Meditations on Death and its terrible circumstances

April 5, 2022 • 4 min

#BibleCommentary #Death

From The Sinner’s Guide, page 78
By Venerable Louis of Granada

Consider, also, how uncertain is the hour of death. It generally comes when man is most forgetful of eternal things, overturning his plans for an earthly future, and opening before him the appalling vision of eternity. Therefore, the Holy Scriptures tell us that it comes as a thief in the night; that is, when men are plunged in sleep and least apprehensive of danger.

The forerunner of death is usually a grave illness with its attendant weariness, sufferings, and pains, which weaken the powers of the body and give entrance to the king of terrors. Just as an enemy who wishes to take a citadel destroys the outer fortifications, so death with its vanguard of sickness breaks down the strength of the body, and, as it is about to fall before the repeated assaults of its enemy, the soul, no longer able to resist, takes its flight from the ruins.

Who can express the anguish of the moment when the severity of the sickness, or the declaration of the physician, undeceives us and robs us of all hope of life?

The parting from all we hold dear then begins to rise before us. Wife, children, friends, relations, honors, riches are fast passing, with life, from our feeble grasp.

Then follow the terrible symptoms which precede the awful hour. The coldness of death seizes our members; the countenance becomes deathly pale; the tongue refuses to perform its duty; all the senses, in fine, are in confusion and disorder in the precipitation of this supreme departure. Strange resemblance between the beginningand the end of our pilgrimage! The mystery of suffering seems to unite them both.

The terrified soul then beholds the approach of that agony which is to terminate its temporal existence.

Before the distracted mind rise the horror and darkness of the grave, where the pampered body will become the prey of worms.

But keener still is the suffering which the soul endures from the suspense and uncertainty of what her fate will be when she leaves her earthly habitation.

You will imagine that you are in the presence of your Sovereign Judge, and that your sins rise up against you to accuse you and complete your condemnation.

The heinousness of the evil you committed with so much indifference will then be manifest to you. You will curse a thousand times the day you sinned, and the shameful pleasure which was the cause of your ruin.

You will be an object of astonishment and wonder to yourself. “How could I,” you will ask, “for love of the foolish things upon which I set my heart, brave the torments which I now behold?”

The guilty pleasures will have long since passed away, but their terrible and irrevocable punishment will continue to stare you in the face.

Side by side with this appalling eternity of misery you will see the unspeakable and everlasting happiness which you have sacrificed for vanities, transitory and sinful pleasures.

Everything you will behold will be calculated to fill you with terror and remorse. Life will have been spent; there will be no time for repentance. Nor will the friends you have loved or the idols you have adored be able to help you. On the contrary, that which you have loved during life will be the cause of your most poignant anguish at the hour of death.

What, then, will be your thoughts at this supreme hour? To whom will you have recourse? Whither will you turn? To go forward will be anguish. To go back impossible. To continue as you are will not be permitted.

“It shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord God, that the sun shall go down at mid-day, and I will make the earth dark in the daylight.” [Amos viii. 9.]

Terrible words! Yes, the sun shall go down at mid-day, for the sinner at the sight of his sins, and at the approach of God’s justice, already believes himself abandoned by the Divine Mercy; and though life still remains, with its opportunities for penance and reconciliation, yet fear too often drives hope from the heart, and in this miserable state he breathes his last sigh in the darkness of despair.

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