Imitation of Christ – THOMAS A kEMPIS
A Meditation on Death
Very soon the end of your life will be at hand: consider, therefore, the state of your soul. Today a man is here; tomorrow he is gone.(I Macc.2:63) And when he is out of sight, he is soon out of mind. Oh, how dull and hard is the heart of man, which thinks only of the present, and does not provide against the future! You should order your every deed and thought, as though today were the day of your death. Had you a good conscience, death would hold no terrors for you; (Luke 12:37) even so, it were better to avoid sin than to escape death.(Wisd.4:16) If you are not ready to die today, will tomorrow find you better prepared?(Matt.24:44) Tomorrow is uncertain; and how can you be sure of tomorrow? Of what use is a long life, if we amend so little? Alas, a long life often adds to our sins rather than to our virtue!
Would to God that we might spend a single day really well! Many recount the years since their conversion, but their lives show little sign of improvement. If it is dreadful to die, it is perhaps more dangerous to live long. Blessed is the man who keeps the hour of his death always in mind, and daily prepares himself to die. If you have ever seen anyone die, remember that you, too, must travel the same road.(Heb.9:27)
Each morning remember that you may not live until evening; and in the evening, do not presume to promise yourself another day. Be ready at all times,(Luke 21:36) and so live that death may never find you unprepared. Many die suddenly and unexpectedly; for at an hour that we do not know the Son of Man will come.(Matt.24:44) When your last hour strikes, you will begin to think very differently of your past life, and grieve deeply that you have been so careless and remiss.
Happy and wise is he who endeavours to be during his life as he wishes to be found at his death. For these things will afford us sure hope of a happy death; perfect contempt of the world; fervent desire to grow in holiness; love of discipline; the practice of penance; ready obedience; selfdenial; the bearing of every trial for the love of Christ