Thursday after Ash Wednesday
“For greater things you were born.” (Ven. Mother Luisita)
THURSDAY, February 18th Lk. 9: 22-25 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What does it profit a man to gain the whole world yet lose his soul?”
TEN WAYS WE CAN PREPARE FOR THE LAST THINGS by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV
The moment we die and pass from this world to the next, where we’ll be judged by Our Lord, will determine our destiny for all eternity. Really there are only two possibilities: salvation or damnation—rejoicing in the Presence of God or suffering the torments of the damned for all eternity. Even though it’s very sober, very serious, possibly even a bit frightening, this reality should hang before our eyes as the minutes, days, and years evaporate before us.
We should prepare for this encounter with the Lord Jesus with great calmness and peace but also with serious efforts on our part. We should beg the Lord Jesus that He be our Redeemer rather than our Judge.
The following are concrete suggestions to help us one day receive the grace of all graces: to die in the state of grace. May we take these seriously and implement them in our daily walk with the Lord.
1. Live Each Day as if It Were Our Last
How much time do we waste on a daily basis or how much have we wasted up to this point in our lives? Every day we should rise and give ourselves totally to Jesus through Mary and strive to deny the Lord nothing, in imitation of Saint Therese of Lisieux.
2. Flee From Sin Like the Plague
Many today have a mortal fear of the Coronavirus and this may not be a bad preoccupation. However, should we not fear something worse? How about fear of offending God through sin? How about fear of losing our soul for all eternity by committing and dying in Mortal sin?
A physical virus can be disastrous and catastrophic for the body, so true. However, sin is a moral virus that eats away and corrupts the very fiber of our soul which has infinite and eternal value.
3. Live in the Presence of God
Saint Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church, noted that one of the principal reasons why we sin is because we become oblivious to the Presence of God, we forget that all our actions, thoughts, and even our intentions are seen by God like the sun shining down at midday.
4. Pray More Every Day
Strive to pray a little more and a little better every day. We should arrive at a point where we cannot live without prayer; it has become a matter of life and death in our spiritual life. What air is to our lungs, prayer is to our soul. If no air is coming in and out of our lungs, our life is over. Likewise, a person without prayer will suffocate and die spiritually.
5. Be Reconciled
Jesus says that if we are about to offer our gift at the altar and recognize that our brother has something against us, we should leave our gift at the altar, go make amends and reconcile with our brother, then return to offer the gift. In other words, Jesus wants us to at least strive to live out mercy and overcome any form of resentment in our life.
What acid is to the stomach lining, causing ulcers, so is resentment to the soul that is not ready and willing to seek reconciliation and forgiveness. Remember the words of the great Catholic English poet, Alexander Pope: “To err is human; to forgive is divine.”
6. Never Despair, but Trust in God’s Mercy
When all is said and done, when the curtain goes down and we reach the end of our short earthly sojourn, the last word will be, “Do we really trust in God’s infinite mercy?” Saint Paul reminds us in the Letter to the Romans: “Where sin abounds, the mercy of God abounds all the more.” (Rom. 5:20)
The Diary of Saint Faustina echoes the same theme: “The worst of sinners can be the greatest of all saints!” This all depends on one’s disposition of heart, having an infinite, limitless and unreserved trust in God’s Infinite Mercy.
God’s Infinite Mercy can be compared to all the waters in all the oceans, and more—indeed an infinite abyss. We must launch ourselves, plunge into this infinite abyss of Mercy! Ironically, the first canonized saint was one of the thieves hanging on a cross next to Jesus who cried out: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom!” (Lk. 23:42) The response of Jesus was pure mercy: “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise!” (Lk. 23:43) The triumph of the infinite ocean of God’s mercy!
7. The Gift of the Church: Plenary Indulgence
The Catholic Church has an infinite reservoir of graces to dispense. These can be understood and applied by means of Indulgences, including the Plenary Indulgence. All flow from the pierced and open Heart of Jesus from which gushed forth Blood and Water. To acquire a Plenary Indulgence, the requirements are the following:
- Confession. A well-prepared Sacramental Confession made to the priest who represents our Merciful and Loving Savior, Jesus the Lord, within one week before or after the indulgenced act.
- Prayer Indulgences. The most Holy Rosary recited in the family or in front of the Blessed Sacrament qualifies to acquire the Plenary Indulgence.
- Prayers for the Vicar of Christ. Following the Rosary, prayers must be offered for the intention of the Holy Father—the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory be.
- Mass and Holy Communion on the same day. Then of capital importance is attendance at Mass, with full, active and conscious participation in the Mass, and most important, fervent and loving reception of Holy Communion—the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Lord Jesus.
- Lastly, we must renounce and reject sin in its totality. That is, we must make a firm effort and determination to reject sin, both mortal and venial sin, in all shapes, sizes, circumstances, and conditions. This, of course, also means avoiding the near occasions of sin: any person, place or thing that can lead us into sin.
If these five conditions are carried out to the best of our ability, with purity of heart and intention, then the Plenary Indulgence can be acquired, and not only are all our sins forgiven, but also the temporal punishment that accrued to these sins is forgiven! If you like, a new life, a clean slate, a soul as white as the snow, and if you were to die at that moment, you could have immediate access to God and to heaven! How great is God’s love and mercy to us through Christ’s Mystical Body, the Church, and the Sacramental life!
Final Note: The Plenary Indulgence can be applied to ourselves, but not to any other living person. However, instead of applying the Plenary Indulgence to ourselves, we can choose to apply it to a suffering soul in Purgatory, in which case they will be released to heaven that day.
8. Our Lady of the Rosary
At Fatima, Our Lady asked the children, Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia, to pray the Rosary in every one of the apparitions—six in total, from May through October. Every time we pray the Rosary, we are preparing ourselves for a holy and happy death fifty times. How and with what words? The last words of the Hail Mary: “Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.” We are begging Our Lady to be with us in those last and critical moments so that we can breathe forth our soul into the hands of God!
9, Beg for the Special Grace to Receive the Last Sacraments before Death
A very worthy and noble prayer that we can make to Jesus through Mary is to have the grace to receive the three Sacraments before we die, as well as the Apostolic Pardon. In the proper sequence and order it follows: Sacramental Confession; followed by the Anointing of the Sick; and finally, the reception of Viaticum—the Last Communion for the Wayfarer or Traveler on their Journey to Heaven. As an added bonus, the priest can offer the Apostolic Pardon which consists of these brief but powerful words: “Through the holy mysteries of our redemption, may Almighty God release you from all punishments in this life and in the life to come. May He open to you the gates of paradise and welcome you to everlasting joy.” With these three Sacraments received with the best of dispositions, and the final touch of God’s love and mercy in the Apostolic Pardon, there is a good chance that our death will be our birth into Heaven for all eternity! What a glorious day that would be!
10. What Would You Like Your Last Words on Earth to Be?
I have thought of this question with a certain frequency and come to this conclusion. I would like my heart in those last moments to express three sentiments in these words:
- “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a poor sinner.”A humble recognition of my status as a sinner in desperate need of God’s forgiveness.
- “Jesus, I trust in you!” A limitless TRUST in Jesus’ greatest attribute—His Mercy!
- “Jesus, I love you!” The great Doctor, Mystic, poet and saint, Saint John of the Cross, expressed this perfectly: “In the twilight of our existence, we will be judged on love.”
Copyright 2021 Oblates of the Virgin Mary
St. Peter Chanel Church, Hawaiian Gardens, CA