From a reader…
Forgive the morbid nature of my query, but with the nature of the world today (and the mindset of an undertaker) a question has been on my mind. If one were to know death was imminent, what would be the very best prayer to recite with one’s final breath? Thank you for the daily edification you provide!
That is a good question.
I think that whatever prayer was uttered with sincerity and hope would be treated well.
However, for my part, I – a poor sinner – would beg for God’s mercy.
My Jesus, mercy!
Save me, O Lord!
Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
Holy Mary, pray for me.
Saint Joseph, pray for me.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, help me.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, assist me in my last agony.
That said, I think many of us die the way we live. Just as soldiers and athletes drill and drill and drill so that actions and reactions are nearly automatic in times of extreme stress, we all have to have habits of prayer which will kick in even in that solemn moment, when we may be in pain, afraid, in duress.
The soldier’s lot and the athlete’s striving are images of the Christian life. We strive for the crown of glory at the of the struggle, Greek agon, the final “agony” we must all face. Praying often short intense prayers during the day, every day, in little nooks and corners of our day or in the midst of even boring or of strenuous activities will help us to pray in the same way in the moments before we take our last breath, our hearts stop, our souls separate from our bodies, and we go to God, Christ the Just Judge, King of Fearful Majesty.
Oro supplex et acclinis,
cor contritum quasi cinis:
gere curam mei finis.
I meekly and humbly pray,
[my] heart is as crushed as the ashes:
perform the healing of mine end.
Lacrimosa dies illa,
Qua resurget ex favilla,
Judicandus homo reus.
Huic ergo parce, Deus:
Tearful will be that day,
on which from the ash arises
the guilty man who is to be judged.
Spare him therefore, God.
Pie Jesu Domine,
Dona eis requiem. Amen.
Merciful Lord Jesus,
grant them rest. Amen.
Dona mihi requiem!
If we develop these habits of prayer, it could be that, when the time comes, we won’t be so afraid and passing into the next life will bring longing and relief.
Dear readers… GO TO CONFESSION.
My Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner.