Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Preparation for Death

Death is certain. “It is appointed to all men once to die.” On the other hand, the time and manner of our death are uncertain. Therefore, Jesus Christ exhorts us, “Be ye ready, for ye know not the hour when the Son of man cometh.” He says, “Be ye ready;” and, therefore, it is necessary not only to prepare for death when death comes, but we must be ready to embrace it in whatever manner and in whatever circumstances it may come to us. It is accordingly very desirable that every one, at least once a month, should make the following acts of devotion:

Behold, O my God! I am ready to embrace that death which Thou dost destine for me. From this time I embrace it, and I sacrifice my life in honor of Thy Majesty, and also in penance for my sins; being satisfied that this flesh, to please which I have so often offended Thee, should be devoured by worms, and be reduced to dust. O my Jesus! I unite the pains and agonies which I must then suffer to the pains and agonies which Thou, my Saviour didst suffer in Thy death. I accept death with all the circumstances Thou mayest appoint; I accept its time, whether it be near or distant; I accept the manner, whether in bed or out of it, whether sudden or not, and from that more or less painful illness which may please Thee. In everything I resign myself to Thy holy will. Give me strength to suffer all with patience.

What shall I render to the Lord for all the benefits He hath given to me?1 I thank Thee, O my God! first for the gift of faith, declaring that I desire to die a son of the holy Catholic Church. T thank Thee for not having caused me to die when I was in sin, and for having so often pardoned me with so much mercy. I thank Thee for so many lights of grace with which Thou hast sought to draw me to Thy love. I pray Thee to grant me to die after receiving the holy Viaticum, that, united with Thee, I may present myself at Thy tribunal. I do not deserve to hear from Thy mouth, Well done, good and faithful servant; because thou hast been faithful in a few things, I will set thee over many things; enter into the joy of thy Lord.2 I do not deserve it, for in nothing have I been perfectly faithful to Thee; but Thy death gives me hope that I shall be admitted to heaven, to love Thee there eternally, and with all my powers.

O my crucified Love! have mercy upon me; look upon me with that love with which Thou didst look upon me from the cross when dying for me. Remember not the sins of my youth and my ignorance, O Lord.3 My sins terrify me, but I am comforted by that cross, on which I see Thee dead through the love of me. “Behold the wood of the cross, on which hung the salvation of the world.”4 I desire to end my life, that I may cease to offend Thee; by the blood that was shed for me, pardon me all my sins before death comes upon me. “O blood of the Innocent, wash away the stains of the guilty.”5

My Jesus, I embrace Thy cross, and kiss the wounds of Thy holy feet, before which I desire to breathe my soul away. Leave me not at that last hour; “We pray Thee save Thy servants, whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood.”6 I love Thee with all my heart, I love Thee more than myself, and I repent with all my soul that I have displeased Thee. O Lord! I was lost, but Thou in Thy goodness hast delivered me from the world; receive, then, my soul from this hour, until that hour when it leaves the world. Therefore, I pray with St. Agatha, “Lord, Thou who hast taken from me the love of this world, receive my soul.”7 In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped; I shall not be confounded forever; Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth!8

O holy Virgin! help me at the moment of my death; holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for me a sinner, now and at the hour of my death; in thee, O Lady! have I hoped, I shall not be confounded forever. St. Joseph, my protector, obtain for me a holy death. My guardian angel, St. Michael the Archangel, defend me from the evil one in that last conflict. My holy patrons, and all saints in Paradise, succor me in that last hour. Jesus, Joseph, and Mary, be in my company at the hour of my death.

1“Quid retribuam Domino pro omnibus quse retribuit mihi?” -- Ps. cxv. 12.

2“Euge, serve bone et fidelis; quia super pauca fuisti fidelis, super multa te constituam; intra in gaudium Domini tui.” -- Matt. xxv. 21.

3“Delicta juventutis meæ et ignorantias meas ne memineris.” -- Ps. xxiv. 7.

4Ecce lignum crucis, in quo salus mundi pependit.

5O sanguis innocentis! lava sordes pœnitentis.

6Te ergo quæsumus, tuis famulis subveni, quos pretioso sanguine redemisti.

7Domine, qui abstulisti a me amorem sæculi, accipe animam meam.

8“In te, Domine, speravi; non confundar in aeternum; . . . redemisti me, Domine, Deus veritatis.” Ps. xxx. 2-6.


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