Saturday, 6 February 2016

Liguorian Series 1B: The Saints and Holy People at Death

Hello Everyone,

Hopefully after reading my 1A posting, you would have come to see that St. Alphonsus Liguori is quite holy and serious about the state of your soul, and has described in accordance with Church teaching about sin and those in a state of mortal/obstinate sin at the hour of death.

However, perhaps you are not into scare tactics, but rather, would be moved by what is the positive benefits or experience of being in a state of holiness before death, to be hopefully obtaining Salvation in Heaven.

That is, that at the moment of death ... one desires to be, and die as, a SAINT. Now, I understand, especially in this sickened world by which the Lord has "allowed" us (I mean that loosely. He never wills SIN for us, that is our choice of free will,) for greater temptations and abuses of technology, and a major loss of desire and respect for the Church and a holy life.

However, it is in his writings, that St. Alphonsus gives us an alternative to the fates that befall those who choose that life of death and sin. He does not leave us hopeless and implores of us to pursue the alternative, by showing us how they die. He presents to us a beautiful alternative.

The just individual at death ... different from those unjust souls
From reading my posting in 1A, you can tell that the souls who are "unjust" will experience a lot of pain and suffering at their moment of death, aside from medical based ailments. Much is spiritual and psychological.

A just man takes his/her death differently. Alphonsus says of just men, that "The torments which afflict sinners at death do not disturb the peace of the saints." (88). Also quoted is the Book of Wisdom, 3:1: "The souls of the just are in the hands of God, and the torment of death shall not touch them."

Just why is a person who is just in such a state at death, this way? It is because "... the just man is not afflicted at the thought of being obliged to take leave of the goods of the earth ... he has constantly said to the Lord: Thou are the God of my heart, and the God that is my portion forever [Psalm 52:26]...." (88).

Now, this of course, does not mean the person will experience a painless death necessarily. Rather, they will be happy and willing to bear such pain, in light of having kept the Lord's will, and can die bearing those pains. "He who dies loving God is not disturbed by the pains of death ... he offers to God these last moments of life, and feels consoled in uniting the sacrifice of his death to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ offered for him on the Cross to his eternal Father." (89)

Furthermore, the "just person" at death, is filled with the greatest of hopes! ".... The greatest consolation which a soul that has loved God will experience in hearing the news of death, will arise from the thought that it will soon be delivered from the many dangers of offending God ... many troubles of conscience, and from so many temptations of the devil." (91).

[In the "style" of St. Alphonsus]
My reader, inquisitor, or curious onlooker. The world, so filled with the pains of the flesh and devil, brings upon us many a burden to our mind, body, and soul. Those who embrace what I have stated before here, shows the torment of those at death's door, having lived a lifetime of selfishness and sin. Their minds fear the impending end to come, the loss of time to correct maladies among themselves and their friends and family, and of the finite pleasures of this world they held onto so dear. Yet those who did not are at peace with themselves. They look forward to the cessation of their earthly life, peaceful and joyful on their death beds. Hope fills them in that death is just the beginning, the coin of payment to the Lord for entry to everlasting joy, for all eternity. Now is the time to pursue that future, a future of a happy death, without regret nor self-inflicted torture for time wasted and not used wisely. Now is the time to embrace the mercy of the Lord, and to repent of your ways. Seek the happy death that fills those with joy through the Lord!

The Rewards for those who die in the State of Grace, who are "just souls"
You might be asking now, "what are the rewards I will get for taking that path of a happy death, one in the state of Sanctifying Grace, and doing the Lord's will ABSOLUTELY?"

The first of the rewards, actually comes at the period of dying before the moment of death. Remember above, how those who die in the state of grace, fear not death's scythe, and are joyful about approaching it? Well, God will aid you and allow you to achieve that! You are not alone in your joy!
"... God knows well how to console his children in their last moments; and even in the midst of the pains of death he infuses into their souls certain sweetnesses, as foretastes of Paradise, which he will soon bestow upon them." (102). Do you see that? While the judgement of your soul does happen at the moment of death, even before that, you are already reaping rewards on your death bed! God is rewarding you for your loyalty to him!!! What a King of Kings, to be even rewarding you before the task is done!

