Candle note: Recently, Catholic
Candle examined the permission the Church traditionally gives to a person
who is in danger of death, to confess to a priest to whom an uncompromising
Catholic could not otherwise support (or confess to) because that priest is a
compromiser, an apostate, or someone whom it is otherwise impermissible to
support. Find the article here: https://catholiccandle.org/2020/01/01/using-a-compromised-priest-when-dying/
also addressed how uncompromising laymen can bury their dead in these times of
great apostasy when an uncompromising priest is not available. Find the
article here: https://catholiccandle.org/2020/04/02/a-traditional-catholic-funeral-and-burial-when-there-is-no-uncompromising-priest-available/
Between this last confession (discussed
in the first of those articles) and the burial (discussed in the second
article), is the crucial moment of death. Below, we give recommendations how
to assist at a person’s death, based on the experience of some of the Catholic
Candle Team, who recently assisted at the deaths of two uncompromising
We recommend that you save these
articles for future reference and use.
How to assist a
person in dying a holy death
What is death and when does it occur?
is the separation of body and soul. This separation occurs at an instant, not progressively,
over time. However, we say a person is “dying” when his body becomes
progressively less able to perform the physical functions of life. A person’s
soul leaves his body sometime after his body ceases to function.
of breathing and of heartbeat are not death. Those two bodily
functions cease before death. Likewise, so-called “brain death”
occurs before death and is not real death. “Brain death” is
merely the ceasing of those brain functions that can be measured by a
we cannot be sure of the exact moment of death, we are sure it occurs after
those bodily functions cease. We know that death has already occurred when the
body undergoes a general corruption (i.e., throughout the entire
body). Localized corruption of a particular part of the body is not a reliable
sign of death. That localized corruption is called “gangrene” and can occur
while a person is alive.
dying person especially needs our help because temptations are often very great
while a person is dying
usually do not know the spiritual battles a person is waging in the last
moments of his life, because he is usually too weak and frail to indicate “on
the outside” the battles which are raging within him. But these battles occur!
devil is a far better “doctor” than human doctors and he knows better than the human
physicians when a person is about to die. In a person’s final hours, the devil
knows it is his last chance to influence where the dying person will spend
every faithful and informed Catholic knows, death is the most important moment
of life. The devil knows that too. The devil also knows that the dying person
is in a weakened state and has less strength to fight the devils and sin.
these final battles are usually hidden, occasionally God Wills that they become
known to us, for our good. Here is the account of the death of one man we know
of, written by his close relative, describing the man’s spiritual combat
against the devils and sin during the last moments of his life:
My uncle was a
pious and humble, bedridden traditional Catholic who was in veterans’ hospice
care. On his death bed, he was under attack by the devil to such an extent
that fear took over and he was able to get out of bed and run down the hall
shouting, “They [viz., the devils] are trying to get me to commit mortal
sin!” The attending nurse recited a psalm to him as she helped him back to
bed. One hour later, his esophageal cancer pierced his aorta and he began
coughing up blood. Being frightened, he leaped out of bed and ran to the door
of his room, where he collapsed and died.
our loved ones especially need our help during their final struggle, we should
be generous, remaining at their side and helping them to the very end.
persons are often aware even when they are non-responsive and apparently
a dying person needs our help in his final spiritual battle, we should
persevere helping until we are as certain as we can be, that he is dead and no
longer needs our help.
cannot know with certainty when this separation of soul and body (death) occurs,
so we should “err” on the side of remaining longer to assist the person in
dying a holy death. A person might be non-responsive to stimuli and apparently
not breathing, yet fully aware and undergoing a final spiritual battle for his
should not stop helping a dying person even if he is non-responsive and is
apparently unconscious. There are reports of persons being well aware but
unable to manifest consciousness or react to stimuli. For example, in 2014, a
woman suffered a stroke and slipped into a coma, becoming non-responsive.
