Tag:  Death

Death: Our Greatest And Last Spiritual Struggle – [1]

Death: Our Greatest And Last Spiritual Struggle – [1]

DEATH: Our Greatest And Last Spiritual Struggle.

How painful, how terrible, how awful death will be for us in our last agony of death. How severe a conflict when Hell is allowed to tempt us with doubts and feel us with despair, so that we may lose our soul’s when we come into our last moments! No one knows with certainty where they will go after death, or how we will stand in the Day of Judgment. What a terrible moment a soul goes through in it’s last agony, and if some people you say pass away most peacefully, this is because nature, exhausted by suffering, has no longer the force to struggle with death or to show Satan’s final assaults on the soul or that Satan already has assurance that the soul is his. 

But for a Catholic and other soul’s who may possibly be willing to convert to the true Faith on their death bed, Jesus allows a final test not to condemn man, but in order that mankind might at least in some measure understand how terrible was the death He died for us was. He ordained that we, at our dissolution, should taste something of the bitterness of His death, and let us gain more merit in Heaven if we are able to overcome satan’s last assaults and claim final victory. 

Pope St. Gregory wrote

“Christ’s conflict with death represents our last conflict, teaching us that the agony of death is the keenest agony that man has ever felt or will ever feel. Christ wants all men in their final moments to suffer the like pains which He suffered for us in His last agony. How severe a conflict is before us and what torments await us at our last hour! The very thought of our eternity which will be permanent will cause the soul much SUFFERING having Heaven or Hell before us, and the unrelenting assaults of Satan. Like stated before with regards to the assaults of Satan, remember once again that the all-just God permits him to have great power to assail us at the hour of death, not indeed for our perdition, but for our probation and victory. Before expiring, the true Christian has yet to prove that nothing can avail to make him forsake his God. For this reason, the evil enemy employs all the power he has received, and brings all his forces to bear upon a man when he is dying, in the hope of causing him to sin, and thrusting him down to Hell. While Satan is already allowed from the moment we are born to attack us fiercely, and neglects no means whereby he may deceive us, those persecutions are nothing in comparison with the final onslaught with which he endeavors to overcome us at our last agony. At that moment and due to his inexhaustible hatred for God and man, he raves and rages, like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour”.

Apocalypse/Revelation (22 v 12): 

“Woe to the earth and to the sea, because the Devil is coming down unto you, having great wrath, knowing that he has but a short time.”

These words bear a special application for the dying, against whom the Devil conceives an eternal hatred for, and whom he makes every effort to claim in our last moment’s. For he knows full well that if he does not get our soul then, he will never again have the chance of doing so. StGregory says on this point: 

“Consider well how terrible is the hour of death, and how appalling the remembrance of our evil deeds will be at that time. For the spirits of darkness will recall all the harm they have done to us, and remind us of the sins which we have committed at their instigation. They will not go to the death bed of the godless only, but they will be present with the elect, striving to discover something sinful whereof to accuse them. Alas ! how will it fare with us hapless mortals in that hour, and what can we say for ourselves, seeing how innumerable are the sins to be laid to our charge? What can we answer to our adversaries, when they place all our sins before us, with the object of reducing us to despair?” 

The evil spirits will tempt their victim’s at the moment of death on various points, but especially in regard to the sins into which we has most frequently fallen. If during our lifetime we have cherished hatred towards any one, they will conjure up before our dying eyes the image of that person, rehearsing all they did to injure him, in order to revive the flame of hate towards that enemy, or kindle it anew. Or if we have transgressed against purity, they will show us the accomplice of our sin, and strive to awaken the guilty carnal passion and false love we once felt for that individual…to be continued.

Death: Our Greatest And Last Spiritual Struggle – 2

Death: Our Greatest And Last Spiritual Struggle – 2

continued…

If we have been troubled with doubts concerning the Faith, they recall to our mind the article of belief which we had difficulty in accepting, representing it to us as untrue, whereby we deny the Holy Spirit Himself. If we have a tendency to despair, the evil spirits encourage it, that they may rob us of any hope of salvation.

