St John Vianney’s Exhortation on Death

CHAPTER 2: On Death

A day will come, perhaps it is not far off, when we must bid goodbye to life, goodbye to the world, goodbye to our relations, goodbye to our friends. When shall we return, my children? Never. We appear upon this earth, we disappear, and we return no more; our poor body, that we take such care of, goes away into dust, and our soul, all trembling, goes to appear before the good God. When we quit this world, where we shall appear no more, when our last breath of life escapes, and we say our last goodbye, we shall wish to have passed our life in solitude, in the depths of a desert, far from the world and its pleasures. We have these examples of repentance before our eyes every day, my children, and we remain always the same. We pass our life gaily, without ever troubling ourselves about eternity. By our indifference to the service of the good God, one would think we were never going to die.

See, my children, some people pass their whole life without thinking of death. It comes, and behold! they have nothing; faith, hope, and love, all are already dead within them. When death shall come upon us, of what use will three-quarters of our life have been to us? With what are we occupied the greatest part of our time? Are we thinking of the good God, of our salvation, of our soul? O my children! what folly is the world! We come into it, we go out of it, without knowing why. The good God places us in it to serve Him, to see if we will love Him and be faithful to His law; and after this short moment of trial, He promises us a recompense. Is it not just that He should reward the faithful servant and punish the wicked one? Should the Trappist, who has passed his life in lamenting and weeping over his sins, be treated the same as the bad Christian, who has lived in abundance in the midst of all the enjoyments of life? No; certainly not. We are on earth not to enjoy its pleasures, but to labor for our salvation.

Let us prepare ourselves for death; we have not a minute to lose: it will come upon us at the moment when we least expect it; it will take us by surprise. Look at the saints, my children, who were pure; they were always trembling, they pined away with fear; and we, who so often offend the good God – we have no fears. Life is given us that we may learn to die well, and we never think of it. We occupy ourselves with everything else. The idea of it often occurs to us, and we always reject it; we put it off to the last moment. O my children! this last moment, how much it is to be feared! Yet the good God does not wish us to despair; He shows us the good thief, touched with repentance, dying near Him on the cross; but he is the only one; and then see, he dies near the good God. Can we hope to be near Him at our last moment – we who have been far from Him all our life? What have we done to deserve that favor? A great deal of evil, and no good.

There was once a good Trappist Father, who was trembling all over at perceiving the approach of death. Someone said to him, “Father, of what then are you afraid?” “Of the judgment of God,” he said. “Ah! if you dread the judgment – you who have done so much penance, you who love God so much, who have been so long preparing for death – what will become of me?” See, my children, to die well we must live well; to live well, we must seriously examine ourselves: every evening think over what we have done during the day; at the end of each week review what we have done during the week; at the end of each month review what we have done during the month; at the end of the year, what we have done during the year. By this means, my children, we cannot fail to correct ourselves, and to become fervent Christians in a short time. Then, when death comes, we are quite ready; we are happy to go to Heaven.

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9 Responses to St John Vianney’s Exhortation on Death

  1. Jerry says:

    When we quit this world, where we shall appear no more, when our last breath of life escapes, and we say our last goodbye, we shall wish to have passed our life in solitude, in the depths of a desert, far from the world and its pleasures.

    Maybe John… maybe Mother Theresa, John Paul II, Martin Luther King, and others who did not “pass their lives in solitude” died regretting it, but I doubt it. —- This guy Vianney really is frustrating with his absurd remarks

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  2. toadspittle says:

    .

    “See, my children, some people pass their whole life without thinking of death..”

    Toad doubts that. Some people may spend their whole lives trying to avoid thinking of death.
    But that is not the same thing.

    He also eager awaits St. John Vianny’s Anathema On Blogging Too Much. This must be installment 98. No doubt, something spectacularly horrible befalls those who are guilty.

    (Toad’s hardly the one to talk, though.)

    Like

  3. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Hold on a bit, willyouze?

    Robert John Bennet, (brother of Gordon) finds St Jean-Marie Vianney to be a shining light of guidance.

    Just keep that in mind.

    Like

  4. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    And that reminds me;

    Toad recently complained that French pilgrims in Spain said not “hola”, but “bonjour”, and he condemned their whole nation on this flimsy event. Oo’ does ‘e think ‘e is – Kelvin McKenzie? – Derek Jamieson?

    But now he refers to St. John Vianney and not St. Jean-Marie Vianney.
    Oh! perfidious Albion…..

    It’s no good Toad further complaining that he is only following the usage of CP&S – he has been hoist with his own leotard.

    His ‘Gilbert and George’ double act with Jerry has perhaps bewildered him.

    But we may never be told.

    I
    hope
    not.

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  5. toadspittle says:

    .

    Somehow, Toad never expected to see Kel Boy and Del Boy mentioned on CP&S. Certainly not as a Diabolical Duo. Strewth! As Jabba would say.

    Verwily, God, etc. works… etc..stwange and mysterwious ways… etc. etc.

    Anyway, he did not “complain” about the French. Merely stated a fact. They gave us Montaigne, Pascal, Camus, Malraux, Flaubert and Sartre, among others – and those les six alone absolves them from Maurice Chevalier. Nearly.

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  6. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Toad you are quite right, and I intuit that you are perfectly fine with any nation. Probably. Perhaps I have extended my bungee jump a tad too far here, in the services of humour. Mea culpa. It is perhaps a GOOD THING that I will be gone for a while, soon.

    I fully agree about Maurice. My poor old mother used to say he was a “bad man”. I now guess she meant he was a ladies man, but I’ll never know; or was it because of “Zank heavenz for leetle girls”? She was a modest little woman who probably read my father’s copies of Titbits, on the quiet.

    There’s worse than Maurice, BTW, and it’s the execrable Johnny Halliday. I have upset French friends when I mused that much of his efforts and the singing up to say the ’80s sounded very much to me like the bleatings of goats. However, I was told that this was ‘vibrato’.

    G &G were topical because they have a new exhibition based on stolen newspaper hoardings. They say the exhibits cost up to £200,000 which is why I say that art is a commodity, dear boy.

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  7. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Best wishes to Toad and Jerry and all.

    Keep on taking the tablets!

    Like

  8. “(I)t will come upon us at the moment when we least expect it; it will take us by surprise.”

    Again, thank you for posting the good writings of a good man and a great saint.

    Like

  9. toadspittle says:

    “(I)t will come upon us at the moment when we least expect it; it will take us by surprise.”

    Not necessarily. Nobody was particularly surprised when Christopher Hitchens died.
    Certainly not him.

    However, if death does happen to arrive “at the moment when we least expect it”, it’s pretty certain to take us by surprise.

    He’s got that bit right.

    Like

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