While in a coma, she was “painfully aware” of all around her. She could not
move, see, or speak. She could hear and think but could not respond. She
panicked but her panic did not manifest itself exteriorly. This woman later
recovered and told her story.
when dying persons are in a coma or in a “sleep” from which they cannot be awoken,
they often can hear us, are conscious and are able to pray. The
sense of hearing is the last sense to cease functioning.
we assisted an uncompromising Traditional Catholic during her fifteen-hour
final death struggle. About six o’clock in the morning, she slipped into a
non-responsive state, no longer reacting to any stimuli. She was breathing but
seemed to be in a “sleep” from which she could not be awoken.
six hours into her ordeal, as we were at her bedside, one of us asked her to
squeeze his finger if she could hear him. She immediately gave his finger a
quick and firm squeeze before again becoming entirely unresponsive to all
stimuli for the remaining nine hours in which she showed signs of life.
to assist the dying
is a frightening and lonely occasion. Death is a time of sorrow – so make sure
you assist the dying person with as much moral support as you can, being
ever-present and attentive, in order to encourage him in his death struggles.
your best to give the dying person strength, encouragement and human moral
support. Remember that love “divides” sorrows
– including the sorrows of death. Human contact with a dying person is very
important. Hold his hand. Reduce (divide) his sorrows of death, as much as
you can. Give him frequent little caresses or movements/touches, so he knows you
are still there. (Without movement, we easily lose awareness that something/someone
is touching us.)
him know he is dying and that you came to help him prepare to die well. The
dying person shouldn’t be given false hope that he will live. He should not be
denied the truth of his situation any more than those around him should lie to
themselves. It is not a loving act to ignore reality out of fear of alarming him.
To do so might imperil his immortal soul.
dying person needs to face his mortality, to repent of his sins, to pray, to
receive Extreme Unction (if an uncompromising priest is available), to be
encouraged to trust totally in Jesus and His forgiveness and love, etc.
The dying person must spiritually prepare himself for judgment. To help him do
this is the single greatest act of love you can show him.
should not take salvation for granted, e.g., we should not tell him, “soon
you will be in heaven”. This imperils the dying person’s salvation because it
encourages him to merely “wait for heaven” rather than spend this precious time
preparing to die as well as possible.
is very valuable but taxing work, to assist a dying person hour-by-hour.
It is not necessary that we get him to respond to us frequently or at all. The
important thing is that he knows we are there, not that he gives us proof that
he is paying attention to us.
the dying person’s time on his deathbed, it is good to offer him short ejaculations
that encourage a focus on Christ, our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph, who is the
patron of the dying and of a happy death. We should frequently ask for the
prayers of the Saints, especially the dying person’s patron saints.
if the dying person is non-responsive, pray out loud (or whisper in his ear) and
encourage him to pray inside himself, along with you. Also, frequently,
lovingly, and calmly repeat prayerful ejaculations for him, such as:
❖ Into Thy hands,
Oh Lord, I commend my spirit.
❖ Heart of Jesus,
once in agony, have pity on Thy dying servant (handmaid).
❖ Eternal Father,
I accept with a joyful and resigned heart the death it will please Thee to send
me, with all its pains and sufferings.
❖ O Lord Jesus
Christ, receive my spirit.
❖ My Jesus, mercy!
❖ Be merciful to
me, Oh Lord, a sinner!
❖ Jesus, Mary,
❖ Sacred Heart of
Jesus, I place my trust in Thee!
❖ Holy Mother
Mary, pray for me.
❖ Holy Mary,
Mother of grace, Mother of mercy, do thou defend me from the enemy, and receive
❖ St. Joseph,
obtain for me grace and mercy!
with these ejaculations, give little expressions of moral support such as:
❖ We [your names]
are here with you.
❖ We love you.
❖ We are praying
❖ Offer up your
sufferings; this is very pleasing to Our Dear Lord.
