In the Litany of the Saints one of the invocations is “From sudden and unprovided death, deliver us, O Lord.” Out of this ancient invocation, many prayers approved by various popes and bishops have become part of the personal prayer life of Catholics. Realizing that we must live in grace if we are to die in grace, we ask God to keep us on the road to the narrow gate and not take His love and compassion for granted.
Prayer against Sudden and Unprovided Death
Hear us, O God of our salvation! and issue not the decree for the completion of our days before Thou forgivest us our sins; and because penance avails not in hell, and there is no room there for amendment, therefore do we humbly pray and beseech Thee here on earth, that, giving us time to pray for pardon, Thou wouldst grant us also forgiveness of our sins. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Take away, merciful Lord, all errors from Thy faithful people, avert from them the sudden destruction of the wasting pestilence; that those whose wanderings Thou dost justly chastise, Thou wouldst vouchsafe in Thy tender pity to cherish when corrected. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Antiphon – Sin no longer, O my soul! Think upon the sudden change from sin to endless woe. There, in hell, penance is not accepted, and tears profit not. Turn, then, whilst thou hast time; cry out and say: Have mercy upon me, O my God!
Antiphon – In the midst of life we are in death: whom, then, O Lord, shall we seek to be our helper, save Thee, O Lord! although Thou art indeed angry with us because of sins? O Holy Lord, holy and strong, holy and merciful Savior! deliver us not ever to a bitter death.
V. – Lest, overtaken by the day of death, we seek time for penance, and be not able to find it.
R. – Hearken! O Lord! and have mercy on us; for we have sinned against Thee.
We beseech Thee, Almighty God, receive in Thy fatherly pity Thy people flying to Thee from Thine anger; that they who fear to be chastised by the rod of Thy Majesty in the suddenness of death, may be made worthy to rejoice in Thy gracious pardon. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
We beseech Thee, Almighty God, graciously to incline Thine ear to the assembly of Thy Church, and let Thy mercy prevent Thine anger in our behalf; for if Thou shouldst mark iniquities, no creature shall be able to stand before Thee: but in that marvelous charity, through which Thou didst create us, pardon us sinners, and destroy not the work of Thine own hands by sudden death. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
O God! in Whose sight every heart trembles and every conscience is awed; show forth Thy mercy upon us Thy suppliants, that we, who trust not in the excellence of our own merit, may never know Thy judgments in the suddenness of our death, but may receive Thy pardon. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
As an update, here is a link to a thorough article in the Daily Mail about the nuclear perils in Japan and elsewhere resulting from the earthquake.