Spiritual Preparation For Death

                                       Excerpted from The Notebooks 1945-1950, (July 14, 1946). Maria Valtorta
     Jesus says:
     "I have dictated a Holy Hour for those who were wanting it.  I have taken the veil from My Hour of Agony in Gethsemane to give you a great prize, because there is no greater act of confidence between friends than that of revealing to the friend one's own suffering.  The smile and the kiss are not the supreme proof of love, but tears and and pain made known to the friend are.  You, My friend, have known this.  Since you were with Me in Gethsemene  And now you are on the Cross.  And you feel the pains of death.  Lean on your Lord, while He gives you an Hour of Preparation for Death."

     "My Father, if it is possible, let this chalice pass from Me."
     This is not one of the seven Words from the Cross.  But it is already a word of passion.  It is the first act of the passion which is beginning.  It is the necessary preparation for the other phases of the holocaust.  It is the calling upon the Giver of life, it is resignation; it is humility.  It is the prayer in which the will of the spirit and the frailty of the creature who loathes death are intertwined, while the flesh becomes ennobled and the soul perfected.
     "Father...!"  Oh!  This is the hour when the world distances itself far from the senses and from thought, while, as a descending meteor, the thought of the other life, of the unknown, of judgement, draws near.  And man, ever a little child even if a hundred years old, seeks the bosom of God like a frightened babe left all alone.

     Husband, wife, brothers, children, parents, friends... They were everything, as long as life was far from death, as long as death was a thought hidden under distant mists.  But now that death comes forth from beneath the veil and advances, lo, through an overturning of the situation, it is the parents, the wife who lose their distinctive traits, their emotional value, and they grow dim before the imminent advance of death.  Like voices which grow faint due to their remoteness, everything of the earth loses strength, as that grows in strength which is of the beyond, that which up until yesterday appeared so very far away... And a surge of fear strikes the creature.

     If it were not painful and fearsome, death would not be the ultimate chastisement and the ultimate means of expiation granted to man.  Until the Fall, death was not death, but a falling asleep.  And where there was no fall, there was no death, as was the case for Mary Most Holy.  I died because all Sin was upon Me, and I have experienced what it is to loathe death.

     "Father!"  Oh!  This God, so many times not loved, or last to be loved, after the heart has loved relatives and friends, or has had more unworthy loves for creatures of vice, or has loved things as gods; this God so often forgotten, and has tolerated our forgetting Him, who has left us free to forget Him, who has let us have our way, who has at times been scoffed at, at other times cursed, at others denied; it is He who rises up again in the thought of man and takes back His rights.  He thunders: "I am" and in order not to cause one to die of fear through the revelation of His power, He softens this powerful "I am" with a sweet word: "Father".

     "I am your Father."  There is no longer any terror.  The sentiment which this word produces is abandonment.

     I, I who had to die, who understood what it is to die, after having taught men to live calling the Most High Yahweh "Father", see then that I have taught you to die without terror, calling "Father" the God who rises again or makes Himself more present to the spirit of him who is dying amidst the spasms of agony.

     "Father!"  Do not fear.  You who are dying, do not fear this God who is Father!  He does not approach as a judge, armed with judgment book and axe.  He does not approach as a cynic, snatching you away from life and loves.  He comes opening His arms to you, saying: "Come back to your home.  Come to rest.  I will pay you back with interest for what you are leaving here behind.  And I promise you this: on behalf of those you are leaving behind, in My bosom you will be more active than if you remain here below in a struggle which is frenzied, and not always rewarded with success."

     But death is always sorrow.  Sorrow by virtue of the physical suffering, sorrow by virtue of the moral suffering, sorrow by virtue of the spiritual suffering.  Here is something I already said: death must be sorrow for there to be a means of ultimate expiation in time. 

 And in a swirl of mists, which through alternating events, blot out and reveal what in life has been cherished and what in life made us fearful of the realities beyond, the soul, the mind, and the heart, like a ship seized in a great tempest, pass from calm areas--already in the peace of the imminent port now close at hand, within sight, and so serene that it already gives a blessed tranquility and a sense of repose like that of one who, having come almost to the end of a wearisome labor, anticipates the joy of the rest which is at hand--they pass into a zone where the tempest buffets them, strikes them and causes them to suffer, to fear, to groan.  It is again the world, the frenzied world with all its tentacles: the family, the business.  It is the anguish of the death struggle.  It is the fear of the final step... And then?  And then....?  Darkness overruns and suffocates the light; it hisses its terrors.... Where any longer is heaven?  Why death?  Why must one die?  And a death rattle is already in the throat: "I don't want to die!"

     No, My dying brothers, you die because to die is just, to die is holy, being the will of God.  No.  Do not cry out so!  This shout does not come from your soul.  It is the Enemy who influences your weakness to make you say this.  Change the rebellious and cowardly shout into a cry of love and trust: "Father, if it is possible, let this chalice pass from me."  Like the rainbow after the storm, look how this cry brings back the light, the calm.  See heaven once again, the holy reasons for dying, the reward of dying, that is, the return to the Father.  Understand that the spirit, too, the spirit indeed has greater rights than the flesh because it is immortal and supernatural in nature, and therefore has precedence over the flesh.  Then speak the word which is absolution for all your sins of rebellion: "Nevertheless, not my will but Yours be done."
     This, then, is peace: this, then, is victory.  The angel of God draws close to you, and comforts you because you have won the battle that makes you ready to turn your death into a triumph.