FACING DEATH

If I knew that I only had a few hours to live, what would my thoughts be?

Eugene was at the bedside of the dying Hippolyte Courtès all the time, and records the sentiments of the man facing his death:

In the interval, one could not have been more edified by the sentiments of this beloved patient; he wanted me to be close to his bed so as to converse with me about supernatural things. Yesterday evening, he spoke to me on this level in the most perfect manner possible. He anticipated his last hour with the sentiments of a holy religious and, I can say, with a pure, innocent soul, full of fervour.
“I have always loved our good Master,” he told me, “and I ought to admit that I have never been able to see or hear him offended without trembling with horror; but I would wish still to love him more and I have said to him that I am resolved never to give him sorrow in the slightest thing and to serve him with more fidelity still in the most exact observance of our Rules. If it were to be otherwise, I ask him earnestly not to permit that I be cured, because I prefer death rather than commit the least deliberate fault”.
All that he said in a low voice, peacefully, with great calmness of mind. He confided also very simply that he had always had a devotion to his holy guardian angel who had assisted him very often and had preserved him.
There was question of holy communion that he had already received several times but which he desired again. We agreed to give it to him in viaticum because he thought there must be special graces attached to this communion; I reminded him that that was true for everybody, but still more so for us who renew in this moment our consecration to God.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 11 May 1829, EO VII n 329

The following day, Fr. Courtès began to respond to treatment and overcame the crisis – living a productive missionary life for another 34 years. The heartfelt sentiments which he expressed as he believed he was dying remained as the guiding lights of the rest of his life,

“Death is a stripping away of all that is not you. The secret of life is to “die before you die” — and find that there is no death.”    Eckhart Tolle

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One Response to FACING DEATH

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    “…but I would wish still to love him more and I have said to him that I am resolved never to give him sorrow in the slightest thing and to serve him with more fidelity still in the most exact observance of our Rules.” These few lines where he shares his deepest truest being as a man who loved God greatly and how much a part of him was his being Oblate. It was more than just a cloak he wore but rather was an integral part of who he was.

    What would be my thoughts if I knew that I would die within a few hours? The truth is I do not know, I know only what I would like my thoughts to be. Reflection does not necessarily need to take a long time – and I hope those moments and hours would be full and that I would be able to share how greatly I have loved and not just look at where I have not.

    Of late though I have not be so much focussing on the things that I have not done but rather focusing on how I have done certain things. Where my heart was in all of it (was it closed and hidden in darkness or open and giving in the light). There have been some great moments and then some that are not quite so stellar.

    When I first saw this question my thoughts flew to where I was last night. Moments of sorrow as I recognized with a little guilt and much more sorrow of how I treated another – not to her face but to ensure that she did not get what I believed she did not deserve. I measured, I judged, I stopped loving as I decided who belonged and who did not. Later, I did go out of my way to love another who was easier to love. I sit here dying a little this morning and it is not nice and cosy, not comfortable nor holy.

    Someone once told me that we die as we have lived. I guess I will look as I do now, a woman who loves greatly and most imperfectly. Right now I am again filled with longing. O come Lord Jesus, come.

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