The Thought of Hell a Remedy against Sin.
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.
The Thought of Hell a Remedy against Sin.
Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost.
The Gospel according to St. Matthew, xxii. 1-14.
“And Jesus spoke this parable: The kingdom of heaven is likened to a king who made a marriage for his son. And he sent his servants to call them that were invited to the marriage; and they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying: Tell them that were invited: Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my beeves and fatlings are killed, and all things are ready; come ye to the marriage. But they neglected, and went their ways, one to his farm, and another to his merchandise. And the rest laid hands on his servants, and, having treated them contumeliously, put them to death. But when the king had heard of it he was angry, and sending his armies he destroyed those murderers and burnt their city. Then he saith to his servants: The marriage indeed is ready; but they that were invited were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as you shall find call to the marriage. And his servants going forth into the ways, gathered together all that they found, both bad and good: and the marriage was filled with guests. And the king went in to see the guests: and he saw there a man who had not on a wedding garment. And he saith to him: Friend, how camest thou in hither not having on a wedding garment? But he was silent. Then the king said to the waiters: Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the exterior darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.”
We will meditate upon the last sentence in the gospel of the day, where, under the figure of the chastisement inflicted upon the man invited to the wedding who had not on the wedding garment, are represented to us the torments of hell reserved for the sinner who has soiled the robe of his innocence, and who has not bleached it by penitence, and we shall see that the thought of hell is: 1st, a remedy against sin; 2d, an efficacious help for forming the soul to virtue. We will then make the resolution: 1st. never to remain for twenty-four hours in a state in which, if we died, we should be damned; 2d, to encourage ourselves in the midst of difficulties imposed by virtue by this thought: What is this compared with hell, where, if I am not a saint, I shall always burn?
St. Augustine: “Let us go down to hell during our life, that we may not go down there after our death.”
Let us adore Jesus Christ reminding us of the pains of hell, to the end that we may be impelled to avoid them. These are a terrible darkness, a weeping and gnashing of teeth caused by torments; these are bound hands and feet, that is, a will compelled to desire obstinately the evil which it hates, and to hate furiously the good, the excellence of which it recognizes. Let us think seriously and often of this unhappy state. We shall find in this thought a remedy against sin and an efficacious help to form the soul to virtue.
This remedy has the triple effect of making us expiate our past sins, correct our actual sins, and prevent those to which the future may expose us.
1st. We must expiate our past sins. Filled with the thought that we have deserved hell, and that God has pardoned us only on the condition that we offer Him a compensation by penance, there is no penance which seems too hard, and the soul need rather to be restrained than excited, as in the case of the hermits of Egypt who, because of a single fault, condemned themselves during their whole life to austerities at which our effeminacy would tremble.
2d. The thought of hell corrects actual faults. Seriously meditating upon this thought makes it impossible to remain a single day in a state of sin, even when it is doubtful. It is folly to risk our eternity and not to take the sure means for escaping a misfortune which is, at the same time, terrible and eternal.
3d. This thought prevents sins to which the future might expose us. When we say, like St Teresa, always, never; always suffer, never an end to our sufferings, never a moment of freedom from them, it is impossible to expose ourselves voluntarily to the danger of sin; not to watch over ourselves, our actions, our words, our thoughts; not to fly from everything that would expose our salvation to danger, even occasions and appearances of sin, dissipation, idleness, dangerous society, books, or conversations into which too great freedom enters; it is impossible, lastly, not to pray with our whole heart, and not to take every precaution to avoid sin.
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.
September Devotion: The Holy Cross
Virtues to practice: Piety, fervor in the performance of sacred duties, the spirit of prayer
O Mary, most holy Virgin and Queen of Martyrs, accept the sincere homage of my filial affection. Into thy heart, pierced by so many swords, do thou welcome my poor soul. Receive it as the companion of thy sorrows at the foot of the Cross, on which Jesus died for the redemption of the world. With thee, O sorrowful Virgin, I will gladly suffer all the trials, contradictions, and infirmities which it shall please our Lord to send me. I offer them all to thee in memory of thy sorrows, so that every thought of my mind, and every beat of my heart may be an act of compassion and of love for thee. And do thou, sweet Mother, have pity on me, reconcile me to thy divine Son Jesus, keep me in His grace and assist me in my last agony, so that I may be able to meet thee in heaven and sing thy glories. Amen.
An indulgence of 500 days (taken from The Raccolta (c)1957).
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