I recently finished a powerful book called, "Preparation for Death" by St. Alphonsus Liguori. This book is filled with heavenly insight and thoughtful reflections to prepare yourself for the ultimate end that we all face: death. He quotes several saintly men and women and refers quite often to the early Church fathers. His main focus for the book is to prepare his reader for what is bound to happen to all of us. The first several pages speak of the nastiness of death and that each and every one of us will eventually become 'food for worms'(his words). He blatantly states that the room you die in could very well become a place of joy and happiness, where people might dance to a tune and completely forget about you, within a few weeks of your soul leaving your body. Being that I tend to relate all of my subjects and readings to manliness, I thought to myself 'Is it a manly trait to have the looming fear of death upon you?' I think that the answer is a yes and a no.
A man must always remember that sooner or later he will die, what he must also remember is that death is not something to be feared, but rather something to be celebrated. In J.R.R. Tolkien's less known work, "The Silmarillion" elves are higher beings, comparative to angels, who are immortal. The elves are envious of the human beings because of the gift of death. “And amid all the splendours of the World, its vast halls and spaces, and its wheeling fires, Ilúvatar chose a place for their habitation in the Deeps of Time and in the midst of the innumerable stars.” The men became envious of the elves for their immortality and the elves envious of men for their ability to die. If mortal men were granted the so called 'gift' of immortality would it really be a gift? Life is a gift to us from our Creator, we are to appreciate it and treat it with respect and dignity, but we are all sojourners in this world. Our home is not of this world.
I think a healthy dose of realism would be advantageous for most in today's 'hustle and bustle' world of monotonous and readily available entertainment. Death is much more than a cloaked, dark figure holding a sickle, it is the moment in which our eternity is decided upon. So preparation for that moment must be manly. A man wouldn't go into war without training constantly and knowing his enemies and allies. Why would we treat death, which is the last battle we face here on earth, with such disrespect by not preparing? So, gentlemen, man up and prepare for the moment in which you meet your Creator face to face. Learn the philosophy and theology of the after-life. Daily prepare yourself, your family and those in your care with prayer and the Sacraments. The Catholic Church has the tools to send people to heaven, the winning side of death, so let that natural want for competition come forth and be on the winning side of this adventure!