Thursday, 29 July 2010

Preparation for Death - Consideration XXVIII

The Remorse of the Damned.
“Their worm dieth not.” – Mark, ix. 47.
The Little for which the Damned are Lost.
According to St. Thomas, this worm which dieth not is to be understood of remorse of conscience, which will eternally torment the damned in hell. The remorse which will gnaw the hearts of the reprobate will be many; but the most excruciating will be, first, the thought of the trifles for which they are damned; secondly, the thought of the little which they required to do in order to save their souls; and thirdly, the thought of the great good which they have lost. After Esau had eaten the pottage of lentils for which he had sold his birthright, the Scripture says that, through sorrow and remorse for the loss, he began to roar aloud.1 Oh! how will the damned howl and roar at the thought of having, for a few momentary poisoned pleasures, lost an eternal kingdom of delights, and of having condemned themselves forever to a continual death! Hence they will weep far more bitterly than Jonathan did when he saw himself condemned to death by his father for having eaten a little honey. I did but taste a little honey, and behold I must die.2 O God! what torture will each of the damned feel in thinking that he was the cause of his own damnation! At present our past life appears to us but a dream, a moment. But what will he who is in hell think of the fifty or sixty years which he spent on this earth, when he will be in the abyss of eternity, and, after the lapse of a hundred and a thousand millions of years, will see that his hell only begins? But were these fifty or sixty years all years of pleasure? Perhaps a sinner living without God, always feels happy in his sins! How long do the pleasures of sin last? Only for a few moments. All the remaining hours of the man who lives at enmity with God are full of pain and bitterness. But what will these moments of pleasure appear to the unhappy damned? How will he view that last sin in particular, by which he brought himself to perdition? Then he will say: For a miserable brutal pleasure, which lasted but a moment, and which was scarcely indulged when it vanished like air, I must burn in this fire, in despair, and abandoned by all, as long as God will be God—for all eternity.
Affections and Prayers.
Lord! enlighten me, that I may feel the injustice which I have done Thee, and the eternal chastisements I have deserved, by offending Thee. My God! I feel a great remorse for having offended Thee; but this pain consoles me. Hadst Thou sent me to hell, as I deserved, the thought of the trifle for which I was damned should be the hell of my hell. But now this remorse, I say, consoles me; because it encourages me to hope for pardon from Thee, who hast promised to pardon all who repent. Yes, my Lord! I repent of having outraged Thee. I embrace this sweet pain of remorse. I even entreat Thee to increase it, and to preserve it in my heart till death, that I may always weep bitterly over the offences I have offered to Thee. My Jesus! pardon me. O my Redeemer! who, to procure mercy for me, hadst not mercy on Thyself, but condemnedst Thyself to die through pain in order to deliver me from hell, have mercy on me. Grant that my remorse for having offended Thee may keep me always sorrowful, and, at the same time, inflame my whole soul with love for Thee, who hast loved me so tenderly, who hast borne with me so patiently, and who now, instead of chastising me, enrichest me with Thy lights and graces. I thank Thee, O my Jesus! and I love Thee. I love Thee more than myself. I love Thee with my whole heart. Thou knowest not how to despise a soul that loves Thee. I love Thee. Do not banish me from Thy face. Receive me, then, into Thy friendship, and do not permit me ever more to lose Thee. Mary, my Mother! accept me for thy servant, and bind me to Jesus, thy Son. Ask him to pardon me, to give me his love and the grace of perseverance till death.
The Little that was Required for their Salvation.
St. Thomas says that the principal pain of the reprobate will consist in seeing that they are damned for nothing, and that, if they wished, they could with so much facility acquire for themselves the glory of Paradise.3 The second remorse of conscience, then, will arise from the thought of the little that was necessary to be done for the attainment of salvation. A person who was damned appeared to St. Humbert, and said to him that the most excruciating pain which he suffered in hell was caused by the thought of the trifles for which he was lost, and of the little which he required to do in order to save his soul. The unhappy soul will then say: Had I mortified myself by not looking at such an object; had I overcome human respect at such a time; had I avoided such an occasion of sin, such a companion, such a conversation, I should not now be damned. If I had gone to confession every week; if I had frequented the confraternity; if I had read every day a spiritual book; if I had recommended myself to Jesus Christ and to Mary, I should not have relapsed into sin. I have so often purposed to do these things, but have either neglected my resolutions, or after having begun to practise these exercises, I gave them up, and therefore I am lost.
The torture of this remorse will be increased by the good examples of virtuous friends and companions, which the reprobate has witnessed; and still more by the gifts which God has given him for the salvation of his soul; gifts of nature, such as good health; gifts of fortune, which were so many talents which the Lord had given him, that he might make a good use of them, and become a saint; gifts of grace; so many lights, inspirations, calls, and so many years given to him that he might repair the evil which he had done. But he will see that, in the miserable state to which he is reduced, there is no remedy. He will hear the angel of the Lord proclaiming and protesting that time shall be no more. And the angel whom I saw standing . . . swore by Him that liveth forever and ever . . . that time shall be no longer.4 Oh! what cruel swords will all these gifts and graces be to the heart of the unhappy reprobate, when he sees that the time in which he could repair his eternal ruin is already past! With tears and despair he and his companions will say: The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.5 He will say: if the fatigues to which I had submitted for my damnation had been borne for God, I should have become a great saint; and now what advantage do I derive from them but pain and remorse, which will torment me for eternity? Ah! the thought that it was in his power to be forever happy, and that he must be forever miserable, will torture the damned more than the fire and all the other torments of hell.
Affections and Prayers.
Ah, my Jesus! how hast Thou been able to bear with me? I have so often turned my back upon Thee, and Thou hast not ceased to seek after me. I have so often offended Thee, and Thou hast pardoned me. Ah! impart to me a portion of that sorrow which Thou didst feel in the Garden of Gethsemane for my sins, and which made Thee there sweat blood. I am sorry, O my Redeemer! for having so badly repaid Thy love. O accursed pleasures! I detest and curse you. You have made me lose the grace of my Lord. My Beloved Jesus! I now love Thee above all things, and I renounce all unlawful gratifications, and purpose to die a thousand times, rather than ever more offend Thee. Ah! through that affection with which Thou dost love me on the cross, and offered for me Thy divine life, give me light and strength to resist temptations, and to have recourse to Thy aid whenever I shall be tempted. O Mary, my hope! thou art all-powerful with God; obtain for me holy perseverance, obtain for me the grace never more to be separated from his holy love.
The Great Good that the Damned have Lost.
The third remorse of the damned shall arise from seeing the great good which they have lost. St. John Chrysostom says that the reprobate will be tormented more by the loss of paradise than by the pains of hell!6 A certain princess once said: If God gives me a reign of forty years, I will renounce paradise. The unhappy princess reigned for forty years; but now that her soul has departed from this world, what does she say? Certainly she has changed her sentiments. Oh! how great at present must be her affliction and despair at the thought of having, for the enjoyment of an earthly reign of forty years, lost for eternity the kingdom of heaven!
But the torment which will most grievously torture the damned for eternity will arise from the conviction that they have lost heaven and God, their sovereign good, not by any unlucky accident, nor by the malevolence of others, but by their own fault. They will see that they have been created for paradise, and that God placed in their hands the choice of procuring for themselves eternal life or eternal death. Before man is life and death; . . . that which he shall choose shall be given him.7 Thus they will see that they had it in their power, if they wished, to be eternally happy, and that they have voluntarily precipitated themselves into that pit of torments, from which they can never escape, and from which no one will ever deliver them. They will see among the elect many of their companions, who were placed in the same, or perhaps in greater, danger of sinning, and who saved their souls because they restrained their passions by recommending themselves to God, or, if they fell into sin, soon repented and gave themselves to God. But because they would not give up sin, they have in the end unhappily gone to hell—they have fallen into that sea of torments without any hope of remedy for all eternity.
Brother, if you too have been so foolish as, by your own free acts, to lose paradise and God for a miserable pleasure, endeavor as soon as possible to apply a remedy, now that you have time. Do not voluntarily continue in your foolishness. Tremble lest you should have to weep over your folly for all eternity. Who knows but this consideration which you now read is the last call which God will give you? Perhaps, if you do not now change your life, if you commit another mortal sin, the Lord will abandon you, and, in punishment of that sin, send you to suffer forever among that crowd of fools who are now in hell, and confess their error (therefore we have erred), but confess it with despair, because they see that it is forever irreparable. When the devil tempts you again to sin, remember hell, have recourse to God and to the Most Holy Virgin. The thought of hell will preserve you from hell, because it will make you have recourse to God. Remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin.8
Affections and Prayers.
Ah, my Sovereign Good! how often have I lost Thee for nothing! how often have I deserved to lose Thee forever! But I am consoled by the words of Thy prophet: Let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord.9 I must not, then, despair of finding Thee again, O my God! if I sincerely seek Thee. Yes, my God! I now sigh for Thy grace more than for any other good. I am content to be deprived of all things, even of life, rather than see myself deprived of Thy love. I love Thee, O my Creator! above all things; and, because I love Thee, I am sorry for having offended Thee. O my God! whom I have lost and despised, pardon me immediately, and enable me to find Thee again; for I wish never more to lose Thee. If Thou dost admit me again to Thy friendship, I will leave all things, and will seek to love Thee alone. I hope to do so through Thy mercy, Eternal Father! Hear me for the love of Jesus Christ: pardon me, and give me the grace never more to be separated from Thee. If I voluntarily lose Thee again, I ought to fear that Thou wilt abandon me. O Mary, O advocate of sinners! obtain for me the grace to make peace with God, and afterward keep me under thy protection, that I may never more lose him.

