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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 in 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 con
demn 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 de
sires, 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
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 will I but 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 be 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.