Discover how to deepen your spiritual life and grow in love for God through prayer and the Sacraments with An Introduction to the Devout Life. Explore meditations on death and judgment.

Meditation On Death And Judgment

An Introduction to the Devout Life is a thorough, loving guide to advancing in the spiritual life and loving God in prayer and the Sacraments. This excerpt includes two meditations on death and judgment.


Meditation On Death

Preparation

1. Place yourself in the presence of God.
2. Entreat His grace.
3. Imagine yourself to lie in extremity on your deathbed, -without hope of recovery.

Reflections

1. Consider the -uncertainty of your dying day. O my soul, some day must thou quit this body. When will it be, summer or winter? In town or in the country? By day or by night? Will it be suddenly or after due warning? Will it be in sickness or by an accident? Wilt thou have time to confess thy sins or not? Will thy spiritual father be present to assist thee? Alas! Of all this we know nothing; this only is certain, that die we must, and that for the most part sooner than we expect.
2. Consider that then the world is at an end, so far as regards you; there is none any more for you. Everything will then be reversed, all pleasures, vanities, worldly joys, and vain attachments will then appear as mere phantoms and vapors. Woe is me, for what delusive trifles have I offended my God! Then will you discover that you have forsaken God for nothing! On the other hand, how beautiful and desirable will good works and devotion then appear; why have you not followed on that holy and blessed road? Truly at that hour sins which before seemed as trifles will wax great as the mountains, and how faint, how weak, will your devotion then appear!
3. Consider the painful and final farewell which your soul must take of this lower world. It must take leave of wealth, of vanities and vain society, of pleasure, of amusements, of friends and neighbors, of parents and children, of husband and wife, in short of everything earthly. Last of all it must take leave of the body, which it will leave pale and sunken, forsaken, hideous, and vile.
4. Consider the haste with which that body will be hidden beneath the ground, and when that is done the world will scarcely bestow another thought upon you. You will in your turn be forgotten, as you have forgotten others. God rest his soul, will be said, and no more. O death, how unsparing, how pitiless thou art!
5. Consider that when the soul quits the body, it must go either to the left hand or the right. Whither will yours go? Which will be its path? Even such as it has chosen whilst on earth.

Affections And Resolutions

1. Pray to God, and cast yourself upon Him. Lord, in that dreadful day receive me into Thy care! Turn that hour into blessedness to me, and then let all the previous hours of my life be bitter and sad.
2. Despise the world. Since I know not, O world, at what hour I must quit thee, I will not attach myself to thee. O dear friends, treasured hopes, grant me only to love you with a holy friendship which may endure throughout eternity. Why should I be bound to you with ties that must be severed here? I will prepare for this hour, and make fitting preparation to accomplish the journey well; I will diligently strive to make my conscience clear, and to set in order its deficiencies.

Conclusion

Thank God for enabling you so to resolve, offer your resolutions to His Majesty, and repeatedly implore Him to grant you a happy death, through the merits of His Son. Implore the help of Our Lady and the Saints. Pater. Ave.

Meditation On Judgment

Preparation

1. Place yourself in the presence of God.
2. Entreat Him to inspire you.

Reflections

1. At the end of the time appointed by God for the world to last, and after many signs and terrible wonders which shall fill all men with fear and terror, a deluge of fire will come and consume the whole earth, sparing nothing of all that we behold.
2. After this fiery deluge and scorching heat, all men, except those already risen, shall rise up from their graves, and at the Archangel’s summons appear in the valley of Josaphat. But there will be a great difference amongst them, for the bodies of some will be glorious and shining, those of others horrible and vile.
3. Consider the majesty in which the Sovereign Judge will appear surrounded by all the Saints and Angels, and with His Cross shining brighter than the sun, symbol of grace to the good and of condemnation to the wicked.
4. This Sovereign Judge by His omnipotent decree will in an instant separate the good from the bad—placing the former on His right hand, the latter on His left—an eternal separation, after which the two companies will never meet again.
5. After this separation, all consciences shall be laid bare, and the wickedness of the bad will be clearly seen, and how they have despised God; as will the penitence of the good, and the results of God’s grace working in them; for then nothing shall be hid. O my God, how great will be the confusion of the one, and the bliss of the others!
6. Consider the final sentence of the bad, “Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” Weigh well these most weighty words. “Depart,” it is a sentence of final abandonment which God speaks—banishing them forever from His presence. He calls them “cursed.” O my soul, what a malediction!

A malediction comprising all woes! Irrevocable! For all time and eternity—and “into everlasting fire.” Contemplate, my soul, this eternity. O eternal eternity of woe, how fearful art thou!

7. Consider the opposite sentence of the good, “Come,” saith the Judge (O blessed word of salvation! By which God draws us to Himself and receives us within the circle of His grace), “Come, ye blessed of My Father” (O benediction above all benedictions!), “possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” My God, what a favor, for that kingdom has no end!

Affections And Resolutions

1. Tremble, O my soul, at this thought. My God, who shall support me in that day when the very heavens shall pass away?
2. Abhor your sins which alone can destroy you at that fearful day. Let me judge myself now, that I be not judged then; let me examine my conscience, and condemn myself; let me accuse and correct myself, that the Judge may not condemn me in that dreadful day—let me then hasten to Confession, and adopt the needful remedies.

Conclusion

1. Thank God, who has given you the means of being secure on that day, and who has granted you time for repentance.
2. Offer Him your heart in penitence, and beseech Him to give you grace to repent worthily. Pater. Ave.

This article is taken from a chapter in Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales which is available from TAN Books

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