THE ART OF
who has not died to the world cannot die well. What must we do to die to the
die well, we must live well. And to live well is ". . .charity from a
pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned."
must I do to gain eternal life?" a young man asked Christ. "Keep
the commandments." In a few words, St. Paul explained the primary
commandment upon which the whole law depends, an understanding and
fulfillment of which will lead to eternal life.
commands of Christ are summarized thus: "So there abides faith, hope
and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." The
purpose of this charge is charity, i.e., the purpose of all the commandments
is charity. In short, for one to have love of God, let him fulfill all the
commandments of Christ.
God and love your neighbor." He who loves God works no evil towards
God; he who loves his neighbor works no evil towards his neighbor.
from a pure heart, hope from a good conscience and faith unfeigned. Faith
must be born first; charity is the perfection of the spiritual life.
us begin with faith, not a false feigned faith as of heretics or bad
Catholics. Feigned faith is either: a) one does not really believe but
pretends he believes; or b) when he indeed believes but does not live
as he believes one should live. "They profess to know God but, by their
works, they disown Him."
this, it is apparent that many do not live well and thus will not die well.
How many Catholics profess to know Christ but deny Him in their actions? How
many profess Christ is the judge of the living and the dead and yet live as
though they were not going to be judged? How many profess Mary is the mother
of God but treat her like a whore? How many praise prayer, fasting and good
works but live by their vices?
if your faith is feigned; if it is, acknowledge that you have not begun to
live well. And hope not that you will die happily. To die well, you must
master the Art of living well and live it.
a good conscience, arises from faith. A good conscience adds trust to hope.
Hope makes us approach God with confidence because, rid of all sins through
Penance, we know we shall receive God's favors. With serious sins, we are
God's enemies. And who ever asks favors from an enemy? How can we receive
favors when He is angry with us? "The hope of the wicked is as dust,
which is blown away with the wind. . .dispersed by the storm. . ."
"The sinner's hope is fragile, not solid; short-lived and not
repent at the last hour is a very special grace rarely given. The Book of
Wisdom warns us that if we wish to live well and die happily, we should not
dare to cling even for a second to our sins. For most are deceived into
believing that there is plenty of time for serious repentance. This vain
confidence has deceived and will deceive many.
is the queen of virtues. With charity, no one perishes; without it, no one
lives. Charity-- "from a pure heart." A pure heart does not
necessarily generate charity.
is poured forth in our hearts by God. God does not pour this into an impure
heart. It is poured into a heart purified from error. "God cleansed
their hearts by faith", a heart purified from all desire of earthly
impure heart is like a green wood; the fire of charity has no effect on it
because of the sap of earthly love and empty confidence in one's own
love is prayer, fasting and good works but with a filthy heart, vainglory
and hatred. True charity comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and
faith unfeigned. This is the true Art of living well and dying
Robert Bellarmine, Chapter 3