ANGUISH OF THE DYING SINNER
The poor dying sinner will be assailed, not by one, but by many causes of distress and anguish. Devils will tempt him, and his sins like so many satellites will say to him: We are thy works; we shall not desert thee.
The poor dying sinner will be assailed, not by one, but by many causes of distress and anguish. On the one hand the devils will torment him. At death these horrid enemies exert all their strength to secure the perdition of the soul that is about to leave this world. They know that they have but little time to gain it, and that if they lose it at death, they lose it forever. The devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time (Apoc. xii. 12). The dying man will be tempted, not by one, but by innumerable devils who will labour for his damnation. Their houses shall be filled with serpents (Is. xiii. 21). One tempter will say: Fear not; you will recover. Another: You have been deaf to the inspirations of God for so many years, and do you now expect that He will have mercy on you? Another will ask: How can you make satisfaction for all the injuries you have done to the property and character of your neighbours? Another: Do you not see that your Confessions have been useless; that they have been made without sorrow or purpose of amendment? How will you be able to repair them now?
On the other hand, the dying man will see himself surrounded by his sins. Evils, says David, shall catch the unjust man unto destruction (Ps. cxxxix. 12). These sins, says St. Bernard, shall, like so many satellites, keep him in chains, saying unto him: We are your works; we shall not desert you. We are your fruits, and we will not leave you; we will accompany you into the other world and will present ourselves with you to the Eternal Judge. The dying man will then wish to shake off such enemies; but, to get rid of them, he must detest them and return sincerely to God. His mind is darkened and his heart hardened. A hard heart shall fare evil at the last; and he that loveth danger shall perish in it (Ecclus. iii. 27). St. Bernard says that the man who has been obstinate in sin during life, will make efforts, but without success, to get out of the state of damnation; and that, overwhelmed by his own malice, he will end his life in the same unhappy state.
My dear Saviour, assist me; do not abandon me. I see my whole soul covered with the wounds of sin; my passions attack me violently; my bad habits weigh me down. I cast myself at Thy feet; have pity on me and deliver me from so many evils. In thee, O Lord, I have hoped; may I not be confounded forever (Ps. xxx. 6). Do not suffer a soul that trusts in Thee to be lost. Deliver not up to beasts the souls that confess to thee (Ps. lxxiii. 19).
Having loved sin till death, the sinner has also loved the danger of damnation. Hence the Lord will justly permit him to perish in that danger in which he has voluntarily lived till the end of his life. St. Augustine says that he who is abandoned by sin before he abandons it, will scarcely detest it as he ought; because what he will then do will be done through necessity.
Miserable the sinner that hardens his heart and resists the divine calls: His heart shall be as hard as a stone and as firm as a smith’s anvil (Job xli. 15). Instead of yielding to the graces and inspirations of God, and being softened by them, the unhappy man becomes more obdurate, as the anvil is hardened by repeated strokes of the hammer. In punishment of his resistance to the divine calls, he will find his heart in the same miserable state at the very hour of death, at the moment of passing into eternity. A hard heart shall fare evil at the last. Sinners, says the Lord, have, for the love of creatures, turned their back upon Me. They have turned their back upon me and not their face; and in the time of their affliction they will say: Arise and deliver us! Where are the gods thou hast made thee? Let them arise and deliver thee. (Jer. ii. 27). They will have recourse to God at death; but He will say to them: Is it to Me you have recourse now? Call on creatures to succour you, for they have been your gods! The Lord will address them in this manner, because, in seeking Him, they do not sincerely wish to be converted. St. Jerome says that he holds, and has learned from experience, that they who have to the end led a bad life, will never die a good death.
I am sorry for having offended Thee, O infinite Goodness. I have done evil, I confess my guilt. I wish to amend my life, whatsoever it may cost me. But if Thou dost not help me by Thy grace, I am lost. Receive, O my Jesus, the rebel who has so grievously outraged Thy Majesty. Remember that I have been purchased by Thy Blood and Thy life. Through the merits then of Thy Passion and Death, receive me into Thy arms and give me holy perseverance. I was lost, Thou hast called me back: I will resist no longer: to Thee I consecrate myself. Bind me to Thy love and never permit me to lose Thee by again losing Thy grace. My Jesus, do not permit it. Mary, my Queen, do not permit it: obtain for me death and a thousand deaths, rather than that I should again forfeit the grace of thy Son.