1“Irrugiit clamore magno.” – Gen. xxvii. 34.
2“Gustans gustavi paululum mellis, et ecce morior.” – 1 Kings, xiv. 43.
3Principaliter dolebunt quod pro nihilo damnati sunt. et facillime vitam poterant consequi sempiternam.
4“Et angelus quem vidi stantem . . . juravit per viventem in sæecula sæculorum . . . quia tempus non erit amplius.” – Apoc. x. 5.
5“Transiit messis, finita est æstas, et nos salvati non sumus.” – Jer. viii. 20.
6Plus cœlo torquentur, quam gehenna.
7“Ante hominem vita et mors, bonum et malum: quod placuerit ei, dabitur illi.” – Ecclus. xv. 18.
8“Memorare novissima tua. et in æternum non peccabis.” – Ecclus. vii. 40.
9“Lætetu r cor quærentium Dominum.” – Ps. civ. 3.


Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Preparation for Death - Consideration XXVII

The Eternity of Hell.
And these shall go into everlasting punishment.” – Matt. xxv. 46.
Hell is Eternal.
Were hell not eternal, it would not be hell. Torments which continue but a short time, are not a severe punishment. The man who is afflicted with an, abscess or cancer submits to the knife or the cautery. The pain is very sharp; but, because it is soon over, the torture is not very great. But, should the incision or cauterization last for a week, or for an entire month, how frightful should be his agony! A slight pain in the eye, or in the teeth, when it lasts for a long time, becomes insupportable. Even a comedy, a musical entertainment, would it continue for an entire day, produces intolerable tediousness. And would it last for a month, or for a year, who could bear it? What then must hell be, where the damned are compelled, not to listen to the same comedy or the same music, nor to submit merely to pains in the eyes, or in the teeth, or to the torture of the knife, or of the red-hot iron, but to suffer all pains and all torments? And for how long? For all eternity. They shall be tortured forever and ever.1
This belief in eternity is an article of faith; it is not .an opinion, but a truth attested by God in so many places in Holy Scripture. Depart from Me, you accursed, into everlasting fire. And these shall go into everlasting punishment.2 Who shall suffer eternal punishment in destruction.3 Every one shall be salted with fire.4 As salt prevents putrefaction, so the fire of hell, while it tortures the damned, performs the office of salt by preserving their life.
Now, how great would be the folly of the man who, for the sake of a day’s amusement, would voluntarily condemn himself to be shut up in a dungeon for twenty or thirty years! If hell lasted but a hundred, or even but two or three years, it would be the extreme of folly in a Christian to condemn himself to fire for two or three years for the vile pleasure of a moment. But there is not the question of thirty, of a hundred, or of a hundred thousand years; but there is question of eternity; there is question of suffering forever the same torments—torments which will never end, and will never be mitigated in the slightest degree. The saints then had reason, as long as they were on this earth, and in danger of being lost, to weep and tremble. Blessed Isaias, even while he lived in the desert in fasting and penitential rigors wept and said: Ah! unhappy me, who am. not as yet free from the danger of losing my soul.
Affections and Prayers.
Ah, my God! if Thou hadst sent me to hell, as I have often deserved, and hadst afterward drawn me from it, how deeply should I feel my obligations to Thee! What a holy life would I have begun! And now that Thou hast shown me greater mercy by preserving me from falling into that place of woe, what shall I do? Shall I again offend Thee and provoke Thy wrath, that Thou mayest send me to burn in that prison of rebels against Thy majesty, where so many are buried in fire for fewer sins than I have committed? Ah, my Redeemer! I have hitherto done so; and instead of availing myself of the time which Thou gavest me to weep over my sins, I have spent it in provoking Thee still more. I thank Thy infinite goodness for having borne with me so long. If Thy goodness were not infinite, how couldst Thou have borne with me? I thank Thee for having waited for me till now with so much patience. I thank Thee in a most special manner for the light which Thou now givest me, by which Thou makest me see my .folly, and the injury I have done Thee in insulting Thee so often by my sins. My Jesus! I detest them, and am sorry for them with my whole heart. Through the merits of Thy Passion, pardon me, and assist me with Thy grace, that I may never more offend Thee. I now have just reason to fear that, if I commit another mortal sin, Thou wilt abandon me. My Lord! I entreat Thee to place this just fear before my eyes whenever the devil will tempt me to offend Thee again. My God I love Thee; I do not wish ever more to lose Thee; assist me by Thy grace. O most holy Virgin! do thou also assist me. Obtain for me the grace always to have recourse to thee in my temptations, that I may never again lose my God. Mary, after Jesus, thou art my hope.
The Weight of Eternity.
He that enters hell, will not depart from it for all eternity. This thought made David tremble and say; Let not the deep swallow me up, and let not the pit Shut her mouth upon me.5 As soon as the damned fall into that pit of torments, its mouth is closed never to be opened. In hell there is a gate for admission, but none for egress. “There will be a descent,” says Eusebius. “but there will be no ascent.”6 In explaining the words of the Psalmist, this author says, and let not the pit shut her mouth; because when it shall have received them, it will be closed above and opened downward!7 As long as the sinner remains on this earth, he may hope to reverse the sentence of his damnation; but as soon as death overtakes him in sin, all his hopes are at an end forever. When the wicked man is dead, there shall be no hope any more.8 Perhaps the damned may flatter themselves with a false hope, and thus find some relief in their despair. The man who is mortally wounded, confined to his bed, and given over by his physicians, may console himself with the hope of finding a physician or a remedy to heal his wounds. The man who is condemned to the galleys for life may also find comfort in the expectation of being one day delivered from his chains. And may not the damned at least say: Who knows but I shall one day escape from this prison? and thus delude himself with this false hope. No: in hell there is no hope, whether true or false; there is no perhaps. I will set before thy face.9 The unhappy damned will always see the sentence of their reprobation written before their eyes. In it they will read, that they will weep forever in that pit of torments. And many shall awake: some unto life everlasting, and others unto reproach, to see it always.10 Hence the damned not only suffer the torments of each moment, but in each moment they endure the pain of eternity, saying, What I now suffer, I must suffer forever. “They bear,” says Tertullian, “the weight of eternity.”11
Let us then pray to the Lord in the words of St. Augustine: “Here burn, here cut, here spare not, that you may spare for eternity.”12 The chastisements of this life pass away: Thy arrows pass; but the pains of the next life last forever, the voice of Thy thunder in a wheel.13 Let us dread these punishments. Let us dread that thunder of eternal damnation which will issue from the mouth of the Judge in passing sentence against the wicked. “Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire.” The Psalmist says: “The voice of thy thunder in a wheel.” A wheel is a figure of eternity, which has no end. I have drawn my sword out of its sheath, not to he turned back.14 The punishment of hell will be great; but what ought to terrify us more is, that it will be irrevocable.
But the unbeliever say: Can it be just to punish a sin which lasts but a moment, with eternal torments? But how, I ask, can a sinner, for a momentary pleasure, dare to insult a God of infinite majesty? St. Thomas says that, even in human judgments, the punishment of crime is measured, not from its duration, but from its malice.15 Hell is but a small punishment for mortal sin; an offence against infinite majesty deserves infinite chastisement. “In every mortal sin,” says St. Bernardine Sienna, “an infinite insult is offered to God; but an infinite injury merits infinite punishment.”16 But, because, says St. Thomas, a creature is not capable of suffering pain infinite in point of intensity, God inflicts punishment infinite in extension or duration.17
Besides, since the damned are incapable of making satisfaction for their sins, their punishment should be necessarily eternal. In this life penitent sinners can atone for their iniquities only in as much as the merits of Jesus Christ are applied to them. But, from the application of these merits the reprobate are excluded. Hence, since they cannot appease the anger of God, and since their sin is eternal, their punishment also must be eternal. He shall not give to God his ransom. . . . And he shall labor forever.18 Hence Belluacensis says: “There sin can be forever punished, and can never be expiated;”19 for, according to St. Augustine, “there the sinner cannot repent.”20 Therefore the wrath of the Lord shall be always provoked against him. The people with whom the Lord is angry forever.21 Moreover, the damned, though God should wish to pardon them, are unwilling to be pardoned; for their will is obstinate and confirmed in hatred against God. And St. Jerome says that the reprobate “are insatiable in the desire of sinning.”22 Hence, because the damned refuse to be healed, their wounds are incurable. Why is my wound desperate, so as to refuse to be healed?23
Affections and Prayers.
Then, my Redeemer! if at this hour I were damned, as I have deserved, I should be obstinate in hatred against Thee, my God! who hast died for me. O God! what a hell should it be to hate Thee, who hast loved me so tenderly, who art infinite beauty, infinite goodness, and worthy of infinite love! Then if I were now in hell, I should be in such an Unhappy state, that I would not even wish for the pardon which Thou now offerest to me. My Jesus, I thank Thee for the mercy Thou hast shown me; and since I now can obtain pardon, I wish to love Thee. Thou offerest me pardon, and I ask it from Thee, and hope for it through thy merits. I am sorry for all the offences I have committed against Thee, O infinite Goodness! Pardon me, then. I love Thee with my whole soul. Ah, Lord! what evil hast Thou done me, that I should have to hate Thee forever as my enemy? And what friend have I ever had who has done and suffered so much for me as Thou, O my Jesus! hast done and suffered for me? Ah, do not permit me ever more to fall into enmity with Thee, and to lose Thy love. Take me out of life, sooner than permit this sovereign evil to befall me. O Mary! take me under thy protection, and do not permit me ever more to rebel against God and against thee.
Eternity is Unchangeable.
In this life death is greatly feared by sinners; but in hell it will be most ardently desired. Men shall seek death, and shall not find it; and they shall desire to die, and death shall fly from them.24 Hence St. Jerome has written: “O death, how sweet should you be to those to whom you have been so full of bitterness.”25 David says, that death will feast on the damned. Death shall feed upon them.26 In explaining this passage, St. Bernardine observes that as, in feeding, sheep eat the blades of grass, and leave the roots untouched; so death feeds on the damned: it kills them every moment, but leaves them life in order to continue to kill them by pains for all eternity. Thus, according to St. Gregory, the damned die every moment without ever dying. Delivered up to avenging flames, they will die always. A man who dies through pain is an object of pity to all who behold him. Perhaps the damned, too, experience commiseration from others? None; they die every moment, and have not, and never will have, any one to take compassion on them. The Emperor Zeno, being one day shut up in a pit, continually cried out: For pity’s sake, open this grave and release me. But no one heard him, and he was found dead, after having eaten the flesh off his arms. The damned cry out from the pit of hell, says St. Cyril of Alexandria, but no one comes to deliver them—no one feels compassion for them.27
And for how long will this their misery last? Forever, forever. In the spiritual exercises of Father Paul Segneri, written by Muratori, it is related that in Rome, a devil in the body of a man possessed, being asked how long he would remain in hell, began to beat his hand against a chair, and answered in a rage: Forever, forever! At hearing this great sermon of two words, forever, forever, many students of the Roman seminary, who were present, made a general confession, and changed their lives. Poor Judas! he has spent more than eighteen hundred years in hell, and his hell is still at its commencement. Poor Cain, he is in fire for more than five thousand eight hundred years, and his hell is at its beginning. Another devil was asked how long it was since he had been sent to hell. He answered, Yesterday. “Flow,” said the person who asked him, “could it be yesterday, when you are damned for more than five thousand years? He replied: Oh! if you knew what is meant by eternity, you would easily conceive how a thousand years, compared with it, are but a moment. If an angel said to one of the damned: You will leave hell, but only after the lapse of as many ages as there are drops of water in the ocean, leaves on the trees, or grains of sand in the sea; he would feel greater joy than a beggar would at hearing of his elevation to a throne. Yes; all these ages will pass away, they will be multiplied an infinite number of times, and hell will be at its commencement. Each of the damned would make this compact with God: Lord, increase my pain as much as Thou wishest, let it last as long as Thou pleasest; but put an end to it, and I am content. But this end will never take place. In hell, the trumpet of divine justice will sound nothing else but these words—forever, forever, never, never.
The damned will ask the devils what is the hour of the. night. Watchman, what of the night?28 When will it end? When will these trumpets, these shrieks, this stench, these flames, these torments cease? Their answer is never, never. And how long will they last? Forever, forever. Ah Lord! give light to so many blind Christians, who, when entreated not to damn themselves, say: If I go to hell, I must have patience. O God! they have not patience to bear the least cold, to remain in an overheated room, or to submit to a buffet on the cheek. And how can they have patience to remain in a sea of fire, trampled by the devils, and abandoned by God and by all, for all eternity!
Affections and Prayers.
Ah, Father of mercies! Thou dost not abandon him who seeks Thee. Thou hast not forsaken them that seek Thee, O Lord.29 I have hitherto turned my back upon Thee so often, and Thou hast not abandoned me: do not abandon me now that I seek Thee. I repent, O Sovereign Good! of having made so little account of Thy grace, which I have exchanged for nothing. Look at the wounds of Thy Son. Listen to his cries, which implore Thee to pardon me; and grant me pardon. O my Redeemer! remind me always of the pains Thou hast suffered for me, of the love Thou hast borne me, and of my ingratitude, by which I have so often deserved hell, that I may always bewail the injury I have done Thee, and that I may live always burning with Thy love. Ah, my Jesus! how can I but burn with Thy love, when I reflect that for so many years I ought to burn in hell, and continue to burn in it for all eternity; when I remember that Thou hast died in order to deliver me from it, and that Thou hast with so much mercy rescued me from that land of misery! Were I in hell, I should now hate Thee there, and should have to hate Thee forever: but now I love Thee, and will love Thee forever. Thou lovest me, and I also love Thee. Thou wilt love me forever unless I forsake Thee. Ah, my Saviour! save me from the misfortune of ever leaving Thee, and then do with me whatsoever Thou pleasest. I merit every punishment, and I accept every chastisement, that Thou mayest deliver me from the punishment of being deprived of Thy love. O Mary, my refuge! how often have I condemned myself to hell, and thou hast preserved me from it. Ah, deliver me now from sin, which alone can deprive me of the grace of God, and bring me to hell.

