“I have opened My Heart as a living fountain of mercy. Let all souls draw life from it. Let them approach this sea of mercy with great trust. Sinners will attain justification, and the just will be confirmed in good. 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)
Every time we pray the ‘Hail Mary’, we specifically mention two moments of life – indeed, the only two which are of any importance. The first is “now”, while the second is “the hour of our death”.
In the quotation above from the Diary of St Faustina, the Merciful Lord refers to these two moments; He speaks of what He does in the ‘now’, which is to offer us grace and perseverance, and He promises something for that final moment – His divine peace – if only we will trust in Him.
For many, the thought of death is a terrifying one. It is a moment we have always known is there, somewhere on the horizon of our life, although we have no way of knowing how near to – or far from – that horizon we are. We know only that every passing moment takes us ever closer to it. And because we have not experienced that final moment, that ‘hour of our death’, we cannot rehearse for it – indeed, it may be difficult to even contemplate what it might be like. And what may be more terrifying still, is the thought of the eternity that looms beyond that hour of our death.
And that is where the gift of the Lord’s divine peace comes to the fore. He alone can offer this to us, for it is His alone to give. Of course, with every Hail Mary throughout life, we have besought the Blessed Virgin to assist us in that moment. Her petitions before Her Son on our behalf can secure this particular grace for us. So much depends on that moment – eternity, in fact. She is well aware of that, even at those times when are forgetful of it.
When we trust in the Merciful Lord, we experience His own divine peace. This peace was His first gift to the Apostles on the night of the Resurrection.
Trust is the key. Trust means to place ourselves with perfect confidence in His hands, knowing that we are safe there. This is especially important at the hour of our death; and yet, the dying, while being most in need of that trust, often do not have it. That is why our prayers for the dying are crucial – our petitions to the Merciful Lord can obtain this great grace for them. We can trust on their behalf, as it were. That is the beauty of the Mystical Body. At many points in her Diary, St Faustina writes of praying for souls who are approaching death, asking that they be granted this peace of the Lord. Her prayers obtained that grace for them.
Of course, the ideal is that we do not wait until we are close to death before we try to attain that trust; it is far better that it is something we have practised throughout life, in the good moments and the not so good. Asking the assistance of the Blessed Virgin in this regard is vital – Her Son can refuse Her nothing. The assistance of the Saints is also very powerful – they have already passed through that final moment and are now in eternity, in the presence of the Lord; and that is where they desire for us to be.
It is a salutary practice for us to consider that we are mortal, that one day, ‘now’ will have passed and we will have reached ‘the hour of our death’, and to make spiritual preparation for this and to ask the Merciful Lord to grant us this grace of His divine peace for that moment.