Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Tuesday 28 September |
Saint of the Day: St. Wenceslaus
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

The secret to dying well, according to St. Robert Bellarmine

MAN, DEATH, BED

Photographee.eu | Shutterstock

Philip Kosloski - published on 09/17/19

Bellarmine believed there was a particular "art" in dying well, allowing us to truly "rest in peace."

As much as we may try to avoid or “cheat” death, prolonging our lives as much as possible, death will come knocking at our door soon enough. It is inescapable in this world and so the question is not if we will die, but how we will die.

Death is something that can come to us unexpectedly, but that does not mean that we can’t prepare for it. Many of the saints tried to live every day as if it were their last, and prepared for death daily. For them, death was always around the corner and they welcomed it with open arms.




Read more:
What is the Apostolic Pardon?

In a similar vein of thought, St. Robert Bellarmine wrote a book in 1619 on the Art of Dying Well. He details what he believed to be the key to preparing for death, not only when death is imminent, but most importantly when we are in good health.

Bellarmine reiterated a popular phrase that has been passed down throughout the centuries:

«He who lives well, will die well.»

He goes on to explain, “We must acknowledge that it is a most dangerous thing to deter till death our conversion from sin to virtue: far more happy are they who begin to carry the yoke of the Lord ‘from their youth,’ as Jeremiah said.”

We can not put off turning our lives around until we are old, but must begin doing so today. Bellarmine reiterates this fact by saying, “This first great truth now remains established, that a good death depends upon a good life.”

Interestingly, Bellarmine goes on to explain that if we wish to die well, we must first die to the world. 

That we may live well it is necessary, in the first place, that we die to theworld before we die in the body. All theywho live to the world are dead to God: wecannot in any way begin to live to God,unless we first die to the world.

What does this mean?

The New Testament is full of references to dying to our sin, so that we may live in Jesus Christ. We must be plunged into the death of baptism so that we may rise to new life. If we wish to live well, we must first die to our sinful ways.

Additionally, besides living a life of virtue, a central key to dying well is to be detached from all earthly things. This requires a recognition that any wealth a person may possess is not for their own personal benefit and that they are only a steward of such riches.

Bellarmine explains, “Every rich man of this world must acknowledge that the riches he possesses … are not his: that if they be justly acquired, he is only the steward of them.” This is often difficult to put into practice as wealth can easily breed a sense of selfish possession. We want to keep our money and material things for our own benefit and not share them with others. Yet, a true Christian understanding of wealth is that it is a gift given by God for the good of all. We are only stewards of that gift and will need to provide an account of our stewardship at the end of our life on earth.

As we go forth in our daily lives, let us remember that death is near, and if we wish to die well, we must first live well.

Read more:Memento Mori: How a skull on your desk will change your lifeBERNINI,SCULPTURERead more:3 Ways to clean up the Church, from St. Robert Bellarmine
Tags:
DeathSpiritual Life
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
The Sinai Peninsula and the Dead Sea Rift
J-P Mauro
Experts now believe Sodom was destroyed by a meteor
2
VATICAN LEGOS
J-P Mauro
Chicago architect models Vatican City from 67,000 LEGO bricks
3
Fr. Michael Rennier
The purpose of life according to J.R.R. Tolkien
4
Giovanna Binci
He’s autistic, she has Down syndrome, and they’re wonderfully hap...
5
crisis man
Marzena Devoud
Advice from 3 monks for overcoming acedia
6
PADRE PIO
Bret Thoman, OFS
Exclusive photos: Meet Padre Pio and the place he lived
7
Christ and the woman taken in adultery
Daniel Esparza
What Jesus wrote
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.