THE WAY OF SALVATION.
MEDITATIONS SUITABLE FOR ALL TIMES IN THE YEAR.
On eternal Salvation.
I. OUR most important affair is that of our eternal salvation; upon it depends our happiness or misery for ever. This affair will come to an end in eternity, and will decide whether we shall be saved or lost for ever; whether we shall have acquired an eternity of delights, or an eternity of torments; whether we shall live for ever happy, or for ever miserable. O God, what will my lot be? Shall I be saved, or shall I be lost? I may be either. And if I may be lost, why do I not embrace such a life, as may secure for me life eternal? O Jesus, thou didst die to save me; yet have I been lost, as often as I have lost thee my sovereign good: suffer me not to lose thee any more.
II. Men esteem it a great affair to gain a law-suit, to obtain a post of honour, or to acquire an estate. Nothing, however, which will end with time, deserves to be esteemed great. Since therefore all the goods of this world will one day end in our regard; as we shall either leave them, or they will leave us; that affair alone should be esteemed great, upon which depends eternal happiness or eternal misery. O Jesus, my Redeemer, cast me not away from thy face, as I have deserved! I am indeed a sinner; but I am grieved from the bottom of my heart for having offended thy infinite goodness. Hitherto I have despised thee, but now I love thee above all things. Henceforth, thou alone shalt be my only good, my only love. Have pity on a sinner who penitently casts himself at thy feet and desires to love thee. If I have grievously offended thee, I now ardently desire to love thee. What would have become of me, if thou hadst called me out of life, when I had lost thy grace and favour? Since thou, O Lord, hast shown so much mercy to me, grant me grace to become a saint.
III. Let us awaken our faith in a heaven and a hell of eternal duration: one or other will be our lot. O God, how could I, knowing that by committing sin I was condemning myself to eternal torments, how could I sin so often against thee and forfeit thy grace? Knowing that thou art my God and my Redeemer, how could I, for the sake of a miserable gratification, so often turn my back upon thee? O God, I am sorry above every evil for having thus despised thee. I love thee above every good, and from henceforth, I will suffer the loss of all things rather than lose thy friendship. Give me strength to continue faithful. And do thou, O Blessed Virgin Mary, pray for me and assist me.
On Sin, as it dishonours God.
I. BY transgression of the law thou dishonourest God . Rom. ii. 23. When the sinner deliberates whether he shall give or refuse his consent to sin, he takes the balance into his hands to decide which is of most value — the favour of God, or some passion, some worldly interest or pleasure. When he yields to temptation, what does he do? He decides that some wretched gratification is more desirable than the favour of God. Thus it is that he dishonours God, declaring, by his consent, that a miserable pleasure is preferable to the divine friendship. Thus, then, O God, have I so many times dishonoured thee, by esteeming thee less than my miserable passions!
II. Of this the Almighty complains by the prophet Ezekiel, when he says: They violated me among my people , for a handful of barley and a piece of bread . xiii. 19. If the sinner should exchange God for a treasure of jewels, or for a kingdom, it would indeed be doing a great evil, because God is of infinitely more value than all the treasures and kingdoms of the earth. But for what do so many exchange him? for a vapour, for a little dirt, for a poisoned pleasure, which is no sooner tasted than fled. O God, how could I have had the heart for such vile things, so often to despise thee, who hast shown so much love for me? But, behold my Redeemer, how I now love thee above all things; and because I love thee, I feel more regret for having lost thee, my God, than if I had lost all other goods, and even my life. Have pity on me, and forgive me. I will never more incur thy displeasure. Grant that I may rather die than offend thee any more.
III. Lord , who is like to thee? Ps. xxxiv. 10. And what good things, O God, can be comparable to thee, O infinite goodness? But how could I have turned my back upon thee, to give myself to those vile things which sin held out to me? O Jesus, thy precious blood is my hope. Thou hast promised to hear him who prays to thee. I ask thee not for the goods of this world; I ask thee for the pardon of those sins which I have committed against thee, and for which I am sorry above every other evil. I ask thee for perseverance in thy grace until the end of my life. I ask thee for the gift of thy holy love; my soul is enamoured of thy goodness; hear me, O Lord. Only grant that I may love thee both here and hereafter, and as to all things else, do with me as thou pleasest. My Lord, and my only good, suffer me not to be any more separated from thee! Mary, mother of God, do thou also listen to me, and obtain for me, that I may ever belong to God, and that God may be my inheritance for ever.
On the patience of God in waiting for sinners.
I. WHO in this world has so much patience with his equals, as God with us his creatures, in bearing with us, and waiting for our repentance, after the many offences we have committed against him? Ah! my God, had I thus offended my brother, or my father, long ago would they have driven me from their face! O father of mercies, cast me not away from thy face; but have pity on me.
II. Thou hast mercy , says the Wise man, upon all , because thou canst do all things , and overlookest the sins of men for the sake of repentance. Wis. xi. 24. Men conceal their sense of the injuries which they receive, either because they are good, and know that it belongs not to themselves to punish those who offend them; or because they are unable, and have not the power to revenge themselves. But to thee, my God, it does belong to take revenge of the offences which are committed against thy infinite majesty; and thou indeed art able to avenge thyself, whenever thou pleasest; and dost thou dissemble? Men despise thee; they make promises to thee and afterwards betray thee: and dost thou seem not to behold them, or as if thou hadst little concern for thy honour? Thus, O Jesus, hast thou done towards me. Ah! my God, my infinite good, I will no longer despise thee, I will no longer provoke thee to chastise me. And why should I delay until thou abandonest me in reality and condemnest me to hell? I am truly sorry for all my offences against thee. Would that 1 had died rather than offended thee! Thou art my Lord, thou hast created me, and thou hast redeemed me by thy death; thou alone hast loved me, thou alone deservest to be loved, and thou alone shalt be the sole object of mv love.
III. My soul, how couldst thou be so ungrateful and so daring against thy God? When thou didst offend him, could he not have suddenly called thee out of life and punished thee with hell? And yet he waited for thee; instead of chastising thee, he preserved thy life and gave thee good things. But thou, instead of being grateful to him and loving him for such excessive goodness, thou didst continue to offend him! O my Lord, since thou hast waited for me with so great mercy, I give thee thanks. I am sorry for having offended thee — I love thee. I might at this hour have dwelt in hell, where I could not have repented, nor have loved thee. But now that I can repent, I grieve with my whole heart for having offended thy infinite goodness; and I love thee above all things, more than I love myself. Forgive me, and grant that from this day I may love no other but thee, who hast so loved me. May I live for thee alone, my Redeemer, who for me didst die upon the cross. All my hopes are in thy bitter passion. O Mary, mother of God, assist me by your holy intercession.
On the Certainty of Death.
I. WE must die: how awful is the decree! We must die. The sentence is passed: It is appointed for all men once to die. Heb. ix. 27. Thou art a man, and thou must die. It would be madness for any one to attempt to delude himself with the idea that he shall not die. A poor man may flatter himself that he may become rich, or a vassal that he may be a king; but who can ever hope to escape death? One dies old, another young, but all at last must come to the grave. I therefore must one day die and enter eternity. But what will be my lot for eternity? happy or miserable? My Saviour Jesus, be thou a Saviour to me!
II. Of all those who were living upon the earth at the beginning of the last century, not one is now alive. The greatest and most renowned princes of this world have exchanged their country: scarcely does there remain any remembrance of them, and their bare bones are hardly preserved in stone monuments. Make me, O God, more and more sensible of the folly of loving the goods of this world, and for the sake of them renouncing thee, my sovereign and infinite good. What folly have I not been guilty of; and how much it grieves me! I give thee thanks for having made me sensible of it.
III. A hundred years hence, at most, and neither you nor I will be any longer in this world; both will have gone into the house of eternity. A day, an hour, a moment is approaching which will be the last both for you and me; and this hour, this moment is already fixed by Almighty God; how then can we think of any thing else but of loving God, who will then be our judge? Alas! what will my death be? O my Jesus and my judge, what will become of me, when I shall have to appear before thee to give an account of my whole life? Pardon me, I beseech thee, before that moment arrive which will decide my happiness or misery for eternity. I am sorry, for having offended thee, my sovereign good. Hitherto I have not loved thee; but now I will love thee with my whole soul. Grant me the grace of perseverance. O Mary, refuge of sinners, have pity on me.
On the loss of all things in Death.
I. THE day of destruction is at hand. Deut. xxxii. 35. The day of death is called the day of destruction, because then is destroyed all that man has acquired, honours, friends, riches, possessions, kingdoms, all are then no more. What then doth it profit us to gain the whole world, if in death we must leave all? All is at an end at the bed side of the dying man. Is there any king, think you, — said St. Ignatius to Xavier when he sought to bring him to God, — who has taken with him into the other world even a thread of purple to mark his sovereignty? Has any rich man taken with him a single coin, or even one servant to attend him? In death all is left behind. The soul enters eternity, alone and unattended, except by her works. Woe to me! where are my works to accompany me to a blessed eternity? I can discover none but such as render me deserving of eternal torments.
II. Men come into the world of unequal conditions: one is born rich, another poor, one a noble, another a plebian: but all go out of it equal and alike. Consider the graves of the dead: see if thou canst discover among the bodies which are there interred, who was a master and who a servant, who was a king and who a beggar. O God, while others amass the fortunes of this world, may my only fortune be thy holy grace. Thou alone art my only good both in this life and in the next.
III. In one word, every thing on earth will come to an end. All greatness will end, all misery will end; honours will end, ignominies will end; pleasures will end, sufferings will end. Blessed in death, therefore, not he who has abounded in riches, honours, and pleasures, but he who has patiently endured poverty, contempt and sufferings! The possession of temporal goods affords no consolation at the moment of death; that alone consoles us which has been done or suffered for God. O Jesus, separate my heart from this world, before death entirely takes me from it. Help me with thy grace; thou indeed knowest how great is my weakness. Permit me not to be any more unfaithful to thee, as I have hitherto been. I am sorry, O Lord, for having so often despised thee. Now will I love thee above every good, and will die a thousand times rather than forfeit thy grace. But the infernal one ceases not to tempt me; in mercy abandon me not, leave me not to myself, permit me not to be any more separated from thy love. O Mary, my hope, obtain for me the grace of perseverance.
On the great thought of Eternity.
I. THUS did St Augustin designate the thought of eternity: The great thought: mayna cogitatio. It was this thought that induced so many solitaries to retire into deserts, so many religious, even kings and queens, to shut themselves up in cloisters, and so many martyrs to sacrifice their lives in the midst of torments, in order to acquire a happy eternity in heaven, and to avoid a miserable eternity in hell. The Ven. John of Avila converted a certain lady with these two words: Reflect, said he to her, on these two words: Ever and Never. A certain monk went down into a grave that he might meditate continually on eternity, and constantly repeated, O eternity! eternity! How frequently, my God, have I deserved the eternity of hell! Oh that I had never offended thee! Grant me sorrow for my sins, have compassion on me.
II. The same Ven. John of Avila says, that he who believes in eternity and becomes not a saint, should be confined as one deranged. He who builds a house for himself, takes great pains to make it commodious, airy and handsome; and says: “I labour and give myself a great deal of trouble about this house, because I shall have to live in it all my life.” And yet how little is the house of eternity thought of! When we shall have arrived at eternity, there will be no question of our residing in a house more or less commodious, or more or less airy; the question will be of our dwelling in a region overflowing with delights, or in a gulf of endless torments. And for how long a time? not for forty or fifty years, but for ever, as long as God shall be God. The saints to obtain salvation thought it little, to give their whole lives to prayer, penance, and the practice of good works. And what do we do for the same end? O my God! many years of my life are already past, already death is near at hand, and what good have I hitherto done for thee? Give me light, and strength, to devote the remainder of my days to thy service. Too much alas! have I offended thee, I desire henceforth to love thee.
III. With fear and trembling work out your salvation, Phil. ii. 12. To obtain salvation we must tremble at the thought of being lost, and tremble not so much at the thought of hell, as of sin, which alone can send us thither. He who dreads sin, avoids dangerous occasions, frequently recommends himself to God, and has recourse to the means of keeping himself in the state of grace. He who acts thus, will be saved; but for him who lives not in this manner it is morally impossible to be saved. Let us attend to that saying of St. Bernard: We cannot be too secure where eternity is at stake. Thy blood, O Jesus, my Redeemer is my security. I should have been already lost on account of my sins, hadst thou not offered me thy pardon, on condition of my repentance for having offended thee. I am sorry therefore with my whole heart for having offended thee who art infinite goodness. I love thee, O sovereign good, above every other good. I know that thou wiliest my salvation, and I will endeavour to secure it by loving thee for ever. O Mary, mother of God, pray to Jesus for me.
On the death of Jesus Christ.
I. HOW is it possible to believe that the Creator should have been willing to die for us, his creatures? Yet we must believe it because faith so teaches it. Hence the Council of Nice commands us to confess: I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God, who for us men y and for our salvation was crucified for us, suffered and was buried. And if it is true, O God of love, that thou hast died for the love of men, can there be one who believes this, and does not love thee, so loving a God? But O God! of those who are guilty of such ingratitude I am one, and not only have I not loved thee, my Redeemer, but I have many times, for the sake of gratifying my miserable and depraved inclinations, renounced thy grace and thy love.
II. Thou hast then, my Lord and my God, died for me: and how could I, knowing this, have so often disowned thee and turned my back upon thee? But thou, my Saviour, didst come down from heaven to save that which was lost. My ingratitude therefore does not deprive me of the hope of pardon. Yes, O Jesus, I hope that thou wilt pardon me all the offences which I have committed against thee, through the death which thou didst suffer for me on Mount Calvary. Oh that I could die of grief and of love as often as I think of the offences which I have committed against the love which thou hast shown towards me! Make known to me, O Lord, what I must do henceforward, to make amends for my ingratitude. Keep up in my mind a continual remembrance of the bitter death thou wast pleased to suffer for me, that I may love thee and never more offend thee.
III. God then has died for me; and shall I be able to love any thing else but God? No, my Jesus, I will love none but thee. Thou hast loved me too much. Thou canst do no more to compel me to love thee. I have obliged thee by my sins to cast me away from thy face; but thou hast not abandoned me for ever; thou regardest me with tender affection; thou art about to call me to thy love. I will no longer resist. I love thee, my sovereign good: I love thee, my God, who art worthy of infinite love: I love thee, my God, who hast died for me. I love thee, but I love thee not enough, do thou increase my love. Grant that I may forsake all things, and forget all things else, to please and to love thee, my Redeemer, my love, and my all. O Mary, my hope, recommend me to your divine Son.
On abusing the mercy of God.
I. THERE are two ways by which the devil endeavours to deceive men to their eternal ruin: after they have committed sin he tempts them to despair on account of the severity of divine justice; but before they have sinned he encourages them to do so by the hope of obtaining the divine mercy. And he effects the ruin of numberless souls as well by the second as by the first artifice. God is merciful: says the obstinate sinner to him who would convert him from the iniquity of his ways: God is merciful. But as the Mother of God expresses it in her canticle, his mercy is to them that fear him. Luke i. 50. Yes, the Lord deals mercifully with him that fears to offend him, but not so with the man who presumes upon his mercy to offend him still more. O God, I give thee thanks for having made me sensible of thy patience in bearing with me. Behold, I am of the number of those who presuming on thy goodness have offended thee again and again.
II. God is merciful: but he is also just. Sinners are desirous that he should be merciful only, without being just: but that is impossible, because were he only to forgive and never to chastise, he would be wanting in justice Hence, Father Avila observes, that patience on the part of God towards those who avail themselves of his compassion to offend him the more, would not be compassion, but a want of justice. He is bound to chastise the ungrateful. He bears with them for a certain time, but after that abandons them. Such a punishment, O God, has not as yet overtaken me, or else I had now dwelt in hell, or had been obstinate in my sins. But no: I desire to amend my life, I desire to offend thee no more. Though I have hitherto displeased thee, I am sorry for it with my whole soul; I desire henceforth to love thee, and I desire to love thee more than others do, because thou hast not shown the same patience towards others as towards me.
III. God is not mocked. Gal. vi. 7. Yet he would be mocked, if the sinner could go on continually offending him, and yet afterwards enjoy him in heaven. What things a man shall sow, those also shall he reap. He who sows good works, shall reap rewards; but he who sows iniquities, shall reap chastisements. The hope of those who commit sin because God is forgiving, is an abomination in his sight: their hope, says holy Job, is an abomination. xi. 20. Hence, the sinner, by such hope, provokes God to chastise him the sooner, as that servant would provoke his master, who, because his master was good, took advantage of his goodness to behave ill. O Jesus, such I fear, has been my conduct towards thee; because thou wast good I have made no account of thy precepts. I confess, that I have done wickedly; and I detest all the offences I have committed against thee. Now do I love thee more than myself, and I desire never more to displease thee. Ah, if I should again offend thee by mortal sin! Permit it not, O Lord, rather let me die. O Mary, mother of perseverance, do thou assist me.
