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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