“Whoever places his trust in My mercy will be filled with My divine peace at the hour of death.”
(Diary of St Faustina, para.1520)
One of the hardest things we can be called to do is to wait at the bedside of a person who is dying, particularly if this is a loved one. It is a moment we may have thought about previously, or it might be that we have carefully avoided thinking about it. But for many of us, there is no escaping that at some point in life, those close to us will die and our duty will be to accompany them in those final moments as best we can.
The main reason it is so hard is that often, we simply don’t know what to do; the approach of death reminds us forcefully of our ultimate powerlessness, our inability to halt or stay the moment that is almost upon the one we love.
It is a reminder, too, that one day it will be our turn – for that moment will lay claim to each and every one of us.
Henry Lyte’s beautiful hymn ‘Abide With Me’ sums up the moment very well –
“Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me..
..Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.”
Realising our powerlessness, there is little we can do except to let go and to commend the soul to prayer.
Prayer for a soul near death is one of the most important prayers we can offer; so much may hang in the balance as death advances. And while the soul is not always able to offer prayer, we can certainly do so on their behalf. As well as obtaining grace for them, it will obtain peace for us.
The Chaplet of Divine Mercy is one of the most powerful prayers we can offer for the dying – the Lord Himself has attached great promises of grace to it’s recitation –
“At the hour of their death, I defend as My own glory every soul that will say this Chaplet; or when others say it for a dying person, indulgence is the same. When this Chaplet is said by the bedside of a dying person, God’s anger is placated, unfathomable mercy envelops the soul, and the very depths of My tender Mercy are moved, for the sake of the sorrowful Passion of My Son.”
And so, while we may feel humanly powerless, we can – and should – rely on the mercy of God and on His divine grace for the soul near death, confident that He hears and answers every prayer.
In our prayers today, let us remember all those for whom today is their last day, especially those least prepared and those with none to pray for them. May the mercy and grace of God descend upon them.