Friday, 9 July 2010

Preparation for Death - Consideration XXIV

The Particular Judgment.
“We must all be manifested before the judgment-seat of Christ.” – 2 Cor. v. 10.
The Guilty Soul before its Judge.
Consider the appearance, the accusation, the examination, and the sentence. With regard to the appearance of the soul before its Judge, it is the common opinion of theologians, that the particular judgment takes place at the very moment of death; and that on the very spot where the soul is separated from the body, it is judged by Jesus Christ, who will not send, but will come himself to judge it according to its works. At what hour you think not the Son of man will come.1 “He will,” says St. Augustine, “Come in love to the good, in terror to the wicked.”2 Oh! how great will be the terror of the soul the first time it sees the Redeemer, and sees his countenance full of wrath! Who, says the prophet Nahum, stand before the face of His indignation?3 This thought made Father Louis da Ponte tremble so as to shake the cell in which he lay. Hearing the Dies Iræ sung, and reflecting on the terror of the soul when it is presented before the tribunal of Jesus Christ, the venerable P. Juvenal Ancina took, and afterward executed, the resolution of forsaking the world. The sight of the wrath of the Judge will announce the sentence. The wrath of the King is as messengers of death.4 St. Bernard says that the soul will suffer more in seeing the indignation of Jesus Christ, than in hell itself.5 When presented before an earthly judge, criminals have been known to perspire with a cold perspiration. Such was the confusion which Piso felt at the thought of appearing as a criminal before the senate, that he killed himself. How great is the pain of a child, or of a vassal, in appearing before an angry parent or an enraged sovereign! Oh, how much greater will be the pain and confusion of the soul when it beholds Jesus Christ enraged against it for the insults which it offered to him during life! They shall look upon me whom they have pierced.6 The soul will see in wrath the Lamb that bore with it so patiently during life, and that there is no hope of appeasing his anger. This shall make the soul call upon the mountains to fall upon it and to hide it from the fury of the wrathful Lamb.7 Speaking of judgment, St. Luke says: Then they shall see the Son of Man.8 Oh! what pain will the sight of the judge in the form of man excite in the soul of the sinner! The sight of a Man-God who died for his salvation will upbraid him with his ingratitude. When the Saviour ascended into heaven, the angels said to the disciples: This Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come as you have seen Him going into heaven.9
With the same wounds with which he ascended into heaven, Jesus Christ will come to judge the soul. “Great joy of the beholders,” says the Abbot Rupert, “great terror of those who are in expectation.”10 The wounds of the Redeemer will console the just and terrify the wicked. When Joseph said to his brothers, I am Joseph, whom you sold, the Scripture tells us that, through fear, they were silent and unable to utter a word.11 His brethren could not answer him, being struck with exceeding great fear. Now what answer will the sinner make to Jesus Christ? Will he dare to ask mercy when he must first render an account of his abuse of the mercy which he has received? “With what face,” says Eusebius Emissenus, “will you, who are to be first judged for contempt of mercy, ask for mercy?”12 What, then, will become of him? Where, says St. Augustine, will he fly? He will behold an angry judge above; hell open below; on one side his own sins accusing him; on the other, the devils ready to inflict chastisement; and within, the remorse of his conscience. “Above shall be an enraged Judge; below, a frightful chaos; on the right, sins accusing him; on the left, the devils dragging him to punishment; within, a burning conscience: beset in this manner, whither will the sinner fly!”13
Affections and Prayers.
O my Jesus! I will always call Thee Jesus. Thy name consoles and encourages me, because it reminds me that Thou art my Saviour, Who didst die for my salvation, Behold me at Thy feet. I acknowledge that I have deserved hell as often as I have offended Thee by mortal sin. I am unworthy of pardon, but Thou hast died to merit pardon for me. Pardon me, then, immediately, O my Jesus! before Thou comet to judge me. I shall not then be able to ask pardon: I can now ask it from Thee, and I hope for it. Thy wounds will then fill me with terror, but now they give me confidence. My dear Redeemer! I am sorry above all things for having offended Thy infinite goodness. I purpose to submit to every pain, every loss, rather than forfeit Thy grace. I love Thee with my whole heart. Have pity on me. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy.” O Mary, Mother of mercy! obtain for me a great sorrow for my sins, pardon, and perseverance in thy divine love. I love thee, O my queen, and trust in thee.
Nothing will Remain Hidden.
