On the Death of the Sinner

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The Roman Legions of Titus were the Right Arm of God, in the Destruction of Jerusalem, in 70 AD

 

For the Days shall come upon Thee, and Thy Enemies shall Cast
a Trench about Thee, and Compass Thee Round, and Straiten Thee on
every Side, and Beat Thee Flat to the Ground, and Thy Children who are in
Thee: and they shall not leave in Thee a Stone upon a Stone: because
thou hast not Known, the Time of thy Visitation - Luke 19:43-44

 

On the Death of the Sinner

by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

Seeing from a distance the City of Jerusalem, in which the Jews were soon to be Put-to Death, Jesus Christ Wept over it. "Videns civitatem flevit super illam". Our Merciful Redeemer Wept at the consideration-of the Chastisement which was soon to be Inflicted-on the City, and which He Foretold-to her Inhabitants (Destruction of Jerusalem). "Thy Enemies shall Cast a Trench about Thee". Unhappy City! thou shalt One Day see thyself Encompassed-by Enemies, who shall Beat thee Flat to the Ground, and thy Children in Thee, and shall not leave in thee, a Stone-upon a Stone. Most Beloved Brethren, this Unhappy City is a Figure of the Soul of a Sinner, who, at the Hour of Death, shall find himself Surrounded-by his Enemies:

First (1st), by Remorse of Conscience;
Secondly (2nd), by the Assaults of the Devils; and
Thirdly (3rd), by the Fears of Eternal (∞) Death.

 

First Point
The Sinner at Death shall be Tortured
by Remorses of Conscience

"Their Soul shall Die in a Storm" - Job 36:14. The Unhappy Sinners who Remain-in Sin, Die in a Tempest, with which God has 'Beforehand', Threatened them. "Behold, the Whirlwind of the Lord's Indignation shall Come-forth, and a Tempest shall Break-out and Come-upon the Head of the Wicked" - Jeremiah 23:19. At the Commencement-of his Illness, the Sinner is not Troubled by Remorse or Fear, because his Relatives, Friends, Physicians, and All, tell him that his Sickness is not Dangerous; thus he is Deceived, and Hopes to Recover. But, when his Illness increases, and Malignant Symptoms, the Harbingers of approaching Death, begin to appear; then the Storm, with which the Lord has Threatened the Wicked, shall 'Commence'. "When sudden Calamity shall Fall on you, and Destruction, as a Tempest, shall be at Hand" - Proverbs 1:27. This Tempest shall be formed, as-well-by the Pains of Sickness, as-by the Fear of being Obliged-to Depart from this Earth, and to Leave all Things; but still more by the Remorses of Conscience, which shall Place-before his Eyes, all the Irregularities of his Past Life. "They shall come with Fear, at the Thought of their Sins, and their Iniquities shall Stand-against them, to Convict them" - Wisdom 4:20. Then shall his Sins rush-upon his Mind, and fill him with Terror. His Iniquities shall Stand-against him to Convict him, and, without the Aid of other Testimony, shall Assail him, and Prove that he deserves Hell.

The Dying Sinner will Confess his Sins; but, according to Saint Augustine, "The Repentance which is Sought from a Sick Man, is Infirm". And Saint Jerome says, that of a Hundred Thousand (105) Sinners, who continue till Death in the State of Sin, scarcely One (1) shall be Saved. "Vix de centum millibus, quorum mala vita fuit, meretur in morte a Deo indulgentiam, unus". Saint Vincent Ferrer writes, that it is a Greater Miracle to Save such Sinners, than to Raise the Dead to-Life. "Majus miraculum est, quod male viventes faciant bonum finem, quam susitare mortuos". They shall feel convinced-of the Evil they have done; they will Wish, but shall not be Able, to Detest it. Antiochus undertood the Malice of his Sins when he said: "Now I remember the Evils that I did in Jerusalem" - 1Maccabees 6:12. He remembered his Sins, but did not Detest them. He Died in Despair, and Oppressed with Great Sadness saying: "Behold I Perish with Great Grief in a Strange Land" - 1Maccabees 6:13. According to Saint Fulgentius, the same happened to Saul at the Hour of Death; he remembered his Sins; he Dreaded the Punishment which they Deserved; but he did not Detest them. "Non odit quod fecerat, sed timiut quod nolebat".

Chained and Bound by Sins

Oh! how Difficult is it for a Sinner, who has slept Many Years in Sin, to Repent sincerely at the Hour of Death, when his Mind is Darkened, and his Heart is Hardened! "His Heart shall be as Hard as a Stone, and as Firm as a Smith's Anvil" - Job 41:15. During Life, instead of Yielding-to the Graces and Calls of God, he became more Obdurate, as the Anvil is Hardened by Repeated Strokes of the Hammer. "A Hard Heart shall Fear Evil at the Last" - Ecclesiasticus 3:27. By Loving Sin till Death, he has Loved the Danger of his Damnation, and therefore God will Justly permit him to Perish in the Danger in which he Wished-to Live, till Death.

Saint Augustine says, that he who is Abandoned-by Sin before he Abandons it, will Scarcely Detest it, as he ought, at the Hour of Death; for he will then Detest it, not through a Hatred-of Sin, but through Necessity. "Qui prius a peccato relinquitur, quam ipse relinquat, non libere, sed quasi ex necessitate condemnat". But how shall he be able to Hate-from his Heart, the Sins which he has Loved till Death? He must Love the 'Enemy', whom till then, he has Hated, and he must Hate the Person, whom he has till that Moment, Loved. Oh! what Mountains must he Pass! He shall probably meet with a Fate similar-to that of a certain Person, who kept in Confinement, a Great Number of Wild Beasts, in-order-to let them Loose-on the Enemies who might Assail him. But the Wild Beasts, as-soon-as he Unchained them, instead of Attacking his Enemies, Devoured himself. When the Sinner will Wish-to Drive-away his Iniquities, they will Cause his Destruction, either by Complacency-in Objects, till then he Loved, or by Despair-of Pardon, at the Sight-of their Numbers and Enormity. "Evil shall Catch the Unjust Man unto Destruction" - Psalm 139:12. Saint Bernard says, that at Death, the Sinner shall see himself Chained and Bound by his Sins. "We are your Works; we will not Desert you". We will not Leave you; we will Accompany you to Judgment, and will be your Companions for all Eternity (∞) in Hell.

 

Second Point
The Dying Sinner shall be Tortured
by the Assaults of the Devils

"The Devil is come down unto you, having Great Wrath, knowing that he hath but a Short Time" - Revelation 12:12. At Death, the Devil exerts all his Powers to Secure the Soul that is about to Leave this World; for he knows, from the Symptoms-of the Disease, that he has but Little Time, to Gain Her for Eternity (∞). The Council-of-Trent teaches, that Jesus Christ has left us the Sacrament of Extreme Unction as a most Powerful Defense against the Temptations of the Devil, at the Hour of Death. "Extremae Unctionis sacramento finem vitae tanquam firmissimo quodam praesidio munivit". And the Holy Council adds, that there is no Time in which the Enemy Combats against us, with so much Violence, in-order-to Effect our Damnation, and to make us Despair of the Divine Mercy, as at the End of Life. "Nullum tempus est, quo vehementius ille omnes suae versutiae nervos intendat ad perdendos nos penitus, et a fiducia, etiam, si possit, divinae misericordiae deturbandos, quam cum impendere nobis exitum vitae perspicet".

Oh! how Terrible are the Assaults and Snares of the Devil, against the Souls of Dying Persons, even though they have led a Holy Life! After his Recovery from a most Severe Illness, the Holy King Eleazar said that the Temptations by which the Devil Assails Men at Death, can be Conceived only by him who has Felt them. We Read in the Life of Saint Andrew Avellino, that in his Agony, he had so Fierce a Combat with Hell, that all the Religious present, were Seized with Trembling. They Perceived that, in Consequence-of the Agitation, his Face Swelled and became Black, all his Members Trembled, and a Flood of Tears gushed-from his Eyes. All began to Weep through Compassion, and were filled-with Terror at the Sight-of a Saint, Dying in such a Manner. But They were afterwards Consoled, when They saw that as-soon-as an Image-of Most Holy Mary was held before him, he became Perfectly Calm, and Breathed-forth his Blessed Soul with Great Joy.

 

Death and the Miser -
by BOSCH, Hieronymus -
from National Gallery of Art, Washington

Now, if this happens to the Saints, what shall become of Poor Sinners, who have Lived-in Sin till Death? At that Awful Moment, the Devil does not come-'Alone', to Tempt them in a Thousand Ways, in-order-to bring them to Eternal (∞) Perdition, but he Calls Companions to his Assistance. "Their Houses shall be Filled with Serpents" - Isaiah 13:21. When a Christian is about to Leave this World, his 'House' is Filled-with Devils, who Unite together, in-order-to Effect his Ruin. "All Her Persecutors have taken Her in the Midst of Straits" - Lamentations 1:3. All his Enemies will Encompass him in the Straits of Death. One will say: Be not Afraid, you will not Die of this Sickness! Another will say: You have been for so Many Years, Deaf to the Calls of God, and can you now expect that He will Save you? Another will ask: How can you Repair the Frauds of your Past Life, and the Injuries you have done to your Neighbor in his Property and Character? Another shall ask: What Hope can there be for you? do you not see that all your Confessions have been Null; that they have been made without True Sorrow, and without a Firm Purpose of Amendment? How can you now Repair them with this Heart, which you feel so Hard? Do you not see that you are Lost? And in the Midst-of these Straits and Attacks of Despair, the Dying Sinner, Full-of Agitation and Confusion, must Pass into Eternity (∞). "The People shall be Troubled . . . and they shall Pass" - Job 34:20.

 

Third Point
The Dying Sinner shall be Tortured
by the Fears of Eternal Death

Miserable, the Sick Man, who takes to his Bed in the State-of Mortal Sin! He that Lives-in Sin till Death, shall Die in Sin. "You shall Die in your Sin" - John 8:21. It is True that, in whatsoever Hour the Sinner is Converted, God Promises to Pardon him; but to no Sinner has God Promised the Grace of Conversion at the Hour of Death. "Seek ye the Lord, while He may be Found: call upon Him, while He is Near" - Isaiah 55:6. Then, there is for some Sinners, a Time when they shall 'Seek' God, and shall not 'Find' Him. "You shall Seek Me, and shall not Find Me" - John 7:34. The Unhappy Beings will go to Confession at the Hour of Death; they will Promise and Weep, and ask Mercy of God, but without Knowing what they do. A Man who sees himself under the Feet-of a Foe, Pointing a Dagger to his Throat, will Shed Tears, ask Pardon, and Promise to Serve his Enemy as a Slave, during the Remainder-of his Life. But, will the Enemy Believe him? No; he will Feel Convinced, that his Words are not Sincere - that his Object is to Escape-from his hands, and that, should he be Pardoned, he will become more Hostile than ever. In like Manner, how can God Pardon the Dying Sinner, when He sees that all his Acts of Sorrow, and all his Promises, Proceed not from the Heart, but from a Dread of Death and of Approaching Damnation?

In the Recommendation-of the Departing Soul, the Assisting Priest Prays to the Lord, saying: Recognize, O Lord, Thy Creature. But God Answers: I Know that he is My Creature; but instead of Regarding Me as his Creator, he has Treated Me as an Enemy. The Priest continues his Prayer, and says: Remember not his Past Iniquities. I would, replies the Lord, Pardon all the Past Sins of his Youth; but he has continued to Despise Me till this Moment -the very Hour of his Death. "They have Turned their Back to Me, and not their Face: and in the Time of their Affliction, they will say: Arise, and Deliver us. Where are the gods, whom thou hast made thee? let them Arise and Deliver thee in the Time of thy Affliction" - Jeremiah 2:27-28. You, says the Lord, have Turned-your-Back upon Me till Death; and do you now want Me to Deliver you from Vengeance? Invoke your own gods - the Creatures, the Riches, the Friends you Loved more than you Loved Me. Call them now to come to your Assistance, and to Save you from Hell, which is Open to Receive you. It now Justly belongs to Me, to take Vengeance on the Insults you have Offered Me. You have Despised My Threats against Obstinate Sinners, and have Paid no Regard-to them. "Revenge is Mine, and I will Repay them in due Time, that their Foot may Slide" - Deuteronomy 32:35. The Time of My Vengeance is now Arrived; it is but Just to Execute it. This is Precisely what Happened-to a certain Person in Madrid who led a Wicked Life, but, at the Sight-of the Unhappy Death of a Companion, went to Confession, and Resolved-to enter a Strict Religious Order. But, in Consequence-of having Neglected-to put his Resolution into Immediate Execution, he Relapsed into his Former Irregularities. Being reduced-to Great Want, he Wandered-about the World, and Fell Sick at Lima. From the Hospital in which he took Refuge, he sent-for a Confessor, and Promised-again to Change his Life, and to enter Religion. But, having Recovered-from his Illness, he Returned-to his Wickedness; and Behold! the Vengeance of God Fell-upon him. One Day, his Confessor, who was a Missionary, in passing-over a Mountain, heard a Noise, which appeared to be the Howling-of a Wild Beast. He drew near the place from which the Noise proceeded, and saw a Dying Man, half-Rotten, and Howling through Despair. He Addressed-to him some Words of Consolation. The Sick Man, opening his Eyes, recognized the Missionary, and said: Have you too come to Witness the Justice of God? I am the Man who made my Confession in the Hospital of Lima. I then Promised to Change my Life, but have not done so; and now I Die in Despair. And thus the Miserable Man, amid these Acts of Despair, Breathed-forth his Unhappy Soul. These Facts are related by Father Charles Bovio - Part III, example 9.

