THE LOSS OF ALL THINGS IN DEATH
The day of destruction is at hand (Deut. xxxii. 35).
The day of death is called the Day of Destruction, because then is destroyed all that man has acquired; honours, friends, riches, possessions, kingdoms — all are then no more. What, then, doth it profit us to gain the whole world if in death we must leave all? All comes to an end at the bedside of the dying man. Is there any king, think you, — said St. Ignatius to Xavier when he sought to bring him to God, — who has taken with him into the other world even a thread of purple to mark his sovereignty? Has any rich man taken with him a single coin, or even one servant to attend him? In death all is left behind. The soul enters eternity alone and unattended, except by its works.
Woe to me! Where are my works to accompany me to a blessed eternity? I can discover none but such as render me deserving of eternal torments!
Men come into the world in unequal conditions: one is born rich, another poor; one a noble, another a plebian; but all go out of it equal and alike. Consider the graves of the dead: see if you can discover among the bodies which are there interred, who was a master and who a servant, who was a king and who a beggar.
O God, while others amass the fortunes of this world, may my only fortune be Thy holy grace. Thou alone art my only Good both in this life and in the next.
In one word, everything on earth will come to an end. All greatness will end, all misery will end, honours will end, ignominies will end, pleasures will end, sufferings will end. Blessed in death, therefore, not he who has abounded in riches, honours and pleasures, but he who has patiently endured poverty, contempt and sufferings! The possession of temporal goods affords no consolation at the moment of death: that alone consoles us which has been done or suffered for God.
O Jesus, detach my heart from this world before death entirely takes me from it. Help me with Thy grace. Thou indeed knowest how great is my weakness. Permit me not to be any longer unfaithful to Thee, as I have hitherto been. I am sorry, O Lord, for having so often despised Thee. Henceforward I will love Thee above every good, and die a thousand times rather than forfeit Thy grace. But the infernal one ceases not to tempt me. In mercy abandon me not; leave me not to myself; permit me not to be any more separated from Thy love. O Mary, my hope, obtain for me the grace of perseverance.