1“Cruciabuntur die ac nocte in sæcula sæculorum.” – Apoc. xx. 10.
2Discedite a me, maledicti, in ignem æternum. . . Et ibunt hi in supplicium æternum.” – Matt. xxv. 41, 46.
3“Pœnas dabunt in interitu æternas.” – 2 Thess. i. 9.
4“Omnis igne salietur.” – Mark, ix. 48.
5“Neque absorbeat me profundum, neque urgeat super me puteus os suum.” – Ps. lxviii. 16.
6Descensus erit, reditus non erit.
7“Quia, cum susceperit reos, claudetur sursum, et aperietur deorsum.” – De Epiph. et Inf. hom. 3.
8“Mortuo homine impio, non erit ultra spes.” – Prov. xi. 7.
9“Statuam contra faciem tuam.” – Ps. xlix. 21.
10“Alii in vitam æternam, et alii in opprobrium, ut videant semper.” – Dan. xii. 2.
11Pondus æternitatis sustinent.
12Hic ure, hic seca; hic non parcas, ut in æternum parcas.
13“Sagittæ tuæ transeunt, vox tonitrui tui in rota.” – Ps. lxxvi. 19.
14“Eduxi gladium meum de vagina sua irrevocabilem.” – Ezek. xxi. 5.
15“Non, quia homicidium in momento committitur, momentanea pœna punitur.” – 1. 2. q. 87, a. 3.
16“In omni peccato mortali infinita Deo contumelia irrogatur: infinitæ autem injuriæ infinita debetur pœna.” – T. ii. s. 12, a. 2, c. 2.
17Comp. Theol. p. 1, c. 183.
18“Non dabit Deo placationem suam; . . . laborabit in æternum.” – Ps. xlviii. 8, 9.
19“Culpa semper potent ibi puniri, et nunquam potent expiari.” – Spec. Mor. l. 2, p. 3, d. 3.
20Ibi peccator pœnitere non potest.
21“Cui iratus est Dominus in æternum.” – Mal. i. 4.
22Insatiabiles sunt in desiderio peccandi.
23“Factus est dolor perpetuus, et plaga desperabilis renuit curari.” – Jer. xv. 18.
24“Quærent mortem, et non invenient eam; et desiderabunt mori, et fugiet mors ab eis.” – Apoc. ix. 6.
25“O mors, quam dulcis esses, quibus tam amara fuisti!” – Apud. S. Bonnav. Sol. c. 3.
26“Mors depascet eos.” – Ps. xlviii. 15.
27“Lamentantur, et nullus eripit: plangunt, et nemo compatitur.” – Orat. de exitu anni.
28“Custos, quid de nocte?” – Isa. xxi. 11.
29“Non dereliquisti quærentes te, Domine.” – Ps. ix. 11.


Saturday, 17 July 2010

Preparation for Death - Consideration XXVI

The Pains of Hell.
“And these shall go into everlasting punishment.” – Matt, xxv. 46.
The Pain of Sense.
In committing sin, the sinner does two evils. He abandons God, the Sovereign Good, and turns to creatures. For My people have done two evils. They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living water, and have digged to themselves cisterns—broken cisterns—that can hold no water.1 Since, then, by turning to creatures the sinner offends God, he will be justly tortured in hell by the same creatures by fire, and by devils: in this punishment consists the pain of sense. But because his greatest guilt and the malice of his sin consists in turning his back on God, his principal torment, his hell, will be the pain of loss, or that pain arising from having lost God.
Let us first consider the pain of sense. It is of faith, that there is a hell. In the middle of the earth there is a prison reserved for the chastisement of rebels against God. What is this hell? It is what the glutton who was damned called a place of torments.2 A place of torments, where all the senses and powers of the damned will have their proper torment, and where, the more a person has offended God by any sense, the more he will be tortured in that sense. By what things a man sinneth, by the same also he is tormented.3 As much as she hath glorified herself and lived in delicacies, so much torments and sorrow give ye to her.Apoc. xviii. 7. The sight will be tormented with darkness. A land, says Job, that is dark, and covered with the mist of death.4 How pitiable the condition of a man who is shut up in a dark cave for forty or fifty years, or during his whole life! Hell is a dungeon closed up on every side, into which a ray of the sun, or of any other light, shall never enter. He shall never see the light.5 The fire of this world sends forth light; but the fire of hell is utterly dark. The voice of the Lord divided the fire.6 In explaining these words, St. Basil says, that the Lord will separate the light from the fire, so that this fire will burn, but will not illuminate. Albertus Magnus expounds them more briefly, and says that God “will divide the flame from the heat.”7 The very smoke that issues from that fire shall form a storm of darkness which, according to St. Jude, will blind the damned. To whom the storm of darkness is reserved forever.8 St. Thomas teaches that the damned have only the light which serves to increase their torments.9 In that glimmering light they will see the deformity of their associates, and of the devils, who will assume horrible forms in order to increase the terrors of the damned.
The sense of smell will also be tormented. How painful to be confined in a close room along with a putrid corpse! Out of their carcasses, says the Prophet Isaias, shall rise a stink.10 The damned must remain in the midst of so many millions of the reprobate, who, though forever alive to pain, are called carcasses on account of the stench which they send forth. St. Bonaventure says, that if the body of one of the damned were placed on this earth, it would, by its stench, be sufficient to cause the death of all men. Miserable fools! the greater the number of the damned in hell, the more insufferable will be their torments. “There,” says St. Thomas, “the society of the reprobate will cause, not a diminution, but an increase of misery.”11 Their sufferings are more intolerable on account of the stench, on account of the shrieks of the damned, and on account of the narrowness of the place. In hell, they will be one over the other, like sheep gathered together in the winter. They are, said David, laid in hell like sheep.12 They will be even like grapes pressed under the wine-press of God’s wrath. And he treadeth the wine-press of the fierceness of the wrath of God the Almighty.13 From this will arise the pain of immobility. Let them become immovable as a stone.14 Thus, in whatsoever position the damned will fall into hell after the last day, in that they must remain, without ever changing their posture, and without ever being able to move hand or foot, as long as God will be God.
The sense of hearing will be tormented by the unceasing howling and wailing of those miserable beings, who are sunk in an abyss of despair. The devils will torment the damned by continual noises. The sound of dread is always in his ears.15 How painful to a person longing for sleep to hear the groans of a sick man, the barking of a dog, or the screams of an infant! But, oh! how miserable the condition of the damned, Who must listen incessantly for all eternity to the clamor and cries of the companions of their torments! The damned will be tormented by a ravenous hunger. They shall suffer hunger like dogs.16 But they never will have a morsel of bread. Their thirst will be so great that all the waters of the ocean will not be able to quench it; but they will never be allowed a single drop. The rich glutton asked for a drop of water; but he has not as yet had it, and he never, never will have it.
Affections and Prayers.
Ah, my Lord! behold at Thy feet one who has so much despised Thy grace and Thy chastisements! Miserable should I be, O my Jesus! if Thou hadst not taken pity on me. How many years should I be in that fetid furnace; in which so many of my companions are now burning! Ah, my Redeemer! why does not this thought make me burn with Thy love? How can I ever again think of offending Thee? Ah, my Jesus! may I never more displease Thee. Strike me dead a thousand times rather than permit me ever again to insult Thee. Since Thou hast begun, complete the work. Thou hast taken me out of the abyss of so many sins, and hast so lovingly called me to love Thee. Ah! grant that I may spend for Thee all the time which Thou now givest me. How ardently should the damned desire a day or an hour of the time granted to me! And shall I continue to spend it in offending Thee? No, my Jesus! through the merits of that blood, which has hitherto delivered me from hell, do not permit it. I love Thee, O Sovereign Good! and because I love Thee I am sorry for having offended Thee. I wish never more to offend Thee, but to love Thee forever. Mary, my Queen and my Mother! pray to Jesus for me, and obtain for me the gift of perseverance and of his holy love.
The Fire of Hell.
The pain which most severely torments the senses of the damned arises from the fire of hell, which tortures the sense of touch. The vengeance on the flesh of the ungodly is fire and worms.17 Hence, in passing sentence, the Lord makes special mention of it. Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire.18 Even in this life, the pain of fire is the greatest of all torments; but according to St. Augustine, our fire, compared with the fire of hell, is but painted fire.19 St. Vincent Ferrer says, that in comparison with the fire of hell our fire is cold. The reason is, that the fire of this earth has been created for our use; but God has made the fire of hell purposely to torment the damned. As Tertullian remarks: “Fire which is made for the use of man in this world, is very different from that which is used for the justice of God.”20 The wrath of God lights up this avenging fire. A fire is kindled in my rage.21 Hence, the Prophet Isaias calls the fire of hell the spirit of heat. If the Lord shall wash away the filth of the daughters of Sion . . . by the spirit of burning.22 The damned will be sent, not to the fire, but into the fire. “Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire.” Thus, like a piece of wood in the furnace, they will be surrounded by fire. They will have an abyss of fire below, an abyss of fire above, and an abyss of fire on every side. If they touch, or see, or breathe, they touch, and see, and breathe nothing but fire. They will live in fire, like a fish in water. But this fire will not only surround the damned, but will also enter into their very bowels to torment them. Their bodies will become all fire. Thus, this fire will burn the bowels, the heart, the brain, the blood within the veins, and even the marrow within the bones. Each of the damned will be in himself a furnace of fire. Thou shalt make them as a furnace of fire.23
Some cannot bear to walk under a strong sun, or to remain in a close room before a large fire; they cannot endure a spark that flies from a candle; and still they fear not the devouring flames of hell. Which of you, says the Prophet Isaias, can dwell with devouring fire?24 As a wild beast devours a lamb, so the fire of hell devours the damned; but it devours them without ever causing death. “Fools,” says St., Peter Damian, addressing the unchaste, “continue, continue to indulge your flesh; a day will come when your impurities, like pitch, will nourish and increase within your bowels the flame which will torment you in hell.”25 St. Jerome says that this fire will bring with it all the pains and torments to which men are subject on this earth—pains in the sides, in the head, in the bowels, in the nerves. In this fire the damned will suffer even the pain of cold.26 Let him, says Job, pass from the snow waters to excessive heat.27 But we must always keep in mind, that all the torments of this earth are, as St. Chrysostom says, but the shadow of the pains of hell.
