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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. 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 remain
der of life. Strengthen my weakness by thy grace; and do thou, Mary, mother of God, intercede for
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 brought 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 mv benefactor. Nav 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.