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By St. Robert Bellarmine, Crisis Magazine, April 15, 2022
Editor’s note: This article is an excerpt from St. Robert Bellarmine’s The Art of Dying Well. It is available from your favorite bookseller or online through Sophia Institute Press.
Saint Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621) was an Italian Jesuit and Cardinal Archbishop of the Catholic Church. Recognized as on of the leading intellectuals of his time, St. Robert played an important role in the Counter-Reformation. He was canonized in 1930 and his feast is on September 17th.
“Let your loins be girt, and lamps burning in your hands, and yourselves like men who wait for their lord, when he shall return from the wedding; that when be cometh and knocketh, they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the Lord, when He cometh, shall find watching.”
This parable may be understood in two ways: preparation for the coming of our Lord on the last day, and preparation for His coming at the particular death of each of us. This latter explanation — which is that of St. Gregory on this Gospel— seems more adapted to our subject: for the expectation of the last day will chiefly regard only those who will then be alive. Our Lord seems to have intended it for the apostles, not for all Christians, although the apostles and their successors were many ages distant from this day. Moreover, many signs will precede the last day that will terrify men, according to the words of our Lord.
But no certain signs will precede the particular death of each person; and such “a coming” is signified by those words which are so frequently cited in Holy Scripture, that the Lord will come like “a thief” — that is, when He is least expected. …