Death is an unpleasant topic. So are taxes. Both are inevitable, so we better be prepared. Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell are known as the four Last Things. In Theology, the study of the four Last Things is a course called “Eschatology”, an English derivation of the Greek word that means the “study of the last things.” Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection is the only event and truth that could possibly give us hope in the face of something so final as death.
In the beginning, God did not intend for humans to die, but because of the Original sin of Adam and Eve, all human beings have to die to reach eternity. Death is a result of sin.
The mortality rate of the human race is still the same as it ever was: 100%. Sooner or later, we all have to die. Some people die a sudden death; others after a short or long illness. The point is, we should always be prepared to die by striving to live in the state of grace. It is a good practice to say a heartfelt act of contrition before you go to bed at night.
On pp. 352-353 of the Handbook of Prayers (Scepter Press), I found these inspiring prayers to help us prepare for the moment of death. These prayers typically follow the Stations of the Cross.
ACCEPTANCE OF DEATH: We, too, O God, will descend into the grave whenever it shall please you, as it shall please you, and wheresoever it shall please you. Let your just decrees be fulfilled; let our sinful bodies return to their parent dust, but, in your great mercy, receiver our immortal souls, and when our bodies have risen again, place them likewise in your kingdom, that we may love and bless you for ever and ever. R. Amen.
Dear God and Father of mine, Lord of life and death, with an immutable decree you have established that, as a just chastisement for our sins, all of us have to die. Look at me here bent low before you. From the bottom of my heart, I abhor my past faults, for which I have merited death a thousand times, a death that I now accept as atonement for my sins and as proof of my submission to your lovable will. O Lord, happily will I die at the moment, in the place, and in the way that you want. And until that day I will take advantage of the days of life that remain in order to fight against my defects and grow in your love, to break the bonds that time my heart co creatures, and to prepare my soul to appear in your presence; and from this moment on I abandon myself without reserve into the arms of your fatherly providence.
PRAYER FOR A HAPPY DEATH:
O my Creator and Father, I beg of you the most important of all your graces: that of final perseverance and a holy death. Despite the fact that I have greatly misused the life you have given me, grant me the grace to live it well from this moment on and to end it in your holy love.
Let me die as the holy patriarchs died, leaving this valley of tears without sadness, to go and enjoy eternal rest in my true homeland.
Let me die as did glorious St. Joseph, accompanied by Jesus and Mary, pronouncing those sweetest of names, which I hope to extol for all eternity.
Let me die as did the Immaculate Virgin, in the purest of love and with the desire of uniting myself to the only object of my love.
Let me die as did Jesus on the cross, fully identified with the will of the Father and made into a holocaust for the sake of love.
Jesus, having accepted death for me, grant me the grace of dying in an act of perfect love for you.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for me now and at the hour of my death.
St. Joseph, my father and lord, win for me the favor of dying as one of the just.
PRAYER FOR THE MOMENT OF DEATH:
O Lord, my God, from this moment on I accept with a good will, as something coming from your hand, whatever kind of death you want to send me, with all its anguish, pain, and sorrow.
V./ Jesus, Mary and Joseph, R./ I give you my heart and my soul.
V./ Jesus, Mary and Joseph, R./ Assist me in my last agony.
V./ Jesus, Mary and Joseph, R./ May I sleep and take my rest in peace with you. Amen.