goodreads link Preparation For Death consists of a series of essays by St. Alphonsus Liguori. Each chapter consists of several “points” about a particular aspect of what we all must inevitibly face , death. The second point of the first chapter begins thusly:
“But, that thou mayest more clearly see what thou art, O Christian soul, says St. John Chrysostom, “go to a sepulchre; contemplate dust, ashes, worms—and sigh!” Behold how that corpse first becomes yellow, and then black. Afterwards the whole body is covered with a white and disgusting mold. Then there issues forth a clammy, fetid slime, which flows to the earth. In that corruption a multitude of worms are generated, which feed on the flesh. The rats feast on the body; some on the outside, others enter into the mouth and bowels. The cheeks, the lips, and the hair, fall to pieces; the ribs are first laid bare, then the arms and the legs. The worms, after having consumed all the flesh, devour each other; and at last nothing remains of that body but a fetid skeleton, which in time crumbles in pieces;
Interspersed betwixt each point are reflections and prayers designed to focus the faith and strengthen the resolve of the reader in abandoning the cornucopia of offenses , excuses , distractions and substitutions for submission and total dedication to Christ and God:
Behold, then, O my God, to what my body will be reduced—that body which has so much offended Thee!—to worms and rottenness. But this does not afflict me, O my Lord; on the contrary, I rejoice that this my flesh, which caused me to lose Thee, my Sovereign Good, will rot and be destroyed; that which afflicts me is, that for the sake of wretched pleasures I have so much displeased Thee. But I will not distrust in Thy mercy. Thou hast waited for me, that Thou mightest pardon me. “Therefore the Lord waiteth, that he may have mercy on you.” (Isaias 30:18). And Thou wilt pardon me if I repent. Yes, I repent with all my heart, O Infinite Goodness, of having despised Thee.
For me, this book was read over a series of afternoons sitting in the Cathedral in Dubrovnik , Croatia. It was the only quiet place I could find as the streets began to overcrowd in the late spring of 2022 . Coincidentally, I found myself having chosen a spot underneath some giant paintings of St. Jerome studying . I highly recommend this book for those times when the hollowness of modernity and the grind of a society lost in materialism renders you depressed or frustrated and disconnected from Truth. The book does a good job of reminding you of the brevity of it all and the frivolousness of the endless agitation. It will help to still your spirit, calm your mind, and set your compass toward the things that really matter.