St. Peter Damian describes the Hour of Death

November 27, 2021 • 3 min

From The Sinner’s Guide, page 229
By Venerable Louis of Granada

Still more terrible is the picture of the death of the sinner given by St. Peter Damian.

Let us try to represent to ourselves, the terror which fills the soul of the sinner at the hour of death and the bitter reproaches with which conscience assails him.

The commandments he has despised and the sins he has committed appear before him to haunt him by their presence.

He sighs for the time which he has squandered, and which was given to him to do penance; he beholds with despair the account he must render before the dread tribunal of God.

He longs to arrest the moments, but they speed relentlessly on, bearing him nearer and nearer to his doom.

If he look back his life seems but a moment, and before him is the limitless horizon of eternity.

He weeps bitterly at the thought of the unspeakable happiness which he has sacrificed for the fleeting pleasures of the flesh.

Confusion and shame overwhelm him when he sees he has forfeited a glorious place among the angelic choirs, through love for his body, which is about to become the food of worms.

When he turns his eyes from the abode of these beings of light to the dark valley of this world, he sees how base and unworthy are the things for which he has rejected immortal glory and happiness.

Oh! could he but regain a small portion of the time he has lost, what austerities, what mortifications he would practise!

What is there that could overcome his courage? What vows would he not offer, and how fervent would be his prayers!

But while he is revolving these sad thoughts the messengers of death appear in the rigid limbs, the dark and hollow eyes, the heaving breast, the foaming lips, the livid face.

And as these exterior heralds approach every thought, word, and action of his guilty life appear before him. Vainly does he strive to turn his eyes from them; they will not be banished.

On one side—and this is true of every man’s death—Satan and his legions are present, tempting the dying man, in the hope of seizing his soul even at the last minute.

On the other side are the Angels of Heaven, helping, consoling, and strengthening him. And yet it is his own life that will decide the contest between the spirits of darkness and the Angels of light.

In the case of the good, who have heaped up a treasure of meritorious works, the victory is with the Angels of light.

But the impious man, whose unexpiated crimes are crying for vengeance, rejects the help that is offered to him; yields to despair; and as his unhappy soul passes from his pampered body the demons are ready to seize it and bear it away.

What stronger proof does man require of the wretched condition of the sinner, and what more does he need to make him avoid a career which ends so deplorably?

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