a joy that is unknown to the carnally minded, even in this lower life. The moderation of their desires calms their spirits and gives them serenity. Happy in the good they do, life has no disappointments for them, and its upsets glide over their consciousness lightly, without leaving any painful impression.
942. Some persons may find this advice somewhat mundane. Won’t they see them as being commonplace, and hackneyed truths? Won’t they say that the true secret to happiness is being able to endure one’s misfortunes?
“Many people adopt this view, but some are similar to individuals who fall ill and demand to be cured without changing their habits. Although their physicians prescribe corrective diets they continue the indulgences that aggravated their conditions in the first place.”