Meditation On Death VI ~ Luis De La Puente
Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo
Of those things that cause anguish, and affliction to the man that is near his death.
Those things that may cause me great affliction, and anguish at the hour of death, may be reduced to three ranks: Some passed, others present, and others to come. And to have the more feeling hereof, I am to present unto myself that hour, as if I were in my bed, forsaken by the physicians, and without hope of life: which is not difficult to persuade, for it is possible that while I am saying, or reading, or thinking upon this, I may want no more but one day of my life: and seeing that one day must be the last day, I may imagine that it is this present day.
THE III POINT.
1. Thirdly, I am to consider the great affliction, and anguish that the fear of the account I am to make with almighty God, and of the fear of the account I am to make with almighty God, and of the rigorous judgment where into I am to enter, will cause me at that hour: as also that I know not the sentence that shall be pronounced in the business of my salvation.
2. Wherein I am to ponder, the dreadfulness of this fear for three causes. 1. For that the evil that is feared is the supreme of all evils; yea it is an eternal evil, and remediesless, and I am now at the gates thereof. 2. For that instant is to be executed without resistance. 3. For that the cause on my side is very doubtful, because the sin that I committed is apparent to me, but not the true penance that I did: and my conscience accuse me to have offended the judge, but I know not whither I have appeased him.For no man knoweth whither he be worthy of hatred, or love, and though I find no sons in myself, yet it may be that God will find them. For all these causes, the fear will at that time be most terrible. For if those that have a suit in any weighty business, wherein all their wealth, their honor, or life is interested, have very great fear the day that they expect the sentence: how much greater fear shall I have, when I am near the day, wherein the definitive sentence is to be given of my salvation, or damnation? And if the greatest Saints are then afraid, how much more shall I fear, that am a miserable sinner?
3. This anguish, and fear useth to be augmented by the craft, and subtlety of the devil, who in that hour tempteth most furiously, because he seeth, he hath but a little time remaining: and therefore he stirreth up greatly all that may provoke to desperation, he excessively aggravateth our sins, and exaggerateth the rigor of Gods justice against them. He will tell me, that he that lived evil, must not die well; and that he that laid not hold on Gods mercy, must fall into the hands of his justice. And if the just man shall hardly be saved, what shall become of the wicked, and the sinner? And as he is a liar, and the father of lies, and a false accuser of men, if almighty God tie not his hands, and limit his power, he will set before me a thousand false imaginations, and accusations, with cosenages, and to pass greater anguishes then those of death itself.
4. These are the fears that in that last traunce shall afflict me, if I provide me not in time to hinder their vehemency, which I am to do by entering into myself, and considering, if death should now attach me, what it is that would give me greatest terror, and devising how to remedy that in time. And if I would not that death should seize upon me in the present estate that I am in, I am to endeavor presently to get out of it; for it is neither lawful, nor secure to live in an estate, wherein I would not die.
5. I will conclude this meditation, setting before mine eyes Christ our Lord, naked,and nailed to the cross at the instant of giving up the ghost, and I will with great fervency beseech him, that by his death he will grant me a good death, and that if the devil come to my death (as he came to his) that he would deliver me from him, and grant me so assured a confidence, that like himself, I may say in that hour:
Father into thy hands I commend my spirit. O merciful Father, my soul is as yet in my own hands, but ready to fly out of them, and in peril to fall into the hands of her enemies. O do thou receive her into thine, that the work of thy hands, for which they were nailed to the Cross, may not be destroyed. I offer myself to imitate in this life thy poverty, and nakedness, that in death thy hands may receive me, and may carry me with them, to the repose of thy glory, Amen.
6. We may likewise make speeches, and prayers to our blessed Lady the Virgin, and to the Angel of our garde, and other saints, requiring their favor for that hour; for while we live negotiate that, which should aid us at that instant.
7. To this purpose we shall make our profit of a manner of preparation to die well, which shall be put in the fourth part in the fiftieth and first meditation, collected from what Christ our Savior, did at this death: as likewise of what shall be said in the fifth part, in the thirtieth & fourth meditation, concerning the glorious passage of our blessed Lady.