The virtuous Christian soul does not fear death, but embraces it with joy

November 29, 2021 • 4 min

From The Sinner’s Guide, page 232
By Venerable Louis of Granada

Far, then, from fearing death, the just hail it as the hour of their deliverance and the beginning of their reward.

In his commentary on the Epistle of St. John St. Augustine writes: “It cannot be said that he who desires to be dissolved and to be with Christ endures death with patience, but rather that he endures life with patience and embraces death with joy.”

It is not, therefore, with cries and lamentations that the just man sees his end approaching, but, like the swan, which is said, to sing as death draws near, he departs this life with words of praise and thanksgiving on his lips.

He does not fear death, because he has always feared God, and he who fears God need fear nothing else.

He does not fear death, because his life has been a preparation for death, and he who is always armed and ready need not fear the enemy.

He does not fear death, because he has sought during life to secure in virtue and good works powerful advocates for that terrible hour.

He does not fear death, because he has endeavored, by devoted service, to incline his Judge in his favor.

Finally, he does not fear death, because to the just death is only a sweet sleep, the end of toil, and the beginning of a blessed immortality.

Nor can the accompanying accidents and pains of death alarm him, for he knows that they are but the throes and pangs in which he must be brought forth to eternal life.

He is not dismayed by the memory of his sins or the rigor of God’s justice, since he has Christ for his Friend and Advocate.

He does not tremble at the presence of Satan and his followers, for his Redeemer, who has conquered hell and death, stands at his side.

For him the tomb has no terrors, for he knows that he must sow a natural body in order that it may rise a spiritual body, that this corruptible must put on incorruption. [1 Cor. xv. 42, 44.]

Since, as we have already remarked, the end crowns the work, and, as Seneca tells us, the last day condemns or justifies the whole life, how can we, beholding the peaceful and blessed death of the just and the miserable departure of the wicked, seek for any other motive to make us embrace a life of virtue?

Of what avail will be the riches and prosperity which you may enjoy during your short stay in this life, if your eternity will be spent in the endless torments of hell?

Or how can you shrink from the temporary sufferings that will win for you an eternity of happiness?

Of what advantage are learning and skill, if the sinner use them only to acquire those things which flatter his pride, feed his sensuality, confirm him in sin, unfit him to practise virtue, and thus render death as bitter and unwelcome as his life was pleasant and luxurious?

We consider him a wise and skilful physician who prudently seeks by every fit means to restore the health of his patient, since this is the end of his science. So is he truly wise who regulates his life with a view to his last end, who constantly employs all the means in his power to fit himself for a happy death.

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