"Ready to go"
Last month, I wrote a post on the significance of Confession in our lives. It was mainly addressed to those who have questioned the relevance of that Sacrament. I explained that Confession is primarily for the forgiveness of mortal sins, and restores us to a state of God's Grace. I made the general point that "we need to be in a state of grace when we die in order to go to heaven" simply to present a teaching that, in my experience, many people are unaware of.
An anonymous blogger gave a fuller picture of my statement by writing that it is "within the context of God's revelation of His love for us and of His invitation to join Him in eternal life... an expression of the way we live our lives in friendship with God... we don't go to confession to go to heaven, but to repair our relationship with God." Thanks, Anon, for pointing out that we don't approach Confession with an attitude of simply following rote rules or doing the bare minimum to get to Heaven. Rather, we go to Christ in Penance to grow in our friendship with Him, and thus, store up treasure in Heaven.
But, continuing with the point of how to prepare for Judgement, Searching for Holiness asked, "What about, say in the moments of death, a perfect act of contrition?" You probably meant to write "an act of perfect contrition". The Catechism teaches that perfect contrition "remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible" (#1452). If sacramental confession is not possible for the dying person, then the person should make some act of contrition ("Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner", e.g.) and entrust him/herself to the Mercy of God.
As Christians, we should always live in close friendship with Christ so that we are always 'ready to go' (to Heaven). To live in a state of Grace means to live in close friendship with Christ...to share in His life. It also means to be ready to go...at any moment. We hear about the rich man who stored up treasure for himself in today's Gospel (Lk 12:13-21). "But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you". We never know if tonight is the night our lives will be demanded of us.
We had a discussion along these lines last night in our youth group. While waiting for our pizza dinner to be delivered, we talked about Christ as our salvation, and about remaining in friendship with Him. The teens and I were saying that we always need to be prepared for death because we never know when our time will come. At the end of the discussion, we received the news that the pizza delivery man had been in a very serious car accident on the way over. We immediately prayed for him (I later learned that he is ok, just very much shaken). But, it was a real and profound example of what we were discussing.