On the Last Words of Our Lord on the Cross: "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit."
Jesus abandoned himself to his Father after having been abandoned by him. After showing us how to live he taught us how to die. He afforded us in this life divine lessons of patience, and has given us in his death an admirable and holy example of abandonment to the will and confidence in the mercy of God. Imitate Jesus living and dying. Rest in his arms. Commend your spirit into his hands. He is our Father: can he abandon us? He is our Savior: will he condemn us?
To die well it is necessary to live well. Say often to Jesus Christ what you would say if you were dying: "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit." Thou art its first cause; let it return to thee as to its last end. It is the breath of thy mouth, the product of thy spirit, the price of thy blood, and the sanctuary of thy graces. Into thy hands which were pierced for me, I commend it; and to thy Sacred Heart which is ever open to receive sinners, I recommend it. Oh sweet Jesus, take care of it and abandon it not. Alas, if unsupported by thy hands, it will fall into the power of thy adversary, the devil. Oh, suffer not a soul that has cost thee such an infinite price, to be lost!
Go forth, my soul, from this body which has been your prison. Why should you fear to die? In dying for you Jesus has taken away the sting and bitterness of death. He recommended your spirit to his Almighty Father when he recommended his own. Depart, then, Christian soul, in the name of the Father who created you, of the Son who redeemed you, of the Holy Ghost who sanctified you. Jesus invites you to the eternal rest of heaven.
Bow your head in obedience, and fear not; your soul is safe in the hands of Jesus.
Resolution: I will accept whatever death God sends me and offer it to him united with the death of Jesus.
Prayer: The Protestation for Death by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.
My God, prostrate in Thy presence, I adore Thee; and I intend to make the following protestation, as if I were on the point of passing from this life into eternity.
My Lord, because Thou art the infallible Truth, and hast revealed it to the holy Church, I believe in the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Three Persons, but only one God; Who for all eternity rewards the just in heaven, and punishes the wicked in hell. I believe that the Second Person, that is the Son of God, became man and died for the salvation of mankind; and I believe all that the holy Church believes. I thank Thee for having made me a Christian, and I protest that I will live and die in this holy faith.
My God, my hope, trusting in Thy promises, I hope from Thy mercy, not through my own merits but through the merits of Jesus Christ, for the pardon of my sins, perseverance, and after this miserable life, the glory of paradise. And should the devil at death tempt me to despair at the sight of my sins, I protest that I will always hope in Thee, O Lord, and that I desire to die in the loving arms of Thy goodness.
O God, worthy of infinite love, I love Thee with my whole heart more than I love myself; and I protest that I desire to die making an act of love that I may thus continue to love Thee eternally in heaven which for this end I desire and ask of Thee. And if hitherto, O Lord, instead of loving Thee I have despised Thy infinite goodness, I repent of it with all my heart and I protest that I wish to die always weeping over and detesting the offences I have committed against Thee. I purpose for the future rather to die than ever to sin again; and for the love of Thee I pardon all who have offended me.
O God, I accept death and all the suffering which will accompany it; I unite it with the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ, and offer it in acknowledgment of Thy supreme dominion and in satisfaction for my sins. Do Thou, O Lord, accept this sacrifice which I make of my life for the love of that great sacrifice which Thy divine Son made of Himself upon the altar of the cross. I resign myself entirely to Thy divine will as though I were now on my death-bed, and protest that I wish to die saying: "O Lord, always Thy will be done!"
Most holy Virgin, my advocate and my Mother Mary, thou art and wilt always be, after God, my hope and my consolation at the hour of death. From this moment I have recourse to thee and beg of thee to assist me in that passage. O my dear Queen, do not abandon me in that last moment; come then to take my soul and present it to thy Son. Henceforward I shall expect thee; and I hope to die under thy mantle and clinging to thy feet.
My protector St. Joseph, St. Michael the archangel, my angel guardian, my holy patrons, do you all assist me in that last combat with hell. And Thou my crucified Love, my Jesus, Who wert pleased to choose for Thyself so bitter a death to obtain for me a good death, remember at that hour that I am one of those dear sheep Thou didst purchase with Thy blood. Thou Who, when all the world shall have forsaken me and not one shall be able to assist me, canst alone console me and save me. Do Thou make me worthy then to receive Thee in the Viaticum and suffer me not to lose Thee forever and to be banished forever to a distance from Thee. No, my beloved Saviour, receive me then into Thy sacred wounds, for I now embrace Thee. At my last breath I intend to breathe forth my soul into the loving wound in Thy side saying now for that moment, "Jesus and Mary, I give you my heart and my soul!"
O happy suffering, to suffer for God! Happy death, to die in the Lord! I embrace Thee now, my good Redeemer, that I may die in Thy embraces. If, O my soul, Mary assists thee at thy departure, and Jesus receives thy last breath, it will not be death, but a sweet repose.
By a Member of the Society of Jesus, edited and amended by J. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R.