While the title of it can sound a bit morbid and archaic, the practice of this prayer can actually be a joy filled experience. As Catholics, we know that God has willed us to be with Him forever in Heaven. This is but our earthly home, therefore death is not something that we should fear, but something we should embrace! St. Don Bosco knew and understood this very well, he believed that every man and woman should live their lives in a way that they could be ready to meet God at the any moment. St. Don Bosco ran multiple boys/girls boarding schools where practices of piety, fellowship, and recreation were staples in the day to day living. He wanted to make sure that all of his “children” were able to prepare and orient their lives towards Christ. He instructed the children that true life is found in relationship with Christ, and that doesn’t end after death. The Exercise for a Happy Death focuses on self examination, prayers for souls in purgatory, and firm resolutions to grow in love for Christ.
“But to those who are so much afraid of death, I say, “My children, do what your are supposed to; do not indulge in foul talk, frequent the sacraments, and do not give into gluttony. Death then will not frighten you.” - St. Don Bosco
The Exercise for a Happy Death has these six steps: (1) Monthly confession; (2) A meditation or conference the evening before or on the day itself of the Exercise for a Happy Death (3) A half-hour’s reflection or examination of conscience made in common, according to the prescribed formulary on the progress or retrogression made in virtue during the past month (4) The reading at table or elsewhere of the whole or at least part of the Constitution (Rule of the Salesian Order--for Salesians) (5) The choosing of a Saint as protector for the month. (6) Prayer of Pope Benedict XIII To obtain from God the grace of not dying an unprovided death More prayers for the Exercise can be found here