Mary Renders Death Sweet to Her Clients.
The prophet Isaias tells us that when a man is on the point of leaving the world, hell is opened and sends forth its most terrible demons, both to tempt the soul before it leaves the body, and also to accuse it when presented before the tribunal of Jesus Christ for judgment. The prophet says, ‘Hell below was in an uproar to meet you at your coming, it stirred up the giants for you.’ But Richard of St. Lawrence remarks, that when the soul is defended by Mary, the devils dare not even accuse it, knowing that the Judge never condemned, and never will condemn, a soul protected by His august Mother. He asks, ‘Who would dare accuse one who is patronized by the Mother of Him who is to judge? Mary not only assists her beloved servants at death and encourages them, but she herself accompanies them to the tribunal seat of God. As St. Jerome says, writing to the virgin Eustochia, ‘What a day of joy will that be for you, when Mary, the Mother of our Lord, accompanied by choirs of virgins, will go to meet you.’
The Blessed Virgin assured St. Bridget of this, for speaking of her devout clients at the point of death, she said, ‘Then will I, their dear Lady and Mother, fly to them, that they may have consolation and refreshment.’ St. Vincent Ferrar says, that not only does the most Blessed Virgin console and refresh them, but that she receives the souls of the dying. This loving Queen takes them under her mantle, and thus presents them to the Judge her Son, and most certainly obtains their salvation.
Ecclesiasticus says, that ‘her bands are a healthful binding,’ and that ‘in the latter end you shall find rest in her.’ O, you are indeed fortunate, my brother, if at death you are bound with the sweet chains of love of the Mother of God! These chains are chains of salvation; they are chains that will insure your eternal salvation, and will make you enjoy in death that blessed peace which will be the beginning of your eternal peace and rest. Father Binetti, in his book on the perfections of our Blessed Lord, says, ‘that having attended the deathbed of a great lover of Mary, he heard him, before expiring, utter these words: ‘O my father, would that you could know the happiness that I now enjoy from having served the most holy Mother of God; I cannot tell you the joy that I now experience.’ Father Suarez (in consequence of his devotion to Mary, which was such that he used to say, that he would willingly change all his learning for the merit of a single ‘Hail Mary’) died with such peace and joy, that, in that moment, he said, ‘I could not have thought that death was so sweet;’ meaning, that he could never have imagined that it was possible, if he had not then experienced it, that he could have found such sweetness in death. You, devout reader, will, without doubt, experience the same joy and contentment in death, if you can then remember that you have loved this good mother, who cannot be otherwise than faithful to her children, who have been faithful in serving and honoring her, by their visits, rosaries, and fasts; and still more by frequently thanking and praiseing her, and often recommending themselves to her powerful protection.
Nor will this consolation be withheld, even if you have been for a time a sinner, provided that, from this day, you are careful to live well, and to serve this most gracious and benign Lady. She, in your pains, and in the temptations to despair which the devil will send you, will console you, and even come herself to assist you in your last moments.
And if, by chance, at that moment, you are greatly alarmed, and lose confidence at the sight of your sins, she will come and encourage you. Let us then be of good heart, though we be sinners, and feel certain that Mary will come and assist us at death, and comfort and console us with her presence, provided only that we serve her with love during the remainder of the time that we have to be in this world.
Father Crasset relates, that a military commander told him that once, after a battle, he found a soldier in the camp, who, holding a rosary and Mary’s scapular in his hand, asked for a confessor; as his forehead was pierced by a musket ball, which had come out at the back of his head, so that the brain was visible and came out through each opening, so much so, indeed, that naturally he could not live. He raised himself up, made his confession to the chaplain with great compunction, and when he had received absolution, expired.
O Comforter of the Afflicted, console a poor creature who recommends himself to thee. The remorse of a conscience overburdened with sins fills me with affliction. I am in doubt as to whether I have sufficiently grieved for them. I see that all my actions are soiled and defective; hell awaits my death in order to accuse me; the outraged justice of God demands satisfaction. My Mother, what will become of me? If thou dost not help me, I am lost. What sayest thou, wilt thou assist me? O compassionate Virgin, console me; obtain for me true sorrow for my sins; obtain for me strength to amend, and to be faithful to God, during the rest of my life. And finally, when I am in the agonies of death, O Mary, my hope, abandon me not; then more than ever help and encourage me, that I may not despair at the sight of my sins, which the evil one will then place before me. My Lady, forgive my temerity; come thyself to comfort me with thy presence in that last struggle. This favor thou hast granted to many, grant it also to me. If my boldness is great, thy goodness is greater; for it goes in search of the most miserable to console them. On this I rely. For thy eternal glory, let it be said that thou hast snatched a wretched creature from hell, to which he was already condemned, and that thou hast led him to thy kingdom. O yes, sweet Mother, I hope to have the consolation of remaining always at thy feet in heaven, thanking and blessing and loving thee eternally. O Mary, I shall expect thee at my last hour, deprive me not of this consolation. Fiat, fiat. Amen, amen.
Have yourself and all those in your care enrolled in the Five-fold Scapular or at least the Brown Scapular of the Carmelites and wear it faithfully.