Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Praying for a Happy Death

December 2nd, 2009, Promulgated by Gen

I was just thinking about a few things today, and I thought you would enjoy hearing my little tidbits on death. Cheery, I know.

First of all, I found a quote from St. John Berchmans, a Jesuit, who said of his impending death, “I should like to die with my crucifix, my rosary, and my book of rules (catechism).”

Then I was browsing various rosaries, and I saw a picture of beads like this:

Note the skull – it’s called a “momento mori,” and is representative of the temporary victory of death, but the eternal victory we have in Christ’s Passion. During the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, the “momento mori” or “momento of death” was a popular gift for young suitors. Nothing quite so romantic as saying to your sweet-heart, “hey, honey, we’re both going to die and decompose, but if you look at this skull you’ll realize that ain’t so bad!” These beads were quite often actually carved from real bones, be they of animals or humans. Again, romantic.

Then I got to thinking about praying for a happy death. So many people are a bit put-off when they see in their missal or prayer-book a section of “Prayers for a Happy Death.” Many people, since the 60’s and 70’s onward, have had some kind of phobia about “death.” I guess it has to do with the all-pervasive sense of relativism and idealism. Anyways, there are some very beautiful prayers asking for a happy death:

O Glorious St. Joseph, behold I choose thee today for my special patron in life and at the hour of my death. Preserve and increase in me the spirit of prayer and fervor in the service of God. Remove far from me every kind of sin; obtain for me that my death may not come upon me unawares, but that I may have time to confess my sins sacramentally and to bewail them with a most perfect understanding and a most sincere and perfect contrition, in order that I may breathe forth my soul into the hands of Jesus and Mary. Amen

O Jesus, while I adore Your dying breath, I beg You to receive mine. Since I do not know whether I shall have command of my senses when I depart from this world, I offer You even now my last agony and all the sorrows of my passing. I give my soul into Your hands for You are my Father and my Savior. Grant that the last beat of my heart may be an act of perfect love for You. Amen.

O Mary, my good Mother, after Jesus you are my hope and consolation. By your protection make me persevere in my firm determination to offend God no more and to prefer a thousand deaths to the deliberate commission of one mortal sin! Obtain for me the grace of final perseverance, and grant that I may remember to ask for it during the time of temptation and at the hour of death. You are the refuge of sinners and our perennial help. Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for me.
O Mother of Jesus, I offer you the last day, last hour, and last moment of my life, and everything that shall take place in me at that last moment–in honor of the last moment, hour and day of your life, and of all that occurred in you on that day. If it pleases you, unite me with all the holy and divine dispositions of your maternal heart and your pure soul. Grant that, by your merits and prayers, my last thoughts, words, acts, and breaths may be consecrated to the honor of the last thoughts, words, acts, and breaths both of your Son and of yourself. Grant that I may die loving Him with His holy love; that I may be utterly consumed and sacrificed to His glory; that my life may end with a last act of most pure love of Him. Amen.

So, after reading these, many people think, “okay, sure, but does it really change anything?” I can confidently say yes. Without a doubt. My grandmother used to say the prayer to St. Joseph which I posted above. She died in her sleep on Good Friday. God listens. You’d better believe it.



One Response to “Praying for a Happy Death”

  1. Anonymous says:

    What a wonderful act of Catholic charity that was. I believe I shall pray that prayer and promote it immediately. Thank you.

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