The Two Deaths

Author: Carl Marstrander

An electronic edition

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p. 121.

IT is right to know that everyone should be prepared for the
certain and uncertain meeting which is before him - namely,
the meeting with death, for it is certain to come, but uncertain what
hour or what time one will go to it. Everyone should be prepared
for the two hosts which come to attend every soul - namely, the
host of God with beauty and glory and splendour, and the host of
the Devil with its blackness and with its scorn and its evil advice.
. . . . concerning that matter as the holy Gregory related when
people were asking him what was the difference between the death
of the sinner and the death of the righteous. ‘Not difficult,’
said he.

A certain holy monk abode forty years in the desert. Once
as he was afasting for God, the death of the soul of the sinner
and of the righteous was revealed to him. An angel came to him
in his sleep, and said to him: ‘A beast from out of the desert will
come to you to-morrow, and it shall take the brooch from your
cloak and you shall go with it whither it will go before you.’ On
the following morning, he beheld a beast approaching him. It
took the brooch from his cloak, and then went forth into the desert,
and continued on that day and the following night unto midnight.
Then he saw a great city before him. He went into the church
to do the round of the relics. The he saw a procession of people
going through the midst of the city toward a sanctuary which was
in the city, and a lighted waxen candle in the hand of each one.
He followed the people to this house. Then he saw something:
The ruler of the city at the point of death in the house. They sat
down there. He saw something: Satan entered into the house,

p. 123.

having a three-pronged fiery fork in his hand. He leaped
upon the breast of the sick man, and thrice turned himself
over to the left upon him. This was not manifest to anyone
within the house, save to that youth alone. Then he heard
a voice coming from the rich covetous man: ‘Since thou hast
not done my will for the space of even one hour, O unhappy soul,
therefore I shall give you up to everlasting pain.’ As often then
as the soul came up to the man’s mouth, Satan dealt it a blow with
his fork so that the soul hastened back into the body again. But
Satan once plunged the three-pronged fork under the left breast of
the man, and drags the soul forth from the body, on to the floor.
It was black as a raven, and this was the first utterance of the soul
after coming out of the body. ‘Great is the darkness.’ Satan
answered and said: ‘Greater still remains for you.’ Then he
took the soul in his hand and went through the middle of the house,
so that he beheld it. The second utterance of the soul was:
‘Steep is the road.’ Satan answered: ‘Steeper still remains for
you.’ And this was the third utterance of the soul: ‘Great are
the straits.’ Satan replied: ‘Greater still remain for you.’ The
soul then goes round the body by the left, and cursed it. After
that it went to the door of the house, whereupon hosts of demons
attend it. They raise a shout round about it, and form two bands
around the soul - namely, one before and one behind it, and they
set up a chorus around it, to wit: ‘Quid gloriaris in malicias’, and
they bore the soul away from him over the city as far as his eyes
could reach, and the angels made sorrowful lamentation, but did
not go along with the soul, etc.

Thereupon the man went out of the house, and the beast came
up to him. After that he went to a house which was nigh to the city,
and he entered into it. And he saw a soul which was most radiant,
from whom its members had departed, and it made him welcome,
and he sat down in the house. And he saw the angel Michael and
Gabriel coming towards them, and Michael went up to the pillow
of the couch whereon the poor man was. Thereupon he
summoned the . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

p. 125.

. . . After that they heard the choir-singing of the heavenly host
approaching the house and David with his golden harp before
them. As the soul heard these strains, it sprang upon the breast
of the man, and it was resplendent as the sun. And this was the
first utterance of the soul: ‘Great is that light.’ The angel said:
‘Greater thou wilt have.’ The second utterance of the soul was:
‘The ways are smooth.’ The angel replied: ‘Smoother will
they be for thee.’ And this was the third utterance of the soul:
‘The ways are broad.’ The angel replied: ‘Broader will they
be for thee.’

Thereupon the sinner went to hell with a crowd of demons, but
the just man went to heaven with a choir of angels. Then the
monk came to his house and related all this to the brethren, as it
had been revealed to him during his divine ministration. So it
is not right to despise another because of the insignificance of his
person, provided that his works be good, for it is by his works
that God chooses a man.

© 2007 Thesaurus Linguae Hibernicae

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