"Nothing is small that comes from the hand of God. If He sends us affliction or suffering, we should accept it with gratitude; for whatever He permits to happen to us is always for our salvation." -"The Imitation of Christ", Book 2, Chapter 10
In the article "The holy death of St Gemma" we read:
"...Concerning her [St Gemma's] last illness, Father Germanus writes "Before losing her eyesight, she used to read occasionally. Once her Aunt, seeing a book in her hand asked her 'What are you reading Gemma?' Gemma replied 'I am reading the preparation for death. Oh Aunt, why don't you read it also, for you are getting old? As for myself in all things I am preparing for death.' "But tell me Gemma", continued her Aunt, "do you not regret to die?" 'Oh no,' she answered, 'I no longer have any attachment to anything in this world.'
This and many other examples given by the Saint also profoundly touched the heart of her young friend, Eufemia Giannini, who kept well informed about all that was happening. After Gemma's death she writes: “…In her last days while she was oppressed and under great spiritual dryness, she prepared herself [for death] by reading the book “Preparation for Death” by St Alphonsus Liguori and also other pious books.”
[The book "Preparation for Death" by St Alphonsus is a spiritual classic and is availble by Tan books here. -editor]
So, following the holy example of St Gemma and the Saints, let us be prepared for our own death, as Jesus Himself forewarns us in Matthews Gospel: "Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know the day or the hour". (Matt 25:13)
Prayers in preparation for death
Litany for God’s mercy to obtain a happy death
O LORD JESUS, God of goodness and Father of mercies, I approach You with a sorrowful and humble heart; to Thee I recommend the last hour of my life, and into Your hands I commend my spirit.
-When my feet, numbed with the chill of death, shall warn me that my life is drawing to the end: Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.
-When my hands, weak and trembling, shall no longer be able to grasp the crucifix, and I am forced, in spite of myself, to let it fall upon my bed of pain: Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.
-When my eyes, dim and distorted, at the approach of death, shall fix themselves on Thee, my last and only support: Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.
-When my lips, pale and livid, shall inspire those near me with pity and dismay, and when my face, bathed in the sweat of death declares my approaching end: Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.
-When my ears, soon to be for ever shut to the words of men, shall be opened to Thy Judgement and irrevocable decree, which will fix my lot for eternity: Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.
-When my imagination, agitated by dreadful thoughts, shall be sunk in an abyss of anguish; when my soul, frightened with the sight of my iniquities, and the terrors of Thy justice, shall have to fight against the angel of darkness, who will endeavor to conceal Thy mercies from my eyes and to plunge me into despair: Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.
-When my poor heart, oppressed with sufferings and exhausted by its frequent struggles against the enemies of its salvation, shall feel the pangs of death: Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.
-When the last tear shall drop from my eyes, receive it as a sacrifice of expiation for my many sins and grant that my -current sufferings may be the penance for the sins of my life: Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.
-When my family and friends standing around me, shall shed the tear of pity over me, and invoke Thy mercy and clemency on my behalf: Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.
-When I shall have lost the use of my senses and when the world shall have vanished from my sight; when my agonizing soul shall feel the sorrows of death: Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.
-When at last my soul shall leave my lifeless body, have mercy on me oh God and receive me into Thy Kingdom, that I may for ever sing of Your love and mercy for all eternity: Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.
Let us pray. Oh God, Who has destined all men to die, grant that I may pass my remaining days in the practice of virtue, seeking to know, love and serve You at every moment, with a fervent will and desire to do penance for my sins, that I may deserve to leave this world in the peace of a good conscience, and in the embraces of Thy merciful love, through Christ our Lord. Amen
Three Offerings to the most Holy Trinity to obtain the Grace of a Happy Death
1.) I offer to the most holy Trinity the merits of Jesus Christ, in thanksgiving for the most precious blood which He shed in the garden for us; and by His infinite merits I beseech the divine Majesty for pardon of my sins.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.
2.) I offer to the most holy Trinity the merits of Jesus Christ, in honor and thanksgiving for the most precious death that He endured on the cross for us; and by His infinite merits I beseech the divine Majesty for the remission of the all the temporal punishments due to my sins.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.
3.) I offer to the most holy Trinity the merits of Jesus Christ, in thanksgiving for His unspeakable charity by which He descended from heaven to earth to become man, and to suffer and die for us upon the cross; and by His infinite merits I beseech the divine Majesty to bring my soul to the glory of heaven after my death, to be forever united with You, my God, for all eternity.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.
Daily Prayers for the Dying
Most merciful Jesus, lover of souls, I pray to Thee, by the agony of Thy most Sacred Heart, and by the sorrows of Thy Immaculate Mother, cleanse in Your own blood the sinners of the whole world who are now in their agony, and are to die this day. Amen.
Heart of Jesus, once in agony, pity the dying.
Prayer to Jesus Christ on the Cross for a happy death
Oh my crucified Jesus, I beg of You to receive the prayer I now offer Thee for my last moment, when, having desired a holy death, all my senses have failed me.
At my last moments when therefore my sweetest Jesus, my eyes, languid and sunken, can no longer look upon Thee, remember this loving look which I now turn to Thee, and have mercy on me.
When my lips, dried up, can no longer kiss Thy most sacred Wounds, remember these kisses which I now give Thee, and have mercy on me.
When my cold and numbed hands can no longer clasp Thy Cross, remember the times that I held Your Crucifix with love and devotion, and have mercy on me.
And when my tongue, swollen and immovable, can no longer speak, remember my present prayers, and have mercy on me.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I commend to you my soul.
Lord Jesus crucified, have mercy on me, a sinner!
Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in Thee.
Prayer to Jesus Crucified for a happy death
My Lord Jesus Christ, through that bitterness that You suffered on the Cross, when Thy blessed Soul was separated from Thy Sacred Body, have mercy on my sinful soul when it shall depart from my miserable body, and shall enter into eternity.
Prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary to obtain a happy death
Oh refuge of sinners and Mother of those in agony, be with me in the hour of my death and obtain for me a deep sorrow for all my sins. And through the sorrow that You suffered at the foot of the Cross, when You beheld Your Son, our Lord in agony, obtain for me the forgiveness of my sins through the precious Blood of Jesus crucified, that I may be united with You and the Holy Trinity for all eternity. Amen.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, assist me in my last agony.
The Hail Mary -pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death:
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee. Blessed are Thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen
Prayer to St Joseph for a happy death
St Joseph, patron of the dying, obtain for me the grace to die, like thee, in the arms of Jesus and Mary. Amen.
Prayer of St Jerome Emilian
My sweetest Jesus, be not a Judge to me, but a Savior.
Divine Mercy Prayer given by God to St Faustina Kowalska
Eternal Father, I offer You the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins, and those of the whole world.
For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world (repeat 3 times)
The Anima Christi or "Soul of Christ" -a prayer for union with God at the time of death
Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strenghten me.
Oh good Jesus, hear me.
Within Your wounds, hide me.
Never permit me to be seperated from You.
From the wicked enemy, defend me.
At the hour of my death call me, and bid me to come to Your side, that with Your Angels and Your Saints, I may praise You for all eternity, Amen.
The prayers above were taken and adapted from 2 older Catholic prayer books, "The Golden Treasury of the Sacred Heart" M. H. Gill and Son, Dublin Ireland. 1910 and also "The Treasury of the Sacred Heart" Catholic Book Publishing Co, New York. 1952.
Click here for Part 2 of this article "Catholic prayers for the Dying"
-Lord Jesus Crucified, have mercy on us, and cleanse in Your own blood the sinners of the whole world who are now in their agony, and are to die this day. Amen.