Meditation On Death V ~ Luis De La Puente
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 II POINT.
Secondly, I will consider the great affliction, that my soul shall feel in leaving all this present, if I possess them with an evil conscience, or with a disordinate affection: whereupon I am to persuade myself, that in that hour, perforce, and in spite of my teeth, I am to leave three sorts of things.
1. First, I am to leave the riches, dignities, offices, delicacies, & possessions, that I had, & shall not be able to carry any thing with me: And the more goods I have, the more bitter it will be to leave them. For death (saith Ecclesiaticus) is very bitter to him that hath peace with riches, & dignities, and is desirous to live, to enjoy them longer: and the sins he committed in procuring, and in abusing them, shall augment this bitterness, Gods justice so ordaining it, that those things which in their life were the instruments of their vicious delights, should in their death be their executioners, and tormentors. Then shall be fulfilled that which is written in Job of a sinner, His bread in his belly, which he did eat with much savor, shall be turned into the gall of aspes within him, the riches that he hath devoured, he shall vomit out, and God shall draw them forth out of his belly: He shall suck the head of the aspes, and the vipers tongue shall kill him: that is to say, his delights shall be turned into gall, his riches shall make him disgorge: but he shall neither have courage to dispose pf them, nor to leave them, until death take them away by forces, the serpents and vipers of hell tormenting him for having gotten and possessed them with sin.
2. Secondly, in that hour I must forcibly depart fro my parents, and brethren, friends, and acquaintance, and from all those that I love, whither it be with a natural move, or with a lawful, or unlawful love. And as we leave not without grief, what we possessed with love, and by how much the greater the love is, wherewith it is possessed, so much the greater grief is felt in abandoning it: exceeding great will the sorrow be, that I shall feel to depart from so many persons, and things, that are so fasted to my heart. And in these anguishes I shall say with that other king: Siccine separat amara mors? Doth bitter death thus separate? Is it possible that I should leave those, whom I so love? And shall I never more see them, nor enjoy them? O cruel death, how much doest thou exasperate my heart, depriving me with such sorrow, of what I possessed with such joy?
3. Lastly, in that hour my soul is to depart from my body, with whom it hath held so strict, and ancient amity; and consequently it is to depart from this world, and from all things therein contained, without hope for ever again to see, hear, taste, or touch them. And if the love I beare to my body, to my life, and to the other things of this visible world, be a disordinate love, of force I must needs feel exceeding great grief to depart from them: which I may easily make experience of, by that sensible feeling I have, when they take from me my wealth, my honor, and fame; or exile me from my country, & force me to live from my friends, like a pilgrim among strangers; or cut off some member of my body. For all this together in a troop succeedeth in death, after another, and a more painful manner. Which is without hop ever to return again to possess it in this life.
4. In every one of these three considerations, pondering a while what is to be noted, I will enter into myself, and examine whither I carry a disordinate love to any of these things repeated; which if I find that I do, I will endeavor to unroot it with he force of this consideration, & with the exercise of mortification: for this is to die in life, and with profit, taking as it were by the hand death, so not to feel death, as religious men do that abandon all things for Christ our Lord; whom I am to beseech to aid me herein, saying unto him.
O eternal God, in whose hands the souls of the just are, and under whose protection the torment of death doth not touch them, take from my soul the disordinate love of all visible things, that in departing from them, it may have no feeling of torment, O my soul, if thou desires that these three bitterness of death should not touch thee, love not those things that death can take from thee; for if thou possess them not with love, thou shalt leave them in death without dolour, or grief.
5. I am likewise to ponder in these considerations, how great a madness it is to offend almighty God, & to endanger my eternal salvation, for things that I am so soon to abandon, resolving valorously with myself, presently to avoid any person, or thing whatsoever, that may expose me to this peril, dying to it, rather then for its cause, to dye to God, and separating it from me, rather then it should separate me from God. Seeing for this our Savior Christ said, that he came to send the sword, and division upon earth, separating from men all persons, and things ,that might hinder their salvation. O sweet redeemer, put forth with into my hand the sword of mortification, that I may separate from me, whatsoever might separate me from thee, dying to all that is created, to live to thee my Creator, world without end, Amen.