The powers of the soul will also have their proper torment. The damned will be tormented in the memory by the remembrance of the time which was given to them in this life, that they might save their souls, and which they spent in procuring their own damnation; by the remembrance of the graces which they have received from God, and of which they have not profited. They will be tormented in the understanding by thinking of the great good which they have lost in losing heaven and God, and that this loss is forever irreparable. In the will, by seeing that they will be refused whatsoever they ask. The desire of the wicked shall perish.28 The miserable beings will never have anything which they desire, and will be forever afflicted with the eternal torments which they abhor. They would wish to be rid of these torments, and to enjoy peace; but in these torments they will forever remain, and peace they will never find.
Affections and Prayers.
Ah, my Jesus! Thy blood and Thy death are my hope. Thou hast died to deliver me from eternal death. Ah, Lord! who hast partaken more of Thy merits than I, who have so often deserved hell? Ah! do not allow me to live any longer ungrateful to the great graces Thou hast bestowed upon me. Thou hast delivered me from the fire of hell, because Thou wishest me to burn, not in that tormenting fire, but with the sweet flames of Thy love. Assist me, then, that I may satisfy Thy desire. Were I now in hell, I could never more love Thee. But since I am able to love Thee, I wish to love Thee. I love Thee, O infinite Goodness! I love Thee, O my Redeemer! who hast loved me so tenderly. How have I been able to live so long in forgetfulness of Thee? I thank Thee for not having been forgetful of me. Hadst Thou forgotten me, I should now either be in hell or without sorrow for my sins. This sorrow which I feel in my heart for having offended Thee, and my desire to love Thee ardently, are gifts of Thy grace, which still assist me. I thank Thee for them, O my Jesus! I hope for the future to give Thee the remainder of my life. I wish to think only of serving and pleasing Thee. Remind me always of the hell I have deserved, and of the graces Thou hast bestowed upon me, and do not permit me ever again to turn my back upon Thee, and to condemn myself to that pit of torments. O Mother of God! pray for me a sinner. Thy intercession has delivered me from hell. Deliver me also, O my Mother, by thy prayers, from sin, which alone can again condemn me to hell.
The Pain of Loss.
But all these torments are nothing, compared with the pain of loss. Hell does not consist in the darkness, stench, shrieks, and fire; the pain which constitutes hell is, the pain of having lost God. “Let torments,” says St. Bruno, “be added to torments, and let them not be deprived of God.”29 And St. John Chrysostom says that a thousand hells are not equal to this pain.30 According to St. Augustine, if the damned enjoyed the vision of God, “they should feel no pain, and hell should be converted into a paradise.”31 To conceive some notion of this pain, consider that, should a person lose a jewel worth a hundred crowns, the loss would occasion great pain, but were the jewel worth two hundred crowns, his pain is doubled; and if it were worth four hundred crowns, the pain is still greater. In a word, the pain which he suffers increases in proportion to the value of what he has lost. What have the damned lost? They have lost God, who is an infinite good. Hence St. Thomas says that the pain of the damned is, in a certain manner, infinite.32
This pain is dreaded only by the saints. St. Ignatius of Loyola used to say: Lord, I am willing to bear every pain, but not the pain of being deprived of Thee. But because they live in the midst of darkness, sinners who are content to live for months and years without God do not understand this pain. However, they will know at death the great good which they lose. At its departure from this world, the soul, as St. Antonine says, instantly sees that it has been created for God.33 Hence it will suddenly rush forward to embrace its Sovereign Good: but, if it be in sin, God will cast it off. If a dog sees a hare, what efforts does he not make to break his chains and seize his prey. At its separation from the body, the soul is naturally drawn to God, but sin drags it away and sends it to hell, at a distance from him. Your iniquities, says the Prophet Isaias, have divided between you and your God.34 The entire, then, of the hell of the damned consists in that first word of the sentence of their condemnation—Depart from Me, you cursed. Go, Jesus Christ shall say; I do not wish you ever again to see my face. When Absalom heard that David condemned him never more to appear before him, he said: Tell my father either to permit me to see his face, or to put me to death.2 Kings, xiv. 24. To one of his grandees, whom he saw guilty of irreverence in the church, Philip II. said: “Do not dare ever again to appear in my presence.” So great was the pain which the nobleman felt, that, after having returned home, he died of grief. What will be the anguish of the reprobate at the hour of death, when God will say to him: Begone; I will never see you again! I will hide my face from thee; . . . all evils and afflictions shall find them.35 On the day of judgment Jesus Christ will say to the reprobate: You are no longer mine; I am no longer yours. Call his name not, my people; for you are not my people, and I will not be yours.36
With what pain does a son at the death of a father, or a wife at the death of a husband, say: My father, my husband, I shall never see you again! Ah! if we now heard the wailing of one of the damned, and asked him why he weeps so bitterly, his answer would be: I weep because I have lost God, and shall never see him more. Perhaps the miserable man can love God in hell, and can resign himself to his will? No, if he could do this, hell would not be hell. The unhappy being can never resign himself to the divine will. Neither can he love his God; he hates and will hate him forever; and his hell will consist in the conviction that God is an infinite good, and that he is compelled to hate him, while he sees that he is worthy of infinite love. When St. Catharine asked a devil who he was, he said: “I am that wicked wretch that is deprived of the love of God.”37 The damned will hate and curse God; and in cursing God, they will also curse the benefits he has conferred upon them; they will curse the benefits of creation, of redemption, of the sacraments, particularly the sacraments of baptism and penance, and, above all, the most holy sacrament of the altar. They will hate all the angels and saints, but especially their angel-guardians and their holy advocates, and above all the divine Mother. But they will principally hate the Three Divine Persons, and among them they will hate in a special manner the Son of God, who once died for their salvation; they will curse his wounds, his blood, his pains, and his death.
Affections and Prayers.
Ah, my God! Thou then art my supreme and infinite Good and I have so often voluntarily lost Thee! I knew that in committing sin I gave Thee great displeasure, and that I lost Thy grace; and with this knowledge I have consented to sin! Ah! if I did not see Thee, O Son of God, nailed to the cross in order to die for me, I should not have courage to ask or hope for pardon from Thee. Eternal Father! look not on me, but behold Thy beloved Son, who asks mercy for me; hear him, and pardon me. I ought at this moment to be in hell, without any hope of being ever more able to love Thee, or to recover Thy lost grace. My God! I am sorry above all things for the injury I have done Thee in renouncing Thy friendship, and despising Thy love for the miserable pleasures of this world. Oh! that I had died a thousand times, rather than have offered Thee so great an insult! How could I have been so blind and foolish! I thank Thee, O my Lord! for giving me time to repair the evil I have done. Since, through Thy mercy, I am not in hell, and can love Thee, O my God! I wish to love Thee. I will wait no longer to convert myself entirely to Thee. I love Thee, O infinite goodness! I love Thee, my life, my treasure, my love, my all. Remind me always, O Lord! of the love which Thou hast borne to me, and of the hell which I have deserved, that this thought may continually excite me to make acts of love, and to say always, I love Thee, I love Thee, I love Thee. O Mary, my Queen, my hope and my Mother, if I were in hell, I could never more love thee. I love thee, O my Mother! and in thee, after Jesus, I trust that I shall never again cease to love my God and thee. Assist me; pray to Jesus for me.