Consider the accusation and scrutiny: The judgment sat and the books were opened.14 There will be two books, the Gospel and conscience. In the Gospel will be read what the accused should have done, and in his conscience what he has done. “Each individual,” says St. Jerome, “will see what he has done.”15 In the balance of divine justice, not riches nor dignities, nor nobility, but works only, will have weight. Thou art weighed in the balance, said Daniel to Balthasar, and art found wanting.16 “Neither his gold,” says Father Alvarez, “nor his wealth, but the king alone, is weighed.”17 The accusers will then come forward; and first of all the devil. “The devil,” says St. Augustine, “will be at hand, and will recite the words of your profession. He will charge us before our face with what we have done, he will state the day and the hour in which we have sinned.”18 He will recite the words of your profession—that is, he will bring forward the promises we have made and afterward violated: he will recount all our sins, pointing to the day and hour in which they were committed. According to St. Cyprian, he will then say to the Judge, “I have suffered neither stripes nor scourges for these men.”19 I have suffered nothing for this ungrateful sinner; and, to become my slave, he has forsaken you, who have died for his salvation: he therefore belongs to me. Their angel guardians will also, as Origen says, accuse sinners; each of them will say: I have labored so many years for the salvation of that man, but he has despised my admonitions. Thus “his very friends will then despise him.”20 The very walls within which he sinned shall bear witness against the sinner. The stone shall cry out of the wall.21 His own conscience will accuse him. Their conscience, says St. Paul, bearing witness to them . . . in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men.22 Their very sins, says St. Bernard, will speak. and say, “You have made us; we are your works; we shall note desert you.”—Lib. Med. cap. ii. Finally, according to St. Chrysostom, the wounds of Jesus Christ will accuse the sinner; “the nails shall complain of thee, the wounds and the cross of Christ shall speak against thee.” The examination will now begin.
I, says the Lord, will search Jerusalem with lamps.23 The lamp, says Mendozza, penetrates every corner of the house. In explaining the words with lamps, Cornelius a Lapide says, that God shall then place before the sinner the examples of the saints, all the lights and inspirations bestowed upon him during his life, and all the years that had been given him that he might do good. He hath called against me the time.24 The sinner shall have to render an account of every glance of the eye. According to the prophet Malachi, the Lord shall purify the sons of Levi, and shall refine them as gold.25 As gold is refined by removing the dross, so our good works, confessions and communions will be subjected to a severe examination. When I shall take a time, I will judge justices.26 In fine, St. Peter tells that at judgment, the just will scarcely be saved. If the just man shall scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?27 If the sinner must answer for every idle word, what account will he have to give for consenting to so many bad thoughts, for uttering so many obscene words? Speaking of the authors of scandal, who have robbed him of so many souls, the Lord says: I will meet them as a bear that is robbed of her whelps.28 With regard to works, the Judge will say: Give her of the fruit of her hands.29 Reward him according to the works which he has performed.
Affections and Prayers.
Ah, my Jesus! wert Thou now to reward me according to my works, hell would be my lot. O God how often have I myself written the sentence of my condemnation to that place of torments! I thank Thee for the patience with which Thou hast borne me so long. O God! were I now obliged to appear before Thy judgment-seat. what account should I have to render of my past life! Enter not into judgment with Thy servant. Ah Lord! wait for me a little longer, do not judge me yet. Wert Thou now to judge me, what should become of me? Wait for me, since Thou hast treated me with so many mercies hitherto, grant me this new favor, infuse into my heart a great sorrow for my sins. I am sorry, O infinite Good! for having so often despised Thee. I love Thee above all things. Eternal Father! pardon me for the love of Jesus Christ; and through his merits, grant me holy perseverance. My Jesus! I hope for all things from Thy blood. Most holy Mary, in thee I trust. “Turn, then, O most gracious advocate, thy eyes of mercy toward us.” Behold my miseries, and have pity on me.
The Sentence.
