THE HAPPY DEATH OF GOD’S SERVANTS
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints-(Ps. cxv. 15). St. Bernard says that the death of the just is called precious, because it is the end of labour and the gate of life. To the Saints death is a reward, because it is the end of sufferings, pains, struggles, and the fear of losing God.
That word Depart, which is such a terror to worldlings, alarms not the just; because to them it is not painful to leave all worldly goods, for God has been their only riches: nor honours, for they have despised them: nor relatives, for they have loved them only in God. Hence, as they frequently repeated in life, so now with redoubled joy do they exclaim in death: My God and my All!
Nor do the pains of death afflict them; they rejoice in offering to God the last moments of life in testimony of their love for Him, uniting the sacrifice of their lives to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ offered on the Cross, for the love of them.
Oh, what a consolation for the Saints is the thought that now the time is over when they might have offended God, and were in constant danger of losing Him! Oh, what joy to be able then to embrace the Crucifix, and to say: In peace, in the self same, I will sleep and I will rest!-(Ps. iv. 9). The devil will endeavour at that time to disquiet us by the sight of our sins; but if we have bewailed them, and have loved Jesus Christ with our whole heart, Jesus will console us. God is more desirous of our salvation than the devil is for our perdition.
Moreover, death is the gate of life. God is faithful, and will indeed at that time console those who have loved Him. Even in the sorrows of death He will bestow upon them a foretaste of Heaven, Their acts of confidence, of love of God, of desire soon to behold Him, will be the beginning for them of that peace which they will enjoy throughout eternity. What joy, in particular, will the holy Viaticum afford to those who can say, with St. Philip Neri: Behold my Love! Behold my Love!
We should therefore fear, not death, but sin, which alone makes death so terrible. A great servant of God, Father Colombiere, said: “It is morally impossible for one who in life has been faithful to God to die an unhappy death.”
He who loves God is desirous of death, which will unite him eternally to God. It is a sign of but little love for God, not to desire soon to behold Him.
Let us be resigned to the hour of death and the loss of all worldly possessions. We may do this now meritoriously, but then it must be done forcibly and with danger of being lost. Let us live as though every day were to be the last of our lives. Oh, how well does he live who lives always with the remembrance of death present to his mind!
O my God, when will the day arrive in which I shall see Thee and love Thee face to face? I do not deserve it; but Thy Wounds, O my Redeemer, are my hope. I will say to Thee with St. Bernard: Thy Wounds are my merits. And hence I will take confidence, and will also says to Thee with St. Augustine: May I die, O Lord, that I may behold Thee! 0 Mary, my Mother, in the Blood of Jesus Christ, and in thy holy intercession, do I hope to be saved, and to come to praise thee, thank thee, and love thee forever in Heaven.