On the emptiness and shortness of Human Life.
I. HOLY David, said, that the happiness of this life is as the dream of one awaking from sleep: as the dream of them that awake. Ps. lxxii, 20. All the greatness and glory of this world will appear no more to poor worldlings, at the hour of death, than as a dream to one awaking from sleep, who finds that the fortune which he had acquired in his dream, ends with his sleep. Hence did one who was undeceived wisely write on the skull of a dead man. Cogitanti omnia vilescunt: He who thinks, undervalues all things. Yes, to him who thinks on death, all the goods of this life, appear, as they really are, vile and transitory. Nor can that man fix his affections on the earth, who reflects that in a short time he must leave it for ever. Ah my God, how often have I despised thy grace for the miserable goods of this world! From henceforth I desire to think of nothing but of loving and serving thee. Assist me with thy holy grace.
II. And is it thus then that worldly grandeur and sovereign power must end! Such was the exclamation of St. Francis Borgia, when he beheld the corpse of the empress Isabella, who had died in the flower of her youth. Reflecting upon what he saw, he resolved to bid adieu to the world, and to give himself entirely to God, saying: I will henceforward serve a master who will never forsake me. Let us detach ourselves from present goods before death tears us away from them. What folly it is to expose ourselves to the danger of losing our souls, for the sake of some attachment to this miserable world, from which we shall soon have to depart, for soon will it be said to us by the minister of God: Go forth, Christian soul, out of this world! O my Jesus, that I had always loved thee! How many offences have I been guilty of against thee! Teach me how to correct my disorderly life, for I am willing to do whatever thou pleasest. Accept of my love, accept of my repentance, in which I love thee more than myself, and crave thy mercy and compassion.
III. Reflect that you cannot remain for ever in this world. You must one day leave the country in which you now reside; you must one day go out from the house in which you now dwell, to return to it no more. Think that many before you inhabited the same room in which you are at present reading; that they slept in the same bed in which you are accustomed to sleep: and where are they? gone into eternity. The same will happen to you. Make me sensible, O God, of the injustice I have been guilty of in turning my back upon thee, my sovereign good; and grant me the sorrow to bewail my ingratitude as I ought. O that I had died rather than ever offended thee. Suffer me not to live any longer ungrateful for the love which thou hast shown me. My dear Redeemer, I love thee above all things, and I desire to love thee to the best of my power during the remainder of life. Strengthen my weakness by thy grace; and do thou, Mary, mother of God, intercede for me.
On the contempt with which the sinner treats God.
I. GOD himself declares that the sinner treats him with contempt, and complains of it in these words: I have brouqht up children, and exalted them: but they have despised me. Isa. i, 2. I have brought up my children, I have preserved and nourished them; but with base ingratitude they have despised me. But who is God who is thus despised by men? He is the Creator of heaven and earth; he is the sovereign infinite good, in whose sight men and angels are as a drop of water, or a grain of sand; as a drop of a bucket, as a little dust. Isa. xl. 15. In a word, all things created, in the presence of his infinite greatness, are as though they were not: All nations are before him as if they had no being at all, and are counted to him as nothing and vanity. Isa. xl. 17. Behold me, O God, a daring sinner who have presumed to despise thy infinite majesty. But while thou art infinite majesty, thou art also infinite mercy. I love thee, O Lord, and because I love thee I am sorry for having offended thee, do thou have pity on me.
II. And, O God, who am I who have despised thee? A poor helpless worm, who have nothing but what thou in thy bounty hast bestowed upon me. Thou hast given me my soul, my body, the use of reason, and numberless other benefits in this world; and I have made no other use of them all but to offend thee my benefactor. Nay more: at the very time that thou didst preserve my life, that I might not fall into hell as I deserved, I abused thy goodness and forbearance. O my Saviour, how couldst thou have had such patience with me? Wretch that I am, how many nights have I slept under thy displeasure! But thou wouldst not have me perish. I trust, O my Jesus, in thy blessed passion that thou wilt enable me to change my life. Let not that sacred blood be lost, which with so much pain and sorrow thou didst shed for my salvation.
III. But, O God, what have I done! Thou, my Redeemer, hast shown that regard for my soul, as to shed thy blood for its salvation, and I have been so wretched as to allow it to perish for a mere nothing, for a caprice, for a maddening passion, for a miserable gratification, for contempt of thy grace and love. Ah! if faith did not assure me that thou hast promised to pardon those who repent, I should not now dare to implore thy forgiveness. O my Saviour, I kiss thy sacred wounds, and for the love of these wounds I beseech thee to forget the injuries which I have committed against thee. Thou hast said that, when the sinner repents, thou wilt forget all his ingratitude. I am sorry above every evil for having despised thee, my sovereign good; make haste to pardon me, as thou hast promised, let me be quickly reconciled to thee. I love thee now more than myself, may I never more incur thy displeasure. O Mary, refuge of sinners, succour a poor sinner who invokes thy assistance.
On the pain of loss.
I. THE greatest pain of hell is not the fire, nor the darkness, nor the stench, nor any other of all the material torments of that dreadful prison of despair, it is the pain of loss, that is, the pain of having lost God, which of itself, may be said to constitute hell. The soul was created to be for ever united to God, and to enjoy the sight of his enrapturing countenance. God is its last end, its only good, so that all the goods of earth and heaven, without God, could not make it happy. Hence it is, that if a condemned soul in hell could possess and love God, hell, with all its torments, would become to such a soul a paradise. But this will be its sovereign punishment, which will render it for ever inconceivably miserable, to be deprived of God for all eternity, without the least hope of ever again beholding him or loving him. Jesus my Redeemer, nailed to the cross for my sake, thou art my hope; O that I had died rather than offended thee!
II. The soul, being created for God, has an instinctive tendency to become united with its sovereign good, its God; but being united to the body, when it wallows in iniquity, it becomes so darkened by the created objects which allure the senses, that it loses its sight, and has so little knowledge of God, as no longer to desire to be united to him. But when separated from the body, and from sensible objects, then it will know that God is the only good that can render it happy; hence as soon as it shall have departed hence, it will feel itself drawn with most powerful attraction towards an union with God; but having left this life an enemy of God, it will be not only kept back from him by its sins, as by a chain, but dragged by them into hell, there to be for ever separated and at a distance from God. The wretched soul in that eternal dungeon, will know how beautiful God is, but will not be able to behold him. It will know how amiable God is, but will not be able to love him; it will even feel itself forced by its sins to hate him; and this shall be its hell of hells, to know that it hates a God who is infinitely lovely. It will desire that it were possible, to destroy God, to whom it is hateful; and to destroy itself, hating God; and this will be the eternal occupation of this unhappy soul. Do thou, O Lord, have pity on me.
III. This torment will be immensely increased by the remembrance of the graces which God bestowed upon it, and the love which he evinced towards it during its life-time. It will especially call to mind the love of Jesus Christ in shedding his blood, and laying down his life for its salvation; but ungrateful soul, not to forego its own miserable gratifications, it consented to lose God, its sovereign good; and it will find that no hope will be left of ever regaining him. Ah! my God! were I in hell, I should not be able to love thee, nor to repent of my sins; but as I have it now in my power to repent and to love thee, I am sorry with my whole soul for having offended thee, and love thee above all things. Grant me to remember continually that hell which I have deserved, that I may love thee with still greater and greater fervour. O Mary, refuge of sinners, do not abandon me.
On the particular judgment.
I. IT is appointed unto men once to die, and after this, the judgment. Heb. ix. 27. It is of faith, that, immediately after death, we shall be judged according to our works in this life. And it is also of faith, that, upon this judgment, will depend our eternal salvation or perdition. Imagine yourself to be in your agony, and to have only a short time to live. Think that in a short time you would then have to appear before Jesus Christ to give an account of your whole life. Alas! how alarming would the sight of your sins then be to you. Jesus, my Redeemer, pardon me, I beseech thee, before thou judgest me. I know that I have many times already deserved to be sentenced to eternal death. No, I desire not to present myself guilty before thee, but penitent and pardoned. O my sovereign good, I am grievously sorry for having offended thee.
II. O God, what will be the anguish of the soul when it shall first behold Jesus Christ as its judge, and behold him terrible in his wrath? It will then see how much he has suffered for its sake; it will see what great mercies he has exercised towards it, and what powerful means he has bestowed upon it for the attainment of salvation; then will it also see the greatness of eternal goods, and the vileness of earthly pleasures, which have wrought its ruin; it will then see all these things, but to no purpose, because then there will be no more time to correct its past errors; what shall have then been done, will be irrevocable. Before the judgment seat of God, neither nobility, nor dignity, nor riches, will be considered; our works alone will be weighed there. Grant, O Jesus, that when I first behold thee, I may see thee appeased; and for this end, grant me the grace to weep, during the remainder of my life, over the evil which I have done in turning my back upon thee, to follow my own sinful caprices. No, I desire never more to offend thee. I love thee and desire to love thee for ever.
III. What content will that Christian enjoy at the hour of death, who has left the world to give himself to God; who has denied his senses all unlawful gratifications; and who, if he has on some occasions been wanting, has at least been wise enough afterwards to do condign penance for it! On the other hand, what anguish shall that Christian experience who has continually relapsed into the same vices, and at last finds himself at the point of death! Then will he exclaim: Alas! in a few moments I must appear before Jesus as my judge, and I have not as yet even begun to change my life! I have many times promised to do so, but I have not done it; and now, in a short time, what will have become of me? Ah, my Jesus and my judge, I return thee thanks for the patience with which thou hast hitherto waited for me. How many times have I myself written my own eternal condemnation! Since thou hast thus waited to pardon me, reject me not now prostrate at thy feet. Receive me into thy favour through the merits of thy bitter passion. I am sorry, my sovereign good, for having despised thee. I love thee above all things. I desire never more to forsake thee. O Mary recommend me to your Son Jesus, and do not abandon me.
On preparing for the particular judgment.
I, BE you ready: for at what hour you think not, the Son of man will come. St Luke, xii. 40. The time of death will not be the time to prepare ourselves to die well: to die well and happily, we must prepare ourselves before-hand. There will not be time then to eradicate bad habits from the soul, to expel from the heart its predominant passions, and to extinguish all affection to earthly goods. The night cometh when no man can work. St. John ix. 4. All in death will be night, when nothing will be seen; and hence, nothing done. The heart hardened, the mind obscured, confusion, fear, the desire of health, will all render it almost impossible at the hour of death to set in order a conscience confused and entangled in sin.
II. The saints thought they did but little, though they spent their whole lives in preparing for death, by acts of penance, prayer, and the practice of good works; and they trembled when they came to die. The venerable John, of Avila, although he had led a very holy life from his youth, when it was announced to him that he was about to die, made answer and said, O that I had but a little more time to prepare myself for death! And what shall we say when the summons of death shall be brought to us? No, my God, I do not wish to die disquieted and ungrateful, as at present I should die, if death were to overtake me; I desire to change my life, I desire to bewail my offences against thee, I desire to love thee with my whole heart. O Lord, help me, enable me to do something for thee, before I die: for thee, who hast died for the love of me.
III. The time is short, says the Apostle. Yes, we have but a short time in which to set our accounts in order. Hence the Holy Ghost admonishes us: Whatsoever thy hand is able to do, do it quickly Whatever thou art able to do to-day, put it not off till to-morrow: for to-day is passing away, and to-morrow may bring death, which will deprive thee of all means of doing good, or of amending what thou hast done amiss. Woe to me! if death should find me still attached to this world! Ah, my God, how many years have I lived at a distance from thee! And how hast thou had so much patience with me, in waiting for me, and in calling me so often to repentance! I thank thee, O my Redeemer, for thy long forbearance, and I hope to thank thee for it for ever in heaven. The mercies of the Lord I will sing for ever. Psalm lxxxviii. 2. Hitherto I have not loved thee, and have made little account of being or not being loved by thee; but now I do love thee with my whole heart; I love thee above all things, more than I love myself, and I desire nothing so much as to he loved by thee; and recollecting how I have despised thy love, I would willingly die of grief for having done so. Jesus, grant me perseverance in virtue. Mary, my holy mother, obtain for me the happiness of being faithful to God.
On the sufferings of the souls in hell in their mental faculties.
I. THE souls in hell will be tormented in their memories. Never, in the abode of infinite misery, will they lose for a moment the remembrance of the time which was allowed them in this life to practise virtue, and to make amends for the evil which they had done; and never will it be concealed from them that there is no longer the least hope of remedy. They will call to mind the lights which they received from God, his many loving calls, bis offers of pardon, all despised; and they will see that all is now at an end, and that nothing remains for them, but to suffer and to despair for all eternity. O Jesus, thy blood, thy sufferings and death are my trust and hope. Alas! suffer me not to fall into hell, there to curse for ever even the blessings which thou hast bestowed upon me.
II. The souls in hell will be tormented in their understandings, by thinking continually of heaven, which they have wilfully lost through their own fault. The immense felicity enjoyed by the blessed in the abode of delights, will be for ever before their eyes; and this will render their life of dreadful suffering, which they must drag on for ever in the prison of despair and woe, still more tormenting. Had I then died, my Redeemer, when I was in sin, I should now have had no hope of ever enjoying thee in heaven! Thou gavest me life that I might gain heaven, and how have I lost heaven for something worse than nothing, by losing thy grace! I love thee, O God, and I am sorry for having offended thee, and I hope, through the merits of thy passion, to come to love thee for ever in heaven.
III. The souls in hell will be tormented in their with, by being denied, every thing which they desire, and by having every punishment inflicted upon them which they do not desire. They will never have any thing which they wish for, but every thing which they abhor. They will long to rid themselves of their torments and to find peace; but there will be no peace for them, they will be forced to dwell in the midst of their torments for ever. Their perverse will by hating God when they know him to be the supreme good, and worthy of infinite love, will become their greatest torment. So it is, my God; thou art an infinite good and worthy of infinite love, and I have exchanged thee for nothing! Oh that I had died and had not offered thee so grievous an injury! I love thee, my sovereign good. Have pity on me and suffer me not to be again ungrateful to thee. I renounce all the delights of this world, and embrace thee as my only good. I will be for ever thine, be thou for ever mine. This is my hope, my God, my love, and my all. Deus mens et omnia. O Mary, thou art all-powerful with God; obtain for me the grace of leading a holy life.
On devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
I. JESUS is the mediator of justice, Mary obtains for us grace; for as St. Bernard, St. Bonaventure, St. Bemardin of Sienna, St. Germanus, St. Antoninus and others say, it is the will of God to dispense, through the hands of Mary, whatever graces he is pleased to bestow upon us. With God the prayers of the saints are the prayers of his friends, but the prayers of Mary are the prayers of his mother. Happy they who confidently and at all times have recourse to this divine mother! This of all others is the most pleasing devotion to the Blessed Virgin, ever to have recourse to her and to say: O Mary, intercede for me with your Son Jesus.
II. Jesus is omnipotent by nature; Mary is very powerful by grace; she obtains whatever she asks for. It is impossible, says St. Antoninus, that this mother should ask any favour of her Son for those who are devout to her, and the Son not grant her request. Jesus delights to honour his mother by granting whatever she asks of him. Hence St. Bernard exhorts us to seek for grace, and to seek for it through Mary: because she is a mother who cannot be denied. If then we would be saved, let us recommend ourselves to Mary, that she may intercede for us, because her prayers are always heard. O mother of mercy, have pity on me. You are styled the advocate of sinners, assist me, therefore, a sinner placing my confidence in you.
III. Let us not doubt whether Mary will hear us when we address our prayers to her. It is her delight to exercise her powerful influence with God in obtaining for us whatever graces we stand in need of. It is sufficient to ask favours of Mary to obtain them. If we are unworthy of them, she renders us worthy, by her powerful intercession; and she is very desirous that we should have recourse to her, that she may save us. What sinner ever perished, who, with confidence and perseverance, had recourse to Mary, the refuge of sinners? He is lost who has not recourse to Mary. O Mary, my mother and my hope, I take refuge under your protection; reject me not as I have deserved. Protect me and have pity on me, a miserable sinner. Obtain for me the forgiveness of my sins; obtain for me holy perseverance, the love of God, a good death, and a happy eternity. I hope all things of you, because you are most powerful with God. Make me holy, since you have it in your power to do so, by your holy intercession. O Mary, in you do I confide, in you do I place all my hopes, next to your divine Son Jesus.
On Jesus suffering for our sins.
I. SEEING men lost in their sins, God was pleased to take pity on them; but his divine justice required satisfaction, and there was no one capable of making adequate satisfaction. On this account he sent his own Son, made man, into the world, and loaded him with all our offences: The Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isa. liii. 6: so that he might pay our debt, satisfy divine justice, and save mankind. O eternal God, what more couldst thou have done to induce us to confide in thy mercy, and to attract our hearts to thy love, than give us even thy own Son? But how could I, after all that thou hast done for me, have been guilty of so many offences against thee? O my God, for the love of this thy Son, have pity on me. I am sorry above every evil for having offended thee. And though I have grievously offended thee, I desire to love thee with the greatest fervour; give me strength so to love thee.