In fine, to obtain eternal life, the soul must be found, at judgment, to have led a life conformable to the life of Jesus Christ. Whom he foreknew, he predestinated to be made conformable to the image of his Son.30 It was this that made Job tremble. What shall I do when God shall rise to judge me and when he shall examine, what shall I answer him?31 Philip II, rebuking a domestic for having told him a lie, said to him: Is it thus you deceive me? The domestic went home, and died of grief. What will the sinner do? what answer will he make to Jesus Christ, his Judge? He will, like the man in the Gospel, who came to the feast without the nuptial garment; remain silent, because he will not know what to answer. His very sins will close the sinner’s mouth. All iniquity shall stop her mouth.32 St. Basil says that the sinner will then suffer more from shame than from the very fire of hell.33
Finally, the Judge will pass sentence. Depart from Me ye cursed into everlasting fire.34 Oh! what an awful thunder-clap will that sentence be to the sinner! “Oh! how frightfully,” says Denis, the Carthusian, “will that thunder resound!”35 “He,” says St. Anselm, “that does not tremble at such thunder, sleeps not, but is dead.”36 Eusebius writes, that the terror of sinners at hearing the sentence of their condemnation, will be so great, that, if they could, they would die again.37 “The wicked shall be seized with such dismay at the sight of the Judge pronouncing sentence, that, were they not immortal, they should die a second time.” There is then no more time for prayer, no more intercessors whom the sinner can invoke. “There,” says St. Thomas of Villanova, “there is no opportunity of praying; there no intercessor, no friend, no father, shall assist.”38 To whom will the sinner then have recourse? Is it to God, whom he has so much despised? “Who,” says St. Basil, “shall deliver you? Is it that God whom you have insulted?”39 Perhaps he may have recourse to the saints, or to Mary? No: for then the stars—that is, his holy advocates—shall fall from heaven, and the moon, which represents Mary, shall not give her light.40 “Mary,” says St. Augustine, “will fly from the gate of heaven.”41
“O God! with what indifference,” exclaims St. Thomas of Villanova, “do we listen to persons speaking on judgment! We appear to feel as little as if the sentence of condemnation could not fall upon ourselves, or as if we were not to be judged.42 And is it not,” says the same saint, “great folly to entertain security in so perilous an affair.”43 My brother, St. Augustine admonishes you not to say: Will God really send me to hell?44 Say it not, says the holy Doctor; for even the Jews did not persuade themselves that they should be exterminated. So many of the damned did not believe that they would be cast into hell, but afterward the final vengeance came upon them. An end is come, the end is come. . . . Now I will accomplish My anger in thee, and will judge thee.45 And thus, as St. Augustine says, the same will also happen to you. “The day of judgment will come, and you shall find the threats of God verified.”46 At present it depends on us to choose whatever sentence we please. It is in our power, says St. Eligius, to determine the character of the sentence which we shall receive. What then must we do? We must adjust our accounts before judgment. Before judgment prepare thee justice.47 St. Bonaventure says that, to escape the danger of failing in business, prudent merchants frequently review and settle their accounts. The Judge may be appeased before judgment, but not during judgment,” says St. Augustine.48 Let us then say with St. Bernard: “I desire to present myself before Thee already judged, and not to be judged.”49 O my Judge, I wish to be judged and punished during life, which is a time of mercy and pardon; for after death will be the time of justice.
Affections and Prayers.
My God! if I do not appease Thee now, there will then be no more time for turning away Thy anger. But how shall I, who have so often despised Thy friendship for miserable beastly pleasures, be able to appease Thy wrath? I have repaid with ingratitude Thy immense love. How can a creature ever make sufficient satisfaction for having offended the Creator? Ah, my Lord! I thank Thee, for giving me in Thy mercy a means of appeasing Thy anger and satisfying Thy justice. I offer Thee the blood and death of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, and behold! I see a superabundant atonement and satisfaction made to Thee. To appease Thy anger, my repentance is also necessary. Yes, my God! I repent with my whole heart of all the injuries I have done Thee. Judge me now, O my Redeemer! I detest above all things all the offences I have offered to Thee. I love Thee with my whole heart and above all things, and I purpose to love Thee always, and to die rather than ever offend Thee again. Thou hast promised to pardon all who repent. Ah! judge me now, and absolve me from my sins. I accept the punishment which I deserve, but reinstate me in Thy grace, and preserve me in it till death. Such is my hope. O Mary, my Mother! I thank thee for all the mercies which thou hast obtained for me. Ah! continue to protect me to the end.

1“Qua hora non putatis, Filius hominis veniet.” – Luke, xii. 40.
2“Veniet vobis in amore, impiis in tremore.” – Serm. 181. E. B. App.
3“Ante faciem indignationis ejus, quis stabit?” – Nahum, i. 6.
4“Indignatio regis, nuntii mortis.” – Prov. xvi. 14.
5Mallet esse in inferno.
6“Videbunt in quem transfixerunt.” – John, xix. 37.
7“(Montes), cadite super nos, et abscondite nos ab ira Agni.” – Apoc. vi. 16.
