Some reasons why the death of sinners is most terrible

November 26, 2021 • 3 min

From The Sinner’s Guide, page 227
By Venerable Louis of Granada

CHAPTER XXIII.

THE TWELFTH PRIVILEGE OF VIRTUE: THE HAPPY DEATH OF THE JUST.

The end, it is said, crowns the work, and, therefore, it is in death that the just man’s life is most fittingly crowned, while the departure of the sinner is a no less fitting close to his wretched career.

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of the Saints,” [Ps. cxv. 5.] says the Psalmist, but “the death of the wicked is very evil.” [Ps. xxxiii. 22.]

Commenting upon the latter part of this text, St. Bernard says: “The death of the wicked is bad because it takes them from this world; it is still worse because it separates the soul from the body; and it is worst because it precipitates them into the fire of hell, and delivers them a prey to the undying worm of remorse.”

To these evils which haunt the sinner at the hour of death add the bitter regrets which gnaw his heart, the anguish which fills his soul, and the torments which rack his body.

He is seized with terror at the thought of the past; of the account he must render; of the sentence which is to be pronounced against him; of the horrors of the tomb; of separation from wife, children, and friends; of bidding farewell to the things he has loved with an inordinate and a guilty love—wealth, luxuries, and even the gifts of nature, the light of day and the pure air of heaven.

The stronger his love for earthly things has been, the more bitter will be his anguish in separating from them. As St. Augustine says, we cannot part without grief from that which we have possessed with love.

It was in the same spirit that a certain philosopher said that he who has fewest pleasures in life has least reason to fear death.

But the greatest suffering of the wicked at the hour of death comes from the stings of remorse, and the thought of the terrible future upon which they are about to enter.

The approach of death seems to open man’s eyes and make him see all things as he never saw them before.

“As life ebbs away,” says St. Eusebius, “man is free from all distracting care for the necessities of life. He ceases to desire honors, emoluments, or dignities, for he sees that they are beyond his grasp. Eternal interests and thoughts of God’s justice demand all his attention. The past with its pleasures is gone; the present with its opportunities is rapidly gliding away; all that remains to him is the future, with the dismal prospect of his many sins waiting to accuse him before the judgment-seat of the just God.”

“Consider,” the Saint again says, “the terror which will seize the negligent soul when she is entering eternity; the anguish with which she will be filled when, foremost among her accusers, her conscience will appear with its innumerable retinue of sins. Its testimony cannot be denied; its accusations will leave her mute and helpless; there will be no need to seek farther witnesses, for the knowledge of this life-long companion will confound her.”

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