Nolite mirari, hoc, quia venit hora, in qua omnes, grave qui in monumentis sunt, audient vocem Filii Dei: et procedent, qui bona fecerunt, in resurrectionem vitæ; qui vero mala egerunt, in resurrectionem judicii. (From the Gospel for the first Mass for the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, John v, 28-29: "Wonder not at this, for the hour cometh wherein all that are in the shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that have done good things shall come forth unto the resurrection of life, but they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment.")
In the ... book of Ecclesiasticus we read that God hears the prayer of the poor man, especially at the time when this man has to die, and that He punishes hearts that are without pity. "The Lord is judge, and there is not with Him respect of person; the Lord will not accept any person against a poor man; He will hear the prayer of him that is wronged . . . [and of] the widow.... The prayer of him that humbleth himself shall pierce the clouds, and he will not depart till the most High beholds."This doctrine is verified particularly at the hour of death. God will be with him in that last hour. These high thoughts occur repeatedly in the Old Testament, and still more in the New, which sees clearly in the death of the just man the prelude of eternal life.It was this writer's privilege to see the death of a just man, a poor man, Giuseppe d'Estengo, who lived with his family in the eighth story of a house near the Campo Santo in Rome.He was gangrened in his four limbs, suffered much from the cold, especially when his nerves began to writhe before death. Nevertheless, he never complained. He offered all his sufferings to the Lord for the salvation of his soul, for his own people, for the conversion of sinners. Then he was struck by rapid consumption, and had to be carried to the other extremity of Rome, to the hospital of the Littorio, where three weeks later he died, in a perfect state of abandonment to God in the middle of the night.At the precise instant when he died, his elderly father, a very good Christian, who was at the other extremity of the city, heard the voice of his son saying: "Father, I am going to heaven." And his excellent mother dreamed that her son mounted up to heaven with healed hands and feet, just as he will be in fact after the resurrection of the dead.I count it one of the great graces of my life that I knew this poor man, who was pointed out to me by a Vincentian helper who said: "You will be happy to know him." She spoke truly. He was a friend of God. His death confirmed this. Blessed are they who die in the Lord. He was one of those "who taste death" as the prelude of eternal life.
Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.
L’éternelle vie et la profondeur de l’âme [Life Everlasting]