VI.iii.13 A brother asked an old man, “Which is more important for salvation, who you are or what you do?”
The old man replied; “What you do.
I know a brother who was praying once and his prayer was heard. A thought had come into his mind that he would like to see the way in which the souls of both the righteous and the wicked were taken up out of the body. And God satisfied his desire, so that as the brother was sitting in his cell a wolf came in and tugged at his clothing, dragging him outside. With the brother following, the wolf led him towards a city and then left him. He found himself inside a monastery near the city where there was a renowned solitary who was ill and at the point of death. He saw great quantities of tapers and candles being arranged around that solitary, as if it had all been owing to him that God had kept the inhabitants of that city safe and provided them with food and water, and that if that should come to an end we should all die.
“But at the hour of that solitary’s death that brother saw a denizen of hell with a fiery trident descending on to him and heard a voice saying, ‘Inasmuch as that soul never ceased to cause me unease in this life, so have no pity on it as you come to pluck it out.’ The demon then plunged his trident into the solitary’s heart, tormenting him for several hours before plucking out his soul.
“The brother then went into the city and found a pilgrim lying on a sick bed, with no one to look after him, and stayed with him for the whole day. The hour of his death drew nigh, and the brother saw Michael and Gabriel coming down towards his soul. They sat one on each side of him and entreated the soul to come out of him but it would not, as if reluctant to leave the body.
“Gabriel said to Michael, ‘Tear out his soul and let us go.’
“But Michael replied, ‘We have orders from God that it should depart painlessly, so we cannot tear it out.’
“Michael then cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, what do you want us to do with this soul that will not agree to leave the body’
“And a voice came saying, ‘See now, I am sending David with his harp and all the singers of Jerusalem, so that when he hears the psalm they sing he will come out.’
“As they all descended around him singing their hymns the soul came out into the hands of Michael and was taken up with great joy.”
De Vitis Patrum VI, Libelus 3