Twenty-First Day of August.

PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.

My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.

Twenty-First Day of August.

What things a man shall sow, those also shall he reap. For he that soweth in his flesh, of the flesh also shall reap corruption. But he that soweth in the spirit, of the spirit shall reap life everlasting (Galat. vi. 8).

I. Consider first, that this life is our seed-time, and that the next will be harvest-time. The harvest, therefore, which will be reaped in the next world will correspond with what is sown in this: “What things a man shall sow, those also shall he reap.” The seed is our works, and the harvest is, as we all know, the retribution answering to those works, either of reward or of punishment. The man who has sown grain will have grain, and the man who has sown cockle will have cockle, which is the same as saying that it will be well with him who has done well, and ill with him who has done ill: “The Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then will He render to every man according to his works.”[1] And there is no law, in my opinion, so terrible as this, because it admits of no exception whatever; it concerns all, it binds all, it strikes all; and therefore the Apostle enunciates it in these universal terms: “What things a man shall sow, those also shall he reap.” Be he who he may, prince or beggar, there will be no regard paid to any one’s position; he is a man, and, as such, he is subject to this law in such a way that for all eternity he can hope for no exemp­tion from it. What art thou thinking of, then, when thou considerest so little, sometimes, about the works that thou doest? Take good heed, for all these works are so much seed which cannot remain unfruitful; do not, then, allow them, as it were, to slip by chance out of thy hands. Take example by the sower, and see first whether they are good or bad. If they are good, scatter them gladly, for they will bring thee in a good harvest: “Say to the just man that it is well, for he shall eat the fruit of his doings.”[2] But if they are bad, alas for thee! fear and tremble, for thy prospects are bad indeed: “Woe to the wicked unto evil, for the reward of his hands shall be given him.”[3]

II. Consider secondly, that the prudent husbandman, in order to secure a good harvest, not only does his best to sow good seed, but also to sow it in a good soil; otherwise, the result would be the same as though the seed were bad: “What he shall sow, those also shall he reap.” For although it is true that a good soil cannot make bad seed good, yet, on the other hand, a bad soil can make good seed bad by corrupting it, so that in the end the harvest will be bad: “They have sown wheat and reaped thorns.”[4] Thou, too, oughtest to practise the like care in thy actions. Thou hast in thyself two very different kinds of soil, the flesh and the spirit. The spirit is a pure, rich, fertile soil, but the flesh is so foul a soil that it corrupts even the good seed which is put into it, and makes it so bad, that from being worthy of recom­pense it degenerates into being worthy of punishment. And therefore the Apostle here says that “he that soweth in his flesh, of the flesh also shall reap corruption; but he that soweth in the spirit, of the spirit shall reap life everlasting.” That man is said to sow in the flesh who does his works for the sake of the flesh; and he is said to sow in the spirit who does them for the sake of the spirit. Take heed, therefore, for it is not enough that thy works are good in themselves, they must also be sown in the spirit, that is to say, thy intention in doing them must be for the sake of the spirit. If thy intention is for the sake of the flesh, then thou art really sowing in the flesh, and consequently thou art lost; it is impossible for thee to reap anything but corruption. I will explain my meaning. If thou art liberal in spending, thou art sowing good seed; but if thou spendest in this way for thy pleasure, in feasting, luxury, and debauchery, then thou art sowing in the flesh, because thou art spending for the sake of its sensuality. If thou preachest, thou art sowing good seed; but if thou preachest for gain, thou art sowing in the flesh, because thou art preaching for the sake of its avarice. If thou sufferest, thou art sowing good seed; but if thou sufferest to gain praise, thou art sowing in the flesh, because thou art suffering for its ambition. And this being so, thou canst expect nothing but a harvest of rottenness, like the soil in which thou art sowing, because a corrupt soil makes the seed corrupt; and this is why the Apostle says that such a one “shall reap corruption,” because every corruptible action is lost: “Every work that is corruptible shall fail in the end.”[5] If thou wouldst reap a profitable harvest, sow not only good seed, but sow it in the spirit—that is, do not act for the sake of gratifying any of the three irregular appetites which reign in the flesh, but do the good that thou doest from motives of eternal life, so shalt thou not merely avoid reaping corruption, but thou shalt reap life, and life everlasting. The spirit is the giver of life: “It is the spirit that quickeneth.”[6] And so it is the spirit which gives the germ of life. The spirit is ever­lasting, because it never dies, and so the spirit gives the germ of life, and of life everlasting. In which of these two fields, therefore, thinkest thou that it is right to sow thy seed, in that of the flesh or in that of the spirit? Most certainly, in the case of a thing that thou possessest, thou wouldst not choose that which would make all thy toil fruitless; how, then, canst thou choose it, when it is thy very self which is concerned? And observe, that when the Apostle is here speaking of the man who resolves to spend his labour on behalf of the flesh, he says “in his flesh;” but when immediately afterwards he is speaking of him who resolves to spend it on behalf of the spirit, he does not say in his spirit,” but “in the spirit,” because the flesh belongs to us, in a certain sense, of ourselves, and therefore is with more reason attributed to us, whereas the spirit is entirely given to us by God. And if so, what wonder is it that the flesh and the spirit produce germs so different? We cannot expect any from ourselves, being what we are, but such as are altogether evil: “My son, sow not evils in the furrows of injustice,” that is, of the flesh, “and thou shalt not reap them seven-fold.”[7]

III. Consider thirdly, that if, as soon as a man did well in this world, it was well with him, and that as soon as he did ill it was ill with him, he would certainly be much more careful in all his actions. But do not suppose that this alters the case; for this is precisely another point in which the works of man resemble sowing, that the reward and punishment do not follow them immediately—a certain time has to elapse: “What things a man soweth, those shall he reap,” not he reaps,” but “he shall reap.” Sometimes, indeed, in this just judgment of some particular person, God does either punish or reward immediately. But such cases are exceptions to all rule, as when we are told that in the same year in which Isaac sowed the land of Gerara, he reaped it, and even reaped a hundred­fold, because God blessed him in a special manner: “And Isaac sowed in that land, and he found that same year a hundred-fold, and the Lord blessed him.”[8] The ordinary rule is that the time pre-ordained by God for the harvest must be waited for: “The time of repaying,”[9] which is not this life—for this is the seed-time—but the life to come. If, therefore, thou hast done evil, do not say, “I have done it and yet I have not suffered for it in any way: Say not, I have sinned, and what harm hath befallen me.”[10] For if thou hast sinned, thou hast sown; let that suffice thee. Thou wilt reap, all too surely and abundantly, in due time the evil that thou hast done: “He that soweth iniquity shall reap evils.”[11] And if thou hast done well, do not say, I have gone on doing well for so long, and yet I have not so much as begun to reap the fruit of it: “Why have we fasted, and Thou hast not regarded: have we humbled our souls, and Thou hast not taken notice?”[12] Have patience, for thou shalt reap a fuller harvest than thou thinkest: “To him that soweth justice there is a faithful reward,”[13] not “a speedy,” but “a faithful reward,” faithful as to its certainty, its superabundance, and its permanence. See how patiently the husbandman waits for his harvest, even though for a little while he should suffer hunger: “Behold the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, patiently bearing till he receive the early and the latter rain,[14]that is, the morning showers and those which fall late in the day. Do not, then, long for thy harvest while the corn is green, by desiring that God should reward thee in this life, seeing that if He did so, it would certainly not be to thy advantage. Wait till the next life, which will not fail to come at last: “Be you therefore also patient, and strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”[15]

PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.

My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.


[1] St. Matt. xvi. 27.

[2] Isais iii. 10.

[3] Isais iii. II.

[4] Jerem. xii. 13.

[5] Ecclus. xiv. 20.

[6] St. John vi. 64.

[7] Ecclus. vii. 3.

[8] Genesis xxvi. 12.

[9] Ecclus. xviii. 24.

[10] Ecclus. v. 4.

[11] Prov. xxii. 8.

[12] Isaias lviii. 3.

[13] Prov. xi. 18.

[14] St. James v. 7.

[15] St. James v. 8.

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