St. Alphonus discusses what God will do [though the Lord Jesus Christ, God made flesh] to the soul in a state of grace upon the moment of death: "God bestows on it a great favour .... He who dies in the grace of God can never more offend him." (92-93). Finally!!! No more does the person have to deal with a muddled conscience of "am I doing the right thing?" or "am I pleasing the Lord?". The dying person will be relived to be lifted of that burden of thought in their mind, and the scrupulous person will be relieved of that mega-ton burden even more so!

Further, "Whosoever, then, is in the state of grace is the friend of God. He also becomes the Son of God .... Moreover, the soul in the state of grace is the spouse of God." (194-195). It is as if you are esteemed and of the most high, favoured by him! "The Lord appears never to take His eyes off the soul that loves him, nor to close his ears to its petitions. The eyes of the Lord are upon the just: and His ears unto their prayers. [Psalm 33:16]" (196).

Based on Revelations 21:4, St. Alphonsus tells us that in Heaven, "When the soul has once entered into the happy kingdom of God, ... In heaven there is no infirmity, no poverty, no distress; there are no longer the vicissitudes of days and nights, nor of cold and heat; but a perpetual day always serene, an eternal spring always delightful. There are no persecutions; no envy ... There are no fears; because the souls, being confirmed in grace, can no longer sin nor lose her God."

Also, upon entering heaven, we will experience the Beatific Vision, that is, the meeting of God face-to-face and seeing his truest form:
"During the present life, we cannot comprehend the delight of seeing and loving God face to face: but we may form some notion of it by considering that divine love is so enchanting, that, even in this life, it has sometimes raised up from the earth, not only the souls, but even the bodies of the saints .... At present there is a veil before our eyes, and God is seen only with the eyes of faith; but what will be our joy when the veil is removed, and we see God face to face? We shall then see the infinite beauty of God; his infinite greatness, his justice, his perfection, his amiableness, and his infinite love for us." 

 Finally, one's soul will be in eternal bliss, truly happy and joyful, enjoying a fantastic utopia for all eternity, never doubting the love of any one or anything, free of all evils of the finite world, and free of all ills and evils:
"... in heaven the soul is certain that it loves God, and that He loves it. It sees that it is happily lost in the love of the Lord, and that He embraces it as a beloved child, and that this love will not be dissolved for all eternity .... Then also will the soul clearly see all the graces which God has bestowed upon it in delivering it from so many temptations and so many dangers of perdition .... [it] will see that it is saved, that is in the possession of God and secure against all danger of ever losing that Sovereign Good for all eternity. The blessed then will forever enjoy that felicity which during each moment of eternity, will be always as new as the first moment of its enjoyment. The soul will always desire and always possess that joy. It shall be always satisfied, and always thirsty: forever thirsty, and always satisfied with delights: because the desire of heaven begets no pain ...the blessed are vessels filled with happiness, so that they have nothing more to desire ... the soul will be so inebriated with love that it will happily lose itself in God - that is, it will entirely forget itself, and will think only of loving, of praising, and of blessing the infinite Good which it possesses. (297-299)


Having red the above, readers, don't you see what treasures and joys await those who decide to take the nobler path? Such magnificent joys indeed! To think of no more sorrows, pains, and depression, it is a marvel indeed to never have pangs of hunger or wants that cannot be satisfied by anything on this earth!

When you look back at what those who are not in favour with God are, why would you want to experience Hell early, and then truly? It is like making the choice between: a $200,000 Ferrari at full price, despite being on its last years, which gives you one good ride and then suddenly dies halfway to your destination, or a reliable quality car that isn't the flashiest, yet will take you through your journeys to those you love and your true home.

So with yourself, why choose the "Ferrari" when nothing but pains, an empty wallet, and a sudden end to happiness is all you will get with being not in God's favour? One should choose the ride that, approaching the end of your life, will already fill you with peace and joy, and then the party continues on into the eternal, with no end!!! In addition, many of us have felt how our addictions and wants continue to gnaw at us, and even when satisfied, they come back, having not been.

Or how many of us have not experienced love with total assurance, whereby those around us fail us, our friends, family, our spouses, our partners, even our parents, to give us the secure love without faltering that we desire. No, not even they provide it in their human sin and fault at times. Only GOD can provide that end to all hurts and lovelessness, in the eternal. It is that which we must pursue, to be one of the ``just`` at death, so that our truest and deepest hurts can be ultimately filled with His Eternal Love in Heaven, when we are with Him forever.



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