« AnteriorContinuar »
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: magna 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 willest 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, 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.
1. 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 mer
ciful: 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