Last will of the deceased
– We must execute it faithfully –
A dying person’s last will is sacred! We must respect it!
The Council of Trent recommended that bishops closely scrutinise the execution of the last will made by the faithful departed.
Other Councils went so far as to refuse communion to anyone who appropriated to himself the gifts of the dying or who refused to abide by their last wishes.
Strict laws also help us to understand how guilty we become when we deprive the deceased of their merits which they tried to gain for themselves after their death. Woe to those who would appropriate for themselves the merits of the souls in Purgatory! They deprive them of the relief they would have received and in a way, they become their torturers and thus become responsible for their torments.
Let it be known that God will not absolve them so easily. The day will come when God will ask them to account for those injustices.
They will probably be punished, even in this world, by temporal chastisements and who knows how long they will have to endure the rigours of Purgatory?
Christian souls ponder these words! Did your parents, friends and benefactors not give you pious recommendations on their death beds?
Did they not ask you openly, or in a will, for prayers and Masses?
Did they not beg you through tearfilled eyes to at least remember them in your prayers?
Have you justified the trust they placed in you?
Have you fully and conscientiously satisfied all the obligations they had left you?
If you have not done so, commit yourself to acquit that sacred debt of Justice.
– We must execute it promptly –
Not only must we faithfully accomplish the supreme wishes of the dead but we must also do it as soon as possible so as not to deprive those souls of the relief they will obtain through the Masses we offer or through our charitable deeds. We must also remember to ask them to pray for their benefactors.
Every day we delay is a fault for which we are totally responsible.
If we could only understand how terrible atonement is in Purgatory! Instead of putting off the offerings, which would diminish their torment, we would hasten to bring relief to those souls who are so worthy of our compassion, some of whom were so dear to us.
Those who neglect fulfilling the sacred responsiblities they contracted with their dying loved ones will be severely judged!
Learn from this. Carefully choose those in whom you will entrust your last will. Place the sums you wish to donate to charitable works in hands worthy of trust, along with the Masses offered for your deliverance. It is the only way you can be assured of having your last will accomplished, unless you belong to a very Christian family which in faith has conserved the respect for the memory of the deceased.
– Example –
The following describes the punishment awaiting those who do not execute the last will of the dying. There is a report, in the Charlemagne’s Gestures, of a valiant sea captain who was approaching retirement. He sent for a relative whom he had often helped and told him, I have spent over sixty years in the service of king and country, never asking for anything else than my wages. I own nothing but my trusted horse which I would like you to sell after my death and distribute the sum you obtain among the poor for my soul’s relief. The relative promised to do exactly as he had asked.
When the captain died, the relative, seduced by the horse’s beauty and training, kept it to himself and neglected to give the required alms to the poor. Six months had gone by when the soul of the deceased captain appeared to the ungrateful relative. You wretched man, said the soul, you have not kept your promise. You are the cause of the terrible torments I have to endure because you have not given the alms I had requested. Know this! Your conduct will be punished by a prompt death and a particular chastisement has been set aside for you: you will carry the sentence of your own faults to which will be added those, which I still have to suffer in order to satisfy Divine Justice.
The guilty relative was struck by the threat and, wanting to clear his conscience, he hastened to execute the captain’s last will. He did everything asked in order to avoid the consequence of his actions. He could not, however, avoid his death, which had been prophesied. Injustice and ingratitude towards the dead are despised by God and provoke His Holy Anger in this world and the next.
Let us hasten to repair any injustices we may have committed towards the deceased.
Let Us Pray
Oh my God, do not allow me to neglect my duties towards the dead. Their rights are sacred, their last will is equally sacred to me. I will fully satisfy all the obligations which they have left me and, if possible, I will accomplish those, which I might have neglected to this day. I will pray faithfully for their deliverance. Merciful Jesus, Mary Queen of Purgatory, be their Conciliators. May they rest in the peace of Heaven!