Lenten Meditation 22: An Unprovided Death

1. Nothing is more certain than death, but nothing more uncertain than the hour of death. It is certain that the year and day of each one’s death are already determined by our Lord, though we know them not; and wisely does God conceal them from us, in order that we may always prepare for our departure.

I give Thee thanks, O Jesus! for having waited for me, and for not having called me out of life in the state of mortal sin. During the remainder of my life I will bewail my iniquities and love Thee with all my strength. I know that I must die, and by Thy grace I will prepare myself for a good death.

2. Jesus Christ admonishes us of the hour of our death, and when will it be? when we least expect it. At what hour you think not, the Son of man will come [Luke 12:40]. If then, says St. Bernard, death may at any time take us out of life, we should at all times be prepared for it and keep our accounts in order.

O Jesus! I will not wait until the moment of my death to give myself to Thee. Thou hast said that those who seek Thee shall find Thee: Seek and ye shall find [Matt 7:7]. I seek Thee, I desire Thee; grant that I may find Thee. I am sorry for my sins and will nevermore offend Thee.

3. When then, dear Christian, you are tempted to commit sin with the hope of confessing it on the morrow, say to yourself: But who knows but that this moment may be my last? And if in this moment I should be guilty of sin, and death should overtake me, whither should I go? O God! how many miserable sinners have been struck by death in the act of feasting themselves on some poisonous gratification!

O God! may not that happen to me which has happened to so many other unhappy sinners? How many are now in hell for lesser sins than I have committed! I give Thee thanks. O Jesus! for having waited for me with so much patience, and for having now enlightened me. I have erred in forsaking Thee; and death might have been my punishment; but since Thou givest me time, henceforward I will think of nothing but of loving Thee. Assist me with Thy grace. And do thou, Mary, assist me by thy holy intercession.

Text from St. Alphonsus de Liguori, The Way of Salvation and Perfection, ed. Eugene Grimm, 2d ed. (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1886).

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