Prayer of Death

So I’m about to head out on my weekly round to the nursing homes, and I’m suddenly reminded of my first service I was a part of for a retirement community. One of our die-hard parishoners was leading the service, and she asked me to read the prayer she always read right after communion. It was a special prayer to this community, but I did not know that at the time. Here goes.

“Stay with me, Lord, for it is necessary to have You present so that I do not forget You. You know how easily I abandon You.
Stay with me, Lord, because I am weak and I need Your strength, that I may not fall so often.
Stay with me, Lord, for You are my life, and without You, I am without fervor.
Stay with me, Lord, for You are my light, and without You, I am in darkness.
Stay with me, Lord, to show me Your will.
Stay with me, Lord, so that I hear Your voice and follow You.
Stay with me, Lord, for I desire to love You very much, and always be in Your company.
Stay with me, Lord, if You wish me to be faithful to You.
Stay with me, Lord, for as poor as my soul is, I wish it to be a place of consolation for You, a nest of Love.
Stay with me, Jesus, for it is getting late and the day is coming to a close, and life passes, death, judgement, eternity approaches. It is necessary to renew my strength, so that I will not stop along the way and for that, I need You. It is getting late and death approaches. I fear the darkness, the temptations, the dryness, the cross, the sorrows. O how I need You, my Jesus, in this night of exile!
Stay with me tonight, Jesus, in life with all its dangers, I need You.
Let me recognize You as Your disciples did at the breaking of bread, so that the Eucharistic Communion be the light which disperses the darkness, the force which sustains me, the unique joy of my heart.
Stay with me, Lord, because at the hour of my death, I want to remain united to You, if not by Communion, at least by grace and love.
Stay with me, Jesus, I do not ask for divine consolation, because I do not merit it, but, the gift of Your Presence, oh yes, I ask this of You!
Stay with me, Lord, for it is You alone I look for. Your Love, Your Grace, Your Will, Your Heart, Your Spirit, because I love You and ask no other reward but to love You more and more.
With a firm love, I will love You with all my heart while on earth and continue to love You perfectly during all eternity.
Amen” – St. Padre Pio, OFM Cap.

Now let me say right off this prayer is beautiful. I was just unprepared for all the “end of life” talk. It caught me off guard. As I’m reading it, trying to be full of expression, in my head I’m crying out, “Holy Cow! Why am I reading all this stuff about death to these poor people who are so near to it!”

I felt insensitive, rude, callous.

No one seemed to react to me though, and over the last six months, as I have read this prayer over and over again, and lost several wonderful people in the community, I have found such deep consolation in this prayer.

Yes, they are close. They are truly looking into the abyss, and are searching for hope. I am amazed by the courage they show, to look it in the face, see death’s approach, and bear it with gentleness and humor. I truly hope that near my end, those who love me don’t shy away from what is near. I want to be prepared.

I’m not afraid to talk and pray about death anymore, thanks to this wonderful community.

St. Joseph, please grant me a happy death.

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