How serene am I at the prospect of death?
Eugene’s biographer, Rey, narrates the course of his illness:
The sons of Father de Mazenod, with Father Tempier above all, were far from optimistic; their filial attachment, on the contrary, began to be alarmed.
His illness became worse and worse, and he had to remain in bed. A very high fever broke out a few days later, and the doctors no longer concealed the seriousness of the symptoms. The patient understood the danger of his situation; he was less concerned with the sickness of the body than with the welfare of his soul and of the Society of which he was the Father. One night, when the intensity of the fever had become more violent, he refused to close his eyes for a single moment, wishing, he said, to employ more usefully the few moments that remained for him to live.
Rey I p. 469
Thirty two years later, on the night before he died, the 79 year-old Eugene instructed those around him: “If I fall asleep or if my condition worsens, please wake me up because I want to know that I am dying.”
A few hours before his death he said again: “Oh how I want to see myself dying, so that I can fully accept the will of God.” (Rey II p. 857)
These were the sentiments of a person who had spent his life giving everything to his Savior, and who calmly rejoiced at being eternally united with the One he had always loved.
What a lesson to us to prepare our own lives for a serene encounter with our Savior in death.
“While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die.” Leonardo da Vinci