The person who has sinned through pride, and boasted of their good works, they seek to ensnare by flattery, assuring that they stand high in the favor of God, and all they have done cannot fail to secure them their place in Heaven. Again, if in our lifetime if we have been given to impatience, allowing ourself to be angry and irritated by every trifle, they make our illness appear most undeserved to us that that we may become impatient, and rebel against God for having sent upon us so painful a malady, doubting His Mercy. Or if we have been tepid and indevout, without fervor in prayer or perseverance in our religious exercises they try to maintain in our soul this state of apathy, suggesting to us that our physical weakness is too great even to allow us to join in the prayers of our friends. 

Also they tempt those who have led a godless life, and repeatedly fallen into mortal sin, to despair, representing their transgressions to be so great as to be past forgiveness. In a word, the spirits of evil assail our soul’s at the moment of death most fiercely at this most vulnerable point, just as a skilful general will storm a fortress on the side where he perceives the ramparts to be weakest.

But the devils do not confine themselves to tempting us in regard to our chief failings and predominant faults, they frequently tempt us to sins of which we have not even been guilty. For these devil’s spare no pains to deceive the dying, and if they fail in one way, they attempt to succeed in another. These temptations are of no ordinary character. They are sometimes so violent that it is impossible for weak mortals to resist them without supernatural assistance. If it is all that any one in good health can do to withstand the assaults of the devil, and even such a one is more often overcome by them, how difficult must it be for one who is weak by sickness to struggle against foes so formidable! On this point a pious writer says: 

“Unless the dying person has, previous to their last illness, armed themselves against these attacks, and is accustomed to do battle with their spiritual adversaries, they stand a poor chance of prevailing against them at the moment of death. If we do so, it will be only through the assistance of almighty God, of our Blessed Lady, of our guardian angel, or of one of the saints. For our merciful God and His angels and blessed saints do not abandon the Christian in the hour of our direst need they hasten to help, that is, provided we are deserving of their aid.”

Another horrifying tactic is the terrible appearance of the evil spirits which makes death more unbearable and alarming to us. It is the opinion of many of the Church Fathers, that every one, when expiring, sees the evil enemy in all his horror at the moment of drawing their last breath, if not a while before. How terrifying this sight is, and with what terror it must inspire in the dying, it exceeds the power of words to declare.

It is related of Brother Giles that one day, when he was praying in his cell, the Devil appeared to him in so frightful a shape, that the Brother lost the power of speech, and thought his last hour had come. As his lips could not utter a sound, he raised his heart in humble supplication to God, and the apparition vanished. Afterwards, when relating what had befallen him to his brother-monks, he trembled from head to foot as he described the hideous aspect of -the adversary of mankind. Then going to StFrancis of Assisi, he asked him this question: “Father, have you ever seen anything in this world the sight of which was so horrible that it was enough to kill one to behold it?”

And the Saint replied:

“I have indeed seen such a thing, it is none other than the devil, whose aspect is so loathsome that no one could gaze upon it even for a short time and live, unless God specially enabled him to do so.”

StCyril also, writing to StAugustine, says that one of the three men who were raised from the dead told him: 

“As the hour of my departure drew near, a multitude of Devils, countless in number, came and stood about me. Their forms were more horrible than anything imagination can conceive. One would rather be burnt in the fire than be compelled to look upon them. These demons ranged themselves around me, and reproached me with all the misdeeds I had ever done, thinking to drive me to despair. And in fact I should have given way before them, had not God in His mercy come to my succor.”

Jesus speaking to Saint Catherine of Siena regarding Satan said to her:

“The sight of the Devil revive these wretched ones to torments, because in seeing him they know themselves more, that is to say, they know that, by their own sin, they have made themselves worthy of him. And so the worm of Conscience gnaws more and more, and the fire of this Conscience never ceases to burn. And the sight is more painful to them, because they see him in his own form, which is so horrible that the heart of man could not imagine it and if you remember well, you know that I showed him to you in his own form for a little space of time, hardly a moment, and you chose (after you had returned to yourself) rather to walk on a road of fire, even until the Day of Judgment, than to see him again. With all this that you have seen, even you do not know well how horrible he is”.

Veronica Giuliani describing Satan, Here it is sitting, ghastly, horrible. O God! What can describe such horror! More horrible and ugly than all other demons!!!!