II. The eternal Father having loaded his Son with all our crimes, was not content even with such satisfaction from him, as would have amply atoned for us all, but, as Isaias continues, The Lord was pleased to bruise him in infirmity, v. 10. He would nave him mangled to exhaustion, with scourges, thorns, nails, and torments, until he died of tortures on an infamous gibbet. If faith, O God, did not assure us of this excess of thy love towards men, who could possibly believe it? O God, worthy of all love permit us not to be any more ungrateful to thee. Enlighten and strengthen us to correspond with such immense love during the remainder of our lives; do this, we beseech thee, for the love of this thy Son, whom thou hast given to us.
III. Behold that innocent Son, attentive to the will of his Father, who would have him thus sacrificed for our sins, full of humility before his Father, full of love towards us, obediently embraces his life of pain and his bitter death: He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross. Phil. ii. 8. Dearest Saviour, I will therefore say to thee with the penitent Ezechias: Thou hast delivered my soul that it should not perish, thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back. Isa. xxxviii. 17. I had deserved by my sins to be cast into hell, but thou hast delivered me from it, and, as I hope, pardoned me. I had offended thy divine majesty, and thou hast loaded thyself with my crimes, and hast suffered for me. After this, if I should again offend thee, or if I should not love thee with my whole heart, what punishment will ever be sufficient for my chastisement? Beloved Jesus, O love of my soul, I am exceedingly sorry for having so grievously offended thee. I give thee my whole self; accept of me, and suffer me not to be any more separated from thee. Holy virgin, Mary, mother, pray to your divine Son for me, that he may be pleased to accept of me, and make me all his own.
On the one thing necessary.
I. ONE thing is necessary, the salvation of our souls. It is not necessary to be great, noble, or rich in this world, or to enjoy uninterrupted health; but it is necessary to save our souls. For this has God placed us here: not to acquire honours, riches, or pleasures, but to acquire by our good works that eternal kingdom which is prepared for those, who, during this present life, fight against and overcome the enemies of their eternal salvation. Ah! my Jesus, how often have I renounced heaven, by renouncing thy grace! But, O Lord, I am more grieved for having forfeited thy friendship, than for having lost heaven. Give me, O Jesus, a great sorrow for my sins, and mercifully pardon me.
II. Of what consequence is it if a man be poor, mean, infirm, and despised in this life, provided that in the end he dies in the grace of God and secures his salvation? The more he has been afflicted with tribulations, if he have suffered them with patience, the more w ill he be glorified in the kingdom of heaven. On the other hand, what does it profit a man to abound in riches and honours, if, when he dies, he is lost for ever? If we are lost, all the goods we have enjoyed in this world will be remembered only to increase our misery for eternity. Do thou, my God, enlighten me: give me to understand that my only evil is to offend thee, and my only good to love thee. Enable me to spend the remainder of my days in serving thee.
III. Salvation is necessary, because there is no medium: we must either be saved or lost. It will not do to say: I shall be satisfied with not going to hell, I shall not be concerned at being deprived of heaven. No: either heaven or hell; either for ever happy with God in heaven in an ocean of delights, or for ever trampled upon by devils in hell in an ocean of fire and torments: either saved, or lost; there is no other alternative. O Jesus, I have hitherto chosen hell, and for years past I should have been suffering there, if in pity thou hadst not borne with me. I thank thee, O my Saviour, and I am sorry above every evil for having offended thee. I hope, for the future, with the assistance of thy grace, to walk no more in the way which conducts to hell. I love thee, O my sovereign good, and I desire to love thee for ever. Grant me perseverance in good, and save me through that blood which thou hast shed for me. O Mary, my hope, intercede for me.
On the sinner's disobedience to God.
I. PHARAOH, when Moses announced to him the orders of God for the liberation of the Hebrews, insolently answered: Who is the Lord, that I should hear his word? I know not the Lord. Exod. v. 2. It is thus that the sinner replies to his own conscience when it intimates to him the divine precepts, which forbid him to do that which is evil: “ I know not God: I know that he is my Lord, but I will not obey him.” Thus have I too often addressed thee, O God, when I have committed sin. If thou hadst not died for me, O my Redeemer, I should not dare to crave thy pardon; but thou hast offered me thy pardon from the cross, if I be desirous of availing myself of it. I do indeed desire it; I am sorry for having despised thee, my sovereign good. I will rather die than offend thee any more.
II. Thou hast broken my yoke; thou saidst, I wilt not serve. Jer. ii. 20. The sinner, when tempted to commit sin, hears indeed the voice of God, saying to him: My son, do not revenge thyself, do not gratify thyself with that infamous pleasure, relinquish the possession of that which is not thine. But by yielding to sin, he replies: “ Lord, I will not serve thee. Thou desirest that I should not commit this sin, but I will commit it.” My Lord, and my God, how frequently have I, not by my words, but by my deeds, and my will, thus daringly replied to thee! Alas! cast me not away from thy face. I am now sensible of the wrong I have done thee in parting with thy graces for the gratification of my own wretched desires. O that I had died rather than ever offended thee!
III. God is the Lord of all things, because he has created all. All things are in thy power, because thou hast made heaven and earth, and all things that are under the cope of heaven. Esther xiii. 9, 10. All creatures obey God; the heavens, the earth, the sea, the elements, the brute creation: while man, although he has been gifted and loved by God above all other creatures, obeys him not! and is heedless of the loss of his grace! I give thee thanks, O God, for having waited for me. What would have become of me, had I died in one of those nights in which I went to rest under thy displeasure? But as thou hast patiently waited for me, it is a sign that thou art desirous of pardoning me. Pardon me, then, O Jesus. I am sorry above every evil for having ever lost the respect which is due to thee. But then I did not love thee; now I do love thee more than myself, and I am ready to die a thousand times rather than again forfeit thy grace and friendship. Thou hast said that thou lovest those who love thee. I love thee, do thou love me in return, and give me grace to live and die in thy love, that so I may love thee for ever. Mary, my refuge, through you do I hope to remain faithful to God until the hour of my death.
On the merciful chastisements of God.
I. GOD, being infinite goodness, desires only our good and to communicate to us bis own happiness. When he chastises us, it is because we have obliged him to do so by our sins. Hence the prophet Isaias says, that, on such occasions, he doth a work foreign to his desires, xxviii. 21. Hence it is that it is said, that it is the property of God to have mercy and to spare, to dispense his favours and to make all happy. O God, it is this thy infinite goodness which sinners offend and despise, when they provoke thee to chastise them. Wretch that I am, how often have I offended thy infinite goodness!
II. Let us therefore understand that when God threatens us, it is not because he desires to punish us, but because he wishes to deliver us from punishment; he threatens, because he would have compassion on us. O God thou hast been angry, and hast had mercy on us. Ps. lix. 3. But how is this? he is angry with us, and treats us with mercy? Yes! He show s himself angry towards us, in order that we may amend our lives, and that thus he may be able to pardon and save us; hence, if in this life he chastise us for our sins, he does so in his mercy, for by so doing he frees us from eternal woe. How unfortunate then is the sinner who escapes punishment in this life! Since then, O God, I have so much offended thee, chastise me in this life, that thou mayest spare me in the next. I know that I have certainly deserved hell; I accept all kinds of pain, that thou mayest reinstate me in thy grace and deliver me from hell, where I should be for ever separated from thee. Enlighten and strengthen me to overcome every obstacle to thy favour.
III. He who makes no account of the divine threats, ought much to fear lest the chastisement threatened in the Proverbs should suddenly overtake him: The man that with a stiff neck despiseth him that reproveth him, shall suddenly be destroyed; and health shall not follow him. xxix. 1. A sudden death shall overtake him that despises God’s reprehensions, and he shall have no time to avoid eternal destruction. This, O Jesus, has happened to many, and I indeed have deserved that the like should happen to me; but, O my Redeemer, thou hast shown that mercy towards me which thou hast not shown to many others who have offended thee less frequently than I have done, and who are now suffering in hell without the least hope of ever again being able to regain thy favour. I know, O Lord, that thou desirest my salvation, and I also desire it, that I may please thee. I renounce all, and turn myself to thee, who art my God, and my only good. I believe in thee, I hope in thee, I love thee, and thee alone. O infinite goodness, I am exceedingly displeased with myself for having hitherto done evil against thee; and I wish that I had suffered every evil, rather than offended thee. Suffer me not any more to depart from thee, rather let me die than offer thee so great an injury. In thee, my crucified Jesus, do I place all my hopes. O Mary, mother of Jesus, recommend me to your Son.
On the patience of God with sinners.
I. THE more we have experienced the patient mercies of God, the more we ought to be afraid of continuing to abuse them, lest the time of Gods vengeance overtake us. Revenge is mine, and I will repay in due time. Deut. xxxiii. 35. God will put an end to his forbearance towards those who will not cease to abuse it. I give thee thanks, O Lord, for having patiently borne with me, though I have so often betrayed thee. Make me sensible of the evil which I nave done by abusing thy patience for so long a time; make me sorry for all the offences I have committed against thee. No, I will never more abuse thy tender mercy.
II. Commit this sin; you can afterwards confess it. Such is the artifice with which the devil has drawn many souls into hell. Many Christians, now in hell, have been lost by this delusion. The Lord waiteth that he may have mercy on you. Isa. xxx. 18. God waiteth for the sinner, that the sinner may be converted, and obtain mercy; but when God sees that the time which he allows the sinner for doing penance, is employed only in increasing the number of his offences, then he waits no longer, but punishes him as he deserves. Pardon me, O God, for I desire never more to offend thee. And why should I delay? that thou mayest condemn me to hell? I fear indeed that now thou canst no longer have patience with me I have indeed offended thee too grievously. I am sorry for it, I repent of it. I hope for forgiveness through the merits of that blood which thou hast shed for me.
III. The mercies of the Lord that we are not consumed; because his commiserations have not failed. Lam. iii. 22. Thus should he exclaim who finds to his confusion that he has frequently offended God. He should be most grateful to God for not having suffered him to die in his sins, and be most careful not to offend him again; otherwise the Lord will reproach him, saying: What more could I have done for my vineyard that I have not done? God will say to him: Ungrateful soul! if thou hadst committed the same offences against man, who is viler than the earth, verily he would not have borne with thee. And how great mercies have I exercised towards thee! How many times have I called thee, and enlightened thee, and pardoned thee? The time of punishment is at hand; the time of forgiveness is past Thus has God spoken to many who are now suffering in hell; where one of their greatest torments is the remembrance of the mercies which they formerly received from God. Jesus, my Redeemer, and my Judge, I also have deserved to hear the same from thy mouth; but I hear thee now again calling me to pardon: Be converted to the Lord thy God. O accursed sin, which has made me lose my God, how much do I abhor and detest thee! I turn my whole self towards thee, my Lord and my God. My sovereign good. I love thee; and because I love thee I repent with my whole soul for having, during the time that is past, so much despised thee. My God, I desire never more to offend thee: give me thy love, grant me perseverance. Mary, my refuge, succour and help me.
On Death, as the passage to Eternity.
I. IT is of faith that my soul is immortal, and that one day, when I least think of it, I must leave this world. I ought therefore to make a provision for myself, which will not fail with this life, but will be eternal, even as I am eternal. Great things were done here, in their life time, by an Alexander, or a Caesar; but, for how many ages past have their glories ceased! and where are they now? O my God, that I had always loved thee! What now remains for me, after so many years spent in sin, but trouble and remorse of conscience? But since thou dost allow me time to repair the evil which I have done, behold me, Lord, ready to perform whatever thou requirest of me, whatever thou pleasest. I will spend the remainder of my days in bewailing my ungrateful conduct towards thee, and in loving thee with all my power, my God and my all, my only good.
II. What will it avail me to have been happy in this world (if indeed true happiness can be attained without God), if hereafter I should be miserable for all eternity? But what folly it is, to know that I must die, and that an eternity either of happiness or misery awaits me after death, and that upon dying ill or well depends my being miserable or happy for ever, and yet, not to adopt every means in my power to secure a good death! Holy Spirit, enlighten and strengthen me to live always in thy grace, until the hour of my departure. O infinite goodness, I am sensible of the evil which I have done by offending thee, and I detest it: I know that thou alone art worthy of being loved, and I love thee above all things.
III. In a word, all the good things of this life must end at our burial and be left, while we are mouldering in our graves. The shadow of death will cover and obscure all the grandeur and splendour of this world. He only, then, can be called happy, who serves God in this world, and by loving and serving him acquires eternal happiness. O Jesus, I am truly sorry for having hitherto made so little account of thy love. Now I love thee above all things, and I desire nothing else but to love thee. From henceforth thou only shalt be the sole object of my love, thou only shalt be my all; and this is the only inheritance I ask of thee: to love thee always, both in this life and in the next. For the merits of thy bitter passion, give me perseverance in all virtues. Mary, mother of God, thou art my hope.
On reforming our lives before death.
I. EVERY one desires to die the death of the saints; but it is scarcely possible for the Christian to make a holy end, who has led a disorderly life until the time of his death; to die united to God, after having always lived at a distance from him. The saints, in order to secure a happy death, renounced all the riches, the delights, and all the hopes which this world held out to them, and embraced poor and mortified lives. They buried themselves alive in this world, to avoid, when dead, being buried for ever in hell. O God, for how many years past have I deserved to be buried in that place of torments, without hope of pardon, or of being able to love thee! But thou hast waited in order to pardon me. Truly, then, am I sorry from the bottom of my heart for having offended thee, my sovereign good; have pity on me, and do not permit me to offend thee any more.
II. God forewarns sinners that they will seek him in death and will not find him: You shall seek and shall not find me. They shall not find him because they will not then seek him through love, but only through the fear of hell; they will seek God without renouncing their affection for sin; and hence they shall not find him. No, my God, I will not wait to seek thee in death, but will seek and desire thee from this moment. I am sorry for having hitherto given thee so much displeasure by seeking to gratify my own inclinations. I am sorry for it, I confess that I have done evil. But thou wiliest not that the heart that seeks thee should despair, but rejoice: Let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord. Ps. civ. 3. Yes, O Lord, I seek thee and I love thee more than myself.
III. How miserable is the Christian who, before his death, has not spent a good part of his life in bewailing his sins! It is not to be denied that such a man may be converted at his death and obtain salvation; but the mind obscured, the heart hardened, the bad habits formed, the passions predominant, render it morally impossible for him to die happily. An extraordinary grace will be necessary for him; but does God reserve such a grace to bestow it upon one who has continued ungrateful to him even until the moment of death? O God, to what straits are sinners reduced to escape eternal destruction. No, my God, I will not wait until death to repent of my sins and to love thee. I am sorry now for having offended thee; now do I love thee with my whole heart. Suffer me not any more to turn my back upon thee, rather let me die. O holy mother, Mary, obtain for me perseverance in virtue.
On the Lamb of God sacrificed for our sins.
I. BEHOLD the Lamb of God: thus did the Baptist speak of our Blessed Redeemer, who offered nis blood and even his life in sacrifice to obtain our pardon and our eternal salvation. Behold him in the hall of Pilate; as an innocent lamb he permits himself to be shorn, not of wool, but of his sacred flesh, with thorns and scourges. He shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearer, and he shall not open his mouth. Isa. liii. 7. He opens not his mouth, nor does he complain, because he desires to suffer himself the punishments due to our sins. May the angels and all creatures bless thee, O Saviour of the world, for the great mercy and love which thou hast shown towards us. We had committed sins, and thou didst make satisfaction for them!
II. Behold him, bound like a malefactor and surrounded by executioners, conducted to Calvary, there to become the victim of the great sacrifice, by which the work of our redemption is to be accomplished: I was as a meek lamb, that is carried to be a victim. Jer. xi. 19. Whither, O Jesus, do the people conduct thee, loaded with such a cross, after having so cruelly tormented thee? Thou answerest me: they conduct me to death, and I go willingly, because I am going to save thee, and to prove how great my love is towards thee. And now, O my Saviour, have I proved my love towards thee? Thou indeed knowest; by injuries and grievous offences, and by my frequent contempt of thy grace and love. But thy death is my hope. I am sorry, O thou love of my soul, for having offended thee; I am sorry, and will love thee with my whole heart.
III. St. Francis of Assisium, seeing a lamb led to the slaughter, could not refrain from tears, saying, As this lamb is led to the slaughter, so teas my innocent Lord conducted for me to the death of the cross. Since then, O Jesus, thou dost not refuse to go to sacrifice thy life for the love of me, shall I refuse to give my whole self for the love of thee? This thou requirest of me: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God. This and this only do I desire: to love thee, and to love thee with my whole heart. Thou hast loved me without any reserve, and so will I love thee. I am sorry for having offended thee, O Lamb of God, and I give my whole self to thee. Accept of me, O Jesus, and make me faithful to thy grace. O Mary, mother of my Redeemer, make me by your prayers entirely his.
On the value of time.
I. TIME is a treasure of inestimable value, because in every moment of time we may gain an increase of grace and eternal glory. In hell the lost souls are tormented with the thought, and bitterly lament that now there is no more time for them, in which to rescue themselves by repentance from eternal misery. What would they give but for one hour of time to save themselves by an act of true sorrow from destruction! In heaven there is no grief; but if the blessed could grieve, they would do so for having lost so much time during life, in which they might have acquired greater glory, and because time is now no longer theirs. I give thee thanks, O God, for giving me time to bewail my sins, and to make amends by my love for the offences I have committed against thee.
II. Nothing is so precious as time; and yet how comes it that nothing is so little valued? Men will spend hours in jesting, or standing at a window or in the middle of a road, to see what passes: and if von ask them what they are doing? they will tell you they are passing away time. O time, now so much despised! thou wilt be of all things else the most valued by such persons, when death shall have surprised them. What will they not then be willing to give for one hour of so much lost time! But time will remain no longer for them, when it shall be said to each one of them: Go forth, Christian soul, out of this world: hasten to be gone, for now there is no more time for thee. How will they then exclaim, lamenting: Alas! I have squandered away my whole life; during so many years I might have become a saint; but how far am I from being such; and how shall I become such, now that there is no more time for me! But to what purpose will such lamentations be, when the dying man shall be on the verge of that moment on which will depend eternity?
III. Walk whilst you have the light, John xii, 35, The time of death is the time of night, when nothing can any longer be seen, nor any thing more be accomplished. The night cometh, in which no man can work. Hence the Holy Spirit admonishes as to walk in the way of the Lord, whilst we have the light and the day before us. Can we reflect that the time is near approaching, in which the cause of our eternal salvation is to be decided, and still squander away our time? Let us not delay, but immediately put our accounts in order, because when we least think of it, Jesus Christ will come to judge us. At what hour ye think not, the Son of Man will come. Hasten then, my Jesus, hasten to pardon me. And shall I delay? shall I delay until I am cast into that eternal prison, where with the rest of the condemned souls, I must for ever lament, saying: The summer is past and we are not saved? No, my Lord, I will no longer resist thy loving invitations. Who knows but that this meditation which I am now reading may be the last I shall ever cast my eyes upon! I am sorry for having offended thee, O sovereign good; to thee do I consecrate the remainder of my days, and beseech thee to grant me holy perseverance. I desire never more to offend thee, but for ever to love thee. O Mary, refuge of sinners, in you do I place my confidence.
On the terrors of the dying man at the thought of approaching judgment.
I. CONSIDER the fear which the thought of judgment will cause in the mind of a dying man, when he shall reflect, that in a very short time he must present himself before Jesus Christ, his judge, to render an account of all the actions of his past life. When the awful moment of his passage out of this world into another, out of time into eternity, shall arrive, then will there be nothing so tormenting to him as the sight of his sins. St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi, being ill, and thinking of judgment, trembled. Her confessor told her not to fear. Ah father y she replied, it is an awful thing to appear before Jesus Christ, as our judge. Such were the sensations of this holy virgin, who was a saint from her infancy. What shall he say who has frequently deserved hell?
II. The abbott Agatho, after many years of penance, trembled, saying: What will become of me, when I shall be judged? And how should he not tremble who has offended God by many mortal sins, and yet has done no penance for them? At death, the sight of his crimes, the rigour of the divine judgments, the uncertainty of the sentence to be pronounced upon him, what a tempest of horror and confusion will these raise around him! Let us be careful to throw ourselves at the feet of Jesus Christ, and secure our pardon before the arrival of our accounting day. Ah! my Jesus and my Redeemer, who wilt one day be my judge, have pity on me before the day of justice. Behold at thy feet, a deserter, who has often promised to be faithful to thee, and has as often again turned his back upon thee. No, my God, thou hast not deserved the treatment which thou hast hitherto received at my hands. Forgive me, O Lord, for I desire truly to change and amend my life. I am sorry, my sovereign good, for having despised thee: take pity on me.
III. Then will be decided the great affair of our eternal salvation. Upon this decision will depend our being either saved or lost for ever, our being happy or miserable for all eternity. But, O God! each one knows this and says: so it is. But if it is so, why do we not leave all to attend only to our sanctification, and to the securing of our eternal salvation? My God, I give thee thanks for the light which thou hast given me. Remember, O Jesus, that thou didst die for my salvation; grant that when I first behold thee, I may see thee appeased. If hitherto I have despised thy grace, I now esteem it above every other good. I love thee, O infinite goodness, and because I love thee, I am sorry for having offended thee. Hitherto I have forsaken thee, but now I desire thee and seek thee: grant that I may find thee, O God of my soul. Mary, my mother, recommend me to your Son Jesus.
On the fire of hell.
I. IT is certain that hell is a pit of fire, in which the miserable souls of the wicked will be tormented for ever. Even in this life the pain of burning is of all others the most intense and dreadful: but the fire of hell has the power of inflicting much more excruciating torment, because it has been created by God, to be the instrument of his wrath upon his rebellious creatures. Go ye cursed, into everlasting fire, is the sentence of the reprobate. And as in this sentence of condemnation fire is particularly mentioned, we may conclude that, of all the torments with which the senses of the wicked are afflicted, fire is the greatest. Ah! my God, for how many years past have I deserved to bum in this fire! but thou hast waited for me, to behold me burning, not with this dreadful fire, but with the blessed flames of thy holy love. Wherefore do I love thee, my sovereign good, and desire to love thee for ever.
II. In this world fire only burns outwardly, and does not penetrate our interior; but in hell the fire enters into the inmost recesses of its victims. Thou shalt make them as an oven of fire. Ps. xx. 10. Every one shall become as a furnace of fire, so that the heart shall burn within the chest, the bowels within the carcass, the brains within the skull, and even the marrow within the bones. Sinners, what are your feelings with regard to this fire? You, who cannot now bear a spark accidentally fallen from a candle, nor a house too hot, nor a ray of the sun upon your head, how will you endure to be permanently immersed in an ocean of fire, where you will be for ever dying, and yet never never die? O my Redeemer! let not that blood which thou didst shed for the love of me, be shed for me in vain. Grant me sorrow for my sins, grant me thy holy love.
III. Which of you, saith the prophet, can dwell with devouring fire. Isa. xxxiii. 14. As a wild beast devoureth its prey, so shall the fire of hell continually devour the unhappy soul, but without ever depriving him of life. Hence, St Peter Damian exclaims; Go on, sinner, go on, unchaste one, give thy flesh its desires; a day shall come when thy impurities shall be to thee as pitch within thy bowels, to nourish the fire which shall consume thee in hell for all eternity. Epist. 6. O my God, whom I have despised and lost, forgive me, and suffer me not to lose thee any more. I am sorry above every evil for having offended thee. Receive me into thy favour, for now do I promise thee that I will love thee, and love no other but thee. Most holy Mary, deliver me by your holy intercession, from ever suffering the torments of hell.
On the vanity of all worldly things.
I. WHAT is life but a vapour, which appears for a short time and then is seen no more? What is your life? says St. James, It is a vapour which appeared for a little while, and afterwards shall vanish away. iv. 15. The vapours which arise from the earth, when raised into the air and surrounded by the rays of the sun appear brilliant and beautiful; but the least wind disperses them and they are seen no more. Such is the grandeur of this world. Behold that prince; to-day, he is feared, attended upon and honoured by thousands; to-morrow, he will be dead, despised and hated by all. In a word, honours, pleasures* and riches, must all end in death. O my God! make me sensible of the immensity of thy goodness, that I may love nothing but thee.
II. Death deprives man of whatever he may possess in this world. What a sad sight, to behold a rich man, after death, carried out of his palace, to return thither no more! how sad, to behold others taking possession of the estates which he has left, of his wealth, and of whatever else he so lately enjoyed! His servants, after having accompanied him to his grave, abandon him, and leave him there, to be devoured by worms; no one esteeming him, no one flattering him. Formerly every one obeyed his nod, but now no one takes the least notice of his orders. How wretched have I been, O Lord, in having, for so many years, gone after the vanities of the world, and left thee, my sovereign good! But from this day forward, I desire to possess thee as my only treasure, as the only love of my soul.
III. Dust and ashes, why are you proud? Man, says the Almighty, seest thou not that in a short time thou wilt become dust and ashes? and on what dost thou fix thy thoughts and affections? Reflect that death will soon rob thee of every thing, and separate thee from the whole world. And if, when thou givest in thy accounts, thou be found wanting, what will become of thee for eternity?
I give thee thanks, my Lord and my God. Thou speakest thus to me, because thou desirest to save me. Let thy mercies now prevail. Thou hast promised to pardon such as repent of their offences against thee. From the bottom of my heart do I repent, grant me therefore pardon. Thou hast promised to love those who love thee: above all things do I now love thee; wherefore do thou love me also, and hate me not any more, as I have deserved. O Mary, my advocate, in your protection is my hope.
On the number of our sins.
I. IT is the opinion of St. Basil, St. Jerome, St. Ambrose, St. Augustin, and others, that as God has determined for each one the number of talents, the goods of fortune, and the number of days to be bestowed upon him, so, he has also determined for each one the number of sins to be pardoned him, which being completed, God will pour out his chastisements upon him and pardon him no more. Each one, says St. Augustin, is patiently borne with by Almighty God for a certain time; but when this is over, there is then no longer any more pardon for, him. I am aware, O God, that I have hitherto abused thy patience too much; but I know that thou hast not yet abandoned me, because I am sorry for my sins, and this sorrow is a sign that thou still lovest me. O my God, I desire never more to displease thee; for pity do not abandon me.
II. The Lord patiently expecteth, that when the day of judgment shall come, he may punish them in the fullness of their sins. 2 Mach. vi. 14. Although God has patience and waits for the sinner, yet, when the day shall arrive for the measure of his sins to be filled up, he will wait for him no longer, but chastise him. O Lord, wait yet for me a little while, do not yet abandon me, I hope, with the assistance of thy grace, never to offend thee more, nor to excite thy anger against me, I am sorry. O my sovereign good, for having offended thee, and I protest that I will never more betray thee. I now esteem thy friendship more than all the goods of the whole world.
III. We commit sins, and we take no notice of the load of guilt which we are accumulating; but let us tremble lest, what happened to the king Baltassar, befal us also: Thou art weighed in the balance, and art found wanting. Dan. v. 27. The devil may tell thee, that it matters not whether it be ten or eleven sins. But no, that wicked enemy deceives thee; the sin which he is tempting thee to commit, will increase the load of thy guilt, it may decide the balance of divine justice against thee, and thou mayest be condemned for it to the torments of hell. If, Christian brother, thou live not in fear lest God should not show thee mercy, shouldst thou add one more mortal sin to those which thou hast already committed, if thou tremble not at the thought of this, thou art in great danger of being lost. No, my God; thou hast borne with me too long, I will never more abuse thy bountiful goodness. I thank thee for having waited for me until now. I have forfeited thy love too often; but I hope never more to lose thee. Since thou hast not yet abandoned me, enable me to find thee again. I love thee, O my God, and I am sorry from the bottom of my heart for having ever turned my back upon thee. No, I desire never more to lose thee. Assist me with thy grace. And you, my queen and my mother, Mary, help me by your holy intercession.
On the folly of living enemies of God.
I. SINNERS call the saints, who, in this life, fly from honours, riches, and the pleasures of sense, and embrace poverty, contempt and mortification, fools. But, at the day of final retribution, they shall confess that themselves have been fools, in judging the lives of the saints to be folly: We fools esteemed their life madness. Wis. v. 4. And what greater folly can there be than to live without God? which is to live a miserable life in this world, to be succeeded by a still more miserable one in hell. No, I will not wait till the last day to confess my folly; I now confess it: how great has it been in offending thee, my sovereign good! Father, I am not worthy to be called thy son. Father, I am not worthy to receive thy forgiveness, but I hope for it through the blood which thou hast shed for my sake. My Jesus, I am sorry for having despised thee, I love thee above all things.
II. Unhappy sinners; blinded by their sins, they lose all judgment. What would be said of a man who should sell a kingdom for the smallest coin? And what should be said of him who, for a momentary pleasure, a vapour, a caprice, sells heaven and the grace of God? They think only of this life, which will shortly end, and in the mean time deserve hell for that life which will never end. O my God, permit me not to become any more so blind as to prefer, as I have hitherto done, my own unlawful gratifications before thee, and for the sake of them to despise thee, my sovereign good! I now detest them, and love thee above all things.
III. Miserable worldlings! the time will come, when they will bewail their folly; but when? when there shall be no longer any thing to prevent their eternal ruin. Then shall they say: What hath pride profited us? or what advantage hath the boasting of riches brought us? All those things are passed away like a shadow Wis. v. 8, 9. Behold, they will exclaim, how all our delights have passed away like a shadow, and nothing remains to us now, but suffering and eternal lamentation. Dear Jesus, have pity on me. I had forgotten thee, but thou didst not forget me. I love thee, with my whole soul, and I detest above all evil, whatever sins I have committed against thee. Pardon me, O God, and remember not my offences against thee. And since thou knowest my weakness, do not abandon me; give me strength to overcome all things to please thee. O Mary, mother of God, in you do I place my hopes.
On the sacred wounds of Jesus.
I. ST. BONAVENTURE says, that the wounds of Jesus wound the hardest hearts, and inflame the coldest souls. And in truth, how can we believe that God permitted himself to be buffeted, scourged, crowned with thorns, and finally put to death for the love of us, and yet not love him? St. Francis of Assisium frequently bewailed the ingratitude of men, as he passed along the country, saying: Love is not loved, love is not loved! Behold, O my Jesus, I am one of those who are thus ungrateful, who have been so many years in the world and have not loved thee. And shall I, my Redeemer, remain for ever such? No, I will love thee until death II. The church, when she shows us Jesus Christ crucified, exclaims: His whole figure breathes forth love; his head bowed down, his arms extended, his side opened. She cries out: Behold, O man, behold thy God, who has died for thy love; see how his arms are extended to embrace thee, his head bowed down to give thee the kiss of peace, his side opened to give thee access to his heart, if thou wilt but love him. Assuredly I will love thee, my treasure, my love, and my all. And whom shall I love, if I love not God who has died for me?
III. The charity of Christy saith the Apostle, presseth us. 2 Cor. v. 14. Ah! my Redeemer, thou hast died for the love of men; yet men do not love thee, because they live unmindful of the death which thou hast suffered for them. Did they bear it in mind, how could they live without loving thee? Knowing, says St. Francis of Sales, that Jesus being really God, has so loved us as to suffer the death of the cross for us, do we not on this account, feel our hearts as it were in a press, in which they are forcibly held, and love expressed from them by a kind of violence, which is the more powerful as it is the more amiable? And this is what St. Paul says in these words: The charity of Christ presseth us; the love of Jesus Christ forces us to love him. Ah! my beloved Saviour, heretofore I have despised thee, but now I esteem and love thee more than my own life, nothing afflicts me so much as the remembrance of the many offences I have committed against thee. Pardon me, O Jesus, and draw my whole heart to thyself, that so, I may neither desire, nor seek, nor sigh after any other besides thee. O Mary, my mother, help me to love Jesus.
On the great affair of salvation.
I. THE affair of our eternal salvation is of all others the most important. But how comes it that men use all diligence to succeed in the affairs of this world, leave no means untried to obtain a desirable situation, to gain a law-suit, or to bring about a marriage, reject no counsels, neglect na measures by which to secure their object, neither eat nor sleep, and yet do nothing to gain eternal salvation, — nothing to gain it but every thing to forfeit it, as though hell, heaven and eternity were not articles of faith, but only fables and lies? O God, assist me by thy divine light; suffer me not to be any longer blinded, as I hitherto have been.
II. If an accident happen to a house, what is not immediately done to repair it? If a jewel be lost, what is not done to recover it? The soul is lost, the grace of God is lost, and men sleep and smile! We attend most carefully to our temporal welfare, and almost entirely neglect our eternal salvation l We call those happy who have renounced all things for God; why then are we so much attached to earthly things? O Jesus, thou hast so much desired my salvation as to shed thy blood and lay down thy life to secure it; and I have been so indifferent as to the preservation of thy grace as to renounce and forfeit it for a mere nothing! I am sorry, O Lord, for having thus dishonoured thee. I will renounce all things to attend only to thy love, my God, who art most worthy of all love.
III. The Son of God gives his life to save our souls; the devil is most deligent in his endeavours to bring them to eternal ruin: and do we take no care of them? St. Philip Neri convicts that man of the height of folly who is inattentive to the salvation of his soul. Let us arouse our faith: it is certain that, after this short life, another life awaits us, which will be either eternally happy or eternally miserable. God has given us to choose which we will: Before man is life and death that which he shall choose shall be given him. Eccl. xv. 18. Ah! let us make such a choice now as we shall not have to repent of for all eternity. O God, make me sensible of the great wrong I have done thee in offending thee and renouncing thee for the love of creatures. I am sorry with my whole heart for having despised thee, my sovereign good; do not reject me now that I return to thee. I love thee above all things, and for the future I will lose all things rather than forfeit thy grace. Through the love which thou hast shown me in dying for me, succour me with thy help, and do not abandon me. O Mary, mother of God, be you my advocate.
On the frequent thought of death.
I. MEN who are attached to this world endeavour to banish the thoughts of death from their minds, as though, by avoiding the remembrance of death, they could avoid death itself. But no; by banishing the thoughts of death from their minds, they expose themselves to greater danger of making an evil end. There is no alternative: sooner or later we must die; and what is still more we can die but once; and if once we be lost, we shall be lost for ever. My God, I give thee thanks for having enlightened me. I have already lost too many years in offending thee; but I will now spend the remainder of my life entirely in thy service. Command me what thou wiliest, for I desire to please thee in all things.
II. Holy anchorets, who formerly fled from the world into deserts in order to secure for themselves a happy death, took nothing with them but some spiritual book and a skull, by the sight of which they might continually keep up in their minds the remembrance of their last end. They meditated upon it, saying: As the bones of him to whom this skull belonged, so will the bones of my body one day be: and my soul, who knows where that shall dwell? And thus they endeavoured to gain not the goods of this life, but of that life which will never end. I give thee thanks, O Lord, for not having suffered me to die when I was in the state of sin. I am sorry for having offended thee, and hope, through thy precious blood, for mercy and pardon. I desire, O Jesus, to renounce all things, and to do my utmost to please thee.
III. A certain hermit, being at the point of death, was observed to smile, and being asked why he was so cheerful, answered: I have always kept death before my eyes, and hence, novj that it is come it does not alarm me. The approach of death, therefore, is terrible to those only, who have thought of nothing but of gratifying themselves during their life time, and have never thought of their last end; but it is not terrible to those, who by frequently thinking upon it, have learnt to despise all earthly goods, and to love nothing but God. Oh! my Saviour, I perceive that death is already approaching towards me, and as yet I have done nothing for thee, who didst die for me. No, before death, I will, O God, love thee, who art worthy of infinite love. I have hitherto dishonoured thee by the offences which I have committed against thee; but I am sorry for them with my whole heart. For the future I will honour thee, by loving thee to the utmost of my power. Give me light and strength to do so. Thou wouldst have me be wholly thine, and such do I desire to be. Help me by thy grace; in thee do I confide. And in you also do I confide, O Mary, my mother, and my hope.
On turning away from God by sin.
I. ST. AUGUSTIN and St.Thomas define mortal sin to be a turning away from God: that is, turning one’s back upon God, leaving the Creator for the sake of the creature. What punishment would that subject deserve who, while his king was giving him a command, contemptuously turned his back upon him to go and transgress his orders? This is what the sinner does; and this is punished in hell with the pain of loss, that is, the loss of God, a punishment richly deserved by him who in this life turns his back upon his Sovereign good. Alas! my God, I have frequently turned my back upon thee; but I see that thou hast not yet abandoned me; I see that thou approachest me, and inviting me to repentance, dost offer me thy pardon. I am sorry above every evil for having offended thee, do thou have pity on me.
II. Thou hast forsaken me, saith the Lord, thou hast gone backward. Jer. xv. 6. God complains and says: Ungrateful soul, thou hast forsaken me! I should never have forsaken thee, hadst not thou first turned thy back upon me: thou hast gone backward. O God, with what consternation will these words fill the soul of the sinner when he shall stand to be judged before thy divine tribunal! Thou makest me hear them now, O my Saviour, not to condemn me, but to bring me to sorrow for the offences I have committed against thee. Yes, O Jesus, I sincerely repent of all the displeasure which I have given thee. For my own miserable gratifications I have forsaken thee, my God, my sovereign infinite good! But behold me a penitent returned to thee; and reject me not.
III. Why will you die, O house of Israel? return ye and live. Ez. xviii. 31, 32. I have died, says Jesus Christ, for the salvation of your souls, and why will you condemn them by your sins to eternal death? Return to me, and you shall recover the life of my grace. O Jesus, I should not dare to crave thy pardon, did I not know that thou hast died to obtain my forgiveness. Alas! how often have I despised thy grace and thy love! O that I had died rather than ever offered thee so great an injury! But thou, who didst come near to me even when I offended thee, wilt not now reject me, when I love thee and seek no other but thee. My God and my all, suffer me not any more to be ungrateful to thee. Mary, queen, and mother, obtain for me the grace of holy perseverance.
On the mercy of God in calling sinners to repentance.
I. THE Lord called to Adam, and said to him: Where art thou? Gen. iii. 10. These are the words of a father, says a pious author, going in quest of his lost son. O the immense compassion of our God! Adam sins, he turns his back upon God; and yet God does not abandon him, but follows him and calls after him: Adam, where art thou? Thus, my soul, has God frequently done towards thee; thou hadst forsaken him by sin; but he did not hesitate to approach thee, and to call upon thee by many interior lights, by remorse of conscience, and by his holy inspirations; all which were the effects of his compassion and love. O God of mercy, O God of love, how could I have so grievously offended thee, how could I have been so ungrateful to thee!
II. Asa father when he beholds his son hastening to cast himself down from the brink of a precipice, presses forward towards him, and with tears endeavours to withhold him from destruction; so, my God, hast thou done towards me. I was already hastening by my sins to precipitate myself into hell, and thou didst hold me back. I am now sensible, O Lord, of the love which thou hast shown me, and I hope to sing for ever in heaven the praises of thy mercy: The mercies of the Lord I will sing for ever. Ps. lxxxviii. 1. I know, O Jesus, that thou desirest my salvation; but I do not know whether thou hast yet pardoned me. Oh! give me intense sorrow for my sins, give me an ardent love for thee, as signs of thy merciful forgiveness.
III. O, my Saviour, how can I doubt of receiving thy pardon, when thou thyself dost offer it to me, and art ready to receive me with open arms on my return to thee? Wherefore I do return to thee, sorrowing and overpowered at the consideration that after all my offences against thee, thou indeed still lovest me. Oh! that I had never displeased thee, my sovereign good! how much am I grieved for having done so! Pardon me, O Jesus, I will never more offend thee. But I shall not be able to rest satisfied with thy forgiveness only, give me also a great love for thee. Having so often deserved to bun* in the fire of hell, I now desire to burn in the fire of thy holy love. I love thee, who art my only love, my life, my treasure, my all. O Mary, my protectress, pray for me, that I may continue faithful to God until the end of my life.
On the soul's being presented before the tribunal of God.
I. WHEN criminals are presented before their judges, though they fear and tremble, yet flatter themselves that either their crimes will not be proved against them, or that their judges will remit m part the punishments which they have deserved. O God! how great will be the terror of a guilty soul when presented before Jesus Christ, from whom nothing will be hidden, and who will judge her with the utmost severity! I am the judge and the witness, Jer. xxix. 23., will he then say to her: I am thy judge and I am witness of all the offences thou hast committed against me. O my Jesus, I deserved to hear this from thy mouth, had the hour of my judgment arrived. But now thou art pleased to assure me, that if I will repent of my sins, thou wilt no longer remember them: I will not remember all his iniquities. Ez. xviii. 22.
II. It is the opinion of divines, that in the same place in which the soul is separated from the body, she will be judged, and her lot decided either for eternal life or eternal death. But should the soul unhappily depart from the body" in sin, what shall she be able to say when Jesus Christ shall remind her of his abused mercies, of the years he granted her, of the calls by which he invited her, and of the many other means which he afforded her of securing her salvation? Jesus my Redeemer, thou who condemnest obstinate sinners, dost not condemn those who love thee and who are sorry for having offended thee. I am a sinner, but I love thee more than myself, and I am sorry above every evil for having displeased thee; O, do thou pardon me before the time comes when thou wilt judge me.
III. At what hour you think not, the Son of Man will come. St. Luke xii. 40. When, therefore, O my Jesus and my judge, thou shalt judge me, after my death, thy wounds will be a terror to me, reproaching me with my ingratitude for the love which thou hast shown me in suffering and dying for me; but now they encourage me and give me confidence to hope for pardon from thee, my Redeemer, who, for the love of me and that thou mayest not have to condemn me, didst suffer thyself to be tormented and crucified. We therefore pray thee, help thy servants whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood. O my Jesus! have pity on me, who am one of those sheep for whom thou didst shed thy sacred blood. If hitherto I have despised thee, I now esteem and love thee above all things. Make known to me the means by which I may be saved, and strengthen me to fulfil thy holy will. I will no longer abuse thy goodness. Thou hast placed me under too many obligations to thee, I will no longer suffer myself to live at a distance from thee and deprived of thy love. Mary, mother of mercy, have compassion on me.
On the unhappy life of the sinner.
I. THERE is no peace for the wicked. Is. xlviii. 22. The devil deceives poor sinners, by making them believe, that if they gratify their sensual desires, revenge themselves, or take what belongs to another, they will gain satisfaction and obtain peace: but no, for the reverse will always be their portion; the soul after sin becomes more than ever disquieted and afflicted. The brutes alone, who are created for the earth, can gain contentment from the enjoyments of the earth; but man, who is created to enjoy God, cannot derive satisfaction from any or all of God's creatures; his only source of happiness is God. O my God, what, of all the delights by which I have offended thee, now remains but bitterness and sorrow to torment me? I do not regret the bitterness which they now cause me; but only the displeasure which they have given thee, who hast so much loved me.
II. The wicked are like the raging sea, which cannot rest. Isa. lvii. 20. What is a soul in disgrace with God, but a tempestuous sea, always in agitation? one wave rises and another succeeds, and all are waves of pain and anguish. No one in the world can have all things according to his will. He who loves God, when adversity comes, resigns himself to God’s blessed will, and thus secures peace to his soul; but how can the sinner, if he is an enemy of God, pacify himself by resignation to God’s holy appointments? Besides, sin always brings with it the dread of divine vengeance. The wicked man fleeth, when no man pursueth. Prov. xxviii. 1. Yes, for his own sin followeth after him, and by the remorse with which it preys upon his soul, makes him suffer an anticipated hell. O my Lord and my God, I am exceedingly sorry for having forsaken thee; do thou forgive me and suffer me not to lose thee any more.
III. Delight in the Lord, and he will give thee the requests of thy heart. Ps. xxxvi. 4. Man, whither goest thou in search of content? seek after God, and he will satisfy all the desires of thy soul. Seek, says St. Augustin, the one only good, in whom are all other goods. Behold a St. Francis, who when stript of all worldly goods, being still united to God, found in this a heaven even here upon earth, and could not often enough exclaim: My God, my God and my all! Happy the soul that leaves all for God; for in him she finds her all. O Jesus, instead of abandoning me, as I have deserved, thou offerest me pardon and callest me to thy love. Behold I return to thee overwhelmed with sorrow for the evil which I have done, and deeply affected at seeing that even still thou lovest me after the many offences I have committed against thee. Thou lovest me, and I also love thee and love thee more than myself. Receive me into thy favour, and do with me what thou pleasest: only do not deprive me of thy love. Mary, mother, have pity on me.
On the love of Jesus crucified.
I. WELL might our loving Redeemer declare that he came upon the earth to enkindle divine love, and that he desired nothing else but to see this sacred fire burning in our hearts: I am come to cast fire upon the earth: and what mil I hut that it be kindled? St. Luke, xii. 49. And in fact, how many happy souls have been so inflamed with the thoughts of a crucified God, as to forsake all things else, to give themselves entirely to his holy love! What more could Jesus Christ have done to induce us to love him, than to die in torments upon a cross to prove how much he loved us? With good reason did St. Francis of Paula, when he contemplated with admiration Jesus crucified, exclaim in an ecstasy of love: O charity! charity! charity!
II. But alas, how generally do men live forgetful of so loving a God! If the vilest of men, if a slave had done for me what Jesus Christ has done and suffered for me, how should I be able to live without loving him? O God! who is he that hangs upon the cross? the same who created me and who now dies for me. That cross, those thorns, those nails exclaim, and with a still louder voice those wounds cry out and demand our love.
III. May I die, said St. Francis of Assisium, for the love of thy love, O Jesus, who hast died for the love of my love, To make an adequate return for the love of God in dying for us, would require another God to die for him. It would be but little, it would be nothing, were each of us to give a thousand lives in return for the love of Jesus Christ. But Jesus is satisfied with our giving him our hearts; nevertheless he is not satisfied unless we give them entirely to him. For this end, says the Apostle, did he die, that he might have the entire dominion of our hearts: That he might he Lord both of the dead and of the living. Rom. xiv. 9. My beloved Redeemer, how can I ever more forget thee? how can I love any thing else, after having seen thee die in torments on an infamous gibbet to satisfy for my sins? and how can I reflect that my sins have reduced thee to this, and not die with grief at the remembrance of the offences I have committed against thee? Jesus, help me; I desire nothing but thee; help me, and love me. O Mary, my hope, assist me by your prayers.
On the will of God to save all.
I. THE Apostle St. Paul teaches us that God willeth the salvation of all: he will have all men to be saved. 1 Tim. ii. 14; and St. Peter saith: the Lord dealeth patiently for your sake, not willing that any should perish, but that all should return to penance. 2 St. Pet. iii. 9. For this end the Son of God came down from heaven, and was made man, and spent thirty-three years in labours and sufferings, and finally shed his blood and laid down his life for our salvation; and shall we forfeit our salvation? Thou, my Saviour, didst spend thy whole life in securing my salvation, and in what have I spent so many years of my life? What fruit hast thou hitherto reaped from me? I have deserved to be cut off and cast into hell. But thou desirest not the death of the sinner, but that he be converted and live. Ez. xxxiii. 11. Yes, O God, I leave all and turn myself to thee. I love thee, and because I love thee, I am sorry for having offended thee. Accept of me, and suffer me not to forsake thee any more.
II. How much did the saints do to secure their eternal salvation! How many nobles and kings have forsaken their kingdoms and estates, and shut themselves up in cloisters! How many young persons have forsaken their country and friends and have dwelt in caves and deserts! And how many martyrs have laid down their lives under the most cruel tortures! and why? to save their souls. And what have we done? Woe to me, who although I know that death is near at hand, yet think not of it! No, my God, I will no longer live at a distance from thee. Why do I delay? Is it that death may overtake me in the miserable state in which I now am? No, my God, do thou assist me to prepare for death.
III. O God, how many graces has my Saviour bestowed on me to enable me to save my soul! He has caused me to be born in the bosom of the true church; he has many times pardoned me my transgressions; he has favoured me with many lights in sermons, in prayers, in meditations, in communions and spiritual exercises; and often has he called me to his love. In a word, how many means of salvation has he granted me which he has not granted others! And yet, O God, when shall I detach myself from the world and give myself entirely to thee? Behold me, O Jesus, I will no longer resist. Thou hast obliged me to love thee. I desire to be wholly thine, do thou accept of me, and disdain not the love of a sinner who has hitherto so much despised thee. I love thee, my God, my love, and my all; have pity on me. O Mary, you are my hope.
On the near approach of death
I. EVERY one knows that he must certainly die, yet many delude themselves by imagining that death is at such an immense distance from them that it will scarcely ever reach them. No, our life is indeed short, and death is very near us. The days of our sojourning here are few, and perhaps much fewer than we imagine. What else is our life but a light vapour which is driven away and disappears with the wind? a blade of grass which is dried up in the heat of the sun? O God, thou II. My days, said holy Job, have been swifter than a post ix. 25. Death is hasting towards us more rapidly than a post, and we at every step, and every breath and moment are drawing nearer and nearer to death. At the time of our death, how shall we wish for one day or one hour of the many we now squander away to no purpose! Ah, Lord, if death were now announced to me, what should I find that I have done for thee? Alas! come to my assistance; let me not die ungrateful to thee as I hitherto have been. Grant me true sorrow for my sins, the gift of thy love, and holy perseverance.
III. Death hastens towards us; wherefore we must also hasten to do that which is good, and to put our accounts in order against the day of its arrival. When death comes, it precludes all remedies for what has been done amiss. How many are now in hell who thought of amending their lives at some future period, but were prevented by death and consigned to eternal torments! My dear Redeemer, I will no longer resist thy calls. Thou offerest me pardon and I am desirous of obtaining it, I pray for it, and hope for it, through that death which thou, my Jesus, hast suffered that thou mayest be able to impart it to me. I am sorry, O infinite goodness, for having offended thee. Thou, my Jesus, hast died for me, and I have postponed thy friendship to my own wretched inclinations. For the future, I hope with thy assistance always to love thee. I love thee, O God, I love thee. Thou art now and shalt be for ever my only good, my only love. Mary, mother of God, watch over me and take pity on me.
On God's abandoning the sinner in his sins.
I. IT is a grievous chastisement of God, when he cuts the sinner off in his sins; but still worse is that whereby he abandons him and suffers him to add sin upon sin. “ No punishment, is so great," says Bellarmin, “ as when sin is made the punishment of sin.” I give thee thanks, therefore, O Jesus, for not having suffered me to die in my sins; and I give thee still greater thanks, for not having abandoned me in my sins. And oh! into how much deeper an abyss of sin should I have fallen, if thou hadst not supported me. Continue, O Lord, to keep me from sin and do not forsake me.
II. I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall he wasted. Is. v. 5. When the master cuts down the fence of his vineyard, and leaves it open for any one to enter therein, it is a sign that he considers it not worth cultivating, and abandons it. In like manner does God proceed when he forsakes a sinful soul: he takes away from her the hedge of his holy fear, of, his light, and of his voice; and hence the soul being blinded and enslaved by her vices, which overpower her, despises every thing, the grace of God, heaven, admonitions and censures; she thinks lightly even of her own damnation, and thus enveloped in darkness is certain to be lost for ever. The wicked man when he is come into the depth of sins, contemneth. Prov. xviii. 3. This have I deserved, O God, for having so often despised thy light and thy calls. But I see that thou hast not yet abandoned me. I love thee, O my God, and in thee do I place all my hopes.
III. We would have cured Babylon, but she is not healed; let us forsake her. Jer. li. 9. The physician visits the sick man, prescribes remedies for him, and makes him sensible of his maladies; but when he sees that his patient does not obey him and on this account grows worse and worse, he takes leave of him and forsakes him. It is thus that God deals with obstinate sinners; after a certain time he speaks but little to them, and only assists them with grace just sufficient to enable them to save their souls, but they will not save them. The darkness of their minds, the hardness of their hearts, and the inveteracy of their wicked habits render it morally impossible for them to gain salvation. But, O God, since thou still callest me to repentance, thou hast not yet abandoned me; I desire never more to forsake thee. I love thee, O infinite goodness; and because I love thee I am exceedingly sorry for having offended thee. I love thee, and I hope through thy blood to love thee for ever. Suffer me not to be any more separated from thee. Holy Mary, virgin of virgins, become my advocate.
On the examination at the particular judgment.
I. IN the same moment and in the same place in which the soul departs from the body, the divine tribunal is erected, the indictment read and the sentence pronounced by the sovereign Judge. Whom he foreknew, says St. Paul, he also predestinated to be made conformable to his Son them he also justified, Rom, viii. 29. In order therefore to be made worthy of glory, our lives must be made conformable to the life of Jesus Christ. Hence it is that St. Peter says that, in the day of judgment. the just man shall scarcely be saved. 1 St. Peter iv. 18. O Jesus, my Saviour and my Judge, what will become of me, since my whole life has hitherto been the reverse of thine? But thy passion is my hope. I am a sinner, but thou canst make me a saint, and this I hope for from thy bounty.
II. The Venerable Father Louis da Ponte, reflecting on the account which he should have to give of his whole life at the time of his death, trembled to such a degree as to make the whole room shake. And how ought we to tremble at the thought of Ibis account, and how diligent ought we to be in seeking the Lord whilst we may find him. At the time of death it will be difficult to find him, if we are overtaken in our sins; but now we may easily find him by repentance and love. Yes, my God, I am sorry above every evil for having despised thee; and I now esteem and love thee above every good.
III. What shall l do, said holy Job, when God shall rise to judge? and when he shall examine, what shall I answer him? xxxi. 14. And what shall I answer him, if after so many mercies, so many calls, still I resist him? No, Lord, I will no longer resist thee, I will no longer be ungrateful to thee. I have committed many offences and disloyalties against thee, but thou hast shed thy blood to save me from my sins. Help thy servants whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood. I am sorry, my sovereign good, for having offended thee, and I love thee with my whole heart; have pity on me. And O Mary, my mother, do not abandon me.
On our journey to eternity.
I. MAN shall go into the home of his eternity. Eccles. xii. 5. This earth is not our true country; we are only passing through it on our way to eternity. The land in which I dwell, the house which I inhabit are not mine: in a short time, and when I least expect it, I must leave them. The house which will contain my body, until the day of general judgment, will be the grave, and the house of my soul will be eternity, in heaven if I be saved, in hell if I be lost. Foolish indeed then should I be were I to place my affections on things which I must soon leave. I will endeavour to procure for myself a happy mansion in which I may dwell for ever.
II. Man shall go into the home of his eternity. It is said he shall go, to give us to understand that each one shall go, in another life,, into that house which he himself has chosen: he shall go, he shall not be conducted, but shall go thither of his own free will. Faith teaches us that in the next life, there are two habitations: one is a palace of delights, where all are happy for ever, and this is paradise: the other is a prison of excruciating torments, where all are for ever miserable, and this is hell. Choose, my soul, to which of the two thou wilt go. If thou desire heaven, thou must walk in the way which leads to heaven; if thou shouldst walk in the way which leads to hell, thou wilt one day unhappily find thyself there. Jesus, enlighten me, Jesus strengthen me. Suffer me not to be separated from thee.
III. Man shall go into the house of his eternity. If then I be saved and enter into the house of bliss. I shall there be happy for ever; but if I be lost and enter inter into the house of woe, I shall be miserable for ever. If therefore I would be saved, I must keep eternity always before my eyes. He who frequently meditates upon eternity does not become attached to the goods of this world, and thus secures his salvation. I will endeavour, therefore, so to regulate all my actions that they may be so many steps towards a happy eternity. O God, I believe in life eternal. Henceforth I will live only for thee; hitherto I have lived for myself and have lost thee, my sovereign good. I will never more lose thee; but will for ever serve and love thee. Assist me, O Jesus, and do not abandon me. Mary, my mother, protect me.
On Jesus, as the Man of Sorrows.
I. THE prophet Isaias calls our Blessed Redeemer a man of sorrows; and such he was, for his whole life was a life of sorrows. He took upon his own shoulders all our debts. It is true that as he was man and God, a single prayer from him would "have been sufficient to make satisfaction for the sins of the whole world; but our Saviour would rigorously satisfy divine justice, and hence he chose for himself a life of contempt and suffering, being content for the love of man to be treated as the last and the vilest of men, as the prophet Isaias had foreseen him: We have seen him ... despised and the most abject of men. O my despised Jesus, by the contempt which thou didst endure thou hast made satisfaction for the contempt with which I have treated thee. Oh! that I had died and had never offended thee.
II. Who, my God, amongst the sons of men, was ever so afflicted and oppressed as our most loving Redeemer? Man, however much he may be afflicted in this world, enjoys from time to time relief and consolation. Thus does our compassionate God treat his ungrateful and rebellious creatures. But he would not thus treat his beloved Son; for the life of Jesus Christ in this world was not only a life of afflictions, but of continual afflictions from its commencement until death. Our Blessed Saviour was deprived of all consolation and of every kind of relief. In a word, he was born but to suffer and to. be the man of sorrows. O Jesus, how unhappy is he who does not love thee, or who loves thee but little, after thou hast so loved us miserable worms who have offended thee. Enable me from this day forward to love no other but thee, who alone art worthy of being loved.
II. Again, men suffer afflictions, but it is only during the time that they suffer them, because they do not know those which are yet to come. But Jesus Christ, having, as God, a knowledge of all future things, suffered in every moment of his life not only the pains which actually afflicted him, but all those also which were to come upon him, and especially the outrages of his most sorrowful passion, having always before his eyes his scourging at the pillar, his crowning with thorns, his crucifixion and bitter death, with all the sorrow s and desolation which accompanied it. And why, O Jesus, didst thou suffer so much for me who have so grievously offended thee? Accept of me now that I may love thee, and that henceforward I may love no other but thee. My love and my only good, accept of me and strengthen me. I am resolved to become holy, that I may please thee alone. Thou desirest me to be all thine, and such do I desire to be. Holy Mary, you are my hope.
On the folly of neglecting salvation.
I. WHAT doth it profit a man, saith our Lord, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul? St. Matt. xvi. 26. How many rich men, how many nobles, how many monarchs are now in hell! What now remains to them of their riches and honours, but remorse and rage which prey upon their souls, and will continue to prey upon them for all eternity? O my God, enlighten me and assist me. I hope never more to be deprived of thy grace. Have pity on a sinner who desires to love thee.
II. How comes it, writes Salvian, that men believe in death, judgment, hell and eternity, and yet live without fearing them? Hell is believed, and yet how many go down thither! But, O God, while these truths are believed, they are not dwelt upon, and hence are so many souls lost. Alas, I also have been of the number of those who have been guilty of such folly. Although I knew that by offending thee I was forfeiting thy friendship, and writing my own condemnation; yet I was not restrained from committing sin! “ Cast me not " away from thy face I am sensible of the evil I have done in despising thee, my God, and am grieved for it with my whole soul: Oh cast me not away from thy face.
III. And then? And then? Oh what force had these two words with F. P. Francis Zazzera when repeated to him by St. Philip Neri, in order to induce him to renounce the world and give himself wholly to God! O that they would be wise, and would understand, and would provide for their latter end. Deut. xxxii. 29. O! if all persons would but think of death, in which every thing must be relinquished; of judgment, in which an account must be given of our whole lives; of a happy or miserable eternity, which must be the lot of each one: if all did but provide for these last things of of their lives, no one would be lost. The present only is thought of, and hence is eternal salvation lost. I give thee thanks, O God, for the patience with which thou hast hitherto borne with me, and for the light which thou now bestowest upon me. I see, that although I forgot thee, thou didst not forget me. I am sorry, my sovereign good, for having turned my back upon thee, and I am now resolved to give myself entirely to thee. And why should I delay? that thou mayest abandon me, and that death may find me as miserable and ungrateful as I have been even until now? No, my God, I will no more offend thee, but will love thee. I love thee, O infinite goodness, give me perseverance and thy holy love, I ask for nothing more. Mary, refuge of sinners, intercede for me.
On the moment of death.
I. “ O MOMENT, on which depends eternity!” Oh! how much depends on the last moment of our lives, on our last breath! either an eternity of delights, or an eternity of torments; a life of happiness or a life of misery. What folly therefore must it be for the sake of a wretched momentary pleasure in this life to run the risk of making an evil end, and commencing a life of misery, which will never terminate! O God! what will become of me in the last moment of my life? O Jesus, who didst die for my salvation, suffer me not to be lost for ever, suffer me not to lose thee, my only good.
II. Oh God! how do those miserable criminals who are condemned to cast lots for their lives tremble when they throw the dice, upon the cast of which depends their life or death. Tell me Christian, if thou wert in such a situation, how much thou wouldst give to be liberated from it? But faith teaches thee that thou wilt one day arrive at that last moment, on which will depend thy eternal life or death. Thou wilt then say: “ Alas I must now be either happy for ever with God, or in despair for ever without him.” No, my God, I will not lose thee; if I have hitherto forfeited thy friendship, I am sorry for it and sincerely repent of it; I will never lose thee more.
III. Either we believe, or we do not believe. And if we believe that there is an eternity, that we can die only once, and that if we die ill, the consequences will be eternal, without the least hope of remedy; why do we not resolve to separate ourselves from all danger of being lost, and to use all the means in our power to secure for ourselves a happy death? No security can be too great when eternity is at stake. The days of our lives are so many favours from God, by which be allows us time to prepare our accounts against the arrival of death. Delay not, for thou hast no time to lose. Behold me, O God, tell me what I must do to be saved, for I will do all that thou requirest of me. I have turned my back upon thee; and for this I am exceedingly sorry, and for having done so would willingly die of grief. Pardon me, O Lord, and suffer me not to forsake thee any more. I love thee above all things, and will never more cease to love thee. Holy Mary, Virgin of virgins, obtain for me the grace of perseverance in virtue.
On the desire of God to save sinners.
I. IT is indeed very surprising that man, a worm of the earth, should dare to offend his Creator and turn his back upon him, by despising his graces, after God has so favoured and loved him as to lay down his life to save him. But it is still more surprising that God, after having been thus despised by man, should seek after him, invite him to repentance and offer him his pardon, as though God stood in need of us and not we of him. O Jesus, thou seekest me, and I seek after thee. Thou desirest me, and I desire only thee.
II. For Christ, saith the Apostle, we beseech you, be reconciled to God. 2 Cor v. 20. “ And does God,” exclaims St. Chrysostom, “ call thus upon sinners! and what does he ask of them? to be reconciled, and to be in peace with him.” My Redeemer, Jesus Christ, how couldst thou have had so much love for me who have so often offended thee? I detest all my offences against thee; give me still greater grief, still greater love, that I may deplore my sins, not so much on account of the punishments I have deserved by them, as for the injury I have offered to thee, my God, who art infinitely good and amiable.
III. What is man, exclaims holy Job, that thou shouldst magnify him? or why dost thou set thy heart upon him? vii. 17. What good, O Lord, hast thou ever derived from me? and what canst thou expect from me, that thou lovest me so much, and comest so near to me? Hast thou then forgotten all the injuries and treasons which I have committed against thee? But since thou hast so much loved me, I, a miserable worm, must also love thee, my Creator and my Redeemer. Yes, I do love thee, my God, I love thee with my whole heart, I love thee more than myself; and because I love thee, I will do every thing to please thee. Thou knowest that nothing is so grievous to me as the remembrance of my having so often despised thy love. I hope for the future to be able to compensate by my love for the frequent displeasure which I have given thee. Help me for the sake of that precious blood which thou hast shed for me. Help me also, O holy Mary, for the love of your Son who died for me.
On the sentence at the. particular judgment.
I. OH! what joy will he experience who, departing out of this life in the grace of God, shall, on being presented before Jesus Christ, behold him with a benignant countenance, be lovingly received by him, and hear from him those delightful words: Well done, thou good and faithful servant: became thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will place thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord. St. Matt. xxv. 23. But, O Jesus, if I were now to be summoned to judgment before thee, how could I hope that thou wouldst call me a good and faithful servant, when I have hitherto been so bad and faithless towards thee, changing my promises of fidelity into treasons? But I will be faithful to thee for the future, and will sooner lose my life a thousand times than forfeit thy grace. Do thou give me strength to fulfil this my resolution.
II. On the other hand, what anguish, O Jesus, will that sinner experience, who, dying in sin, and being presented before thee, shall behold thy wrathful countenance! The soul that departs this life in God’s displeasure, will first condemn herself, and will then hear from Jesus Christ that terrible sentence: “ Depart from me, thou accursed, into ever “ lasting fire.” How often, O Jesus, have I deserved to hear from thee the same sentence, when I have committed mortal sin! When death shall have overtaken me, thou wilt then be my judge j but now thou art my Father and Redeemer, ready to pardon me, if I am sorry for having offended thee. I am therefore sorry, from the bottom of my heart, for all my offences against thee; and I am sorry, not so much on account of hell which I have deserved by them, as because by them I have grievously offended thee, who hast loved me with an infinite love.
III. The soul goes forth and leaves the body, but it is for some time doubtful whether the person be alive or dead. While the bystanders are doubting, the soul has already entered eternity. The priest, satisfied at length that the man is dead, recites the prayer of the church: “ Come to his assistance, all ye saints of God: meet him all ye angels of God: receive his soul and present it now before its Lord.” But of what avail will it be to the soul that has departed an enemy of God, and upon whom sentence has already been passed, to call the saints and angels to her assistance? O, my good angel, ye saints my holy advocates, St. Michael, St. Joseph, and you my holy protectress Mary, help me v now whilst you have it in your power. And thou, my Redeemer, pardon me now whilst thou dost exercise mercy. I am sorry for having offended thee, and I love thee with my whole heart. Assist me, O Lord, and support me, that I may never offend thee more. O Mary, take me for ever to your care.
On an unprovided death.
I. NOTHING is more certain than death, but nothing more uncertain than the hour of death. It is certain that the year and the day of each one’s death is already determined by our Lord, though we know them not; and wisely does God conceal them from us, in order that we may be always prepared for our departure. I give thee thanks, O Jesus, for having waited for me, and for not having called me out of life in the state of mortal sin. During the remainder of my life I will bewail my iniquities and love thee with all my strength. I know that I must die, and by thy grace I will prepare myself for a good death.
II. Jesus Christ admonishes us of the hour of our death, and when shall it be? when we least expect it. At what hour you think not, the Son of man will come. St. Luke xii. 40. If then, says St. Bernard, death may at any time take us out of life, we should at all times be prepared for it and keep our accounts in order. O Jesus, I will not wait until the moment of my death to give myself to thee. Thou hast said that those who seek thee shall find thee: “Seek and ye shall find:" I seek thee, I desire thee; grant that I may find thee. I am sorry for my sins and will never more offend thee.