❖ Place all of
your trust in the Sacred Heart of our dear Lord, and in our dear Mother Mary.
❖ Our Lord is
merciful! Offer up your sufferings to Him!
you are helping with these prayerful ejaculations and words of moral support,
it is not necessary that you be continually speaking. Use your
best judgment mixing words and silence, so that the dying person keeps a
spiritual focus and knows that he is not alone.
if the dying person appears non-responsive, pray either out loud or in his
ear. Continue until you are sure he is dead. If the dying person is able to
pray with you (either audibly or interiorly), coax him to do so.
are not assisting the dying person principally in order to soothe him or make
him comfortable. Our main job is to help him die well and save his soul.
Therefore, don’t impede his effectively waging his spiritual warfare. For
➢ Distract the
dying person from his spiritual struggles.
➢ Minimize his
situation or “sugarcoat” the fact that he is dying.
➢ Hold out false
hope that he will recover or distract him with thoughts of a false recovery.
➢ Play or sing
➢ Talk to the
dying person about secular things unconnected with his dying, e.g., events
in the news, happenings in the family, etc.
puff him up with praise or give him assurances that he has already finished his
final job (preparing well for death).
use of sacramentals when assisting the dying
sacramentals of the Church are very powerful at a person’s deathbed. When
helping the dying, use these:
§ A St. Benedict
§ Holy water
§ Bring your
rosary (and maybe one for the dying person).
§ Bring a blessed
candle, a candlestick, and matches. Light the blessed candle unless oxygen use
in the room prevents that.
§ Bring a
crucifix for the dying person to hold. If necessary, hold the crucifix with
him so that it does not leave his hand. Have the dying person kiss it often,
§ Confirm that
the dying person is wearing a brown scapular. Bring one in case he is not
wearing one. Often non-Catholic caregivers take a patient’s scapular off (for
whatever reason). So, a dying person who “always wears a scapular” might not
have one on while he is dying.
§ Bring holy
water and use it to sprinkle the dying person, make Signs of the Cross on his
forehead, senses, hands, and, perhaps, his feet.
to use in assisting the dying
Traditional Catholic hymns, e.g., Oh Sacred Head Surrounded.
the Traditional Catholic Prayers for the Dying (see below).
invoke the help of St. Joseph, the patron of a holy death.
acts of Contrition, Faith, Hope, and Charity.
the Memorare (“Remember, Oh Most Gracious Virgin Mary …”).
Our Fathers, Hail Marys and Glory Bes.
the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary with him.
Catholic Prayers for the Dying when death becomes close
death approaches more closely, the sick person’s soul should be commended to
God. Here is a good traditional formula through which to do this:
forth, O Catholic soul, out of this world, in the Name of God the Father
almighty, Who created you; in the Name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living
God, Who suffered for you; in the Name of the Holy Ghost, Who sanctified you,
in the name of the holy and glorious Mary, Virgin and Mother of God; in the
name of the angels, archangels, thrones and dominions, cherubim and seraphim;
in the name of the patriarchs and prophets, of the holy apostles and
evangelists, of the holy martyrs, confessors, monks and hermits, of the holy
virgins, and of all the saints of God; may your place be this day in peace, and
your abode in Holy Sion. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
merciful and gracious God, O God, according to the multitude of Thy mercies
Thou blotteth out the sins of such as repent, and graciously remit the guilt of
their past offenses, mercifully regard this Thy servant (handmaid) N.____ and
grant him (her) a full discharge from all his (her) sins, who with a contrite
heart most earnestly begs it of Thee. Renew, O merciful Father, whatever has
