Merton believes that the modern world is death-oriented in the sense of death is its goal; it is manifested by money, technology, and pervasive ideas all being more valuable than living people. However, death as a goal can be seen as a positive thing when it is put in the context of love and grace.
According to Merton, as a person grows and matures, they discover that by dismissing their desire to self-satisfy and devoting themselves to another, they experience life on a deeper level. In other words, with the ‘death’ of the trend to self-satisfaction life transcends itself; the ego ‘dies’ and life affirms itself in dedication to others. Such death is the fruit of life, and, ultimately, its goal.
However, people die in a literal way, too, and for a Christian, the end of life – with him being exhausted from giving himself totally to love – is a culminating gift. The death of Christ makes the death of a man not a sinful but a victorious and liberating act; a man surrenders his life into the hands of God with glad acceptance and goes peacefully.