The moment when a person is about to leave this earth for the next world is of vital importance. The Church, which has not always been very diligent in getting Christians to stop sinning and committing crimes during their lifetime, knows this.
This is why it has instituted what is known as the last sacraments or â€˜Extreme Unctionâ€™, in order to prepare Christians for the long journey ahead of them. The priest encourages the dying person to think about the essentials; he explains that it is time to look back at their life, to renew the faith buried deep within them and to ask the Creator to forgive their sins.
Is he right to do this? Yes, even though he may not know all the reasons for what he does, the priest is being faithful to a very ancient tradition. Those who leave their physical body without preparation â€“ or who have never believed in the existence of God or of the next world â€“ endure fearful sufferings after death and wander for a long time in the shadowy regions beyond.
This means that people who encourage others in the idea that there is nothing beyond the grave are doing them a very great wrong. On the pretext of freeing them from an absurd belief, they are condemning them to hardships that are often far worse than any they have had to endure on earth.