On the Resurrection of the Dead.
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 Resurrection of the Dead.
Place before your mental vision the final judgment of mankind at the dread moment when the angels will fly to and fro to gather together all mankind from the four winds of Heaven, when the awe-inspiring blast of the trumpet sounds from the clouds and the appalling cry is heard: Arise, ye dead, and come to judgment! The resurrection of the dead has been described to us by the Apostle Paul as well as by the prophet Ezechiel; listen to their words.
1st. St. Paul, writing to the Thessalonians, says: “The Lord Himself shall come down from Heaven with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God; and the dead who are in Christ shall rise first.” (I. Thess. iv. 15.) The prophet Ezechiel portrays the dread scene of the resurrection in yet more vivid colors in the 37th chapter of his prophecies: “The hand of the Lord was upon me, and they brought me forth in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of a plain that was full of bones. . . . And he said to me, Prophesy concerning these bones, and say to them: Ye dry bones, hear the Word of the Lord. . . . And I prophesied as he had commanded me, and as I prophesied there was a noise, and behold a commotion, and the bones came together, each one to his joint. And I saw, and behold the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin was stretched out over them, but there was no spirit in them. And he said to me: Prophesy to the spirit, prophesy son of man and say to the spirit: Thus saith the Lord God; come, Spirit, from the four winds and blow upon these slain land let them live again. And I prophesied again as he had commanded me, and the spirit came into them and they lived; and they stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.” Finally we have the authority of the Lord Himself, who confirms this prophesy when He utters these words: “Wonder not at this, for the hour cometh wherein all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God. And they that have done good things shall come forth unto the resurrection of life, but they that have done evil unto the resurrection of judgment.” (St. John v. 28, 29.) Hence it will be seen that this resurrection of the dead is foretold in the most positive manner in Holy Scripture. Those who believe in Christ must also believe in the resurrection of the dead. This truth is however calculated to inspire us with comfort as well as to awaken alarm, as we shall proceed to show.
2d. Consider that from our Lord’s words we learn that although all the dead shall rise again, they will not all rise in the same manner. “They that have done good things shall come forth unto the resurrection of life, but they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment.” The Apostle likewise, writing to the Corinthians, says: “We shall indeed all rise again, but we shall not all be changed.” (I. Cor. xv. 51.) “The bodies of the just and godly” shall, as we read in the Book of Wisdom (ch. iii. 7), “shine, and shall run to and fro like sparks among the reeds,” or, as the prophet Daniel asserts, “shine as the brightness of the firmament and as stars for all eternity,” whereas the bodies of the wicked will have a most horrible and hideous appearance; vice and iniquity will have traced their disfiguring lines upon their countenances. The flesh that has been pampered in the delights of sin and unlawful pleasures, will resemble the bodies of lepers, so that the unhappy creatures, horrified at themselves, ashamed of their condition, will cry aloud, as St. John tells us in the Apocalypse (ch. vi. 16, 17) and “say to the mountains and to the rocks, Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth upon the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?” Ask yourself, shall you be able to stand in that day? Will your body shine, resplendent in brightness, or will it wear an aspect of appalling hideousness? Ask yourself this, my soul, ask it now, ask it seriously, while there is yet time, and in connection with this meditation lay to heart these words of the Imitation of Christ: “Then (on the day of judgment) he will seem to have been wise in this world who learned for Christ to be a fool and despised. Then all tribulation suffered with patience will be pleasing and all iniquity shall stop her mouth. Then the flesh that has been mortified will triumph more than if it had always been nurtured in delights. Then will the mean attire shine and fine clothing appear as under a shade.” (Imit. B. i. ch. 24.)
3d. Consider this subject of the resurrection of the dead somewhat more fully. Imagine the consternation of the ungodly when all of a sudden they recognize amongst those who have risen again certain individuals who will stand up to bring accusations against them before the divine tribunal; when the murderer descries the victim whose blood he shed, the usurer sees the widows and orphans he has oppressed, the libertine, to his dismay, discerns before him the accusing form of the once innocent maiden whom he seduced, the Religious perceives the persons whom his bad example has brought to perdition, the Priest beholds the souls who were lost through his negligence. Alas, is there indeed no longer any possibility of escape? No, certainly not; for already the Eternal God causes His voice to be heard out of Sion; He calls, as the prophet Joel predicts: “Let them arise and let the nations come up into the valley of Josaphat; for there will I sit to judge all nations round about. Put ye in the sickles, for the harvest is ripe; come and go down, for the press is full.” (Joel iii. 12, 13.) And as in the beginning at the word of the Eternal the four rivers of paradise flowed out to the four quarters of the earth, so now the four winds of Heaven drive the dead who have risen from their graves to the valley of Josaphat to appear before the divine judgment seat, where (to quote the same prophet again) “the people shall be in grievous pains, all faces shall be made like a kettle.” (Joel ii. 6.) Fancy yourself amongst those terror-stricken multitudes, imagine that you are awaiting the advent of your future Judge in the valley of Josaphat; pay attention to the reproaches and stings of conscience that you experience in the course of this meditation, for there is yet time, if you pay heed to the voice of conscience now, to prevent its accusations from making you shrink in horror from the thought of appearing in the valley of Josaphat.
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)
A Week for the Poor Souls:
Prayer for Monday
O Lord, God Almighty, I beseech Thee, by the precious Blood which Thy Divine Son Jesus shed in His cruel scourging, deliver the souls in purgatory, and amongst them all especially that soul which is nearest to its entrance into Thy glory; that so it may soon begin to praise and bless Thee forever. Amen.
Our Father, and Hail Mary.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.
De Profundis for the Faithful Departed (Ps. 129)
Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord! Lord, hear my voice.
Let Thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.
If Thou, O Lord, shalt mark our iniquities: O Lord, who shall stand it?
For with Thee there is merciful forgiveness: and by reason of Thy law I have waited for Thee, O Lord.
My soul hath relied on His word: my soul hath hoped in the Lord.
From the morning watch even unto night, let Israel hope in the Lord.
Because with the Lord there is mercy: and with Him plenteous redemption.
And He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
V. Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord.
R. And let perpetual light shine upon them.
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