The death of St. Joseph-- dying in the arms of Jesus and Mary
The Italian mystic, prayer-warrior, stigmatic, and “Doctor of the Church”, Saint Catherine of Siena expresses clearly the two most important moments of our life: now and at the hour of our death. 

Immediately, a bright light crosses our memory: the Hail Mary!  Right!   In the last part of the prayer, so dear to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Hail Mary, we recall the same words:  pray for us now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Given the primary importance of these two moments let us reflect upon, meditate in our hearts and pray over how we can live out our lives in such a way so that the last moments of our lives will be pleasing to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who will come to judge the living and the dead.

In the following short essay we will offer five concrete ways so that we will be prepared to die well so as to live forever with the Blessed Trinity, Mary, the angels and saints in heaven.

PREPARATION!   We prepare for many things: before a sports event, before a surprise Birthday party, before going out on a date, before taking an exam.  Should we not prepare for what is of greatest importance—a holy death so as to be with God forever in heaven????

The loving embrace of the Father and the Prodigal Son
1.     SIN AND REPENTANCE.   We are all sinners, and the Bible says that the just man falls seven times a day.  If you have the misfortune of falling into mortal sin, never despair, but trust God all the more! However, strive to make a perfect Act of Contrition immediately and head to the confessional as soon as possible. Living in mortal sin is “Spiritual Russian Roulette”.  Jesus warns us time and time again to be ready because we know neither the day nor the hour of our death.  “It will come like a thief in the night.”

2.    IMITATE THE SAINTS: LIVE EVERY DAY AS IF IT WERE OUR LAST.     One of the common hallmarks in the lives of the saints is their keen awareness of the shortness of life.   The Psalmist expresses this poignantly: “Our life is like the flower of the field that sprouts up in the morning and withers and fades in the evening.”   The saints live each day of their lives as if it would be their last. Indeed it could be! The days and hours of our life are uncertain and our existence is precarious to say the least.  Each morning as we rise and consecrate ourselves to Jesus and Mary we should make the firm proposal, in imitation of the saints, to live this day with an intense love of Jesus and Mary, a fiery zeal to save souls, and a firm purpose to carry out our duties according to our state of life with the greatest purity of intention and perfection!

Fervor in receiving Holy Communion
3.     FERVENT HOLY COMMUNIONS.  (Read John 6: 22-71)   The Bread of Life Discourse. Jesus teaches very clearly who He is and what He wants and what He promises those who obey Him.  Who is He?  “I am the bread of life.”  He is truly present, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, in Holy Communion. What does Jesus want? Clearly, Jesus the Bread of Life, wants each and every one of us to receive Him in Holy Communion with faith, devotion, and love as often as possible.  Could it be that in the Our Father when we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” that Jesus exhorts us to receive Him even on a daily basis? Try it! You will be on the Highway to Heaven!  The Promise of Jesus?  Very clearly stated and repeated by Jesus in the Bread of Life discourse---- HEAVEN!!!!   Listen to the words of our Master and Savior. Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him on the last day.”(Jn. 6: 53-54). Clear as a bell! Heaven is promised to those who constantly nourish themselves on the Eucharist, the Bread of Life.

The spiritual classic of Brother Lawrence: Living in the Presence of God
4.    LIVE IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD.   Brother Lawrence arrived at a high degree of holiness by undertaking one simple practice: living in the presence of God! Another woman Doctor of the Church, St Teresa of Avila, points out that we sin because we forget or become oblivious to the presence of God. Try to utilize reminders that constantly call to mind the Presence of God.  Scapulars, Miraculous medals, Holy cards and images like Mary and Divine Mercy, the medal of Saint Benedict, Crucifixes, and praying the Angelus at 9:00, 12:00 and 6:00 p.m.  and finally the practice of short ejaculatory prayers--- all of these can keep us become aware of God’s all-pervading Presence in our lives. Saint Paul quotes a Greek poet to refresh our memory:  “In Him we live and move and have our being.”

5.    MARY: THE HAIL MARY AND THE ROSARY.  Finally, a most powerful means to attain to a holy and happy death is the constant presence of Mary in our lives.  We should never underestimate the power that Mary has in our lives especially that critical moment when we die and pass from this life to the next to go before the Judgment seat of God!  If we have formed the habit of praying the Hail Mary--- better yet--- the most Holy Rosary on a daily basis at the moment of our death, we have an all-powerful friend, ally, and Advocate. That person is Mary, the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church and our Heavenly Mother.  If during the course of our lives we have prayed fervently and with faith every day the Rosary, saying fifty times a day, “Holy Mary Mother of God pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen” then undoubtedly Mary will be present to us in our last and dying breaths to beg the mercy of God and His forgiveness for our sins!

Our Lady of Lourdes and the Holy Rosary
Friends in Jesus and Mary, let us often call to mind who we are, why we are here, where we are heading and how to get there!  We are son/daughters of God through Baptism. We are here to get to heaven. How to get there? By obeying God’s commandments and loving him constantly and fervently.  If our philosophy of life is clear then our destiny is all the more certain—the Kingdom of Heaven. Let us try to put into practice these five short counsels and trust that one day with Our Lady  we will contemplate the beauty of the Face of God for all eternity!