I did an interview recently on the little-known practice of preparing for a good death.
Here are some of the quotes I referenced:
“When once you have departed this life, there is no longer any place for repentance, no way of making satisfaction. Here life is either lost or kept. Here, by the worship of God and by the fruit of faith, provision is made for eternal salvation. Let no one be kept back either by his sins or by his years from coming to obtain salvation. To him who still remains in this world there is no repentance that is too late.” -St Cyprian of Carthage
“If we were required to die twice, we could jettison one death. But man dies once only, and upon this death depends his eternity. Where the tree falls, there it shall lie. If, at the hour of death, someone is living in bad habit, the poor soul will fall on the side of hell. If, on the other hand, he is in the state of grace, it will take the road for heaven. Oh, happy road!” – St John Vianney
“…is not he a fool who seeks after happiness in this world, where he will remain only a few days and exposes himself to the risk of being unhappy in the next, where we must live fore eternity? We do not fix our affections on borrowed goods, because we know that they must soon be returned to the owner. All the goods of this earth are lent to us…” St Alphonsus de Ligouri
“The more one longs for a thing, the more painful does deprivation of it become. And because after this life, the desire for God, the Supreme Good, is intense in the souls of the just (because this impetus toward him is not hampered by the weight of the body, and that time of enjoyment of the Perfect Good would have come) had there been no obstacle; the soul suffers enormously from the delay.” St Thomas Aquinas
“And so man separated himself from the fruit of all good things, and by his disobedience he was filled with the fruit that brings destruction. And the name of that fruit was mortal sin. Straightway he died to the more perfect life: he passed from a divine life to one on the level with irrational beasts. Once death was mingled with his nature, mortality was passed on to all generations of his children. Hence we are born into a life of death, for, in a certain sense, our very life has died. Our life is indeed dead because we have been deprived of immortality. But the man who is aware that he lives in the midst of two lives can cross the barrier between them, such that by destroying the one he can give the victory to the other. Man by his death to the true life entered into this life of death. So too, when he dies to this irrational life of death, he is restored to life eternal. And so there is no doubt but that we cannot enter into this life of blessedness unless we die to sin.” St Gregory of Nyssa
“Limitless and without consolation would have been our sorrow for close ones who are dying, if the Lord had not given us eternal life. Our life would be pointless if it ended with death. What benefit would there then be from virtue and good deed? Then they would be correct who say: ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!’ But man was created for immortality, and by His resurrection Christ opened the gates of the Heavenly Kingdom, of eternal blessedness for those who have believed in Him and have lived righteously. Our earthly life is a preparation for the future life, and this preparation ends with our death. ‘It is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment’ (Heb 9:27). Then a man leaves all his earthly cares; the body disintegrates, in order to rise anew at the General Resurrection. Often this spiritual vision begins in the dying even before death, and while still seeing those around them and even speaking with them, they see what others do not see.” St John the Wonderworker
There was also this beautiful prayer from the 7th century, recorded in the Raccolta:
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. O Refuge of sinners, Mother of the dying, do not forsake us at the hour of our death. Obtain for us the grace of perfect sorrow, sincere contrition, the pardon and remission of our sins, a worthy receiving of the holy Viaticum, and the consolation of the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, in order that we may appear with greater security before the throne of the just but merciful Judge, our God and our Redeemer. Amen.
And of course, “Preparation for Death” by Alphonsus de Liguori