been vitiated in him (her) by human frailty, or by the frauds and deceits of
the enemy: and associate him (her) as a member of redemption to the unity of
the body of the Church. Have compassion, Lord, on his (her) sighs, have
compassion on his (her) tears; and admit him (her), who has no hope but in Thy
mercy. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
commend you, dear Brother (Sister), to the almighty God, and consign you to the
care of Him, whose creature you are, that, when you shall have paid the debt of
all mankind by death, you may return to thy Maker, Who formed you from the dust
of the earth. When, therefore, your soul shall depart from your body, may the
resplendent multitude of the angels meet you: may the court of the apostles
receive you: may the triumphant army of glorious martyrs come out to welcome
you: may the splendid company of confessors clad in their white robes encompass
you: may the choir of joyful virgins receive you: and may you meet with a
blessed repose in the bosom of the patriarchs. May St. Joseph, the sweetest
Patron of the dying, comfort you with a great hope. May Mary, the holy Mother
of God, lovingly cast upon you her eyes of mercy. May Jesus Christ appear to
you with a mild and joyful countenance, and appoint you a place among those who
are to stand before Him forever. May you be a stranger to all that is punished
with darkness, chastised with flames, and condemned to torments. May the most
wicked enemy, with all his evil spirits, be forced to give way: may he tremble
at your approach in the company of angels, and with confusion fly away into the
vast chaos of eternal night. Let God arise and His enemies be scattered, and
let them that hate Him fly before His Face, let them vanish like smoke; and as
wax that melts before the fire, so let sinners perish in the sight of God; but
may the just rejoice and be happy in His presence.
May then all
the legions of Hell be confounded and put to shame; and may none of the
ministers of Satan dare to stop you in your way. May Christ deliver you from
torments, Who was crucified for you. May He deliver you from eternal death,
Who vouchsafed to die for you. May Jesus Christ the Son of the living God
place you in the ever-verdant lawns of His Paradise; and may He, the true
Shepherd, acknowledge you for one of His flock. May He absolve you from all
your sins, and place you at His right hand in the midst of His elect. May you
see your Redeemer face to face, and standing always in His presence, behold
with happy eyes the clearest Truth. And may you be placed among the company of
the blessed and enjoy the sweetness of the contemplation of your God for ever. Amen.
Lord, Thy servant (handmaid) into the place of salvation, which he (she) hopes
to obtain through Thy mercy. R. Amen.
Lord, the soul of Thy servant (handmaid) from all danger of Hell; and from all
pain and tribulation. R. Amen
Lord, the soul of Thy servant (handmaid) as Thou didst deliver Enoch and Elias
from the common death of the world. R. Amen.
Lord, the soul of Thy servant (handmaid), as Thou didst deliver Abraham from
the midst of the Chaldeans. R. Amen.
Lord, the soul of Thy servant (handmaid), as Thou didst deliver Job from all
his afflictions. R. Amen.
Lord, the soul of Thy servant (handmaid), as Thou didst deliver Isaac from
being sacrificed by his father. R. Amen.
Lord, the soul of Thy servant (handmaid), as Thou didst deliver Lot from being
destroyed in the flames of Sodom. R. Amen.
Lord, the soul of Thy servant (handmaid), as Thou didst deliver Moses from the
hands of the Pharaoh, King of Egypt. R. Amen.
Lord, the soul of Thy servant, as Thou didst deliver the three children from
the fiery furnace, and from the hands of an unmerciful king. R. Amen.
Lord, the soul of Thy servant (handmaid), as Thou didst deliver Susanna from
her false accusers. R. Amen.
Lord, the soul of Thy servant (handmaid), as Thou didst deliver David from the
hands of Saul and Goliath. R. Amen.
