Wisdom of the Saints…about the last things

It is His breath that is in us, and when He wants to, He will take it away.” Pope St. Clement I (1st century)

Treat this body with care, I pray you, and understand that with this body you will rise from the dead to be judged. But if any thought of doubt should creep into your mind, as though this were impossible, judge what you have not seen by what you have seen. Tell me: Think where you were, you, yourself, a hundred or more years ago…Can’t He, Who brought what didn’t exist into existence, raise up again what, already in existence, has decayed? Will He, Who raises up the grain for us when it dies, year after year, have difficulty in raising us up – those for whose sake the grain has been raised?” St. Cyril of Jerusalem (4th century, Doctor of the Church

Elijah…will come; the Jews will believe; Antichrist will persecute; Christ will judge; the dead will rise; the good and the wicked will be separated; the world will be burned and renewed. All these things, we believe, will come to pass; but how, or in what order, human understanding cannot perfectly teach us – we will know only when we have experienced the events themselves.” St. Augustine of Hippo (4th-5th centuries, Doctor of the Church)

It is in vain that some, indeed very many, moan about eternal punishment, and the perpetual, uninterrupted torments of the lost, and say they do not believe it will be so. Though they do not blatantly deny Holy Scripture, yet at the suggestion of their own feelings, they soften down everything that seems hard, and give a milder turn to statements that they think are designed to frighten rather than to be received as literally true…But this perpetual death of the wicked, that is, their alienation from the life of God, will abide forever.” St. Augustine of Hippo

In the lives of Christians we look not to the beginnings but to the endings.” St. Jerome (4th-5th centuries, Doctor of the Church)

As your soul departs from your body, may the shining cohorts of angels hasten to greet you, the tribunal of apostles acquit you, the triumphant ranks of white-robed martyrs accompany you, the lily-bearing bands of glorious confessors surround you, the choir of virgins bring up your train with rejoicing, and in blest tranquility may the patriarchs receive you into their loving embrace. May our Lord Jesus appear before you gentle and eager of countenance and assign you a place amid those who stand in His presence for evermore.” St. Peter Damian (11th century, Doctor of the Church)

Death, the gate of life.” St. Bernard of Clairvaux (11th-12th centuries, Doctor of the Church)

Everyone – past, present and future – will be judged…Now, then, is the time for mercy, while the time to come will be the time for justice only. For that reason, the present time is ours, but the future time will be God’s only.” St. Thomas Aquinas (13th century, Doctor of the Church)

When we rise again with glorious bodies, in the power of the Lord, these bodies will be white and resplendent as the snow, more brilliant than the sun, more transparent than crystal, and each one will have a special mark of honor and glory, according to the support and endurance of torments and sufferings, willingly and freely borne to the honor of God.” Bl. Jan Van Ruysbroeck (13th-14th centuries)

When a person loves another dearly, he desires strongly to be close to the other; therefore, why be afraid to die? Death brings us to God!” St. Josephine Bakhita (19th-20th centuries)

“Death is the climax of all humiliation, when we must finally give up all and turn all over to God. Death can be very beautiful – like a wedding – if we make it so.” Ven. Solanus Casey (19th-20th centuries)

The Lord’s Passion and His Resurrection show us that there are two lives: one which we barely live, the other for which we long. Is not Jesus, Who deigned to bear this poor earthly life for our sake, able to give us the life we desire? He wants us to believe this, to believe in His love for us, and in His eagerness to share with us His own riches, as once He chose to share our poverty. It was because we all have to die that He chose to die too.” Pope St. John XXIII (19th-20th centuries)

What is judgment? Judgment is recognition: recognition from our point of view and recognition from God’s point of view. It is recognition, first of all, from our point of view. Suppose that we are cleaning our house when a distinguished visitor is announced. We will say, ‘Oh, I am not clean, wait until I wash up and dress.’ That’s the way we are when we go before the sight of God: let me clean up a bit. Recognition is also from God’s point of view…Just as our parents know us because we share their nature, so God looks upon us. If He sees His nature in us, then He will say, ‘Come, come ye blessed of My Father. I am the natural Son; you are the adopted son. Come into the kingdom prepared for you.’ If, however, He looks and does not see that likeness of nature, as a mother knows the neighbor’s child is not her own, so the Lord will say, ‘I know you not.’ It is a terrible thing not to be known by God.” Ven. Fulton Sheen (19th-20th centuries)

“In my heart, I carry the last glances of the dying. I do all I can so that they feel loved at that most important moment when a seemingly useless existence can be redeemed.” St. Teresa of Calcutta (20th century)