Thoughts of Death ...
Homo sapiens. Yes, we are thinking men.. and so we shall all live up to what we are called scientifically and really think about what we really want in life - our aims, our goals ...
As pertaining to the topic, I was reading, as I always do, the Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis. I found this meditation: "Thoughts of Death" in Chapter 23 of Book I. When I first read this book, I was amazed by how well each chapter portrayed the several fundamental principles of our spiritual life. Quoting from the foreword of this book, " The Christian soul is invited to follow Christ Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. As we study its contents we are convinced that without the Truth there is no knowing, without that Life there is no real living." And thus, I would like to share this chapter with you, my reader, on ... "Thoughts of Death".
The article taken below is reproduced from Chapter 23 of Book I, My Imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis, A revised translation. (C) Copyright 1982 Confraternity of the Precious Blood.
1."Very quickly must thou be gone from hence, see then how matters stand with thee; a man is here to-day and to-morrow he is vanished." - 1 Mach . II.63
And when he is taken out of sight he is quickly also out of mind.
Oh, the dullness and hardness of man's heart, which only thinks of what is present, and looks not forward to things to come.
Thou oughtst in every action and thought so to order thyself as if thou wert immediately to die.
If thou hadst a good conscience thou wouldst not much fear death.
It were better for thee to fly sin than to be afraid of death. - Dan. XIII.23
If thou art not prepared to-day how shalt thou be to-morrow?
To-morrow is an uncertain day; and how host thou know that thou shalt be alive to-morrow? - James IV. 14
2. What benefit is it to live long when we advance so little?
Ah! long life does not always make us better, but often adds to our guilt.
Would to God we had behaved ourselves well in this world even for one day!
Many count the years of their conversion; but oftentimes the fruit of amendment is but small.
If it be frightful to die, perhaps it will be more dangerous to live longer.
Blessed is he that has always the hour of death before his eyes and every day disposes himself to die. - Ecclus. VII.40
If thou hast at any time seen a man die think that thou must also pass the same way.
3. In the morning imagine that thou shalt not live till night; and when evening comes presume not to promise thyself the next morning.
Be therefore always prepared, and live in such a manner that death may never find thee unprovided.
Many die suddenly and when they little think of it: "Because at what hour you know not the Son of Man will come." - Matt. XXIV.44
When that last hour shall come thou wilt begin to have quite other thoughts of thy whole past life; and thou wilt be exceedingly grieved that thou hast been so negligent and remiss. - Wis. V.6
4. How happy and prudent is he who strives to be such now in this life as he desires to be found at his death.
For it will give a man a great confidence of dying happily if he has a perfect contempt of the world, a fervent desire of advancing in virtue, a love for discipline, the spirit of penance, a ready obedience, self-denial, and patience in bearing all adversities for the love of Christ.
Thou mayest do many good things whilst thou art well, but when thou art sick I know not what thou wilt be able to do.
Few are improved by sickness; so too they that travel much abroad seldom become holy.
5.Trust not in thy friends and relations, nor put off the welfare of thy soul to hereafter; for men will sooner forget thee than thou imaginest.
It is better now to provide in time, and send some good before thee, than to trust to the help of others after thy death. - Matt. VI.20
If thou art not now careful for thyself who will be careful for thee hereafter?
The present time is very precious; "now is an acceptable time: now is the day of salvation." - 2 Cor. VI.2
But it is greatly to be lamented that thou dost not spend this time more profitably in which thou mayst aquire wherwith to live forever.
The time will come when thou wilt wish for one day or hour to amend and I know not whether thou shalt obtain it.
6. O my dearly beloved, from how great a danger mayst thou deliver thyself! from how great a fear mayst thou be freed if thou wilt but now be always fearful and looking for death!
Strive now so to live that in the hour of thy death thou mayst rather rejoice than fear.
Learn now to die to the world that then thou mayst begin to live with Christ. - Rom. VI.8
Learn now to despise all things that then thou mayst freely go to Christ.
Chastise thy body now by penance that thou mayst then have an assured confidence. - 1 Cor. IX.27
7. Ah fool! why dost thou think to live long when thou art not sure of one day? - Luke XII.20
How many thinking to live long have been deceived and unexpectedly snatched away!
How often hast thou heard related that such a man was slain by the sword; another drowned; another falling from on high broke his neck; this man died at the table; that other came to his end when he was at play.
Some have perished by fire; some by the sword; some by pestilence; some by robbers: and thus death is the end of all, and man's life passeth suddenly like a shadow. - Eccles. VII.1
8. Who will remember thee when thou art dead and who will pray for thee?
Do now, beloved, do now all thou canst, because thou knowest not when thou shalt die; not dost thou know what shall befall thee after death.
Whilst thou hast time heap to thyself riches that will never die! - Matt. VI.20
Think of nothing but thy salvation, care for nothing but the things of God.
Make now to thyself friends, by honouring the saints of God, and imitating their actions,that when thou shalt fail in this life, they may receive thee into everlasting dwellings. - Luke XVI.9
9. Keep thyself as a pilgrim and a stranger upon earth to whom the affairs of this world do not in the least belong. - 1 Pet. II.11
Keep thy heart free and raised upwards to God, because thou hast not here a lasting abode.
Send thither thy daily prayers with sighs and tears that after death thy spirit may be worthy to pass happily to our Lord. Amen!
Dear friends, I hope you have gained much, as I did, after reading this chapter from the Imitation of Christ.
Truly! This subject is worth contemplating as I believe our whole life centers on this one fact: That we are all going to die one day. And because we all know that we are all going to die one day, what preparations do we make for it?
O Mary! Conceived without sin, pray for us those who have recourse to Thee!
Benedictatu in mulieribus, et benedictus fruitus ventri tui,
Ora pro nobis,
Nunc et in hora mortis nostrae.
O! and here is a picture of one of my favourite Saints:
Introducing: ... Saint Therese of the Child Jesus! =)