Pray for Us... at the Hour of Our Death
1. We have come to the end of this month, which we have dedicated to Mary. Let us remember, however, that apart from this month of May we should dedicate our whole lives to her up to the final moment of death. We are always in need of Mary's patronage and intercession with God. Let us always have recourse to her, therefore, especially in danger and in suffering, but most especially at the decisive moment of death, for this is the moment on which eternity depends. This day will arrive sooner or later, but it will certainly come, “at an hour that you do not expect.” (Luke 12:40)
In the second part of the Hail Mary the Church places on our lips these words of supplication: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.” How many times we have recited this prayer! But do we ever think of death? Let us remember that a meditation on death is the most valuable lesson in life. One day we shall find ourselves face to face with God, drawing our last breath on earth. It may be on a sick bed, it may be in the middle of a street—we do not know. It may be after a long illness at the end of which we are comforted by the Holy Sacraments and blessed by a priest, or it may be quite unexpected. But it is certain that death will come. Let us aim, therefore, at being always prepared; so that it may not come when we have no good works to offer and when our hearts are full of ourselves and of worldly interests. Like Mary, let us lead lives of holiness, and we shall be sure to die holy deaths. Let us beseech our heavenly Mother to be by our side at that final moment to sustain us in the conflict and to consign our souls to her divine Son, Jesus.
2. Our divine Redeemer, although He was God, did not except Himself from the law of death. It was appropriate, therefore, that His divine Mother should have been no exception either. But Mary had shared in the torments of her Son's death upon Calvary and so obtained from Him the privilege of a death so sweet and gentle as hardly to justify the name at all. Her soul was separated from her body as if in an ecstasy of love and was united even more indissolubly with God. She did not die of a natural disease, but out of love for God. She had always loved God with all the ardour of the noblest of creatures and her life ended in a final outpouring of love. It was the climax of a continuous ascent towards God. Death should be like this for us also. It can be like this if we follow her example, especially in the boundlessness of her love for God.
3. O Mary, my tender Mother, be at my side throughout my life, but especially at the hour of death. Shelter me beneath your maternal mantle and never let me be far apart from you. Grant that I may have a calm and peaceful death like yours, a death made easy by a great love for Jesus and for you, as well as by the reception of the Holy Sacraments and by your special blessing. Amen.
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