1“Duo enim mala fecit populus meus: me dereliquerunt, fontem equæ vivæ; et foderunt sibi cisternas, cisternas dissipatas, quæ continere non valent aquas.” – Jer. ii. 13.
2“In hunc locum tormentorum.” – Luke, xvi. 28.
3“Per quæ peccat quis, per hæc et torquetur.” – Wis. xi. 17.
4“Terram tenebrosam, et opertam mortis caligine.” – Job, x. 21.
5“Usque in æternum non videbit lumen.” – Ps. xiviii. 20.
6“Vox Domini intercedentis flammam ignis.” – Ps. xxviii. 7.
7Dividet a calore splendorem.
8“Quibus procella tenebrarum servata est in æternum.” – Jud. 13.
9“Quantum sufficit ad videndum illa quæ torquere possunt.” – Suppl, q. 97, a. 4.
10“De cadaveribus eorum ascendet fœtor.” – Isa. xxxiv. 3.
11Ibi miserorum societas, miseriam non minuet, sed augebit.
12“Sicut oves in inferno positi sunt.” – Ps. xlviii. 15.
13“Et ipse calcat torcular vini furoris iræ Dei.” – Apoc. xix. 15.
14“Fiant immobiles quasi lapis.” – Exod. xv. 16.
15“Sonitus terroris semper in auribus illius.” – Job, xv. 21.
16“Famem patientur ut canes.” – Ps. lviii. 15.
17“Vindicta carnis impii, ignis et vermis.” – Ecclus. vii. 19.
18“Discedite a me, maledicti, in ignem æternum.” – Matt. xxv. 41.
19In cujus comparatione, noster hic ignis depictus est.
20“Longe alius est ignis qui usui humano, alius qui Dei justitiæ deservit.” – Apolog. c. 48.
21“Ignis succensus est in furore meo.” – Jer. xv. 14.
22“Si abluerit Dominus sordes . . . in spiritu ardoris.” – Isa. iv. 4.
23“Pones eos ut clibanum ignis.” – Ps. xx. 10.
24“Quis potent habitare de vobis cum igne devorante?” – Isa. xxxiii. 14.
25“Veniet dies, imo nox, quando libido tua vertetur in picem, qua se perpetuus ignis in tuis visceribus nutriat.” – De Cœlib. sac. c. 3.
26In uno igne omnia supplicia sentiunt in inferno peccatores.
27“Ad nimium calorem transeat ab aquis nivium.” – Job, xxiv. 19.
28“Desiderium peccatorum peribit.” – Ps. cxi. 10.
29“Addantur tormenta tormentis, ac Deo non priventur.” – Serm. de jud. fin.
30“Si mille dixeris gehennas. nihil par dies illius doloris.” – Ad pop Ant. hom. 48.
31“Nullam pœnam sentirent, continuo infernus converteretur in paradisum.” – De Tripl. Hab. c. 4.
32“Pœna damnati est infinita, quia est amissio boni infiniti.” – 1. 2. q. 87, a. 4.
33“Separata autem anima a corporis gravamine, intelligit Deum summum bonum et quia ad illum est creata.” – P. 4, t. 14, c. 5, § 10.
34“Iniquitates vestræ diviserunt inter vos et Deum vestrum.” – Isa. lix. 2.
35“Abscondam faciem meam ab eo, et invenient eum omnia mala.” – Deut. xxxi. 27.
36“Quia vos non populus meus. et ego non ero vester.” – Os. i. 9.
37Ego sum ille nequam privatus amore Dei.


Thursday, 15 July 2010

Preparation for Death - Consideration XXV

The General Judgment.
“The Lord shall be known when He executeth judgments.” – Ps. ix. 17.
The General Resurrection.
At present there is no one in this world more despised than Jesus Christ. There is more respect shown to a peasant than to the Lord; for we are afraid to insult a peasant, or provoke him to anger, lest he should seek revenge. But insults are offered to God, and are repeated as wantonly as if he could not avenge them whenever he pleases. The wicked, says Job, looked upon the Almighty as if He could do nothing.1 Therefore the Redeemer has appointed a day of general judgment, and which is called in the Scripture, the day of the Lord; on which Jesus Christ will make known the greatness of his majesty. The Lord shall be known when He executeth judgments.2 Hence that day is called, not a day of mercy and pardon, but a day of wrath, a day of tribulation and distress, a day of calamity and misery.3 Yes, for then the Lord will come to repair the honor which sinners have sought to take from him on this earth. Let us examine how the judgment of this great day will take place.
The coming of the Judge will be preceded by fire. A fire shall go before Him.4 Fire will descend from heaven, and shall burn the earth and all things upon the earth. The earth, and the works which are in it, shall be burnt up.5 Thus palaces. churches, villas, cities, kingdoms, all must be reduced to one heap of ashes. This house, defiled by sins, must be purified by fire. Behold the end of all the riches, pomps, and pleasures of this earth! After the death of all men, the trumpet will sound, and all will rise again.6 “As often,” says Jerome, “as I consider the day of judgment, I tremble; that trumpet appears always to sound in my ears, Arise, ye dead, and come to judgment.7 At the sound of this trumpet, the souls of the just will descend to be united to the bodies with which they served God in this life; and the unhappy souls of the damned will come up from hell to take possession of the accursed bodies with which they offended God.
Oh! how great will be the difference between the bodies of the just and the bodies of the damned! The just will appear whiter, more beautiful, and more resplendent than the sun. Then the just shall shine as the sun.8 Happy he who knows how to mortify his flesh in this life by refusing it forbidden pleasures; and who, to keep it under greater check, imitates the saints, by denying it even lawful gratifications, and by treating it with severity and contempt. Oh! how great wilt then be the happiness of those who will have practised mortification of the flesh! We may estimate it from the words which St. Peter of Alcantara addressed after death to St. Teresa: “O happy penance, which merited for me so great glory.”9 But, on the other hand, the bodies of the reprobate will appear black and hideous, and will send forth an intolerable stench. Oh! how great the pain of the damned in taking possession of their bodies! Accursed body, the soul will say, to indulge you, I have brought myself to perdition. And the body will say: Accursed soul! why have you, who had the use of reason, allowed me the pleasures which have merited for you and me the eternal torments of hell?
Affections and Prayers.
Ah, my Jesus and my Redeemer, who will be one day my judge, pardon me before that day arrives. Turn not away Thy face from me.10 Thou art now a Father to me: and, like a father, receive into Thy friendship a son who casts himself with sorrow at Thy feet. My Father, I ask pardon. I have offended Thee; I have unjustly forsaken Thee. Thou didst not deserve such treatment from me. I repent of it; I am sorry for it with my whole heart. Turn not away Thy face from me; do not cast me off as I deserved. Remember the blood which Thou hast shed for me, and have pity on me. My Jesus, I wish for no other judge than Thee. “I willingly,” said St. Thomas of Villanova, “submit to the judgment of him who died for me, and who, that he might not condemn me, has condemned himself to the cross.” St. Paul has said the same. Who is he that shall condemn? Christ Jesus, that died.11 My Father, I love Thee, and, for the future, I will never more depart from Thy feet. Forget the injuries I have done Thee, and give me a great love for Thy goodness. I desire to love Thee more than I have offended Thee; but if Thou dost not assist rue, I shall not be able to love Thee. Assist me, O my Jesus! make me always grateful to Thy love, that on the day of judgment I may be found in the valley of Josaphat, among the number of Thy lovers. O Mary, my Queen and my advocate! assist me now; for if I am lost, thou wilt not be able to help me on that day. Thou prayest for all; pray also for one who glories in being thy devoted servant, and who places so much confidence in thee.
The Valley of Josaphat.
After their resurrection, all men will be told by the angels to go to the valley of Josaphat, that there they may be judged, Nations, nations, in the valley of destruction; for the day of the Lord is near.12 When the whole human race will be assembled, the angels will come and separate the reprobate from the elect. The angels shall go out, and shall separate the wicked from among the just.13 The just will stand on the right, and the wicked will be driven to the left. How great would be the pain that you would feel at being driven away from a party of pleasure, or at being expelled from the church! But how much greater will be the pain of those who are banished from the society of the saints! “What think you,” says, the author of the Imperfect Work, “must be the confusion of the wicked, when, after being separated from the just, they will be abandoned?”14 This confusion alone would, according to St. Chrysostom, be sufficient to constitute a hell for the reprobate. The son will be separated from the father, the husband from the wife, and the master from the servant. One shall be taken and one shall be left.15 Tell me, my brother, what place do you think will fall to you? Would you wish to be found at the right hand? If you do, abandon the life which leads to the left.
In this life the princes of the earth and the worldly rich are deemed fortunate, but the saints, who live in poverty and humiliations, are despised. O faithful souls who love God, be not troubled at seeing yourselves in contempt. and tribulations on this earth: Your sorrow shall be turned into joy.16 On the day of judgment you will be called truly fortunate, and will have the honor of being declared as belonging to the court of Jesus Christ. Oh! how beautiful will then be the appearance of St. Peter of Alcantara, who was despised as an apostate! of St. John of God, who was treated as a fool! of St. Peter Celestine, who, after having renounced the papal throne, died in a prison! Oh! how great will then he the honors of so many martyrs who have been torn to pieces by their executioners! Then shall every man have praise from God.17 But on the other hand, how horrible will be the appearance of Herod, of Pilate, of Nero, and so many other great men of this earth, who are now damned! O lovers of the world, in the valley, in the valley I expect you. There, without doubt you will change your sentiments, there you will weep over your folly. Miserable beings, who for the sake of making a figure for a short time on the theatre of this world, will afterward have to act the part of reprobate in the tragedy of judgment. The elect will then be placed on the right; according to the apostle, they will, for their greater glory, be raised in the air above the clouds, and will go with the angels to meet Jesus Christ descending from heaven. We shall be taken up together with them to meet Christ into the air.18 But the damned, like so many goats destined for the slaughter, will be compelled to remain at the left, waiting for the Judge, who will publicly pronounce sentence of condemnation against all his enemies.
But behold the heavens are already opened, the angels come to assist at the Judgment, carrying the symbols of the Passion of Jesus Christ. “When,” says St. Thomas, “the Lord comes to judge, the sign of the cross and the other emblems of his passion shall be exhibited.”19 The cross especially will appear. And then, says the Redeemer, shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn.20 Oh! says Cornelius à Lapide, how great, at the sight of the cross, will be the wailing of sinners who, during, life, disregarded their own salvation, which the Son of God purchased at so dear a price! Then, says St. Chrysostom, “shall the nails complain of thee; the wounds, the cross of Christ shall speak against thee.”21 The holy apostles and all their imitators will act as assessors at the general judgment, and shall, together with Jesus Christ, judge the nations. The just shall shine. . . . They shall judge nations.22 Mary, the Queen of angels and saints, will also come to assist at the judgment. Lastly, the eternal Judge will come seated on a throne of majesty and light. And they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with much: power and majesty.23 At their presence, says the prophet Joel, the people shall he in grievous pains.24 The sight of Jesus Christ will console the elect; but in the reprobate it will excite more pain than hell itself. “It would,” says St. Jerome, “be easier to bear the pains of hell than the presence of the Lord.”25 St. Teresa used to say: “My Jesus, afflict me with every pain, but do not allow me to see Thy countenance enraged against me on that day.” And St. Basil says, “This confusion surpasses all torture.”26 Then will be verified the prediction of St John, that the damned will call upon the mountains to fall upon them, and to hide them from the sight of an angry judge. And they shall say to the mountains and rocks: Fall upon us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.27
Affections and Prayers.
O my dear Redeemer! O Lamb of God, who hast come into the world, not to punish, but to pardon sins; ah! pardon me immediately: pardon me before the arrival of that day on which Thou wilt judge me. Then the sight of Thee, O divine Lamb! who hast borne with me so long and with so much patience, should, if I were lost, be the hell of hells. Ah! I say again, pardon me soon; draw me by Thy merciful hand from the abyss into which my sins have cast me. I repent, O sovereign Good! of having offended Thee, and of having offended Thee so grievously. I love Thee, my judge, who hast loved me so tenderly. Ah! through the merits of Thy death, grant me a great grace, which will transform me from a sinner into a saint. Thou hast promised to hear all who pray to Thee. Cry to me and I will hear thee.28 I do not. ask earthly goods: I ask Thy grace. Thy love, and nothing else. Hear me, O my Jesus! through the love which Thou didst bear to me when Thou didst die on the cross for my salvation. My beloved Judge, I am a criminal, but a criminal who loves Thee more than he does himself. Have pity on me. Mary, my Mother! come to my aid, and come immediately: now is the time that thou canst assist me. Thou didst not abandon me when I lived in forgetfulness of thee and of God; come to my relief now that I am resolved to serve thee always. and never more to offend my Lord. O Mary! after Jesus, thou art my hope.
The Eternal Sentence.
But, behold! the judgment already begins. The books, which shall be the consciences of each individual, are opened. The judgment sat, and the books were opened.29 The witnesses against the reprobate will be—first, the devils, who, according to St. Augustine, will say: “Most just God, declare him to be mine who was unwilling to be yours.”30 Secondly, they will be their own consciences: Their own conscience bearing witness to them.31 The very walls of the house in which they have offended God will bear testimony, and will cry for vengeance against them. The stone shall cry out of the wall.32 Finally, the Judge himself, who has been present at all the insults offered to him, will give evidence against the sinner. I am the Judge and the witness, saith the Lord.33 St. Paul says, that then the Lord will bring to light the hidden things of darkness.34 He will make known to all men the most secret and shameful sins of the reprobate, which they concealed even in the tribunal of confession. I will discover thy shame to thy face.35 The Master of the Sentences, along with other authors, is of opinion that the sins of the elect will not be manifested; but will, according to the words of David, be covered: Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.36 But St. Basil teaches that with a single glance all will see, as in a picture, the sins of the damned. If, says St. Thomas (De Hum. chr. a. 25), in the garden of Gethsemane, at the words of Christ, “I am He,” the soldiers who came to take him prisoner fell prostrate on the ground, what will be the condition of the damned when, sitting in judgment, he will say to them: Behold, I am He whom you have so much despised?
But now comes the sentence. Jesus Christ will first turn to the elect, and address them in these consoling words: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.37 So great was the consolation which St. Francis of Assisi felt when he learned by revelation that he was predestined, that he could not contain himself. How great will be the joy of the elect in hearing the Judge say to him: Come, blessed children, come to a kingdom; for you there are no more pains, no more fears; you are and shall be saved forever. I bless the blood which I have shed for you, and I bless the tears which you have shed for your sins. Let us ascend into Paradise, where we shall remain together for all eternity The most holy Mary will also bless her servants, and will invite them with her to heaven. And thus, singing Allelujas, the elect will enter heaven in triumph, to possess, to praise, and to love God forever. But on the other hand, the reprobate, turning to Jesus Christ, will say to him: What will become of us? Since, the Judge will say, you have renounced and despised my grace, depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire.38 Depart; begone from Me; I wish neither to see nor to hear you ever more. You cursed, go, and since you have despised my blessing, go accursed. And where, O Lord, will they go? Into fire, into hell, to burn both in soul and in body. And for how many years, or for how many ages? Into everlasting fire; for all eternity; as long as God shall be God. After this sentence, says St. Ephrem, the reprobate will take leave of the angels, of the saints, of relatives, and of the divine Mother. “Farewell, ye just! farewell, O cross! farewell, O paradise! fathers and children, for we shall never see any of you again! farewell, O Mary, Mother of God!”39 Then, in the middle of that valley, a pit will be opened, into which the devils and the damned will fall. O God! they will see those gates closed, never to be opened, never, never for all eternity. O accursed sin, to what a melancholy end will you one day lead so many poor souls! O unhappy souls, to whom this unhappy end is reserved!
Affections and Prayers.
Ah, my Saviour and my God! what sentence shall I receive on that day? If, O my Jesus! Thou now demandest an account of my life, what could I say to Thee but that I deserve a thousand hells? Yes, it is true, O my divine Redeemer! I deserve a thousand hells but remember that I love Thee, and that I love Thee more than myself: and for the insults I have committed against Thee, I feel so great a sorrow, that I would be content to have suffered every evil rather than have offended Thee. Thou, O my Jesus! condemnest obstinate sinners, but not those who repent and wish to love Thee. Behold me penitent at Thy feet; make me feel that Thou pardonest me. But this Thou hast declared by the mouth of Thy prophet. “Turn ye to me, saith the Lord of Hosts, and I will turn to you.” (Zac. i. 3). I give up all things; I renounce all the pleasures and goods of this world; I turn to Thee, and embrace Thee. O my beloved Redeemer! Ah! receive me into Thy heart, and there inflame me with Thy holy love; but inflame me in such a manner, that I shall never again think of separating from Thee. O my Jesus! save me. and let my salvation consist in loving Thee always, and in singing Thy mercies forever. The mercies of the Lord I will sing forever.40 Mary, my hope, my refuge, and my Mother, assist me, and obtain for me holy perseverance. No one has been lost who has had recourse to thee. To thee I recommend myself: have pity on me.

