We must be Prepared for Death Now;
Then it will be too Late!

4last.jpg (224113 bytes)
The Four Last Things and the Seven Deadly Sins - by BOSCH, Hieronymus - from Museo del Prado, Madrid . . . . . . .
The circular layout with God in the centre represents God's all seeing eye: No sin goes unnoticed. In the corners
of the image appear the "Four Last Things" (the last four stages of life): Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell.

 

The active study of the four last things
and the deep consideration of them,
is the thing that will keep you from sin.

--Saint Thomas More

 

 We must be Prepared for Death Now;
Then it will be too Late!


by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

When death arrives God does not tell us to prepare ourselves; He tells us now to be prepared. When death comes, it will be almost impossible, in that tempest and confusion, to give ease to a troubled conscience. This reason tells us; this God threatens, saying that then He will come, not to pardon, but to avenge, the contempt of His graces. "Revenge is mine, I will repay" - (Romans 12:19). It is, says Saint Augustine, a just punishment, that he who was unwilling, when he was able to save his soul, will not be able when he is willing. "But perhaps", you will say, "I may still be converted and saved." Would you throw yourself into a deep well, saying, "Perhaps I may not be drowned?" O God! how sin blinds the understanding, and deprives the soul of reason! When there is question of the body, men speak rationally, but when the soul is concerned, they speak like fools.

My brother, who knows? Is this point which you read the last warning that God sends you? Let us immediately prepare for death, that it may not come upon us without giving us time to prepare for judgment. Saint Augustine says that God conceals from us the last day of life, that we may be always prepared to die. Saint Paul tells us that we must work out our salvation, not only with fear, but also with trembling.

Saint Antoninus relates that a certain king of Sicily, to make one of his subjects understand the fear with which he sat on the throne, commanded him to sit at table with a sword suspended over him by a slender thread. The apprehension that the thread might give way filled him with so much terror that he could scarcely taste food.

We are all in like danger; for the sword of death, on which our eternal salvation depends, may at each moment fall upon us.

It is indeed a question of eternity. "If the tree fall to the south, or to the north, in what place soever it shall fall, there shall it be" - (Ecclesiastes 11:3). If, when death comes, we are found in the grace of God, oh with what joy shall we say: "I have secured all; I can never again lose God, I shall be happy forever!" But, if death finds the soul in sin, with what despair will it exclaim, "Therefore we have erred!" (Wisdom 5:6) - I have erred; and for my error there will be no remedy for all eternity!

The fear of an unhappy eternity made the venerable Father Avila, Apostle of Spain, say, when the news of death was brought to him: "Oh! That I had a little more time to prepare for death!" This fear made the Abbot Agatho, who spent so many years in penance, say at death: "What will become of me? Who can know the judgments of God?" Saint Arsenius, too, trembled at the hour of death, and being asked by his disciples why he was so much alarmed, he said: "My children this fear is not new to me; I have had it always during my whole life." Above all, holy Job trembled when he said: "What shall I do when the Lord shall rise to judge? And when He shall examine, what shall I answer Him?"

 

Prayer

Ah my God! Who has ever loved me more than Thou hast? And Whom have I despised and insulted more that I have insulted Thee? O Blood, O Wounds of Jesus, you are my hope. Eternal Father, look not upon my sins, but look at the wounds of Jesus; behold Thy Son dying through pain for my sake, and asking Thee to pardon me. I repent, O my Creator, of ever having offended Thee. I am sorry for it above all things.

Thou didst create me that I might love Thee, and I have lived as if Thou didst create me to offend Thee. For the love of Jesus Christ, pardon me and give me grace to love Thee. I have hitherto resisted Thy Will, but I will resist no longer, and will do whatsoever Thou commandest.

Thou commandest me to detest the outrages I have offered Thee; behold, I detest them, with my whole heart. Thou commandest me to resolve to offend Thee no more; behold, I resolve to lose my life a thousand times, rather than forfeit Thy grace. Thou commandest me to love Thee with my whole heart; yes, with my whole heart I love Thee, and I wish to love nothing else but Thee. Thou wilt henceforth be my only beloved, my only love. From Thee I ask, and from Thee I hope for holy perseverance. For the love of Jesus Christ, grant that I may be always faithful to Thee, and that I may always say to Thee, with St Bonaventure: “My beloved is one, my love is one.” I do not wish that my life be employed any longer in giving Thee displeasure; I wish to spend it only in weeping over the offences I have committed against Thee, and in loving Thee.

Mary, my Mother, pray for all who recommend themselves to thee, - pray to Jesus also for me.

Amen