Life is short, Death comes Quickly

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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

 

 Life is short, Death comes Quickly


by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

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What is your life? It is like vapor, which is dissipated by a blast of wind, and is seen no more. All know that they must die; but the delusion of many is that they imagine death as far off as if it were never to arrive. But Job tells us that the life of man is short: "Man born of a woman, living for a short time, . . . who cometh forth like a flower, and is destroyed" - (Job 14:1-2). This truth the Lord commanded Isaiah to preach to the people: "Cry . . . All flesh is grass . . . Indeed, the people is grass. The grass is withered, and the flower is fallen" - (Isaiah 40:6-8). The life of man is like the life of a blade of grass; death comes, the grass is dried up: behold, life ends, and the flower of all greatness and of all worldly goods falls off.

"My days", says Job, "have been swifter than a post" -  (Job 9:25). Death runs to meet us more swiftly than a post, and we at every moment run towards death. Every step, every breath brings us nearer to our end. "What I write," says Jerome, "is so much taken away from life". "During the time I write, I draw near to death". "We all die, and, like the waters that return no more, we fall into the earth" - (2Kings 14:14). Behold how the stream flows to the sea, and the passing waters never return! Thus, my brother, your days pass by, and you approach death. Pleasures, amusements, pomps, praises, and acclamations pass away; and what remains? "Only the grave remaineth for me" - (Job 17:1). We shall be thrown into a grave, and there we shall remain to rot, stripped of all things. At the hour of death the remembrance of the delights enjoyed, and of all the honors acquired in this life, will serve only to increase our pain and our lack of confidence of obtaining eternal salvation. Then the miserable worldling will say: "My house, my gardens, my fashionable furniture, my pictures, my garments, will in a little time be no longer mine, and only the grave remains for me".

Ah! At that hour all earthly goods are viewed only with pain by those who have had an attachment for them. And this pain will serve only to increase the danger of their eternal salvation; for we see by experience, that persons attached to the world wish at death to speak only of their sickness, of the physicians to be called to attend them, and of the remedies which may restore their health. When any one speaks of the state of the soul, they soon grow weary, and beg to be allowed to repose. They complain of headache, and say that it pains them to hear any one speak. And if they sometimes answer, they are confused, and know not what to say. It often happens that the confessor gives them absolution, not because he knows that they are disposed for the sacrament, but because it is dangerous to defer it. Such is the death of those who think but little of death.

 

Prayer

Ah, my God and Lord of infinite majesty! I am ashamed to appear before Thee. How often have I dishonored Thee by preferring to Thy grace a sordid pleasure, a little dust, the indulgence of anger, caprice, or vanity! I adore and kiss, O my Redeemer, Thy holy wounds, which I have inflicted by my sins; but through these wounds I hope for pardon and salvation. Make me, O my Jesus, understand the great injury I have done Thee in leaving Thee, the fountain of every good, to drink putrid and poisoned waters! Of all the offences I have given Thee nothing now remains but pain, remorse of conscience, and fruits for hell. “Father, I am not worthy to be called Thy child” - (Luke 15:21). My Father! Do not cast me off. It is true that I no longer merit the grace which would make me Thy child; but Thou hast died to pardon me. Thou hast said: “Turn ye to Me, and I will turn to you” - (Zechariah 1:3). I give up all that gratifies me, I renounce all the pleasures that the world can give me, and I turn to Thee. Pardon me for the sake of the Blood which has been shed for me; I repent with my whole heart of all the insults I have offered to Thee. I repent, and I love Thee above all things. I am not worthy to love Thee; but Thou dost not refuse the love of a heart that has once despised Thee. Thou didst purposely abstain from taking me out of life when I was in sin, that I might love Thee. I wish to love Thee during the remainder of my life, and I wish to love nothing but Thee. Assist me; give me holy perseverance, and Thy holy love.

Mary, my refuge! Recommend me to Jesus Christ.

Amen