8“Tunc videbunt Filium hominis.” – Luke, xxi, 27.
9“Hic Jesus, qui assumptus est a vobis in cœlum, sic veniet, quemadmodum vidistis eum euntem in cœlum.” – Acts, i. 11.
10“Grande gaudium intuentium, grandis timor expectantium.” – De Op. Sp. S. l. 9, c. 8.
11“Ego sum Joseph, quem vendidistis. . . . Non poterant respondere fratres, nimio terrore perterriti.” – Gen. xlv. 3.
12Qua fronte misericordiam petes, primum de misericordim contemptu judicandus?
13“Superius erit Judex iratus, inferius horrendum chaos, a dextris peccata accusantia, a sinistris dæmonia ad supplicium trahentia, intus conscientia urens; quo fugiet peccator sic comprehensus.” – Ap. S. Bonav. Diæt. sal. t. 9.
14“Judicium sedit et libri aperti sunt.” – Dan. vii. 10.
15Videbit unusquisque quod fecit.
16 “Appensus es in statera, et inventus es minus habens.” – Dan. v. 27.
17Non aurum, non opes, in stateram veniunt; solus rex appensus est.
18“Præsto erit diabolus ante tribunal Christi, et recitabuntur verba professionis nostræ: objiciet nobis in faciem quidquid fecimus, in qua die peccavimus, in quo loco.” – De Sal. Doc. c. 62.
19“Ego pro istis, nec alapas accepi, nec flagella sustinui.” – De. Op. et Eleem.
20“Omnes amici ejus spreverunt eam.” – Lam. i. 2.
21“Lapis de pariete clamabit “ – Hab. ii. 11.
22“Testimonium reddente illis conscientia ipsorum . . . in die, cum judicabit Deus.” – Rom. ii. 15.
23“In illo tempore, scrutabor Jerusalem in lucernis.” – Soph. i. 12.
24“Vocavit adversum me tempus.” – Lam. i. 15.
25“Purgabit filios Levi, et colabit eos quasi aurum.” – Mal. iii. 3.
26“Cum accepero tempus, ego justitias judicabo.” – Ps. lxxiv. 3.
27“Si justus vix salvabitur, impius et peccator ubi parebunt?” – 1 Peter, iv. 18.
28“Occurram eis quasi ursa, raptis catulis.” – Os. xiii. 8.
29“Date ei de fructu manuum suarum.” – Prov. xxxi. 31.
30“Quos præscivit, et prædestinavit conformes fieri imaginis Filii sui.” – Rom. viii. 29.
31“Quid faciam, cum surrexerit ad judicandum Deus? Et cum quæsierit, quid respondebo illi?” – Job, xxxi. 14.
32“Omnis iniquitas oppilabit os suum.” – Ps. cvi. 42.
33“Horridior quam ignis erit pudor.” – Orat. de fut. jud.
34“Discedite a me, maledicti, in ignem æternum.” – Matt. xxv. 41.
35“Oh! quam horribiliter personabit tonitruum illud.” – De Quat. Nov,. a. 26.
36“Qui non tremit ad tantum tonitruum, non dormit, sed mortuus est.” – Medit. 2.
37Tantus terror invadet malos, cum viderint judicem sententiam proferentem, ut, nisi essent immortales, iterum morerentur.
38“Non ibi precandi locus; nullus intercessor assistet, non amicus, non pater.” – Dom. I Adv. conc. 2.
39“Quis te eripiet? Deus ne ille quem contempsisti?” – Oratio de Pænit.
40“Luna non dabit lumen suum.” – Matt. xxiv. 29.
41“Fugiet a janua paradisi Maria.” – Ad Fratres in er. ser. 10.
42“Heu! quam securi hæc dicimus et audimus, quasi nos non tangeret hæc sententia, aut quasi dies ille nunquam esset venturus!’’ – Dom. 1 Adv. conc. 1.
43“Quænam est stulta securitas in discrimine tanto.” – De S. Mart. conc. 1.
44Numquid Deus vere damnaturus est?
45“Finis venit, venit finis . . . nunc complebo furorem meum in te, et judicabo te.” – Ezek. vii. 6.
46“Veniet judicii dies, et invenies verum quod minatus est Deus.” – In Ps. lxxiii.
47“Ante judicium, para justitiam tibi.” – Ecelus. xviii. 19.
48Judex, ante judicium piacari potest, in judicio non potest.
49“Volo judicatus præsentari, non judicandus.” – In Cant. s. 55.

About This Blog

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP