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Tuesday - Seventh Week after Pentecost

Death - The last agony

From book "Morning Meditations for all days of the year from texts of Saint Alphonsus of Liguori"... A cold sweat spreads itself over the sick man; hi...

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Morning Meditations

Saint Alphonsus

A cold sweat spreads itself over the sick man; his eyes grow dim; his pulse intermittent; his extremities become cold and he is stretched out on his bed like a corpse. He is now rapidly passing into Eternity.

O moment of death, upon which will depend an Eternity of happiness, or an Eternity of woe!

I. A cold sweat spreads itself over the sick man, his eyes become dim, his pulse intermittent, his extremities become cold, he stretches himself out like a corpse, and his agony begins. He is already rapidly passing into Eternity.

His breath fails, the breathing is scarcely noticeable, and death is at hand. The priest lights a blessed candle and places it in his hand, and begins to repeat for him acts suitable for the soul's immediate departure. O light, enlighten now our souls, for then thou wilt be of but little service to us when the time has gone for repairing the evil we have done!

O God, how guilty will our offences, and how empty will the vanities of this world appear in the light of the last candle!

The dying man expires; and in the same moment in which he breathes his last, time for him is ended, and Eternity begins. O moment which will decide an Eternity of happiness or an Eternity of woe!

O Jesus, mercy! Pardon me and so unite me to Thee that I may not at my last moment be able to lose Thee forever.

The soul being departed, the priest says to the bystanders: He is dead! Yes, he is dead—Requiescat in pace! May he rest in peace! He rests in peace if he has died in peace with God; but if not, he will never enjoy peace so long as God shall be God.

As soon as he is dead the news spreads around. One says: He was an honest man, but not very devout. Another: I wonder is he saved? His relatives and friends, to save their feelings, will not hear him spoken of, and wish those who mention him to speak of something else!

Thus, he who was the centre of conversation has become an object of horror for all. Go into his house, he is no longer there. His rooms, his bed, his furniture, are divided amongst others. And where is he? His body is in the grave, his soul in Eternity!

II. If you wish to see the dead man, open that grave; he is no longer in the bloom of health, no longer feasting, but a heap of corruption, in which are engendered multitudes of worms. These will soon eat away the lips and the cheeks, so that in a little while nothing more will remain but a fetid skeleton, which, in time, will fall to pieces, the head from the trunk, and the bones from one another.

See, then, to what it will one day be reduced, this body of ours, on account of which we so often offend God!

O Saints of God, you remembered this, and kept your bodies in subjection by mortification! Now your bones are venerated upon altars, and your souls are enjoying the sight of God, waiting for the day of final reward when your bodies will become your companions in glory, as they were formerly your companions in suffering.

Were I now in Eternity, what should I not wish to have done for God?

St. Camillus of Lellis, looking on the graves of the dead, was accustomed to say: "Oh, if these were alive, what would they not now do for eternal life? And I who am alive, what am I doing?"

O Lord, do not cast me away with the reprobate on account of my ingratitude! Others have offended Thee in the midst of darkness and ignorance, but I have offended Thee in the midst of light. Thou didst fully enlighten me to know the wrong 1 did in committing sin; and yet I closed my eyes to Thy lights, trampled on Thy graces, and turned my back upon Thee. Be not thou a terror unto me: Thou art my hope in the day of affliction (Jer. xvii. 17).

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