Meditation On Death IV ~ 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. 

1. First, I will consider the great anguish, and affliction, which the remembrance of all things that are passed, will cause me, running through the most principal. 1. First, I shall be greatly afflicted with the remembrance of my fore passed sins, and all the liberties, carnalities, revenges, ambitions, and covetousness that I have had in the course of my life. Also, of the slackness in the service of almighty God, the negligence, and omissions, and all the rest of my sins that have not been much bewailed and amended.I am to imagine that there is at that instant an army made of all my sins, like as of Bulls, Lions, Tigers, and other savage beasts, that rent in pieces my heart: or like an army of terrible worms that gnaw, and bite my conscience, and neither the riches, nor pleasures that I enjoy, can avail me to close up their cruel mouths: for the delight of sin being past, there remaineth nothing but the sharpness of pain: and seeing I drank the sweet wine of sensual pleasure, I am forced to drink the bitterness of their lees. Then shall be fulfilled what David saith: The sorrows of death have encompassed me, and the torrents of iniquity, have trouble me: the sorrows of hell have compassed me on all sides, the snares of death have prevented me unawares. O what bitter dolours! O what furious torrents! O what pinching snares shall these be! from the which mine own forces are so far from being able to deliver me, that I shall hardly know how to make any use of them: for the bitterness of these dolors, will provoke me to distrust: the vehement fury of these rivers, will trouble my judgment: and the straighteness of these snares, will pinch my throat, that I may not ask pardon of my sins: the devil making use of all this, that I may have no issue out of them.


O my soul, bewail, and confess well thy sins in thy life, that they may not disquiet, nor torment thee in thy death. Say not, I have sinned, and what sorrowful thing hath chanced to me? for thy joy shall soon pass away, and the stroke of sorrow shall come. Lose not absolutely the fear of sin, which thou suppose to pardoned, least that sin bud out at thy death, which thou bewails but evilly in thy life

These, and such other advises which Ecclesiasticus noteth in his fifth chapter, I am to collect from this consideration, with a resolved mind to begin presently to put them in practice.

2. Secondly, I will ponder, how at that instant I shall not only be tormented, and afflicted with the remembrance of my sins, but also with the loss of the time that I had to negotiate a business so important as that of my salvation, and with letting slip many occasions almighty God offered me to that end. Then shall I desire but one day of those many, which now I lose in sleeping, playing and talking for pastime and recreation, and it shall not be granted me. Then it shall afflict me, that I have not frequented the holy Sacraments, nor the exercises of prayer: that I have not answered divine inspirations, nor heard sermons, nor exercised works of penance: that I have not given alms to the poor, to gain friends to receive me in the eternal habitations, & that I have not been devoted to the Saints, that in that narrow straight they may be my mediators, & advocates. Then shall I make great resolutions to do that which when I might, I did not, desiring to live to accomplish them, and all peradventure without profit, like those of the wretched king Antiochus the cruel persecutor of the Jews, who being at the point of death, though he made great promises, & prayers unto God; yet saith the Scripture, That this wicked man prayed to our Lord, of whom he was not to obtain mercy; not that mercy was wanting in almighty God, but for that there was wanting in this wretch a true disposition to receive it: for all those resolutions of his, sprung merely from servile fear, and were but to wrest out his bodily health, as if he could deceive almighty God, as he deceived men.

3. From this consideration I am to collect, that the hour of death, is the hour of unbeguiling, in the which I shall judge of all things differently from what I do now: holding (as Ecclesiastes saith) for vanity that, which before I held for wisdom; & contrarily holding for wisdom, that which before I esteemed as vanity. And therefore the truest wisdom is, to resolve effectually upon that, which then I do, and forthwith to accomplish it. For the ordinary law is, that he that liveth well, dyeth well: and he that liveth very evilly , seldom happeneth to die well. And especially I will make full resolution, to lose no iota of time, nor to let slip any occasion of my profit, remembering that of Ecclesiasticicus: Be not defrauded of the good day, and let not a little portion of a good gift over[ass thee, but make thy profit of all, to the glory of him that giveth it to thee.


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