“From a sudden and unprovided death, spare us O Lord.”

After the Boston bombings I posted about the serious prayer which all Catholics should say:

A subitanea et improvisa morte… From a sudden and unprovided death, spare us O Lord.”

A sudden death can be a blessing.

A sudden and unprovided death is a horrifying prospect.

In this light, a reader sent me a link to the UK’s Daily Mail which provides photos taken in my native Minnesota along the North Shore of Lake Superior… near to where the group of priests I belong to have often met in the summer.

Click for a larger version

We don’t know the moment.



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. APX says:

    I was thinking this today during Mass when the ground and church began to shake and the lights above me were rattling. Construction next door is pounding giant poles into the ground.

  2. VexillaRegis says:

    In this case the eath of the mouse was unexpected, but he is provided for!

  3. Jon says:

    At my FSSP parish, I had a friend whose wife has been suffering from an aggressive lymphoma. She recently finished an exhausting round of chemo. He was her constant support through the ordeal. Each week I’d talk and joke with him. I saw him just a week ago at Mass. That evening, he was stricken by a massive stroke. He lay in a coma for a week, and this past Sunday, at the very time the parish prayed for him at Mass, he died. Although in his 70’s, he appeared hale and hearty only the week before, and now leaves his poor wife in devastation.

    His funeral is this Thursday. In your charity please pray for his soul, and as Father never tires of saying – go to confession.

  4. acardnal says:

    From what I know about owls, they use their ears as much as their eyes when hunting. They can actually hear rodents moving underneath the snow!

    There was a young, great grey owl in southern Wisconsin recently. A long way from his normal hunting grounds of Canada and quite unusual in these environs. He was roosting near a brewery. A true Wisconsinite at heart, I think.


  5. MouseTemplar says:

    OK. I went to confession last night and was careful today. Thought all day it would be good timing if a bus were to hit me.
    I had to share this. I keep it up on my computer to remind me exactly of the possibility:

  6. Nicholas says:

    I find the second picture unbearably cute. What a way to end a solemn point. XP

  7. Jean Marie says:

    Fr. Z – I’m a member of the Universal Living Rosary Association and they recently sent me this pray I would like to share with everyone because it seems very appropriate:

    Offering of Holy Communion as Viaticum
    “My God, if I am to die today or suddenly, at any time, I wish to receive Holy Communion as my Viaticum. I desire that my last food may be the Body and Blood of my Savior and Redeemer; my last words, Jesus, Mary and Joseph; my last affection, an act of pure love of God and of perfect contrition for my sins; my last consolation to die in Thy Holy Grace and in Thy Holy Love. Amen.”

    May Our Lord grant each and everyone of us this great mercy!

  8. Parochus says:

    A small point, but Lewis and Short would suggest “from sudden and unexpected death” or “from sudden and unforeseen death,” rather than “unprovided” death. The latter isn’t quite the sense of the Latin, and, in any case, what the English translator probably meant was “death that was unprovided for,” since if death occurred, it obviously was “provided.” [Use “unprovided” and then explain it. Watch the lightbulbs click on… or looks of horror appear.]

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  10. Suburbanbanshee says:

    The English translator meant exactly what he said. It is not his fault if the readers have a smaller dictionary than he did, or if language changes in unpredictable ways.

    “Not warned of or made ready for” is still a valid definition of “unprovided.”

  11. MikeM says:

    Oh boy. Those pictures, in this context, were simultaneously hilarious and terrifying. Point made. That trip to the Confessional that I’ve dodged for a few weeks needs to happen.

    [Click on the top image for a big version. Look at those talons.]

  12. Some of you – of higher taste and intellect – enjoy references to the Aubrey/Maturin series.

    Do you remember the exchange in the first book, Master and Commander, when Stephen is on shore and the crew exchange expressions of gloom about having to take on prisoners at the behest of a superior officer.

    ‘And think of our poor doctor, all alone among them damned trees – why, there might be owls.

  13. rcg says:

    What a beautiful bird.

  14. Andrew says:


    Nota bene: improvisus vs improvidus.

    There is a distinction between a death that is unforseen (improvisa) and a death that is not provided for (improvida).

  15. Skeinster says:

    Go to confession.
    Because I can state from personal experience one’s last thoughts as your car careens across three lanes of highway are not the Act of Contrition.

  16. Parochus says:

    Andrew, PRECISELY there is a distinction. That is the point I was making. Now go back and REREAD which word is used in the Latin text!

    Suburbanbanshee, if the translator meant exactly what he said, then he MISUNDERSTOOD the Latin. Haven’t we already had enough experience over the last 45 years with maladroit translations?

  17. NoraLee9 says:

    Skeinster: exactly. Well said.

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