1“Et quasi nihil posset facere Omnipotens, æstimabant eum.” – Job, xxii. 17.
2“Cognoscetur Dominus judicia faciens.” – Ps. ix. 17.
3“Dies iræ, dies tribulationis et angustiæ, dies calamitatis et miseriæ.” – Soph. i. 15.
4“Ignis ante ipsum præcedet.” – Ps. xcvi. 3.
5“Terra et quæ in ipsa sunt opera exurentur.” – 2 Peter, iii. 10.
6“Canet enim tuba, et mortui resurgent.” – 1 Cor. xv. 52.
7Quoties diem judicii considero, contremisco; semper videtur illa tuba insonare auribus meis: Surgite mortui, venite ad judicium.
8“Tunc justi fulgebunt sicut sol.” – Matt. xiii. 43.
9“O felix pœnitentia, quæ tantam mihi promeruit gloriam.” – In ejus off. lect. 6.
10“Non avertas faciem tuam a me.” – Ps. xxvi. 9.
11“Quis est qui condemnet? Christus Jesus, qui mortuus est pro nobis.” – Rom. viii. 34.
12“Populi, populi, in valle concisionis; quia juxta est dies Domini.” – Joel, iii. 14.
13“Exibunt angeli, et separabunt malos de medio justorum.” – Matt. xiii. 49.
14“Quomodo putas impios confundendos, quando, segregatis justis, fuerint derelicti!” – In Matth. hom. 54.
15“Unus assumetur, et unus relinquetur.” – Matt. xxiv. 40.
16“Tristitia vestra vertetur in gaudium.” – John, xvi. 20.
17“Tunc laus erit unicuique a Deo.” – 1 Cor. iv. 5.
18“Rapiemur cum illis in nubibus obviam Christo in aera.” – 1 Thess. iv. 16.
19“Veniente Domino ad judicium, signum Crucis et alia Passionis indicia demonstrabuntur.” – Comp. theol. p. 1, c. 244.
20“Tunc parebit signum Filii hominis; et tunc plangent omnes tribus terræ.” – Matt. xxiv. 30.
21Clavi de te conquerentur, cicatrices contra te loquentur, crux Christi contra te perorabit.
22“Fulgebunt justi. . . . Judicabunt nationes.” – Wis. iii. 7, 8.
23“Et videbunt Filium hominis venientem in nubibus cœli, cum virtute multa et majestate.” – Matt. xxiv. 30.
24“A facie ejus cruciabuntur populi.” – Joel, ii. 6.
25Damnatis melius esset inferni pœnas. quam Domini præesentiam, ferre.
26Superat omnem pœnam confusio ista.
27“Dicunt montibus et petris: Cadite super nos, et abscondite nos a facie sedentis super thronum, et ab ira Agni.” – Apoc. vi. 16.
28“Clama ad me, et exaudiam te.” – Jer. xxxiii. 3.
29“Judicium sedit, et libri aperti sunt.” – Dan. vii. 10.
30“Æquissime Judex, judica esse meum, qui tuus esse noluit.” – De Sal, Doc. c. 62.
31“Testimonium recidente illis conscientia ipsorum.” – Rom. ii. 15.
32“Lapis de pariete clamabit.” – Hab. ii. 11.
33“Ego sum Judex et testis, dicit Dominus.” – Jer. xxix. 23.
34“Illuminabit abscondita tenebrarum.” – 1 Cor. iv. 5.
35“Revelabo pudenda tua in facie tua.” – Nah. iii. 5.
36“Beati, quorum remissæ sunt iniquitates, et quorum tecta sunt peccata.” – Ps. xxxi. 1.
37“Venite, benedicti Patris mei. possidete paratum vobis regnum a constitutione mundi.” – Matt. xxv. 34.
38“Discedite a me, maledicti, in ignem æternum.” – Matt. xxv. 41.
39“Valete, Justi! vale, Crux! vale. Paradise! valete. patres ac filii! nullum si quidem vestrum visuri sumus ultra. Vale, tu quoque, Dei Genitrix, Maria!” – De Variis Torm. inf.
40“Misericordias Domini in æternum cantabo.” – .Ps. ixxxviii. 2.


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