Oct 27, 2021 408 Patrick Hirzel,

Preparing to Die

That dreaded moment when the doctor says you only have a short time to live…

I am an estate planner. People pay me to facilitate what will happen to their material goods when they die. A good steward plans for the future. It is reasonable to make plans for your possessions when you pass away, but it is far, far more important to get your spiritual house in order—to prepare for where you will spend eternity.

Many people hear the words, “Get your spiritual house in order. Make peace with God”. But they hesitate and are unsure of how to do it. Some are keenly aware that they have lived their lives as if everything revolved around earthly existence. Because they have failed to love God with their whole hearts, their whole souls, and their whole minds, and their neighbor as themselves, they are afraid to stand in judgment before God. Others are simply afraid of the unknown. Still others would rather not think about it.

God does not spurn a humble and contrite heart; but it is hard to come humbly before God acknowledging sin and proclaiming God’s goodness when the focus is on self instead of God’s loving goodness and mercy. In perhaps the finest spiritual book of the twentieth century, “He & I” wherein Gabrielle Bossis recorded the following message from Jesus on June 1, 1939:

“Write! I don’t want people to be afraid of Me anymore, but to see My heart full of love and to speak with Me as they would with a dear brother. For some I am unknown. For others, a stranger, a severe master or an accuser. Few people come to Me as to a loved one in the family. And yet My love is there, waiting for them. So tell them to come, to enter in, to give themselves up to love just as they are. I’ll restore. I’ll transform them. And they will know a joy they have never known before. I alone can give that joy. If only they would come! Tell them to come.”

The parable of “The Workers in the Vineyard” (Matthew 20) manifests the gracious, generous, loving nature of God—the One who blesses us not according to what we have “earned” but according to what we need. The workers who came at the eleventh hour worked only a single hour, yet received a full day’s pay.

There are some things God asks for one day only, and His compassionate heart applies that to an entire life. God gave you life. It was a free gift. Yet, He foresaw all your ingratitude just as He foresaw Peter’s denial of Him after Peter had sworn that he would never deny Jesus. Unlike Judas, Peter sought forgiveness, affirmed his love for Jesus, and became a great Saint. Moses, David and Paul were murderers, but they also became great Saints because, with a contrite heart, they trusted Jesus and humbly asked for His forgiveness.

God is always with you. He anxiously waits for you. Like the father of the prodigal son, He wants to put the finest robe on you, a ring on your finger and sandals on your feet. He wants to celebrate with a feast because His child was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found. God has so much love for you that He hears your faintest call. Don’t be afraid of expressing yourself. Put your mouth to His ear. He’s listening. When you were little you wanted someone to take your hand when you crossed the street. Ask Jesus to take your hand, because you are always little. Give Jesus absolutely everything. Go the whole way. God takes your shortcomings as well as your efforts to be good. Give yourself as you are. He knows all about human nature. He came to help and restore. Jesus is the Host. You are the tabernacle.

When you need healing, you put yourself into the hands of a physician. Put your soul, silent and still, into the hands of Jesus. He will heal you. Love, and your intent to love, will give value to your actions. Give your life back to God. Give Him your sufferings and your sorrow. Ask to fall asleep in the Holy Spirit because your last conscious breath should be in love.

In her diary, Saint Faustina recorded this message about the Divine Mercy Chaplet from Jesus:

My daughter, encourage souls to say the chaplet which I have given to you. It pleases Me to grant everything they ask of Me by saying the chaplet. When hardened sinners say it, I will fill their souls with peace, and the hour of their death will be a happy one…

Write that when this chaplet is said in the presence of the dying, I will stand between My Father and the dying person, not as the just Judge but as the merciful Savior.” (Diary, 1541)

If you are near the end of life, this is your hour of trial. Lose nothing of it. As you believe, so shall you receive. Make peace with God. Trust in Him. Offer Him a humble and contrite heart.

Go to Confession. Ask to receive the Last Rites. Ask St. Joseph, the Patron of a Happy Death, to prepare you to meet God face to face. Recite the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Read Psalm 51.

If you know of someone near death, pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet with them. Encourage them to make a good Confession and to receive the Last Rites.

Be not afraid.

Trust in Jesus


Patrick Hirzel

Patrick Hirzel is a practicing attorney in Michigan. He is the editor of church bulletin inserts entitled “Spiritual Formation— Developing a Personal Relationship with God” and is the founder of “The Parish Rosary Program”, an international program to promote the Rosary at the parish level.

Latest Articles