Life is short, Death comes Quickly
by Saint Alphonsus Liguori
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
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.
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
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
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".
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
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
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
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.
refuge! Recommend me to Jesus Christ.