III. When then, dear Christian, thou art tempted to commit sin with the hope of confessing it on the morrow, say to thyself: but who knows but that this moment may be my last? And if in this moment I should be guilty of sin, and death should overtake me, whither should I go? O God, how many miserable sinners have been struck by death in the act of feasting themselves on some poisonous gratification! The devil will say to thee: this misfortune will not befal thee. But do thou answer him: if it should befal me, what will become of me for eternity? O God, may not that happen to me which has happened to so many other unhappy sinners? How many are now in hell for lesser sins than I have committed! I give thee thanks, O Jesus, for having waited for me with so much patience, and for having now enlightened me. I have erred in forsaking thee; and death might have been my punishment; but since thou givest me time, henceforward I will think of nothing but of loving thee. Assist me with thy grace. And do you, Mary, assist me by your holy intercession.
On the eternity of hell.
I. IF hell were not eternal, it would not be hell. Punishment which does not continue for a long time is not grievous punishment. On the other hand, punishment, however light it may be, when it continues for a long time, becomes intolerable. Were a person obliged during the whole of his life to see the same entertainments, or to hear the same music, how could he endure it? What then must it be to remain in hell and to suffer all its torments! and for how long a time? For all eternity. It would be folly, for the sake of a day's pleasure, to condemn one’s self to be burnt alive. And is it not folly, for the sake of a sensual gratification, which can last but for one moment, to condemn one’s self to the fire of hell, whose victims, though dying every moment, yet never never die? O God, preserve me by thy grace. Woe to me if I should turn my back upon thee after the great mercy with which thou hast dealt with me! Keep me, O God, and preserve me from so great a misfortune.
II. Let us awaken our slumbering faith. It is certain that he who is lost is lost for ever, without the least hope of being redeemed from eternal ruin. They shall go into eternal punishment. St. Matt. xxv. 46. He who once enters the prison of hell can come out no more. Otherwise the condemned wretches would flatter themselves with hopes, and would say: who knows, perhaps God may some day have pity on us and deliver us? But no, they well know that hell will never have an end, and that they must continue to suffer the same torments which they at present endure, so long as God shall be God. My dear Redeemer, I know too well that by the past I have forfeited thy grace, and condemned myself to hell; but I do not know whether thou hast pardoned me. Hasten to forgive me, O Jesus, while I bitterly lament my offences against thee, and never suffer me to offend thee any more.
III. In this life death is of all things the most dreaded, but in hell it is of all things the most desired. There they desire and long for death, but cannot die. They shall desire to die, and death shall fly from them. Apoc. ix. 6. Are there not at least, in that place of torments, some to compassionate them? No, all hate them, and rejoice in their sufferings, which will last for ever, without end or mitigation. The trumpet of divine justice continually sounds and thunders forth in their ears those terrible words: ever, ever; never, never. Amongst these miserable beings, O Jesus, I have deserved to be numbered; but do thou, who hast hitherto preserved me from falling into hell, preserve me for the future from falling into sin, which alone can condemn me to that place of woe. Ah! never suffer me again to become thy enemy. I love thee, O infinite goodness, and I am sorry for having offended thee. Pardon me, and as I have deserved to burn for ever in the fire of hell, grant me to burn for ever with the fire of thy holy love. O Mary, in your powerful intercession do I confide.
On the uncertainty of grace.
I. DELAY not to be converted to the Lord, and put it not off from day to day: for his wrath shall come on a sudden, and in the time of vengeance he will destroy thee. Eccl. v. 9. The Lord admonishes us to be speedily converted, if we would be saved; because if we go on putting off our conversion from day to day, the time of vengeance will come, when God will neither call nor wait for us any longer; death will overtake us in sin, and there will be no means of escaping eternal damnation. God admonishes us in this manner, because he loves us and wills not to see us perish. I am convinced, O God, that thou desirest my salvation; I know that thou desirest to deal with me in thy mercy; and it is my desire never more to despise thee.
II. Alas! to how many are the admonitions given by God during life, become now in hell the most cruel swords that pierce their souls! In proportion as the mercies which God showed them were greater, so were their crimes more enormous. If, O Jesus, thou hadst condemned me to hell, as I have deserved, how great would have been my punishment, since thy graces and favours have been so abundant towards me! No, I will no longer be ungrateful to thee. Say to me what thou pleasest, and I will obey thee in all things. I am sorry for having so often offended thee; from henceforward I will not seek to please myself, but to please only thee, my God, and only good.
III. How cautious are men in their temporal affairs, and yet how negligent in the affairs of eternity! If a man have to receive a sum of money from another, he uses every expedient to obtain it as quickly as possible, saying: “ Who knows what may happen?” And yet, why do so many live months and years in sin? Because they do not say, when the soul is at stake: “ Who knows what may happen?” If money be lost, however valuable it may be, all is not lost; but if the soul be lost all is lost, and must be lost for ever, without hope of recovery. My beloved Redeemer, thou hast given me life that I may become worthy of thy grace; and yet I have often renounced thy grace for something worse than nothing. Pardon me, O infinite goodness, for I am sorry, from the bottom of my heart, for having done so. O Jesus, thou hast done too much to oblige me to love thee, and I desire to love thee to the utmost of my power. I love thee, my sovereign good, I love thee more than myself. Permit me not, O God, to cease to love thee any more. O Mary, holy queen, protect me.
On the death of Jesus for the love of men.
I. WAS it ever possible that God the Creator of all things should have been pleased to die for the love of his creatures? It is of faith that he has done so. He hath loved us, and hath delivered himself for us. Eph. v. 2. The earth, the heavens and all nature, with astonishment beheld Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, the Lord of the universe, die of intense pain and anguish, on a disgraceful cross, and why? for the love of men. And do men believe this and not love God? I have believed it, O Jesus, and yet not only have I not loved thee, but I have frequently offended thee. Pardon me, I beseech thee, and remind me continually of the death which thou hast suffered for me, that I may never more offend thee, but may always love thee.
II. It was not necessary for man’s salvation that God should die; one drop of his blood, a single tear, or a prayer would have been sufficient, because being of infinite value, it would have redeemed this, or a thousand other worlds. But, O Jesus, thou wouldst suffer so much, to teach us thy great love for us. Hence St. Bonaventure exclaims, but with much greater reason may I exclaim, who have so often offended my Redeemer: “ Alas! my “ God, why hast thou so much loved me? why, O Lord, why? who am I?” O divine Pastor of my soul, behold I am the lost sheep, in quest of which thou didst come upon the earth. I nave ungratefully fled away from thee: but since, unmindful of the sufferings which I have occasioned thee, thou callest me to thy love, behold me, miserable as I am, but overcome with thy great goodness, embracing thy sacred feet, nailed to the cross. Jesus, my love, my treasure, I love thee, and because I love thee, I am sorry for having offended thee.
III. St. Bernard imagining himself present when Pilate passed sentence of death on our Blessed Saviour, thus addresses him: “ What hast thou done my most innocent Saviour, that thou shouldst be thus condemned? Thou art innocence itself; and how do I now behold thee condemned to death, even to the death of the cross? What crime hast thou committed?” And he proceeds to answer: “ Thy crime is love.” As if he had said: ah! it is thy too great love for us and not Pilate, that condemns thee to death. When, my dear Redeemer, I remember the offences I have committed against thee, it is not hell, which I have deserved for them, that makes me grieve, but the love which thou hast shown me. Ah! my crucified God, I desire to be from henceforth and for ever thine, and I will love no other but thee. Strengthen my weakness, and make me faithful to thee. Holy Mary, mother of God, enable me to love Jesus; this is the only favour I ask.
On the certainty of being either saved or lost.
I. WITH fear and trembling, saith the Apostle, work out your salvation. Phil. ii. 12. In order to be saved we should tremble lest we be lost, for there is no medium; we must be either saved or lost for ever. He who trembles not, is in great danger of being lost, because he takes but little care to employ the means of obtaining salvation. God desires that all should be saved, and he gives to all his grace; but he requires that all should cooperate for this end. All desire to be saved, many because they will not employ the means of salvation, are lost St Philip Neri used to say: " Heaven is not made for the slothful.” Enlighten me, O Lord, that I may know what I ought to do, and what to avoid, for I desire to do all that thou requirest of me. I am determined, by thy grace, to save my soul.
II. St. Teresa said to her religious: “ One soul! my daughters, one eternity!” She meant, that in this world we ought not to attend to any thing but to the salvation of our souls; because if the soul be lost, all will be lost; and if once lost, will be lost for ever. Benedict the twelfth, being asked by a prince for a favour which he could not grant without committing sin, answered the ambassador: “ Tell your prince that if I had two souls I would give him one; but as I have only one, I cannot consent to lose it for his sake.” Thus should we answer the devil or the world when they offer us forbidden fruit. O God, how often have I lost my soul by forfeiting thy grace! But since thou offerest me thy pardon, I detest all the offences I have committed against thee, and love thee above all things.
III. Would that we were fully impressed with the meaning of that great maxim of St. Francis Xavier: “ there is but one evil, and one good, in the world!” The only evil is damnation, the only good, salvation. No; poverty, infirmity, ignominies are not evils; these when embraced with resignation will increase our glory in heaven. On the other hand, health, riches and honours are not goods for too many Christians, because they become to them greater occasions of losing their souls. Save me then, O God, and do with me what thou pleasest. Thou knowest and wiliest what is best for me. I abandon myself to thy mercy: Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit. I am so sorry for having been hitherto opposed to thy will, as to be ready to die to expiate my offences; but now I love thee, and will nothing but what thou wiliest. Grant me thy love, that I may be faithful to thee. And, Mary, give me your powerful assistance.
On the certainty of death.
I. HOW is it possible, O God, that there should be any Christians, who believe that they must one day die, and that after death an eternity of happiness or misery awaits them; who know that on the moment of death will depend their being happy or miserable for ever; and yet adopt not all the means of securing for themselves the blessing of a good death? Give, O Lord, tears to my eyes that I may bewail my offences against thee. I knew that by offending thee I should forfeit thy grace and condemn myself to eternal torments; I knew this, and yet I was not restrained from committing sin. I am sorry, O God, for having dishonoured thee, by renouncing thee for the sake of my own wretched inclinations; have pity on me.
II. If we hear of one dying suddenly who did not live prepared for death, we compassionate him, and say: “Alas! what has become of his poor soul?” And yet why are we not ourselves prepared at all times to die? It may be that the misfortune of a sudden death may not happen to us; but whether sooner or later, whether prepared or unprepared, whether we think of it or not, we must one day surrender our souls into the hands of God. The place of execution is already prepared for us, and the malady which is to be our executioner and take us out of the world is stealing upon us; why then do we not endeavour to become daily more and more united to Jesus Christ, who will soon become our Judge? My dear Redeemer, I hope through the merits of thy death to live and die in thy grace and favour. I love thee, O infinite goodness, and I hope to love thee always in this life and for all eternity in the next.
III. In every succeeding age, cities and kingdoms are peopled with new beings, and their predecessors buried in their graves. Those who lived here a century ago, where are they now? gone into eternity! And thus, dear reader, in a hundred years hence, even in a much shorter time, neither you nor I shall be alive in this world, but we shall be either happy or miserable for ever in the next; either saved or lost for all eternity, one or other will most certainly be our lot. I may then, O God, either be saved, as I hope I shall be, or I may be lost on account of my sins. And is it possible that I may be lost, and yet not think of adopting every means of securing my salvation? Enlighten me, O Lord, and make known to me what I must do to be saved, for with thy help I will do all that thou requirest of me. I have many times lost my respect for thee, my Father, but thou hast not ceased to love me. I detest all my offences against thee, and I love thee, O God, with my whole soul. Give me thy blessing. Father, and never suffer me to be again separated from thee. Mary, my mother, have pity on me.
On the vanity of the world.
I. ONLY the grave, saith holy Job, remaineth for me. xvii. 1. Days and years pass away, pleasures, honours and riches pass away, and what will be the end? Death will come and strip us of all, and we shall be buried in the grave to corrupt and moulder into dust, deserted and forgotten by all. Alas! how, in the end of our lives, will the remembrance of all we have acquired in this world serve for nothing but to increase our anguish, and our uncertainty of salvation! O death, O death, never depart from before my eyes. O God, do thou enlighten me.
II. My life is cut off as by a weaver. Isa. xxxviii. 12. How many in the midst of executing their long-contemplated designs, are overtaken by death and deprived of all things! Ah, with what pain and remorse will the goods of this world be regarded, on the bed of death, by those who have been unduly attached to them! To worldlings who are spiritually blind, the goods of this present life appear great; but death will discover what they really are, dust, smoke and vanity. Before the light of this last lamp all the dazzling grandeur of this world will vanish and disappear. The greatest fortunes, the highest honours, when considered on the bed of death, will lose all their value and splendour. The shade of death will obscure even crowns and sceptres. Grant me, O God, thy holy grace, for this alone is all I desire. I am grieved for ever having despised such a treasure. Jesus, have pity on me.
III. Of what avail then will riches be at the hour of death, when nothing will remain for us but a wooden coffin and a winding sheet? Of what avail will be the honours which we have acquired, when no others will remain for us but a funeral procession and a tomb, which will not be able to afford us the least satisfaction, if our souls should be lost? And of what avail will the beauty of the body be, when the body itself will become a mass of worms, infect the air with its stench, and excite horror in all who behold it? My dear Redeemer, although I knew that by sinning I should forfeit thy friendship, yet did I sin; but I hope for pardon from thee who hast died to purchase pardon for me. O that I had never offended thee, my good God! I behold the love which thou hast shown me; and this increases my grief for having displeased thee who art so good a Father. I love thee, O Lord, and will never live without loving thee; give me perseverance. Mary, my mother, pray to Jesus for me.
On provoking God by sin.
I. THUS does the Royal Prophet speak of sinners: They tempted and provoked the most high God. Ps. lxxvii. 65. God is incapable of grief; but, were it possible for him to grieve, every sin which men commit would deeply afflict him and deprive him of happiness. Sin, O God, is the return I have made thee for thy love! How often have I renounced thy friendship for the sake of some wretched self-gratification! O. infinite goodness, because thou art such, pardon me my offences.
II. St. Bernard moreover adds, that the malice of sin is so great, that it would annihilate God, were this possible. If God could die, mortal sin would deprive him of life. And how? Father Medina answers: “because it would give him infinite sorrow.” How afflicting is it to be injured by those whom we have especially befriended and loved! What then must it be for God to behold man, whom he has favoured with so many and such great benefits and loved with such exceeding great love, even to shedding his blood and laying down his life; what must it be to behold man turn his back upon him and despise his grace for a mere nothing, for a fit of passion, or a momentary pleasure! Were he capable of grief and sadness, he would die of the bitterness which such conduct would occasion him. Dearest Jesus, I am the lost sheep, thou art the good shepherd who hast laid down thy life for thy sheep; have pity on me, pardon me for all the displeasure which my sins nave occasioned thee. I am grieved, O Jesus, for having offended thee, and love thee with my whole soul.
III. It was because our loving Redeemer had our sins constantly before his eyes that his life was so painful and full of bitterness. This was the cause of his sweating blood and suffering the agonies of death in the garden of Gethsemane, where he declared that his soul was sorrowful even unto death.. What made him sweat blood and cast him into such a dreadful agony, but the sight of the sins of men? Give me then, O Jesus, a share of the sorrow which then oppressed thee for my sins; grant that it may afflict me during my whole life, and, if thou pleasest, even unto death. O Jesus, I desire never more to displease thee, I will never more afflict thee, but will love thee with all my strength, who art my love, my life, and my only good. Suffer me not to offend thee any more. Mary, my hope, have compassion on me.
On the last judgment.
I. THE last day is called in Scripture a day of wrath and misery; and such it will be for all those unhappy beings who shall have died in mortal sin; for on that day their most secret crimes will be made manifest to the whole world, and themselves separated from the company of the saints, and condemned to the eternal prison of hell, where they will suffer all the agonies of ever dying yet always remaining alive. St Jerome, in the cave of Bethlehem, devoted to continual prayer and penance, trembled at the bare thought of the General judgment. The Ven. F. Juvenal Ancina hearing that sequence for the dead sung: "Dies viai, dies "ilia,” was so struck with the anticipation of judgment that he left the world and embraced a religious life. O Jesus, what will become of me, in that day? Shall I be placed on thy right with the elect, or on thy left with the reprobate? I know that I have deserved to be placed on thy left, but I know also that thou wilt still pardon me, if I repent of my sins: wherefore I do repent of them with my whole heart, and am resolved rather to die than offend thee any more.
II. As this will be a day of calamity and terror for the reprobate, so will it be a day of joy and triumph for the elect; for then, in the sight of all mankind, will the blessed souls of the elect be proclaimed queens of paradise, and spouses of the immaculate Lamb. O Jesus, thy precious blood is my hope. Remember not the offences which I have committed against thee, and enflame my whole soul with thy love. I love thee, my sovereign good, and I trust that in that day I shall be assodated with those loving souls who will praise and love thee for all eternity.
