Death is Certain,
But Nothing is Less Certain Than the Hour
Saint Alphonsus Liguori
certain that we shall die; but the
death is uncertain:
says the author who styles himself the ‘Idiot’, “is more certain than death;
but nothing is more uncertain than the hour of death.” My brother,
already fixed the year, the
hour, and the
you and I are to leave this earth and go into eternity; but the
unknown to us. To exhort us to be always prepared,
Jesus Christ tells us
that death will come unawares, and
like a thief in the night.
"The day of
the Lord shall so come as a thief in the night" - (1Thessalonians
5:2). He tells us
to be always vigilant; when we least expect Him,
He will come to judge us.
"At what hour you think not, the Son of Man will come"
- (Luke 12:40). Saint
Gregory says that, for our good, God conceals from us the
that we may always be prepared to die.
"Since, then," says Saint Bernard,
"death may take away life at all times and in all places, we ought, if we
wish to die well and save our souls, to live always in expectation of
know that they must die:
but the misfortune is, that many view
death at such
a distance, that they lose sight of it. Even the
old, the most
the most sickly, flatter themselves that they will live
longer. But how many, I ask, have we known, even in our own times, to
die suddenly - some sitting, some walking, some sleeping? It is certain that not
one of these imagined that he should die so
suddenly, and on that day on
which he died. I say, moreover, that of all who have gone to the other world
during the present year, no-one imagined that he should
end his days
this year! Few are the deaths which do not happen unexpectedly.
therefore, Christian soul, the
devil tempts you to
sin by saying, "Tomorrow
you will go to confession", let your answer be, "How
do I know but this will be the last day of my life? If this
hour, this moment, in which I would turn my back on God,
were the last of my life, so that I would have no time for
repentance, what would become of me for all eternity?"
many poor sinners has it happened, that in the act of feasting on the
of sin they were struck
dead and sent to
hell? "As fishes are taken with the
hook," says Ecclesiastes, "so men are taken in the evil time". The
evil time is that in which the
you that this misfortune will not happen to you, but you should answer
"If it should happen to me, what
will become of me for all eternity?"
the place in which I ought to be at this moment is not that in which I find
myself, but in hell, which I have so often merited by my sins! Thou hast had
so much patience with me, and hast waited for me, because Thou wishest me
not to be lost, but return to Thee by repentance. My God, I return to Thee;
I cast myself at Thy feet, and supplicate mercy. Have mercy on me, O God,
according to Thy great mercy.
to pardon me requires a great and extraordinary act of mercy, because I
offended Thee after I had been favored with a special light. Other sinners
also have offended Thee, but they have not received the light which Thou
gavest to me. But, in spite of all my sinfulness and ingratitude, Thou
commandest me to repent of my sins, and to hope for pardon. Yes, my
Redeemer, I am sorry with my whole heart for having offended Thee, and I
hope for pardon through the merits of Thy Passion.
Eternal Father! Pardon me for the sake of Jesus Christ! But it is not enough
to receive pardon; I desire also to love Thee, O Sovereign Good, and I offer
Thee henceforth to avoid not only grievous, but also venial offences. I will
fly from all evil occasions. Lead us not into temptation: for the love of
Jesus Christ, preserve me from the occasions in which I would offend Thee.
But deliver us from evil: deliver me from sin, and then chastise me as Thou
pleasest. I accept all infirmities, pains, and losses which Thou mayest be
pleased to send me: it is enough for me not to lose Thy grace and Thy love.
Ask, and you shall receive. Thou promisest to grant whatsoever we ask: I ask
these two graces - holy perseverance and the gift of Thy
O Mary, Mother of Mercy!
Thou dost pray for me: in thee do I put my trust.