Dealing with Death

This is not a particularly festive topic, but a friend of mine is on the verge of losing her mother, and I wanted to pass on the same advice I have to her, in case anyone else is in a similar position.

First of all, I must highly recommend this site: Fish Eaters – The Catholic Way of Dying. It contains very useful prayers, including the Commendation of the Soul to God.

Secondly, loved ones should make use of their fear and grief by offering it up as a prayer. This is hard; the natural response to suffering is to try to reduce it by any means possible. However, as Catholics know, suffering has a redemptive nature. You could, for example, offer your own pain for the good of the soul of your loved one. This could mean less time in purgatory, if any, for those whose spiritual lives are healthy. For those less secure in their faith, it could be the difference between Heaven and Hell. Furthermore, accepting suffering rather than fighting it means you can invest your energy elsewhere, like praying, or comforting the dying person.

Thirdly, remember that what is eternal is what matters. All we experience here is fleeting, and a means to the end of seeing God face to face. It does not feel like it at the time, but this is the truth. Therefore, take heart, and rest in God, knowing He lives in us and we in Him, so long as we try to love Him.

Fourthly, try to keep in touch with a good priest. Priests can advise on ethics, prayers, and even just practical matters like funeral arrangements. Having a person slightly removed from the situation can help keep you grounded when you feel grief might swallow you.

I realise this advice is all fairly black and white. Death is a miserable thing to watch. Waiting for it is terrifying. This advice will, however, help to make the death as good and holy as it can be, and knowing you have done all you could to help the dying, even if it meant more suffering in the short term, will bring long term consolation.

God bless you and keep you.



Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Holy Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us!


In many countries, including the USA, today is a holy day of obligation, meaning you need to go to Mass if at all possible. In the UK it is a solemnity (so you do not need to abstain from meat) but it is not an obligation to go to Mass.



Centenary of the Miracle of the Sun

I won’t attempt to give a better account than those already widely available on the Internet.

I will only encourage you to pray the Rosary and carry out the Five First Saturdays devotion in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

St Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

‘Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.’

‘There is no saint without a past, no sinner without a future.’

Faith is to believe what we do not see and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.

‘God has promised forgiveness to your repentance, but He has not promised tomorrow to your procrastination.’

‘If you believe what you like in the Gospels and reject what you do not like, it is not the Gospels you believe, but yourself.’

If you are struggling with habitual sin, errant children, or a lack of motivation to repent of your sins, pray to St Augustine (and to his mother, St Monica).

St Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, pray for us.

St Monica, the mother of Augustine

St Monica’s patronage includes alcoholics, mothers, wives, difficult marriages, disappointing children, victims of unfaithfulness and verbal abuse, and the conversion of relatives.

In the face of the deaths of loved ones, her joy was ultimately greater than her sorrow, knowing that they had come to love God and that she would see them again.

She died shortly after her son’s conversion, having wept many years for his soul.

St Monica is as familiar as any of us with great suffering, and is a great intercessor.

She is also the saint I took as my patron at my Confirmation.


St Monica, model of Christian mothers, pray for us.

St Bartholomew, Apostle

According to tradition, St Bartholomew’s missionary work was based largely in India and then, accompanied by St Jude, in Armenia.

Accounts of his death vary, with events including beheading, upside-down crucifixion, drowning after being beaten unconscious, and the most popular version being that he was flayed alive.

St Bartholomew, pray for us.