On the Particular Judgment.
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.
On the Particular Judgment.
Another week is now drawing to its close. How swiftly the days pass, how soon the last day will come for you! Place before your mind the solemn, the awful moment when you will heave your last sigh, when your heart will give its last throb, when your eyes will close for ever on earth. Unhappy soul, what will then be your feelings? You will be compelled to quit the body, to leave the world, to appear before the judgment-seat of a strict Judge. Realize in as far as you can that awful moment, and then proceed to consider the following points.
1st. The soul has quitted her earthly tenement in which she dwelt at ease. She has left everything, and everything has left her. She stands trembling on the threshold of eternity, lonely and friendless. She must cross the terrible abyss of death, she must stand before the tribunal of God, positively, completely alone. Imagine a mariner, turned afloat on an unknown, shoreless ocean, with only a narrow plank to cling to; imagine a traveller, wandering alone in the midst of an unknown, trackless desert; what a desolate, forsaken condition! How forlorn, how perilous a lot! Very similar is the condition of the soul at the moment of which we speak. How plainly will she then see the vanity, the futility of much that while on earth she greatly prized; the vanity of earthly friendships, of earthly relationships; the vanity of worldly possessions, of worldly dignities, of worldly renown. What do all these profit the poor soul now in her terrible loneliness and abandonment?
2d. Consider the next moment, one still more solemn for the disembodied spirit. She is not long left alone, quite alone. In some cases this solitude, terrible as it appears, might seem happiness to the soul in view of what follows upon it; for see, she is summoned to appear before God, to stand before His judgment-seat. What a moment is this! The soul is alone in the presence of God. To His searching eye her whole interior is manifest. His glance penetrates to the inmost recesses of the heart, no thought is hidden from Him, no act is unknown to Him. The soul stands before Him alone, naked and ashamed; she cannot excuse herself or justify herself, she can only keep silence. Think of the awfulness of this situation, my soul, in which you will find yourself when you stand before your God; perhaps you will experience a secret terror, perhaps a cold shudder will run over you, and when you turn from this meditation, as one awaking from an unpleasant dream it will be with a feeling of relief that you are not actually in the presence of your Judge. And perhaps the feeling of terror and alarm wherewith the contemplation of the judgment inspired you may not be without result, and when you in reality stand before the dread tribunal, you may have less cause for fear and apprehension.
3d. Consider, after you have, in as far as is possible, realized the position in which the soul finds herself after death, what would be the sentence passed on you, if you were at this very moment standing before the judgment seat of God? It might be one of three. Either Heaven with its joys, its infinite felicity and everlasting delight; or purgatory with mark this well appalling tortures it may be, and awful sufferings, sufferings to which those of earth cannot be compared; or perhaps hell, with its eternal darkness and never-ending torment. momentous verdict, on which so infinitely much depends! My soul, it is yet within your power to determine which of these three shall be your destiny. Suppose that the all-merciful God has given you a respite, and reflect what use you will make of it. Each night, before you lay down to rest, recall to mind the terrible moment which has formed the subject of our meditation to-day. There is no thought more salutary than the thought of the judgment to come; it will deter you from sin, it will induce you to practise virtue, it will make temporal tribulations appear light, and preserve you from coveting empty honors. Wherefore to-day take a twofold resolution; resolve frequently, and particularly at the close of every week, to let your thoughts dwell upon the judgment awaiting you. In order that you may not be put to confusion in that day, judge yourself minutely and strictly when you make your daily examination of conscience, and go frequently to confession.
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.
– Meditations on the Life, Teaching, and Passion of Jesus Christ
(Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: New York, December 31, 1900)
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