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CHAPTER XXXVI.

ON PREPARATION FOR A HAPPY DEATH. THE PROFESSION OF ONE ABOUT TO DIE, AND HIS CONSOLATION.

CEASE to love worldly things, and thy departure out of the world will not be grievous to thee. But perhaps thou art not greatly attached to anything in this world, thou possessest nothing that thou art not ready to relinquish: yet art thou still a prey to fear, because thou knowest not how God will receive thee when thou passest hence, whether into the eternal rest of paradise, or into the temporary pains of purgatory. This knowledge is not necessary for thee; it is sufficient for thee to be certain that thou hast a most pitiful Lord, who mercifully washes away sins, who has inspired thee with good will, who is both able and willing to save thee, if thou confidest humbly in Him, and trustest not in thyself. Let the consideration of His immeasurable goodness inspire thee with confidence, and with the expectation of being saved.

Be ever vigilant; as far as thou art able, let thy loins be girt, and thy lamp burning; that when the Lord cometh and knocketh, thou mayest open to him immediately (St. Luke xii. 35, 36). But chiefly when the hour of death is evidently near, prepare thyself sedulously for a happy departure. Dismiss from thy heart the cares and solicitudes of this world; receive the sacraments for thy viaticum with a grateful mind; and humbly commend thy soul to God. Reflect upon the Passion of thy most 96pitiful Redeemer; embrace in spirit His blessed cross, kiss His crimson Wounds, and hide thy whole self therein. Beseech Jesus, that He would deign to wash away all thy sins in His Precious Blood. Com mend thyself also to His most holy Mother, the Virgin Mary, and to the other citizens of heaven, especially those to whom thou hast had a more particular devotion. If thou dost call upon Mary from thy heart, if thou turnest to her with humility and confidence, she will certainly obtain for thee admittance into the kingdom, which was perhaps closed against thee by thy iniquity and by the divine justice: for she is the Mother of mercy and the gate of paradise. Although the infirmity of nature may waver and tremble, though the horror of death may oppress thee, and though thou mayest be tortured to the utmost by the agonizing sharpness of thy pains; be thou ever patient, and persevere in holy hope and in holy confidence in God. Deny thyself in all things, and give thyself up to thy Lord, saying with Christ, Himself in fear and agony at the approach of death, “Father, thy will be done ” (St. Matth. xxvi. 42). So shalt thou find rest and refreshment. Let it not seem hard to thee to die, since Christ Himself suffered the death of the body. He went before, and, as it were, prepared the way, and made it smooth; be not thou reluctant to follow Him; for His Death will be the solace of thine. That corruptible body which thou art leaving is now but a vile garment. What is it to thee if it is corrupted, if it is reduced to dust and ashes, when thou hast laid it aside? Put 97off without fear thy garment, which thy God will one day restore to thee entire, refulgent and incorruptible.

In order that thou mayest pass without danger over the nets of the devil, and happily avoid the snares, with which he is accustomed sometimes to afflict the dying; thou mayest, either mentally or in words, while thou art in possession of thy senses, declare thy forgiveness of all who have ever injured thee, and thy desire to end thy life in that faith in which an obedient son of thy holy Mother the Church ought to die; that thou believest all things which must be believed by the true and orthodox faithful of Christ; and that if, through the suggestions of the devil, or the violence of thy malady, thou shouldst perchance think, speak, or do anything contrary to this intention, thou dost by no means consent to such follies.

Having made this profession, thou wilt henceforth despise and ridicule all the promptings of impiety, which the devil in his malice may whisper; nay, thou wilt, if possible, cease to notice them. Trust in the Lord; rely upon Him; cast utterly on Him every thought, every fear, yea, thy whole self. For this is most pleasing to Him, this He requires of thee above all things, and therefore He says in the Psalm, “Because he hoped in me, I will deliver him” (Ps. xc. 14). Thy most loving Father will neither mislead thee, nor reject thee: but will surely protect thee. And when thou art under His protection, there is no one who can hurt thee.

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