Consider that You are Dust

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The Four Last Things and the Seven Deadly Sins - by BOSCH, Hieronymus - from Museo del Prado, Madrid . . . . . . .
The circular layout with God in the centre represents God's all seeing eye: No sin goes unnoticed. In the corners
of the image appear the "Four Last Things" (the last four stages of life): Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell.

 

The active study of the four last things
and the deep consideration of them,
is the thing that will keep you from sin.

--Saint Thomas More

 

Consider that You are Dust


by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

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Consider that you are dust, and to dust you will return. The day will come when you will die and rot in a place where worms shall be thy covering - (Isaiah 14:11).  The same fate awaits all, high and low, the prince and the peasant. As soon as the soul will have left the body, with the last gasp it will go into eternity and the body will return to dust. Thou shalt take away their breath and they shall return to their dust - (Psalm 103:29). Picture to yourself a person who has recently expired. Behold that corpse lying on the bed, the head fallen on the chest, the hair disordered and bathed in the sweat of death, the eyes sunken, the cheeks hollow, the face of an ashy hue, the tongue and the lips the color of lead, the body cold and heavy. The beholders grow pale and tremble. How many at the sight of a deceased parent or friend have changed their life and left the world! But still more horrible is it when the body begins to decay. Twenty-four hours have not elapsed since the death of that youth, and an offensive odor is already perceptible. The windows must be opened, and incense must be burnt, and haste be made to transfer the body to the Church and to bury it, that the whole house may not be infected. "And if," says an author, "that body has belonged to one of the great or the rich ones of the earth, it will only send forth a more intolerable stench".

Behold to what that proud, that voluptuous man is come! The favorite, the desired one of society, now become the horror and the abomination of all who behold him. His relations hasten to remove him from the house, and people are hired to bear him away, that, enclosed in a coffin, they may cast him into a grave.

Formerly he was renowned for his talents, his elegance, his graceful manners, and his wit; but no sooner is he dead than he is forgotten. Their memory hath perished with a noise - (Psalm 9:7). On hearing the news of his death, some say that he was an honor to his family; others, he has provided well for his family; others grieve because the departed had done them some service; some rejoice because his death brings some advantage to them. However, in a short time no one will name him any more; and even from the very first his dearest friends will not hear him mentioned, that their grief may not be renewed. In the visits of condolence other things are talked of; and if anyone should chance to allude to the departed, the relations exclaim, “For mercy’s sake, never name him to me!

Consider that, as you have done at the death of your friends and relations, so others will do by you. The living appear upon the stage to occupy the wealth and the places of the dead, and of the dead little or no esteem or mention is any more made. At first the relations are afflicted for some days; but they quickly console themselves with that share of property which falls to them, so that in a short time they will rejoice at your death, and in that very room where you have breathed forth your soul, and have been judged by Jesus Christ, they will dance, eat, play and laugh as before. And your soul, where will it then be?

 

Prayer

O Jesus, my Redeemer, I return Thee thanks for not having taken me out of this life whilst I was Thy enemy. How many years have passed since I deserved to be in hell! Had I died on such a day, or on such a night, what would have become of me for all eternity? My God, I return Thee thanks. I accept of death as a satisfaction for my sins, and I accept of it the manner in which it may please Thee to send it to me; but since Thou hast waited for me until now, oh, wait for me yet a little longer. Suffer me, therefore, that I may lament my sorrow a little. Give me time to weep over my offences against Thee, before Thou comest to judge me.

I will no longer resist Thy calls. Who knows but these words which I have just read are Thy last call to me? I acknowledge that I do not deserve mercy: Thou hast pardoned me so often, and I have again ungratefully offended Thee. A contrite and humble heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.  Ah, Lord, since Thou canst not despise a humble and penitent heart, behold the traitor who, humbled and repentant, has recourse to Thee. Cast me not away from Thy face.  Thou hast said, Him that cometh to Me I will not cast out.  It is true that I have offended Thee more than others, because I have been favored more than others with light and grace; but the Blood Thou hast shed for me gives me courage, and proffers pardon to me if I repent. Yes, O my Sovereign Good, I do repent with my whole soul for having insulted Thee. Pardon me, and give me grace to love Thee for the future. I have long enough offended Thee. As for the remainder of my life, no, my Jesus, I will not spend it in offending Thee; I will spend it wholly in weeping over the displeasure I have given Thee, and in loving Thee with all my heart, O God, worthy of infinite love.

O Mary, my hope, pray to Jesus for me.

Amen