Among Beethoven's masterful innovations to music was making the final movement of a symphony as strong, if not stronger, than the first movement. In the prior Baroque and Classical periods, the opening of the symphony was the tour de force and each movement slowly subsided in energy and ingenuity. Most everyone is familiar with the first movement of Beethoven's 5th, in particular the motif dit dit dit DAH. Following the tradition, Beethoven designed the opening to captivate the listener, to draw him in. But listen to the fourth and final movement of the Symphony no.5 in C Minor (which happens to be one of my favorite pieces in all classical music). People did not walk out of Beethoven's music hall ready for bed. They were exhilarated.
Is this not an analogy for the Catholic life? Our baptism is the captivating opening movement. We are drawn in. The crescendo is initiated. And just as that famous motif repeats throughout Beethoven's fifth symphony, the promptings of grace inaugurated at baptism resonate through our life, bringing us peace and joy. At last, Catholics do not end their lives with a whimper, fading off into oblivion like the final movements of the earlier musical epochs. No, we end triumphantly. We are carried off to the ever-expanding Trinity from whence we came. Our life lived in baptism and through the sacraments on this earth continues on into the next, now glorified. The end of the Catholic life is even greater than the beginning, an ode to joy.