In recent times I have begun reading ‘Heaven’s homecoming’, a collection of stories compiled by Fr Douglas McKay about the extraordinary people God brought him into contact with in a Catholic nursing home. Although I have only read three of the stories thus far, they have shown the depths of God’s tenderness in granting each one the ‘perfect end’ that they ardently desired.
The book is obtained easiest from Amazon Kindle, but there also seem to be printed page versions coming onto the market.
To be able to assist the dying on their journey home is one of the greatest vocations ever. At no other time are souls in such urgent need of spiritual help than at the point of death. The Catholic nursing home in this book is run by the Little Sisters of the Poor founded by St Jeanne Jugan. The Little Company of Mary founded by Venerable Mary Potter has a similar ministry to the dying. Witnessing the conscious preparations for the Great Meeting undertaken by others helps us greatly prepare for our own.
The first story is about Angie. She viewed death as her long awaited meeting with her bridegroom Jesus. As such she looked forward to it, and Jesus responded to that desire by giving her presentiments of that Meeting. For her bridegroom she wanted to look her absolute best. The day before she had her hair done, and in happy expectation put on her best clothes and finery. Indeed her Bridegroom did come swiftly and she was ready. Presentiments of the time, place and manner of death are not unusual in the lives of the Saints – particularly for those with an intense longing for heaven.
The second story is about Betty. This precious soul had, over the years, been taught directly by Jesus through holy dreams. In one of those dreams He had shown her how beautiful the hands of a priest are, and she had never forgotten it. Her wish was, that when her time came, that a priest would be there to lay his consecrated hands on her head as she breathed her last. Indeed, the good Lord arranged this for her, and granted her a most gentle death.
The third story is about Sr Christine. This inspiring religious had the gift of holy boldness. With this gift the Lord used her to obtain funds and goods for the works of mercy her Order undertook. Underpinning this gift was her enormous faith in the power of persistent prayer to move God’s Heart. May the good Lord raise up many more like her, who are just as successful in getting priests to return to wearing clerical dress. When her time was close she sought from the priest the Sacrament of the Annointing of the Sick. Her desire was that she would be alone when the Lord Jesus came for her, and that desire was granted.
I look forward to reading the rest of the stories.
Preparing for death is something that most of us put off until it stares us squarely in the face. Our preparations can, and should, begin now, because when that Meeting happens perhaps it will come without warning or when we are not conscious of its approach. So here is a beautiful prayer from the treasury of the Church to start (or continue) your own preparations with…
Three Offerings of Thanksgiving to obtain a Good Death.
1. We offer to the Most Holy Trinity the merits of Jesus Christ, in thanksgiving for the Most Precious Blood which He shed in the Garden for us; and through those merits we beseech His Divine Majesty for pardon for our sins. Our Father… Hail Mary… Glory Be…
2. We offer to the Most Holy Trinity the merits of Jesus Christ, in thanksgiving for His most precious Death endured on the Cross for us ; and through these merits we beseech His Divine Majesty for the remission of the pains due to our sins. Our Father… Hail Mary… Glory Be…
3. We offer to the Most Holy Trinity the merits of Jesus Christ, in thanksgiving for His unspeakable charity, in descending from heaven to earth to take human flesh, and to suffer and die for us upon the Cross ; and by those merits we beseech His Divine Majesty to bring our souls to the glory of heaven after our death. Our Father… Hail Mary… Glory Be…
May the good Lord, when our time comes, grant us a quiet night and a perfect end. Jesus, I trust in You.
St Jeane Jugan, pray for us.
Ven. Mary Potter, pray for us.