In Part one of this article on preparation for death, we listed numerous prayers for the dying. In this article we will list some more prayers, along with some practical suggestions for Catholics and Christians in preparation for death.
The first and most important step for the dying Catholic is to call a Priest to request the Sacrament of the Sick (also called "Extreme Unction” or "Last Rites"). The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is given to those who are normally gravely ill, especially those in danger of death. The Rite in which this Sacrament is offered includes also the Sacraments of Reconciliation (also known as Confession or Penance) and also the Eucharist, known at this time as "Viaticum," meaning "Food for the Journey". Catholics especially should desire and welcome the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) to repent of all their past sins and receive God’s mercy and forgiveness.
The Sacrament of the Sick may also be received conditionally up to several hours after apparent death, since we cannot presume to know the moment the soul leaves the body, and can only know with moral certainty that death has occurred after bodily corruption has begun. If the person is unconscious, conditional absolution (forgiveness of sins) and Sacrament of the Sick (Extreme Unction) are offered, without the Eucharist. Here is an excellent article giving in detail the Sacrament of the Sick.
For all Christians, including Catholics:
The proper dispositions when death is approaching:
The central teaching of Christianity is that we are saved from eternal damnation through the Passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5). Therefore, we are to put our faith and trust in Jesus and His Passion and death. We must remember however, that it was our sins that caused Him to be scourged and then nailed to the Cross in which He hung for three long hours. It is our sins that wound us, and separate us from God. So it is that we must repent of these sins, that is, the sins of our entire lives, and ask God to forgive us in His infinite mercy.
And so we pray, asking the Father for forgiveness for our sins through the infinite merits of the Passion and death of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. –For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us, and on the whole world!
Prayers for the dying
Oh my God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong, and in failing to do good, I have sinned against You whom I should love above all things. I firmly intend, with Your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me into sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us, in His name, my God, have mercy!
Prayer of praise and resignation to the will of God
Oh, what return shall I make to the Lord for all that He has done for me? Bless the Lord, O my soul, and let all within me bless His Holy Name. Honour, praise and thanksgiving be for ever given to Thee, King of eternal glory. I offer Thee my whole being, my body with all its senses, my soul with all its faculties. I accept the death that Thou has destined for me with all its pains and sufferings. I unite it to Thy death, I offer it to Thee. Thou hast died for love of me, help me by Thy death. For Thy death is my hope. My Jesus, I believe in Thee, I hope in Thee, I love Thee, and I resign myself to Thy Holy Will.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for me now and at the hour of my death.
Jesus, Mary, Joseph, I give you my heart and my soul.
Jesus, Mary, Joseph, assist me in my last agony.
Jesus, Mary, Joseph, may I breathe forth my soul with you in peace.
Prayers for Forgiveness and Mercy
Oh my Jesus, forgive us of our sins, and save us from the fires of Hell. Lead all souls into heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy.
Oh Jesus, I have a firm confidence in Thy goodness and mercy, that You will not forsake me in this time of my distress. I ask You to stand by me with Thy grace, and defend me from all evil, and that You prepare my soul for a happy passage to eternity, where with your Angels and your Saints, I may praise You for all eternity. Amen.
Oh my Jesus, You suffered and died a horrible and painful death on the Cross in reparation for my sins and the sins of all of humanity. I pray that as I gaze upon You on the Cross, I may recognise your sufferings and Your infinite love for me. And may I repent of my sins and be forgiven. Amen
Oh my God, forgive me of all my sins and unite my heart wholly to Thee, that with holy resignation I may submit to death in punishment of my sins, and so enter into Thy Kingdom of love. Amen.
Dear God and Father of mine, Lord of life and death, with an immutable decree you have established that, as a just chastisement for our sins, all of us have to die. Look at me here bent low before you. From the bottom of my heart, I abhor my past faults, for which I have merited death a thousand times, a death that I now accept as atonement for my sins and as proof of my submission to your lovable will. O Lord, happily will I die at the moment, in the place, and in the way that you want. And until that day I will take advantage of the days of life that remain in order to fight against my defects and grow in your love, to break the bonds that tie my heart to creatures, and to prepare my soul to appear in your presence; and from this moment on I abandon myself without reserve into the arms of your Fatherly providence.
Psalm 51 (excerpts, in part)
Prayer for a Happy Death
O my Creator and Father, I beg of you the grace of final perseverance and a holy death. Despite the fact that I have greatly misused the life you have given me, grant me the grace to live it well from this moment on and to end it in your holy love. Let me die as the holy patriarchs died, leaving this valley of tears without sadness, to go and enjoy eternal rest in my true homeland.
Let me die as did glorious St. Joseph, accompanied by Jesus and Mary, pronouncing those sweetest of names, and in Whose company I hope to enjoy for all eternity.
Let me die as did the Immaculate Virgin, in the purest of love and with the desire of uniting myself to You- the only object of my love.
Jesus, having accepted death for me, grant me the grace of dying in an act of perfect love for You.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for me now and at the hour of my death.
St. Joseph, Guardian and Protector of Jesus and Mary, be with me in my last moments and protect me from the enemy.
Prayer of Commendation for the moment of death
When the moment of death seems near, the following prayer may be said:
I commend you, my dear brother (sister), to almighty God, and entrust you to your Creator. May you return to Him who formed you from the dust of the earth. May the holy Virgin Mary, the angels, and all the saints come to meet you, as you go forth from this life.
May Jesus, who was crucified for you, grant You His mercy and His peace. May Christ, who died for you, admit you into His heavenly Kingdom. May the Blood that He shed be your salvation and may He forgive you of all your sins and set you among those whom He has chosen. May you see your Redeemer face to face and enjoy the vision of God for ever.
The Holy Rosary or the Hail Holy Queen may be prayed.
Click here for part one of this article, which has many traditional prayers in preparation for death.