In the middle ages there was an entire genre of literature on the theme of “dying well”. St Robert Bellarmine’s “The Art of Dying Well” is one of my favorites. He says to die well we must live well, and the rest of his book is devoted to describing what it means to live well. He writes:
What is the reason why so very few endeavor to learn the “Art of dying Well,” (which all men ought to know,) I can find no other cause than that mentioned by the Wise man: “The perverse are hard to be corrected, and the number of fools is infinite.” (Ecclesiastes, i. 15)
For what folly can be imagined greater than to neglect that Art, on which depend our highest and eternal interests; whilst on the other hand we learn with great labor, and practice with no less ardor, other almost innumerable arts, in order either to preserve or to increase perishable things?
Now every one will admit, that the “Art of dying Well” is the most important of all sciences; at least every one who seriously reflects, how after death we shall have to give an account to God of everything we did, spoke, or thought of, during our whole life, even of every idle word; and that the devil being our accuser, our conscience a witness, and God the Judge, a sentence of happiness or misery everlasting awaits us.
…in death when a “Cause” is pending before the Supreme Judge, connected with life or death eternal, often is the sinner compelled, when unprepared, oppressed by disease, and scarcely possessed of reason, to give an account of those things on which when in health, he had perhaps never once reflected.
and as St. Peter saith, “If the just man shall scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” 1st of St. Peter, iv. 1
Keeping this spirit alive, this funeral sermon below by Msgr Charles Pope is a excellent work in itself.
The sad fact is that MOST PEOPLE ARE NOT READY TO DIE. Living worldly lives they hardly give a thought to God, prayer and other eternal things.
Are you prepared? That is a common question we hear in the New Testament.
Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.
You are going to die.
You don’t know when.