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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 be 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, his 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 wills, 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 meus 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. Bona venture, St. Bernardin 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 have 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.