Saint Frances of Rome said this when she saw Satan: 

“The most horrible site that ever was or will be — the great Devil chained down in the middle of Hell. Already you hear the rattling of the tremendous chains of the great monster! See! there he is — the most horrible and abominable of all monsters, the Devil. His size is immense! He shall fill the length of the land. He was sitting on a long beam which passed through the middle of Hell. His feet went down into the lowest depths of Hell. They rested on the floor of Hell. They were fastened with great, heavy iron chains. These chains were fixed to an immense ring in the floor. His hands were chained up to the roof. One of his hands was turned up against heaven, to blaspheme God and the saints who dwell there. His other hand was stretched out, pointing to the lowest Hell. His tremendous and horrible head was raised up on high, and touched the roof. From his head came two immense horns. I saw another beast having two horns. From each horn smaller horns, without number, branched out, which, like chimneys, sent out fire and smoke. His enormous mouth was wide open. Out of it there was running a river of fire, which gave no light, but a most abominable smell. Flame cometh out of his mouth. Round his neck was a collar of red hot iron. A burning chain tied him round the middle. The uglinesses of his face was such that no man or devil could bear it. It was the most deformed, horrible, frightful thing that ever was or will be. His great fierce eyes were filled with pride and anger, and rage, and spite, and blood, and fire, and savage cruelty. There was something else in those eyes for which there is no name, but it made those on whom the Devil’s eyes were fixed tremble and shake as if they were dying.”

Here we have the testimonials of them who have actually seen how frightful the appearance of the evil enemy is, and who declares that nothing can be more horrible than the site of the Devil.

What can be done about this since we all will have to face the same battle in our final moments? We must turn to prayer now and ready ourselves for a good death and invoke our Blessed Mother the Virgin Mary to appear before us with the Saint’s and Angels to turn the horror of death into the Sweetness of Eternal Life in our Lord Jesus Heavenly Kingdom…Concluded. 

Source:

Taken Primarily from The four last things: Death, Judgment, Hell, Heaven by MartinVon Cochem.

Nihil Obstat: Thomas L Kinkead,  Censor Liborium Imprimatur: Michael Augustine — Archbishop of New York.

Be Careful Not To Assume Judgement On The Dead 

Be Careful Not To Assume Judgement On The Dead 


Be Careful Not To Assume Judgement On The Dead.

Great sinners, who die without being outwardly reconciled with God, we may not exclude them from our suffrages, because we have not the certainty of their interior impenitence. Faith teaches us that all men dying in the state of Mortal Sin incur eternal damnation, but who are those that in reality die in that state? God alone, who reserves to Himself the judgment of the living and the dead, knows this. 

As to ourselves, we can but draw a conjectural conclusion from exterior circumstances, and from this we must refrain. It must, however, be confessed that there is everything to be feared for those who die unprepared for death, and all hope seems to vanish for those who refuse to receive the Sacraments. The latter quit this life with exterior signs of reprobation. Nevertheless, we must leave the judgment to God, according to the words, Dei judicium est “To God belongs judgment”.

There is more to be hoped for those who are not positively hostile to religion, who are benevolent towards the poor, who retain some practice of Christian piety, or who at least approve and favour piety; there is more, I say, to hope for such persons when it happens that they die suddenly, without having had the time to receive the last Sacraments of the Church.

St. Francis de Sales will not have us despair of the conversion of sinners until their last breath, and even after their death he forbids us to judge evil of those who have led a bad life. With the exception of those sinners whose reprobation is made manifest by Holy Scripture, we may not, he says, conclude that a person is damned, but must respect the secret of God. His principal reason was, that as the first grace is gratuitous, so also is the last, which is final perseverance or a good death. This is why we must hope for the departed, how sad however his death may have been, because our conjectures can be based on the exterior only, whereby the most clever may be deceived.

HOW MAKING A PERFECT CONTRITION BEFORE YOU DIE CAN SAVE YOUR SOUL.

(Saint Luke Ch. 7:47 – Many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much).

Q: How is actual sin divided?

A: Actual sin is divided into mortal sin and venial sin.

Q: What is mortal sin?

A: Mortal sin is a serious offence against God.

Q: Why is it called mortal sin?

A: It is called mortal sin because it is so serious that it kills the soul and deserves Hell.

Q: How does mortal sin kill the soul?

A: Mortal sin kills the soul by depriving it of sanctifying grace, which is the supernatural life of the soul.

Q: Is it a great evil to fall into mortal sin?

A: It is the greatest of all evils to fall into mortal sin.

Q: Where will they go who die in mortal sin?

A: They who die in mortal sin will go to Hell for all eternity.

