St. John Vianney describes a“bad death”.He points out that some people say a quick death is bad, or one from a painful disease, or one from an executioner.
The Cure notes that most martyrs were killed by executioners. He notes that St. Francis de Sales die quickly, immediately. He writes that St. Roch and St. Francis Xavier died of the plague.
The only bad death is dying in sin. I dread seeing all the missed opportunities for grace and holiness. I dread not seeing, until my particular judgment, the horrible seriousness of my many sins. As the saint describes, we shall see our sins “in the broad light of day” not in confusion or darkness. We shall see what we did not want to face.
If we keep saying “no” to grace, grace will not suddenly be given to us at death, as we have turned against God so many times. God’s mercy and justice decide our deaths, not us.
The Cure writes this: “Voltaire, realizing that he was ill, began to reflect upon the state of the sinner who dies with his conscience loaded with sins. He wished to examine his conscience and to see whether God would be willing to pardon him all the sins of his life, which were very great in number. He counted upon the mercy of God, which is infinite, and wit this comforting thought in mind, he had brought to him one of those priests whom he had so greatly outraged and calumniated in his writings. He threw himself upon his knees and made a declaration to him of his sins and put into his hands the recantation of all his impieties and his scandals. He began to flatter himself on having achieved the great work of his reconciliation. But he was gravely mistaken. God has abandoned him; you will see how. Death anticipated all spiritual help. Alas! This unfortunate blasphemer felt all his terrors reborn in him. He cried out, ‘Alas, am I then abandoned by God and men?’….
No priests came. He went mad at death, and despaired. Voltaire’s friends who wanted him to die as he had lived, secular, hating God and the Church, denied entry to anyone who could have helped him.
I know a man who wanted to become a Catholic as he was dying. His family could not get a priest to come to his hospital room and to hear his confession. I sincerely hope God granted him baptism of desire, but why did he wait until the very end?
I pray for a happy death. St. Joseph, hear this prayer.
By the way, St. John Vianney reminds us that ignorance of sin, of God’s standards of morality, is our fault.
I have spoken with someone recently who told me that ignorance of sin would cover the sins of two people steeped in sin. No, this is simply not true. We have all the information written in our hearts in natural law. We have all the information we need plus the grace sufficient for salvation. This is our Catholic teaching.
How interesting that so many Catholics do not know that there is a natural law philosophy connected to the theology of the Catholic Church. It is also interesting that the vast majority of the Catholics I have spoken with in the last six months have not read any, none, of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
This is so serious a sin of omission on the part of Catholics that it needs to be addressed from the pulpit. Why do not priests encourage the reading and study of the CCC?
I am sure St. John Vianney would have encouraged his parishioners to study this book. And, if he would have had it at his disposal, he would have referred to it.
I want to quote one more section from the sermons and then move on. This selection is from a sermon on blasphemy and some people may be surprised at the list of sins which this great saint lists under this sin.
“I tell you, therefore, that we blaspheme: 1. When we say that God is not just in making some people so rich that they have everything in abundance while so many others are so wretched that they have difficulty in getting bread to eat. 2. When we say that He is not as good as people say, since He allows so many people to remain weak and despised by others while there are some who are loved and respected by everyone. 3. Or if we say that God does not see everything, that he does not know what is going on in the world. 4. if we say that ‘If God shows mercy to So-and-So, He is not just because that man has done too much harm. 5. Or again, when we come up against some loss or setback and we lose our temper with God and say such things as: ‘Ah, but I certainly have bad luck! God cannot do any more to me! I believe that He does not know I am in the world, or if He does know, it is only so that He can make me suffer!’ It is also blasphemy to criticize the Blessed Virgin….”
One more sin of blasphemy I want to mention if the sin of “final impenitence”. St. John Vianney writes that“Impenitence is a spirit of blasphemy, since the remission of our sins is achieved through love-which is the Holy Ghost.”