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Arrow Question / Issue:

"My relative said a daily novena years ago for a quick death rather than a lingering illness, not to die soon but quickly when the time came. Her wishes were fulfilled. Do you know of a novena such as this?"

 

Arrow Answer / Resources:

[click link(s) below, as applicable]

The prayers we have related to death are found here.

I did not see a prayer like you mentioned as most prayers related to death might be focused on the state of one's soul at death rather than how fast one dies. In fact, the novena you mentioned seems kind of unusual for a Catholic given facts such as...

* A quick death may be undesirable as it may not leave one with time to bewail one's sins or receive the last sacraments. Traditionally, in a holier age, Catholics would fear a quick death and would MUCH prefer a lingering illness.

* Such a prayer may overemphasize fleeting discomfort related to death (even if death was slow this is fleeting in comparison with eternity) vs. great the importance of the moment of death in determining the salvation of one's soul). Remember that the state of the soul at death will determine whether one is saved or not. If death occurs quickly, there may not be enough time to prepare - so the consequences of a quick death could be eternal.

* Suffering before death may have great merit and may reduce one's purgatory time. Remember that...

"That purgatorial fire itself will be more difficult than any punishments that can be seen or imagined or felt in this life." (St. Caesar of Arles, c. 540 A.D.)

And that...

"[T]he pain of Purgatory, both of loss and of sense, surpasses all the pains of this life." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church").

So suffering here rather than there seems preferable.

* The more important event that will happen on the day of one's death – one that will have eternal consequences – is one's judgment. It seems appropriate to fear and make preparations for that event rather worry about the actual manner in which death may occur. Consider this rule (St. Benedict): "Live in fear of the day of judgment and have a great horror of hell." If we love God and follow His laws, can we not have faith that He will ensure that the manner of our death will be most suited for us – long or short, painful or not?

* Christ hung in utter agony on the cross for hours and says if we do not pick up our cross we are not worthy of being his disciples. The example of Christ and the saints – many of the saints endured long, painful martyrdoms – tell us not to flee suffering. Rather we are to expect to suffer and that suffering is meritorious. A common prayer related to death is actually an act of resignation for one's death, for example...

"O Lord, my God, from this moment do I accept from Thy hands, with a quiet and trusting heart, whatsoever death Thou shalt choose to send me, with its pains and griefs." (St. Andrew's Missal)

I would encourage you to visit the page here which discusses the merits of suffering and offers tips for both suffering & death.

It's not a popular or fun subject, but it is true that suffering can have much merit and those who profit from it may reap the benefits for all eternity.

Also, note that there have been apparitions of persons in Purgatory (not at all binding, of course) who would much rather suffer all manner of sickness on earth to be relived from even a short stay in Purgatory (the flames of which are likened to those of hell, only with an end). If one prayed to avoid suffering at death and ended up spending more time in Purgatory, they certainly might regret this. Of course, the decision to pray for such an intention is certainly up the individual, but it seems wise to at least consider that by doing so one may be denying oneself an even greater good.

I realize is probably not the answer you were expecting, but I hope it may prove helpful to you nonetheless.


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Other Resources:

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Death (Topic Page)

Purgatory (Topic Page)

Catholic Prayers (Topic Page)

 

  

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