Q: What is perfect contrition?

A: Perfect contrition is sorrow for sin arising purely from the love of God.

Q: What special value has perfect contrition?

Perfect contrition has this special value; that by it our sins are forgiven immediately, even before we confess them; but nevertheless, if they are serious, we are strictly bound to go to Confession.

Perfect Contrition will also free us from eternal death and open to us eternal life if we are about to die unexpectedly or waited so long to Confess. Remember this beautiful gift of God, it must be known that we can only profit from it if we are sincerely sorrowful for all mortal sins.

Q: How May We Obtain a Hearty Sorrow For Our Sins?

A: We may obtain a hearty sorrow for our sins by earnestly praying for it, and by making use of such considerations as may lead us to it.

Q: What consideration concerning God will lead us to sorrow for our sins?

A: This consideration concerning God will lead us to sorrow for our sins; that by our sins we have offended God, who is infinitely good in himself and infinitely good to us.

Q: What consideration concerning our Saviour will lead us to sorrow for our sins?

A: This consideration concerning our Saviour will lead us to sorrow for our sins; that our Saviour died for our sins, and that those who sin grievously ‘have wilfully crucified the Son of God and openly mocked him.’ (Heb. 6:6).

“Do you wish to know an easy way of exciting yourselves to true sorrow for your sins? Make three little visits- the first above (Heaven), the second below (Hell), the third in the middle (Calvary).” – St Charles Borromeo.

A Prayer That Can Be Said For Those Making An Act of Perfect Contrition.

ACT OF CONTRITION.

O MY GOD,  I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell; but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.

Examples Of Those Who Have Experienced Perfect Contrition.

1. Remember the good thief — a robber condemned to death — and yet for those few words spoken from his heart, “Lord, remember me when You shall come into Your Kingdom,” he was immediately promised Heaven by Christ Himself: “Today, you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

2. Saint Peter, who denied his Master three times. Jesus looked at him; Peter said not a single word, but, “going out, wept bitterly.” He was forgiven; he was chosen by Christ to be His first successor on earth — the Prince of the Apostles — and today is one of the most glorious saints in Heaven.

3. Mary Magdalen, a public sinner. She did not even say one word, but simply wept at the Feet of Jesus. Jesus saw the sorrow in her heart, and, turning to her, said: “Woman! because you have loved much, your sins are forgiven you.”

4. It is related in the life of the Curé d’Ars that on one occasion, a lady, a perfect stranger to him, asked him to pray for her husband, a careless Catholic, who had just died suddenly and without receiving the Sacraments. “He was so careless, Father,” she said, weeping; “he did not go to his duties, and whatever will become of him?” “Madam,” replied the saintly priest, “do you not remember the bouquet of flowers he picked every Saturday to decorate Our Ladys altar? In return Our Blessed Lady obtained for him the grace to make an act of Perfect Contrition before dying, and he is saved.”

A Prayer For The Dying And A Special Soul.

O MOST MERCIFUL JESUS, lover of souls, 

I beseech Thee, by the agony of Thy most Sacred Heart, and by the sorrows of Thine Immaculate Mother, wash clean in the Thy Blood the sinners of the whole world who are to die this day. Remember most especially the soul I spiritually adopt with the intention of entrusting him or her to Thy Shepherd’s care:

I beseech Thee for the grace to move this sinner, who is in danger of going to Hell, to repent. I ask this because of my trust in Thy great mercy. If it should please Thy Majesty to send me a suffering this day in exchange for the grace I ask for this soul, then, it, too, shall please me very much, and I thank Thee, Most Sweet Jesus, Shepherd and Lover of Souls; I thank Thee for this opportunity to give mercy in thanksgiving for all the mercies Thou hast shown me. Amen.

Heart of Jesus, once in agony, have mercy on the dying.

(1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary, 1 Glory Be).

Photos: How The Last White Male Rhino Died In Kenya 

Photos: How The Last White Male Rhino Died In Kenya 

A northern white rhino and the last male of his subspecies, died Monday at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.

The rhino named ‘Sudan’ — once called by the dating app Tinder as the “most eligible bachelor in the world” — was 45 years old and in poor health.

Before he was euthanized by a veterinary team, photographer Ami Vitale was able to say farewell to her old friend.

“It was heartbreaking yesterday, but I was relieved I could say goodbye,” Vitale said. “He leaned his head right into me and then the rains came pouring down, just as they had when he arrived here nine years ago.”

The Ol Pejeta Conservancy has been the home of northern white rhinos since 2009. There were only eight then, according to photographer Ami Vitale. Now there are just two left, and both are females.

Vitale first met Sudan in 2009, when he and three other northern white rhinos — among the last of their kind — were moved to Kenya from a zoo in the Czech Republic. The subspecies had been reduced to eight worldwide because of poachers, who target rhinos for their horns.

Workers at the conservancy watch the rhinos around the clock and protect them. The hope was that the climate and the extra room to roam would entice them to breed. But time ran out on Sudan, and now there are only two northern whites left in the world: his daughter, Najin, and his granddaughter, Fatu.

“It was really hard on all of his keepers,” Vitale said. “They’ve fallen in love with him. They say they wake up in the morning and see (the rhinos) often before they see their own children. They say, ‘These are our babies.’ ”

Sudan is comforted Monday before his death. He had been in poor health, and he was euthanized by a veterinary team.

Workers from the Ol Pejeta Conservancy watch Sudan’s final moments on Monday. They had cared for the rhino for the past nine years.

Vitale said Sudan was a gentle soul. He was very affectionate; one vet called him a sweetie-pie.

“When he was first brought back to Africa, there were these torrential rains,” Vitale remembered. “I realized it was the first time he had rolled in African mud since he was a young rhino. It was beautiful watching him reconnect with where he came from.

“Then yesterday when those rains came, he perked up. He was lying down, and he just pushed his head right up.”

Vitale, her voice slightly cracking with emotion, said it was like Sudan’s life had come full circle.

“When he died, it was silent except for one little go-away-bird chirping ‘go away, go away, go away.’ ”

Fatu and Najin are the last two northern white rhinos left on the planet. Najin is Sudan’s daughter and Fatu is his granddaughter.

There still might be hope, however, for the northern white rhino. Scientists have saved some of Sudan’s genetic material, and they hope to use in-vitro fertilization to bring the subspecies back. They’ll have to use a southern white rhino as a surrogate, Vitale said, but they like their chances.

Even if they’re unsuccessful, Sudan’s death can leave an important legacy.

“At the very least, Sudan is an ambassador for so many other species that need our attention,” Vitale said. “This can be an incredible wake-up call. Even if you live 10,000 miles away, you can make a difference with your awareness or tourism dollars.

“Not all is lost. Even if we don’t save the northern white rhino, we can save the other threatened rhinos and a host of lesser-known species whose numbers are dwindling everywhere.”

A wildlife ranger at Ol Pejeta looks after Sudan and the last northern white rhinos. The conservancy also protects other rhinos.

Vitale has been taking photos for National Geographic magazine since 2008, and she credits the rhinos for changing her career path.

For the first decade of her career, she covered conflicts around the world. Then in 2009 she learned about the rhinos’ story.

“When I first saw these ancient, gentle, hulking creatures, they broke my heart,” she said. “I couldn’t believe they had survived for millions of years but could not survive humanity.”

It altered the entire trajectory of her work. She has since covered the plight of pandas, and she’s now working on a story about giraffes and elephants.

“In a world of 7 billion people, we must see ourselves as part of the landscape,” she said. “Our fate is linked to the fate of animals. … We are so intricately connected. Take one species out and everything starts to crumble.”

One of the northern white rhinos leaves a Czech zoo to go to Kenya in 2009.

The western black rhino was declared extinct seven years ago, another victim of the lucrative and illegal rhino-horn trade.

Vitale hopes Sudan’s story can raise more awareness about the problem and that along with the efforts of zoos and wildlife conservancies, we can start to see positive change soon.

“I wasn’t one that loved zoos in the past, but I learned how important and critical their role is in saving these species, as do conservancies like Ol Pejeta,” she said.

She said it was heartbreaking to see the sadness of the Ol Pejeta workers after Sudan passed away.

“They’re the real heroes, these men and women protecting all of these species,” she said. “There are people, often with very little, making huge impacts in their communities and the planet.”

Fatu, right, grazes with her mother and a southern white rhino hours after Sudan passed away.

Ami Vitale is a National Geographic photographer based in Montana. You can also follow her work on Instagram.

Photo editors: Bernadette Tuazon and Natalie Yubas

Source:

CNN

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