III. Choose, my soul; choose now either an eternal crown in that blessed kingdom, where God will be seen and loved face to face in the company of the saints, of the angels, and of Mary the mother of Jesus; or the prison of hell, where thou must weep and lament for ever, abandoned by God and by all. “ O Lamb of God, that takest away the “ sins of the world, have mercy on us.” O divine Lamb, who, to deliver us from the pains of hell, was pleased to sacrifice thy divine life, by a bitter death upon the cross, have compassion on us; but more particularly on me who have more than others offended thee. I am sorry above every evil for having dishonoured thee by my sins, but I hope on that day to honour thee before men and angels, by proclaiming thy mercies towards me. O Jesus, help me to love thee; I desire thee alone. O Mary, holy queen, protect me in that day.
On the intensity of the pains of hell.
I. IN this life when a person suffers, however great his sufferings may be, he may, at least occasionally, obtain some mitigation or repose. A sick man may suffer all the day long the pains of the most cruel disorders; but, when night comes, he may perhaps sleep a little and be somewhat relieved. Not so with the miserable reprobate. For him there is no relief, no repose. He must weep and lament for ever, he must suffer for ever, and suffer torments the most excruciating, without once having throughout all eternity one moment of ease or mitigation. Such, O Jesus, would have been my lot, hadst thou called me out of life in my sins. Dearest Redeemer, I refuse not to suffer, but will truly love thee.
II. In this life by constantly suffering pain we become accustomed to it and better able to bear it; time mitigates sufferings which at first were most grievous to us. But will the souls in hell, by eternally suffering the torments which they endure, by the habit of enduring them for so many years, will they ever find their intensity diminished? No, for the torments of hell are of such a nature that, at the end of a hundred or a thousand years, those souls will experience the same degree of pain from them as when they first descended into that bottomless abyss. “ In thee, O Lord, have I hoped, let me never be confounded.” I know, O Lord, that I have frequently deserved hell, yet I know likewise that thou dost not desire the death of the sinner, but that he be converted and live. O my God, I will not continue obstinate, but will repent with my whole soul of all my sins, and will love thee more than myself; do thou restore me to life, to the life of thy holy grace.
III. In this life when a person suffers he has the pity and sympathy of his relatives and friends; and these afford at least some comfort. But how miserable would it be for a man in the most excruciating pains, to be upbraided and reproached by his relatives and friends with the misdeeds for which he was suffering, saying to him without pity: “ Rave on in rage and despair; thou hast deserved all that thou sufferest.” The miserable wretches in hell suffer all kinds of torments, suffer them continually without any relief or comfort, and have none to compassionate them. Not even God can compassionate them, for they are his enemies: nor Mary, the mother of mercy: nor the angels, nor the saints; on the contrary they rejoice in their sufferings. And, at the same time, what is the conduct of the devils towards the reprobate? They trample upon them and reproach them with the crimes which they have committed against God, and for which they are now most justly punished. Holy Mary, mother of God, have pity on me, for you have it now in your power to take pity on me and to recommend me to your divine Son. O Jesus, thou who didst not spare thyself, to have compassion on me, but didst die upon the cross for my sake, save me, and may my salvation be to love thee for ever. I am sorry, O Lord, for having offended thee, and will love tbee with my whole heart.
On the love of Christ crucified.
I. WHO could have conceived that the Son of God, the Lord of the universe, to show his love for us, would suffer and die upon a cross, if he had not really done so? With reason therefore did Moses and Elias on mount Thabor speak of the death of Jesus Christ as of an excess of love. And what could be a greater excess of love than for the Creator to die for his creatures? To make thee an adequate return for thy love, my dear Redeemer, it would be necessary for another God to die for thee. It would therefore be but little, it would be nothing, were we poor miserable worms of the earth to give our whole lives for thee, who hast given thine for us.
II. What should still more excite us to love him is the ardent desire with which, through the course of his life, he longed for the hour of his death. By this desire he indeed proved how great his love was for us. I have a baptism, said he, wherewith I am to be baptized, and how am I straitened until it be accomplished. Si. Luke xii. 50. I must be baptized with the baptism of my own blood, to wash away the sins of men, and how am I dying with the desire of my bitter passion and death! My soul, lift up thine eyes, and behold thy Lord hanging upon a disgraceful cross; behold the blood which trickles down from his wounds; behold his mangled body, all inviting thee to love him. Thy Redeemer in his sufferings would have thee love him at least through compassion. O Jesus, thou didst not refuse me thy life and precious blood, and shall I refuse thee any thing that thou requirest of me? No, thou hast given thyself to me without reserve, I will give myself to thee in like manner.
III. St. Francis of Sales speaking of these words of the Apostle: The charity of Christ presseth us, 2 Cor. v. 14. says: “Knowing that Jesus Christ being true God has loved us even to the laying down of his life for us, and this upon a cross, do we not feel our hearts as it were in a press, forcibly straitened, and love expressed from them by a violence which is the more powerful as it is the more amiable And he adds: “ Why therefore do we not cast ourselves upon Jesus Christ crucified, to die on the cross for the love of him who has willingly died upon the cross for the love of us? I will adhere to him, should we say, and will never abandon him, I will die with him and be consumed in the fire of his love. My Jesus has given himself entirely to me, and I will give myself entirely to him. I will live and die upon his bosom; neither life nor death shall ever separate me from him. O eternal love! my soul seeks thee and espouses thee for ever.” Mary, mother of God, obtain that I may belong entirely to Jesus Christ.
On the irretrievable loss of the Soul.
I. THERE is no error so fatal in its consequences as the loss of eternal salvation. Other errors may be repaired: if a person lose a situation, he may perhaps in time regain it, if he lose his goods, he may replace them; but if he lose his soul he has no remedy nor hope of redemption. He can die but once; and if that once his soul be lost, it must be lost for ever, and no power can save it for all eternity. Behold, O God, a wretched sinner prostrate at thy feet, one who for so many years past has deserved to dwell in hell without further hope of salvation, but who now loves thee, and is sorry above every other evil for having offended thee, and hopes for mercy.
II. Does then nothing remain for the many wretched souls in hell but to lament bitterly, and say: therefore we have erred, and there is no remedy for our error, nor will there be so long as God shall be God? Ah! my dear Redeemer, were I in hell, I could never more repent, nor love thee. I thank thee for having borne with me with such great patience, even though I have deserved hell; and now that I am still able to repent and to love thee, I do sincerely repent for having offended thy infinite goodness, and love thee above all things, more than I love myself. Never permit me, O Jesus, to cease to love thee.
III. Oh what a torment must it be to the souls in hell to think that they knew their error before they were lost, and that they are lost entirely through their own fault! If a person lose a gold ring through carelessness, or a valuable coin, he has no peace for thinking that he has lost it through his own fault. O God! how great is the internal torment of the wicked when they exclaim: “ I have lost my soul, I have lost heaven, I have lost my God; I have lost my all; and this, through my own fault!” O my dear Saviour, I desire never to lose thee: if I have hitherto lost thee, I have done ill; I am sorry for it with my whole soul, and love thee above all things. O Jesus, thou hast saved me from hell that I may love thee. I will therefore truly love thee. Enable me to compensate by my love for the offences which I have committed against thee. Holy Virgin Mary, you are my hope.
On the Certainty of Death.
I. HOW much is contained in these words: "we must die!” Christian brother, thou must one day certainly die. As thy name was one day entered in the baptismal register, so will it one day be entered in the book of the dead, and this day is already determined by Almighty God. As thou now speakest of the dear memory of thy father, or of thy uncle, or brother, so will posterity speak of thee. As thou now frequently hearest of the deaths of thy friends or acquaintance, so will others hear of thy death, and thou wilt be gone into eternity. O God, what will then become of me? When my body, shall be carried to the church, and mass said over me, where will be my soul? Enable me, O Lord, to do something for thy service before death overtakes me. How wretched should I be if at this moment it should surprise me!
II. What would you say of a criminal on the way to execution, who was looking about him here and there, and attending only to the amusements which happened to be going on? would you not esteem him mad, or a man who did not believe his impending fate? Are you not every moment advancing towards death? and what do you think of? You know that you must die, and that you can die only once: You believe that after this life another awaits you which will never end; and that this eternal life will be happy or miserable according as your accounts shall be found at the day of your judgment: and how can you believe these truths and attend to any thing else but making preparation for a good death? Enlighten me, O my God, and let the thoughts of death, and of the eternity in which I must dwell, be ever present to my mind.
III. Look at the skeletons heaped np in cemeteries: they are silently saying to you: “ What has “ happened to us, will soon overtake you.” The same is repeated to you by the portraits of your parents who are dead, by the letters of their handwriting, by the rooms, the beds, the clothes which they once possessed and used, but which they have now quitted and left behind for you. All these things remind you of death which is waiting for you. My crucified Jesus, I will not delay to embrace thee till the moment of my death, when thy crucified image will be presented to me; but I will embrace thee now and press thee to my heart. Hitherto I have frequently expelled thee from my soul, but now I love thee more than myself, and am sorry for having despised thee. For the future I will be always thine, and thou shalt be always mine. This is my hope through thy bitter passion and death. And this also do I hope for through your protection, O ever blessed Mary.
On the love with which God receives the repentant sinner.
I. THE kings of the earth reject from their presence their rebellious subjects, when they come to seek for pardon; but Jesus Christ assures us that he will never reject any rebellious sinner that penitently casts himself at his feet: kin i that cometh to me I will not cast out. St John vi. 37. He despiseth not the heart that is humble and sorry for having offended him: a contrite and humble hearty O God, thou wilt not despise. Ps. 1. I do not, O Jesus, deserve thy pardon for the offences which I have committed against thee, but thou knowest that nothing afflicts me so much as the remembrance of my having offended thee.
II. But how can I be afraid that thou, my God, wilt cast me off, when thou invitest me to return to thee, and offerest me thy pardon? Return to me, and I will receive thee. Jer. iii. 11. How can I doubt, when thou promisest to embrace us, when we are converted to thee? Turn ye to me, and I will turn to you. Zach. i. 3. Do not then, O Lord, turn thy back upon me, for I will renounce all things, and turn myself to thee, my sovereign good. I have offended thee too long, and will now at least love thee.
III. Our good God moreover adds, that if the sinner repent of the evil which he has done, he is willing to forget all his sins: If the wicked do penance ..... living he shall live, and shall not die. I will not remember all his iniquities that he hath done. Ez. xviii. 21, 22. My dear Redeemer! I will never forget my sins, that I may always bewail the evil which I have done against thee; but I trust and hope that thou, as thou hast promised, wilt soon forget them, and that my past iniquities will not hinder thee from loving me. Hast thou not said that thou lovest those who love thee? Wis. viii. Hitherto I have not loved thee, and have deserved thy hatred; but now I will love thee, and hope that thou wilt no longer reject me; and as thou forgettest what is past, forgive me, unite me to thyself, and never suffer me to be again separated from thee. Mary, assist me by your holy intercession.
On temptations to relapse.
I. CHRISTIAN, when the devil again tempts thee to sin, telling thee that “ God is merciful,” remember that the Lord “showeth mercy towards “ them that fear him,” and not to them that despise him. “ God is merciful,” it is true; yet how many does he daily condemn to the torments of hell! “ God is merciful,” but he is also just. He is merciful to those who repent of their sins, but not to those who abuse his mercy to offend him the more freely. O God, how often have I done this! how often have I offended thee because thou wast good and merciful!
II. The devil will say to thee: “ As he has pardoned thee many past sins, so will he pardon thee “ the sin which thou art now about to commit." No, thou must reply; because he has so often forgiven me, I ought to be the more afraid, that, if I should again offend him, he will no more pardon me, but punish me for all the crimes I have ever committed against him. Attend to the admonition of the Holy Ghost: Say not, I have sinned and what harm hath befallen me? for the most High is a patient rewarder. Eccl. v. 4. O God, how basely have I corresponded with thy favours! Thou hast bestowed graces upon me, and I have requited them with injuries: thou hast loaded me with blessings, and I have insulted and dishonoured thee. But for the future it shall not be so. The more thou hast borne with me, so much the more will I love thee. Do thou assist my weakness.
III. The devil will say to thee: "But dost thou not see that thou canst not now resist this temptation?” Answer him: but if I do not resist now, how shall I be able to resist afterwards, when I shall have become weaker, and the divine assistance will fail me? Am I to be told that, in proportion as I multiply the number of my sins, God will multiply the number of his graces towards me? Finally, he will say to thee: “ But although thou wert to commit this sin, thou mayest still be saved.” Say to him in reply: I may be saved; but is this a reason why I should write my own sentence of condemnation to hell? I may be saved; but I may also be lost, and this is more probable. This is not an affair to be left; to the chance of a " may be.” But, O Lord, how much hast thou done for me? I have multiplied my faults, and thou hast increased thy graces! The thought of this imbitters my sorrow for having so heniously offended thee. My good God, why have I offended thee? O that I could die of grief! Help me, O Jesus, for I desire to be wholly thine. Holy Mary, obtain for me perseverance in virtue, and suffer me not any more to live ungrateful to God who has so much loved me.
On the Resurrection of the Body.
I. A DAY will come, which will be the last of days, when this world will be no more. Before the coming of the Judge, fire will descend from heaven, and consume every thing that is upon the earth: The earth and the works which are in it shall he burnt up. 2 St. Peter, iii. 10. So that in that day every thing upon the earth will be reduced to ashes. O God, what will all the vanities of this world then appear, for which so many now sacrifice the salvation of their souls. What appearance will all the highest dignities of this earth then make, its purple its crowns and its sceptres? O the folly of those who shall have loved them! And O the lamentations of those who for the love of such vanities shall have lost their God!
II. The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall rise again. 1. Cor. xv. 52. This trumpet will call all men together from their graves to come to judgment. O how beautiful and resplendent will the bodies of the just appear! Then shall the just shine like the sun! St. Matt, xiii. 43. On the contrary, how ugly and deformed will the bodies of the reprobate appear! What a torment will it be to these wretched souls to be again united to their bodies, for whose gratification they have lost heaven and lost their God, to be cast with them for ever into hell, there to burn together in eternal flames! Happy shall they then be, who shall have denied their bodies all gratifications displeasing to God; and who, in order to hold them m greater subjection, shall have mortified them by fasting and penance! O Jesus, turn not thy face away from me, as I have deserved. How often, for the sake of gratifying my senses, have I renounced thy friendship! O that I had died rather than have thus dishonoured thee! Have pity on me.
III. All mankind being assembled together, will he summoned by angels to appear in the valley of Josaphat, thereto be publicly judged before all: Nations, nations in the valley of destruction, Joel, iii. 14. O my God, and must I appear in that valley? in what place shall I stand there? with the elect in glory, or with the reprobate in chains? My beloved Redeemer, thy precious blood is my only hope. Woe to me, how often have I deserved to be condemned to dwell for ever in hell, far far from thee, without being able to love thee! No, my Jesus, I will love thee for ever, in this life and in the next. Permit me not to be ever again separated from thee by sin. Thou knowest my weakness; be thou always my help, O Jesus, and do not abandon me. Mary, my advocate, obtain for me the gift of holy perseverance.
On the love of God in giving us his Son.
I. SO great was God’s love for us, that after having loaded us with gifts and graces, he bestowed upon us his own Son: God so loved the world as to give his only begotten Son. St. John, iii. 16. For us poor miserable worms of the earth, the eternal Father sent his beloved Son into this world to lead a poor and despised life, and to undergo the most ignominious and bitter death, that any mortal on earth had ever suffered, an accumulation of internal as well as external torments, such as to cause him to exclaim when dying: My God, my God, Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/117 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/118 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/119 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/120 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/121 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/122 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/123 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/124 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/125 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/126 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/127 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/128 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/129 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/130 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/131 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/132 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/133 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/134 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/135 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/136 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/137 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/138 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/139 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/140 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/141 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/142 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/143 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/144 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/145 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/146 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/147 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/148 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/149 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/150 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/151 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/152 Page:The Way Of Salvation- Meditations For Every Day Of The Year (IA TheWayOfSalvation1836).pdf/153
- The circumstance, to which Blessed Liguori here alludes, is thus related by him in his “ Sermoni: vol.l.p. 217. Dam. Settuag.
St. Philip Neri speaking, one day, to a young man named Francis Zaxzera, who expected to make his fortune in the world by his talents, said: Be of good heart, my son, you may make a great fortune, you may become an eminent lawyer, you may then be made a prelate, then perhaps a cardinal, and then, who knows, perhaps even pope. And then? and then? Go, Continued the Saint, and reflect upon these two words. The young man went his way, and alter having meditated on the two words, and then? and then? abandoned all his worldly prospects, and gave himself entirely to God.
Leaving the world, he entered into the same congregation which St. Philip had founded, and then he died in the odour of sanctity.”