"The best way to prepare for my own death, is to pray for the dying. That is the greatest act of charity I can do for those who are going before me, and consequently for me when my own hour comes."
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How did this devotion come to be? The story could be called The Three Stister-in-Laws: One Dying and Two Praying.Just after Thanksgiving in 2003, my sister-in-law Rosalina was admitted to the hospital. At the time, it did not occur to us that she would never return home; we were all surprised and saddened to learn later that she had bone cancer.
There were many opportunities to see Rosalina during her three month stay in the hospital. One day, I went to visit her with my other sister-in-law, Lourdes. We asked if she would like to pray with us, and right away she said, “Yes”. We were so glad to hear this because we had longed to pray with her for many years, but she rarely would. Since that day, we would always pray together during our visits.
As the illness progressed, she eventually became unable to speak. She was, however, able to make the sign of the cross and bring her hands together in order to ask us to pray with her. We could feel in our hearts how much she loved the spiritual consolation provided by our prayers. I am so grateful to God for giving us this precious time to spend with her. Finally, after a few weeks in hospice, Rosalina died peacefully on one of her favorite days of the year, Valentine’s Day. The whole family was with her at her bedside.
Immediately after her death, I realized how much those who are dying need our prayers. I knew I wanted to do something to help others who were approaching death, such as spending time with them and praying at there bedside. To my surprise, Lourdes came to me with the very same idea, so we went together to the hospice that had cared for Rosalina. Sadly, we learned that lay people were forbidden to do this, so we decided instead to pray for an hour at our parish church. We began meeting once a week at 3 o’clock, the hour of mercy, and would pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet, the Rosary, and some other beautiful prayers. Soon, several other people joined us to pray for the dying, so we decided to collect our prayers in a booklet.
I talked with my pastor about our prayer group, and he was very kind and supportive. He said our apostolate was an important one and suggested we announce it in the weekly bulletin. Our numbers grew, and our group has continued to faithfully pray for the dying, often during adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament. This is how the Holy Hour Devotion for the Dying began.
I hope you will find it in you heart to become a part of the Apostolate for the Dying. As a central work of our Catholic faith, we are called to pray for the dying, especially for those who may die suddenly, unprepared to face God. May this little booklet of beautiful prayers be a powerful tool in obtaining the eternal salvation of many souls for the greater glory of God.