I replied that the saints had meditated on death, as a reminder of their own mortality, and in order to repent of sins. She replied that she did not agree with this emphasis on death, that death merely meant that our souls joined a universal soul, which she calls God. In her belief system, there is no particular or final judgement, nor is there a heaven or a hell.
She believes in God's mercy, which is excellent, but she does not believe in punishment.
St Alphonsus also speaks on the mercy and love of God, but his meditations on death seem appropriate for Advent, so I am continuing this mini-series. Here is one titled: The Emptiness and Shortness of Human Life
1. Holy David said that the happiness of this life is as
the dream of one awaking from sleep: as the dream of them
that awake.1 All the greatness and glory of this world will
appear no more to poor wordlings at the hour of death,
than as a dream to one awaking from sleep, who finds that
the fortune which he has acquired in his dream ends with
his sleep. Hence, did one who was undeceived wisely
write on the skull of a dead man, "Cogitanti omnia viles-
cunt." He who thinks will undervalue all things. Yes, to
him who thinks on death, all the goods of this life appear
as they really are, vile and transitory.
Nor can that man fix his affections on the earth
who reflects that in a short
time he must leave it forever.
Ah, my God, how often have I despised Your grace for
the miserable goods of this world! Henceforth I desire
to think of nothing but of loving and serving You.
Assist me with Your holy grace.
|Paul the Hermit and Skull|
My friend and I talked about the famous "Bone Chapel" in Rome of the Capuchins, which she saw with her husband. I have seen something similar, on a smaller scale in Floriana, Malta.
The Capuchins meditated on death to an interesting degree. It is hard for a Catholic to explain such traditions to those who do not believe.
Here is more of St. Alphonsus.
2. "And is it thus, then, that worldly grandeur and
sovereign power must end?" Such was the exclamation
of St. Francis Borgia, when he beheld the corpse of the
Empress Isabella, who died in the flower of her youth.
Reflecting upon what he saw, he resolved to bid adieu
to the world, and to give himself entirely to God, say-
1 "Velut somnium surgentium." Ps. 72. 20.
 ing, “I will henceforth serve a master who will never
forsake me." Let us detach ourselves from present goods
before death tears us away from them. What folly it is
to expose ourselves to the danger of losing our souls, for
the sake of some attachment to this miserable world,
from which we shall soon have to depart; for soon it will
be said to us by the minister of God, "Go forth, Chris-
tian soul, out of this world!"1
O my Jesus, if only I had always loved You! How
many offences have I been guilty of against You!
Teach me how to correct my disorderly life, for I am
willing to do whatever You please. Accept my love,
accept my repentance, in which I love You more than
myself, and crave Your mercy and compassion.
3. Reflect that you cannot remain forever in this
world. You must one day leave the country in which
you now reside; you must one day go out from the
house in which you now dwell to return to it no more.
Make me sensible, O God, of the injustice I have been
guilty of in turning my back upon You, my sovereign good;
and grant me the sorrow to bewail my ingratitude
as I ought. O that I had died rather than ever offended
You! Do not allow me to live any longer ungrateful for
the love which You have shown me. My dear Redeemer,
I love You above all things, and I desire to love You
to the best of my power during the remainder of life.
Strengthen my weakness by Your grace; and do You,
Mary, Mother of God, intercede for me.