Let us Conclude the Discourse. Tell me, Brethren, were a Person in Sin, seized-with Apoplexy, and Instantly Deprived of his Senses, what Sentiments of Pity would you feel at seeing him Die in this State, without the Sacraments, and without Signs-of Repentance. Is not he a Fool, who, when he has Time to be Reconciled-with God, Continue-in Sin, or Returns-to his Sins, and thus Exposes himself to the Danger of Dying suddenly, and of Dying in Sin? "For at what Hour you think not, the Son of Man will come" - Luke 12:40. An Unprovided Death, which has Happened-to so many, may also Happen-to each of us. And it is Necessary to Understand, that all who Lead a Bad Life, meet with an Unprovided Death, though their Illness may Allow them some Time to Prepare-for Eternity (∞); for the Days of that Mortal Illness are Days of Darkness - Days of Confusion, in which it is Difficult, and even Morally Impossible to Adjust a Conscience Burdened-with many Sins. Tell me, Brethren, if you were Now at the Point of Death, given over by Physicians, and in the Last Agony, how Ardently would you Desire another Month, or another Week, to Settle the Accounts you must Render-to God? And God gives you this Time, He Calls you, and Warns you of the Danger of Damnation to which you are Exposed. Give yourself, then, Instantly to God. What do you Wait-for? Will you Wait till He sends you to Hell? "Walk whilst you have the Light, that the Darkness Overtake you not" - John 12:35. Avail yourselves of this Time and this Light, which God gives you at this Moment, and now, while it is in your Power, Repent of all your Past Sins; for a Time shall come when you will be no Longer able-to Avert the Punishment which they Deserve.

 

- End of Liguori Sermon -

 

What Ordinarily Happens
at the Death of Men
of the World

 

Prayer for the Graces Necessary for Salvation

Eternal Father, Your Son has Promised that You will Grant us all the Graces which we ask for in His Name. In the Name and Merits of Jesus Christ, I ask the following Graces for myself and for all Mankind. Please give me a Lively Faith in all that the Church Teaches. Enlighten me, that I may know the Vanity of the Goods of this World, and the Immensity of the Infinite Good that You are. Make me also see the Deformity of the Sins I have Committed, that I may Humble myself and Detest them as I should.

Give me a Firm Confidence of Receiving Pardon for my Sins, Holy Perseverance, and the Glory of Heaven, through the Merits of Jesus Christ, and the Intercession of Mary. Give me a Great Love for You, that will Detach me from the Love of this World, and of myself, so that I may Love none other, but You.

I Beg of You a Perfect Resignation to Your Will. I Offer myself entirely to You, that You might do with me, and all that belongs to me, as You Please.

I Beg of You a Great Sorrow for my Sins.

I ask You to give me the Spirit of True Humility and Meekness, that I may Accept with Peace, and even with Joy, all the Contempt, Ingratitude and Ill-treatment I may receive. At the same time, I also ask You to give me Perfect Charity, which shall make me wish well to those who have done Evil to me.

Give me Love for the Virtue of Mortification, by which I may Chastise my Rebellious Senses and oppose my Self-Love. Give me a Great Confidence in the Passion of Jesus Christ and in the Intercession of Mary Immaculate. Give me a Great Love for the Blessed Sacrament, and a Tender Devotion and Love to Your Holy Mother. Give me, above all, Holy Perseverance, and the Grace always to Pray for it, especially in Time-of Temptation, and at the Hour-of Death.

Finally, I recommend to You the Holy Souls of Purgatory, my Relatives and Benefactors, and in a special manner I recommend to You all those who Hate me or who have in any way Offended me; I Beg You to Render them Good, for the Evil they have done or may wish to do me. Grant that, by Your Goodness, I may come One Day to sing Your Mercies in Heaven; for my Hope is in the Merits of Your Blood and in the Patronage of Mary. Mary, Mother of God, Pray to Jesus for me.

Amen

 

Ancient Miraculous Prayer to Saint Joseph
Patron of Departing Souls

This Prayer was found in the Fiftieth Year of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In 1505 it was sent from the Pope to Emperor Charles, when he was going into Battle. Whoever shall Read this Prayer, or Hear it, or Keep it about themselves, shall never Die a Sudden Death, or be Drowned, nor shall Poison take-effect on them; neither shall they Fall into the Hands of the Enemy, nor shall they be Burned in any Fire, nor shall they be Overpowered in Battle.

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O Saint Joseph, whose Protection is so Great, so Strong, so Prompt before the Throne of God, I Place in you, all my Interests and Desires.

O Saint Joseph, do Assist me by your Powerful Intercession, and Obtain for me from your Divine Son, all Spiritual Blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having Engaged here below your Heavenly Power, I may Offer my Thanksgiving and Homage to the most Loving of Fathers.

O Saint Joseph, I never Weary Contemplating you and Jesus Asleep in your Arms; I dare not approach while He Reposes near your Heart. Press Him in my name and Kiss His Fine Head for me, and ask Him to Return the Kiss when I Draw my Dying Breath, Saint Joseph, Patron of Departing Souls, Pray for us.

Amen

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Many Miracles have been attributed to this Daily Prayer.
Make this Prayer known everywhere . . .

 

Consecration to God thru Mary