One of the problems of being an aging and solitary celibate is not having a wife or superior to nag you about visiting the doctor; I wasn't too well the other week, in fact I had a few symptoms that suggested I might be quite ill but they have passed now but these things get one thinking a bit about death. Most priests either die in a nursing home or are found dead when parishioners turn up for Mass and there is no one to say it. Death is the only certain fact in all of our lives.
Father Hugh Thwaites used to tell priests, "most priests go to hell", it is not original it is patristic. St Theresa apparently said that the road to hell is paved with the skulls of bishops, and presumably after an encounter with an obdurate Parish Priest, also said that their skulls too served the same purpose.
Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell have passed from the thinking of most Catholics, I don't think Eschatology features highly in the theological formation of most priests. Christ as the dredde Lord with woundes redde will come to judge the quick and the dedde is not an idea at the forefront of contemporary Christology.
Judgement is the bite of Jesus' own teaching, it seems to be the subject of half of his parables, and so much of the rest of the New Testament is about Heaven and union with Christ. In contrast neither seems to be a significant part of either preaching or evangelisation today. The reason is obvious: today most people do not believe in a personal God and for most belief in this life is all, and for those who do believe in God, God is love and will not reject anything he has created. Therefore any talk of anything beyond death is unreal, obscurantist, rather hard, so much for Christ!
Father Lucie-Smith discusses a letter of Fr Andrew Pinsent, both are priests of my diocese, in which Fr Andrew suggests that this presents a serious problem in our participation in the “drama of salvation”. I agree with both and would add that a loss of eschatogical teaching is indicative of a lack of hope in today's Church.
The great divide between Christians and the rest of mankind is, or should be, our hope. Christ does something momentous, he changes our very anthropology. Life for us does not end in decomposition or an urnful of ash but in our eternal Life: Death is not the end! Neither is our life, or what we do in it, inconsequential but each decision, each action has momentous consequences.
A loss of the eschatological really does mean we have nothing to say to anyone, for ultimately our message is about redemption and salvation. centred not just on the Resurrection of Christ but ours too and his coming as judge of the living and the dead. If we are evangelise effectively then we need to clarify our message of what salvation means