Throughout “The Dream of Gerontius” John Henry Newman underlines the communion of the saints, which is the belief that Christians in heaven, purgatory and earth are united in charity.
Gerontius’ friends pray to God:
“Be merciful, be gracious; spare him, Lord.
Be merciful, be gracious; Lord, deliver him.
From the sins that are past;
From Thy frown and Thine ire;
From the perils of dying;
From any complying
With sin, or denying
His God, or relying
On self, at the last;
From the nethermost fire;
From all that is evil;
From power of the devil;
Thy servant deliver,
For once and for ever.”
The assistants invoke the merit of Jesus’ death on the Cross and his resurrection, after which the dying Gerontius prays to God and makes a profession of faith:
“Sanctus fortis, Sanctus Deus,
De profundis oro te,
Miserere, Judex meus,
Parce mihi, Domine.
Firmly I believe and truly
God is three, and God is One;
And I next acknowledge duly
Manhood taken by the Son.
And I trust and hope most fully
In that Manhood crucified;
And each thought and deed unruly
Do to death, as He has died.
Simply to His grace and wholly
Light and life and strength belong,
And I love, supremely, solely,
Him the holy, Him the strong.”
The dying man accepts the suffering of his agony:
“And I take with joy whatever
Now besets me, pain or fear,
And with a strong will I sever
All the ties which bind me here.”
Still, for Gerontius, the reality of death, brings fear:
“I can no more; for now it comes again,
That sense of ruin, which is worse than pain,
That masterful negation and collapse
Of all that makes me man; as though I bent
Over the dizzy brink
Of some sheer infinite descent”
More fearful yet is the sense of the presence of Satan, and he prays to Jesus and Mary. And Gerontius is blessed with the visit of a priest who prays:
“Proficiscere, anima Christiana, de hoc mundo!
Go forth upon thy journey, Christian soul!
Go from this world! Go, in the Name of God
The Omnipotent Father, who created thee!
Go, in the Name of Jesus Christ, our Lord,
Son of the living God, who bled for thee!
Go, in the Name of the Holy Spirit, who
Hath been pour’d out on thee! Go, in the name
Of Angels and Archangels; in the name
Of Thrones and Dominations; in the name
Of Princedoms and of Powers; and in the name
Of Cherubim and Seraphim, go forth!”
This, then, is the death to which we should aspire: professing the Faith, accompanied by the prayers of friends, the care of a priest, and the intercession of Jesus and Mary.