O Blessed Joseph, you gave your last breath in the loving embrace of Jesus and Mary. When the seal of death shall close my life, come with Jesus and Mary to aid me. Obtain for me this solace for that hour - to die with their holy arms around me. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I commend my soul, living and dying, into your sacred arms. Amen.
The above prayer to St. Joseph is so that we may die as St. Joseph did, in the embrace of Jesus and Mary. What a blessed death! It is absolutely vital that we ourselves die well, and many saints have taught on this subject. That being the case, let us turn to their advice so that we may die well, too!
Mother Angelica spoke truly when she said, “I am not afraid to fail. . . I am scared to death of dying and having the Lord say to me, ‘Angelica, this is what you might have done had you trusted more.’” Like Mother Angelica, we should not fear failure, or even death, but we should fear failing to love and trust God. This outlook is countercultural and may seem unrealistic, but a sincere commitment to allow God’s love to permeate our lives, and then to return this love to God, is what we were made for. By focusing on loving God, the fear of death will subside, and we will be more concerned with living well than dying. As the Beloved Apostle St. John tells us, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love” (1 John 4:18).
St. Thérèse of Lisieux anticipated her life after death and said, “I shall spend my heaven doing good on earth.” Like St. Thérèse, we need to recognize that our vocation in God does not end with our death. Instead, our death is really the beginning of a new phase in our journey with God. His eternal and perfect plans are not limited to this life alone!
St. Maximilian Kolbe summed up the heart of a saint’s approach to death when he said, “For Jesus Christ I am prepared to suffer still more.” Our Lord loves us perfectly and gave us everything. When we die, we can imitate His gift to us with trust and confidence that we will live perpetually in Him. As Our Lord promised to each of His followers: “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die” (St. John 11:25-26).
As we live, let us remember these pieces of advice, pondering them in our hearts, so that we may die well!