Lord, the soul of Thy servant (handmaid), as Thou didst deliver Peter and Paul
out of prison. R. Amen.
as Thou didst deliver that blessed virgin and martyr, Saint Thecla, from three
most cruel torments, so be pleased to deliver the soul of this Thy servant, and
bring it to the participation of Thy Heavenly joys. R. Amen.
commend to Thee, Lord, the soul of Thy servant (handmaid) N.____, and we pray
Thee, Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, that as in mercy to him (her)
Thou becamest man, so now Thou would be pleased to admit him (her) to the bosom
of Thy patriarchs. Remember, Lord, he (she) is Thy creature, not made by
strange gods, but by Thee, the only living and true God; for there is no other
but Thee, and none can equal Thy work. Let his (her) soul rejoice in Thy
presence, and remember not his (her) former iniquities and excesses, which he
(she) has fallen into, through the violence of passion and the corruption of
his (her) nature. For although he (she) has sinned, yet he (she) has always
firmly believed in the Father, Son and Holy Ghost; he (she) has had a zeal for
Thy honor, and faithfully adored Thee as his (her) God, and Creator of all
things. Remember not, Lord, we pray Thee, the sins of his (her) youth, and his
(her) ignorances; but according to Thy great mercy, be mindful of him (her) in
Thy Heavenly glory. Let the heavens be opened to him (her), and the angels
rejoice with him (her). Let the archangel St. Michael, whom Thou didst appoint
the chief of the heavenly host, conduct him (her). Let the holy angels come
out to meet him (her), and carry him (her) to the city of heavenly Jerusalem. Let
blessed Peter the apostle, to whom God gave the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven,
receive him (her). Let St. Paul the apostle, who was a vessel of election,
assist him (her). Let St. John the beloved disciple, to whom the secrets of
Heaven were revealed, intercede for him (her). Let all the holy apostles, who
received from Jesus Christ the power of binding and loosing, pray for him
(her). Let all the saints and elect of God, who in this world have suffered
torments in the name of Christ, intercede for him (her); that being freed from
the prison of his (her) body, he (she) may be admitted into the glory of our
Lord Jesus Christ, Who with Thee and the Holy Ghost, lives and reigns, world
without end. Amen.
to the Blessed Virgin Mary
Mary the most merciful Virgin Mother of God, kindest comforter of them that
mourn, commend to her Son the soul of this His servant (handmaid), that through
her maternal intercession, he (she) may overcome the dread of death and, with
her as guide, joyfully reach his (her) longed-for home in the heavenly
fatherland. R. Amen.
to St. Joseph
thee I have recourse, St. Joseph, Patron of the dying; and to thee, at whose
blessed death watchfully assisted Jesus and Mary, by both these dearest pledges
I earnestly recommend the soul of this servant (handmaid) in the sufferings of
his (her) last agony, that he (she) may by your protection be delivered from
the snares of the devil and from eternal death, and may merit to attain
everlasting joy. Through the same Christ our Lord. R. Amen.
the person has apparently died, the following prayers can be said:
to his assistance, all you Saints of God: meet him, all you Angels of God:
receiving his soul, offering it in the sight of the Most High. May Christ
receive you, who hath called you, and may the Angels conduct you to Abraham’s
bosom. Receiving his (her) soul and offering it in the sight of the Most High.
rest give to him (her), Lord: and let perpetual light shine upon him (her).
…and lead us not into temptation.
But deliver us from evil.
Eternal rest give to him (her), Lord.
And let perpetual light shine upon him (her).
From the gates of Hell.
Deliver his (her) soul, Lord.
May he (she) rest in peace.
O Lord, hear my prayer.
And let my cry come to Thee.
The Lord be with you.
And with thy spirit.
us pray. To Thee, Lord, we commend the soul of your servant (handmaid) N.____,
that being dead to this world he (she) may live to Thee: and whatever sins he
(she)( has committed in this life through human frailty, do Thou in Thy most
merciful goodness forgive. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.
O God, that while we lament the departure of this Thy servant (handmaid), we
may always remember that we are most certainly to follow him (her). And give us
grace to prepare for that last hour by a good life, that we may not be
surprised by a sudden and unprovided death, but be ever watching, that, when
Thou callest, we may, with the Bridegroom, enter into eternal glory: through
Christ our Lord. Amen.
of the article
is the most important moment of life. Life is the preparation for this
moment. Be generous helping the dying person die well.