Settle Your Accounts While You May,
Time waits for no man!

4last.jpg (224113 bytes)
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

 

 Settle Your Accounts While You May,
Time waits for no man!


by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

The Lord does not wish us to be lost, and, therefore, by the threat of chastisement, He unceasingly exhorts us to a change of life. "Except you will be converted, He will brandish His sword" - (Psalm 7:13). Behold, He says in another place, how many, because they would not cease to offend Me, have met with a sudden death, when they were least expecting it, and were living in peace, secure of a life of many years: "For when they shall say ‘peace and security’, then shall sudden destruction come upon them" - (1Thessalonians 5:3). Again He says: "unless you shall do penance, you shall all likewise perish" - (Luke 13:3). Why so many threats of chastisement before the execution of vengeance? It is because He wishes that we amend our lives, and thus avoid an unhappy death. "He", says Saint Augustine, "Who tells you to beware, does not wish to take away your life." It is necessary, then, to prepare our accounts before the day of account arrives. Dearly beloved Christians, were you to die, and were your lot for eternity to be undecided before night, would your accounts be ready? Oh! How much would you give to obtain from God another year or month, or even another day, to prepare for judgment? Why then do you not now, that God gives you this time, settle the accounts of your conscience? Perhaps it cannot happen that this shall be the last day for you? Delay not to be converted to the Lord, and defer it not from day to day; for His wrath shall come on a sudden, and in the time of vengeance He will destroy thee. My brother, to save your soul you must give up sin. "If then you must renounce it at some time, why do you not abandon it at this moment?", asks Saint Augustine. Perhaps you are waiting till death arrives? But for obstinate sinners, the hour of death is the time, not of pardon, but of vengeance. In the time of vengeance He will destroy thee.

When any one borrows from you a large sum of money you take care to get a written security for it. Who knows, you say, what may happen? Why are you not equally careful about the salvation of your soul, which is of far greater importance to you than all the riches of the earth? When eternity is at stake, why do you not say: Who knows what may happen? If you were to lose a sum of money, all would not be lost; and though in losing it your entire property would be lost, you would have the hope of recovering it. But if at death you lose your soul, then you will truly have lost all, and can never hope to regain it. You are careful to keep an exact account of all the goods you possess, lest, by dying suddenly, any of them be lost; and if you meet with a sudden death, and find yourself at enmity with God, what will become of your soul for all eternity?

 

Prayer

Ah! My Redeemer! Thou hast spent all Thy Blood, and hast given Thy life in order to save my soul.  I have so often abused Thy goodness to offend Thee. By doing so, I have deserved to be suddenly struck dead, and to be cast into Hell. In a word, I have been engaged in a contest with Thee. Thou didst treat me with mercy, and I offended Thee; Thou didst seek after me, and I fled away from Thee; Thou gavest me time to repair the evil I had done, and I employed that time in adding insults to insults. Lord, make me understand the injustice I have done Thee, and the obligation by which I am bound to love Thee.

Ah! My Jesus! How could I be so dear to Thee, Who sought after me so often when I chased Thee away? How hast Thou been able to bestow so many graces on one who has given Thee so much displeasure? From this I see the ardor of Thy desire to save me from perdition. I am sorry with my whole heart for having offended Thee. O infinite goodness! Ah, receive this ungrateful sheep that casts itself sorrowful at Thy feet; receive it and bind it on Thy shoulders, that I may never more fly away from Thee. I will never again abandon Thee. I wish to love Thee; I wish to be Thine; and provided I belong to Thee, I am content to suffer every pain. And what greater punishment can fall upon me than to live without Thy grace, to be separated from Thee, Who art my God, Who hast created me and died for me? O accursed sins! What have you done? You have made me displease my Savior, Who has loved me so tenderly.

Ah, my Jesus, as Thou hast died for me, so I ought to die for Thee. Thou hast died through love for me - I should die through sorrow for having despised Thee. I accept death in whatever manner and at whatever time Thou pleasest to send it. Hitherto I have not loved Thee, or I have loved Thee too little. I do not wish to die in this state. Ah, grant me a little more time, that I may love Thee before I die. Change my heart, wound it, inflame it with Thy holy love.  Do not permit me to lose Thee! Give me holy perseverance; give me Thy holy love.

Most Holy Mary, my refuge and my mother! Perform the office of advocate in my behalf.

Amen