Preparation for Death by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, C.Ss.R. - Book Review
Over the past year, we have been inundated with propaganda attempting to induce us to fear death above all things, and to be more faithful to restrictions than to God. In this book, Saint Alphonsus gives us a sobering reminder that life has a 100% mortality rate, and aids us with meditations and aspirations towards the end of preparing for our final end. Being aptly named, Saint Alphonsus convinces the reader of the assiduous task of having death continuously before our eyes, so that we may heed the command of Our Divine Lord: “Wherefore be you also ready, because at what hour you know not the Son of man will come.” [St. Matthew ch. XXIV v. 44]
“The true love for the body consists in treating it here with rigor and contempt, that it may be happy for eternity; and in refusing it all pleasures which might make it miserable forever…”
The work is aptly divided up into thirty-six separate considerations with three points each, meaning that, at a rate of one consideration per day, anyone can read this book in just over a month, meaning that this work is accessible to beginners, even. I always tell people that I am so confident that it will change your spiritual life that, should it not, I will eat my hat. I have not had to do so thus far !
“Let us consider that Jesus Christ submitted to a cruel and ignominious death in order to obtain for us the grace of a good death.”
Saint Alphonsus’ most stressed message is that our most important work in this life, our opus magnum, is the salvation of our souls. The good saint convicts us of the terrible death of the sinner (and he describes this in excruciating detail), of the remorse of the damned, of the importance of not squandering time, of the holy death of a just man, and of the necessity of prayer and recourse to the Blessed Virgin Mary in order to save our souls. These are just a few of the many topics utilised by this holy Doctor of the Church as if to shake us, and say: “Death is coming ! Death is certain, but the hour is not. Prepare much.”
“Since our souls will be eternal, we ought to procure not a fortune which soon ends, but one that will be everlasting.”
The tumultuous times in which we live have our minds almost always set on temporal matters. Saint Alphonsus’ work will help us to bear in mind the most important matters: the eternal. I personally reiterate my promise to any prospective reader of this great book: if this does not change your spiritual life, I will eat my hat.