O Death, Counsel Me
The Imitation of The Sacred Heart of Jesus
Death Is A Good Counselor, My Child...
1. The Voice of Jesus
My Child, remember, thou must die: because it is appointed for all men once to die.
Do whatever thou wilt; thou canst by no possible effort escape the grasp of death. The Almighty Himself has fixed the bounds, beyond which none can pass. When thou hast reached them, no matter what may be thy condition, thou shalt die the death.
Whilst life endures, there is naught more certain than death: yet there is naught more hidden in uncertainty, than the time of death, and its attendant surroundings.
Thou knowest not, indeed, when thou shalt die: yet, hold this for certain, that thou shalt die, when thou thinkest not.
Whether thou shalt see the end of this year, or even of this day, of that thou art wholly ignorant.
Many, counting on a long life, and regardless of making preparation for death, dream of much to be done in the future; when suddenly death puts an end to all their plans, and drags them away into eternity.
Whether thou shalt die at home, or abroad; of sickness, or by violence, whether strengthened with the Sacraments, or deprived of their soothing comforts, all this lies hidden in the mysterious unknown.
2. A saintly life equals A holy death
However, My Child, thou shalt die only once: if once thou diest well, thy everlasting bliss is secured; if once thou diest ill, thy destruction is endless and irreparable.
O inconceivable stupidity of the heart of man! Very many fear not to live in a state of damnation; and yet it is certain, that they shall die unexpectedly. The unchangeable declaration remains firm: The Son of man will come, when He is not expected.
For a reason worthy of God’s Wisdom, the time of His coming remains hidden, that men may keep themselves in the state of grace ever ready. But, as many disregard this, it happens that not a few die without being prepared, and in a twinkling are buried in hell.
Woe, therefore, to them whom death shall overtake in a bad state! When they are dead, hope shall be no more; because from a death in time, they fall into the death of eternity, and from finite evils they pass over to those which are infinite.
Most wretched is the death of sinners: frightful is the death of the lukewarm; but precious, and filled with consolation, is the death of them that have sanctified themselves.
Blessed are they who end a saintly life with a holy death! They reach the end of their labor, their afflictions, their trials, and of all dangers, and they enter into a bliss secure and complete.
3. He that lives well, dies well
How differently are different persons impressed at the moment of death! Some are terror stricken at the thought of the past, of the present, and of the future; others are filled with comfort: these feel their hearts dilating; those feel them compressed with anguish: but all wish that they had lived piously.
To be well prepared to die, is the greatest consolation of him that sees the near approach of death.
To how great a danger of dying unprepared is he exposed, who thinks of making ready only when death is at the door! Then, either time is wanting, or the pangs of sickness hinder the use of the souls powers, or passions still have their wonted sway, whilst the habit of neglecting to correspond to grace still prevails; and, meanwhile, the devil’s assaults are greater than ever before.
Look forward, then, My Child, before the night overtakes thee, wherein no one can securely work, but when everyone begins to garner, what he has sown.
A good life is the best preparation for death. It is generally true, that he that lives well, dies well.
Daily, before retiring to thy nightly rest, put thy soul in order, as if, the same night, thou hadst to set out for eternity.
4. Death is a good counselor
Death is a good counselor, My Child; wherefore, before thou undertake, or leave off, aught of importance, ask advice of death, that thou mayst know, when it calls thee, what thou wouldst like to have done, what thou wouldst regret to have left undone.
By perfect purity of heart thou canst make thy death most safe and consoling.
Take no counsel of the flesh, when there is question of securing a happy death; but, even in spite of its murmurings, pursue what is good, that, in the end, thou mayst save both the body and the soul.
After death thy body shall become the food of worms, and whatever remains of it, shall be the prey of corruption.
Yet, thereafter, it shall arise again, whether thou art willing or not, to share the everlasting destiny of the soul.
Let death be most familiar to thee, My Child. If thou be faithful in asking its advice, and in following it, it will be thy solace in adversity, it will keep thee in due bounds in prosperity, it will be useful to thee in all things, it will not cease to do thee good; and, in the end, it will free thee from this place of exile, and introduce thee into thy blissful country in heaven.
5. The Voice of the Disciple
Is it possible, Lord, that any one will hold himself unprepared, when at any moment he may have to meet death?
My conscience bears me witness, what I shall wish for at the approach of death: then my sole desire shall be that I had led a life of innocence; that for Thee I had kept my heart undefiled that I had sanctified my soul.
But, alas! Should death overtake me now, I should wish for all this in vain; since, as yet, I possess no sign of holiness, but rather many marks of lukewarmness.
O, compassionate and merciful Lord, bear with me a little while, that I may weep over my neglectfulness, and that I may do what I would desire to have performed, when death comes.
6. I must die to sin....
O my soul, soon time shall be no more. Let others do as they list: let us, whilst yet there is time, devote ourselves to the work of our salvation.
Each one for himself. When death comes no one can take our place; nor can any one, in our stead, go into eternity. Whatever, therefore, others may say or do, let us place our everlasting destiny beyond all danger.
And what means, Lord Jesus, can be better, and safer, than a true love for Thee, disengaged from every thing besides; since this both cleanses us from our faults, and renders us holy?
If I love Thee truly, I will not fear death, nor aught of all that follows thereafter. Thy love will drive away fear: Thy love will enable me to approach Thee with confidence.
Thou, then, Jesus, my love, be Thou henceforth my life. If Thou art my life, to die shall be my gain.
For love of Thee, let me daily die to sin, to the world, to myself, that I may live for Thee: let me become free from things created, and be made wholly pure, so that, when death opens the door, I may appear before Thee rejoicingly.
“Voice of Jesus” is taken from Arnoudt’s “Imitation of the Sacred Heart”, translated from the Latin of J.M. Fastre; Benziger Bros. Copyright 1866