End of Life Decisions

Prayer for a Happy Death

O God, great and omnipotent judge of the living and the dead, we are to appear before you after this short life to render an account of our works. Give us the grace to prepare for our last hour by a devout and holy life, and protect us against a sudden and unprovided death. Let us remember our frailty and mortality, that we may always live in the ways of your commandments. Teach us to “watch and pray” (Lk 21:36), that when your summons comes for our departure from this world, we may go forth to meet you, experience a merciful judgment, and rejoice in everlasting happiness. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer to St. Joseph for a Happy Death

O Blessed Joseph, you gave your last breath in the loving embrace of Jesus and Mary. When the seal of death shall close my life, come with Jesus and Mary to aid me. Obtain for me this solace for that hour – to die with their holy arms around me. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I commend my soul, living and dying, into your sacred arms. Amen.

Preparing for the End of Life on Earth

Death is one thing that we all face, and it is important to prepare to approach death and end of life decisions in a manner consistent with our Catholic Faith.  The following are some important points to keep in mind when preparing for death:

Sacraments

  • Death is not the end.  It is the transition to Eternal Life.
  • The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick does not have to be postponed until the last days or moments of life.  If someone is in a nursing home, or homebound, or has a serious, chronic illness, they should receive the sacrament while they are conscious and can more fully participate in it.  Please contact the Parish Office to schedule Anointing of the Sick for yourself or your loved one.

Ordinary and Extraordinary Means of Preserving Life

  • All ordinary means must be used to preserve life.  Extraordinary means may be used to preserve life, but we are not required to use them.
  • Food and water, even when administered artificially, are usually ordinary care and should normally always be provided.  There are exceptions to this, but those exceptions must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Legal Preparation for End of Life Decisions

  • It is recommended that everyone appoint someone as a Medical Power of Attorney to make decisions when they are not able to do so.  It would be good to add clauses to the Medical Power of Attorney document stating that the person you appoint should act in accordance with Church teaching on end of life care and should consult a priest and the National Catholic Bioethics Center as needed.  You should discuss your views on these decisions with the person you appoint.
  • Advance Directives regarding actions to be taken in the case of your incapacitation should be modified to reflect your Catholic Faith.
  • Examples of Medical Power of Attorney and Advance Directives that include language that reflects our Catholic Faith can be found here at the website for the St. Thomas More Society of Dallas.  Your attorney can use these as a basis for drawing up these documents for you.

Free Consultations on End of Life Decisions