But Where There's Life, There's Hope!


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

 

But Where There's Life, There's Hope!


by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

At the hour of death, Philip II, King of Spain, called his son, and throwing off his royal robe, uncovered his breast, which had been eaten away by worms, and said to him: "Prince, behold how we die! See how all the grandeur of this world ends!" Theodoret has truly said that death fears not riches, nor satellites, nor sovereigns; and that from princes as well as vassals rottenness and corruption flow.

Thus the dead, though they be princes, bring nothing with them to the grave: all their glory remains on the bed on which they expire. "When he shall die, he shall take nothing away, nor shall his glory descend with him" - (Psalm 48:18). Saint Antoninus relates that after the death of Alexander the Great a certain philosopher exclaimed: "Behold! The man who yesterday trampled on the earth is now buried in the earth. Yesterday the whole earth was not sufficient for him, and now he is content with seven palms. Yesterday he led his armies through the earth, and now he is carried by a few porters to the grave!" But it is better to listen to the words of God. "Why", says the Holy Ghost, “is earth and ashes proud?” (Ecclesiasticus). O man! Do you not see that you are dust and ashes? Why are you proud? Why do you spend so many thoughts and so many years of life in seeking worldly greatness? Death will come; and then all your greatness and all your projects will be at an end. "In that day", says David, "all their thoughts shall perish" -  (Psalm 145:4).

Oh! How much more happy was the death of Saint Paul the Hermit, who lived sixty years shut up in a cave, than the death of Nero the Emperor of Rome! How much more happy was the death of Saint Felix, a Capuchin lay-brother, than that of Henry VIII, who lived in the midst of royal magnificence, but at the same time at enmity with God! But we must remember that to secure a happy death the saints have abandoned all things; they have left their country; they have renounced the delights and the hopes which the world held out to them, and have embraced a life of poverty and contempt.

But how can worldlings, living in the midst of sins, in the midst of earthly pleasures and dangerous occasions, expect a happy death? God warns sinners that at death they shall seek and shall not find Him -  (John 7:34). He tells us that the hour of death shall be the time, not of mercy, but of vengeance. "I will repay them in due time" - (Deuteronomy 32:35). Reason tells us the same; for, at death, men of the world shall find their understanding weak and darkened, and their heart hardened by the bad habits which they have contracted. Their temptations will then be more violent; how can they resist at death who were almost always accustomed to yield to temptations during life, and to be conquered by them? To change their heart a most powerful grace would be then necessary. But is God obliged to give them such a grace? Have they merited such a grace by the scandalous and disorderly life which they have led? And on that last hour depends their happiness or misery for eternity. How is it possible that he who reflects on this, and believes the truths of faith, does not leave all to give himself to God, Who will judge us all according to our works?

 

Prayer

Ah, Lord! how many nights have I slept in enmity with Thee? O God! In what a miserable state was my soul during that time. It was hated by Thee. I was condemned to hell: there was nothing wanting but the execution of the sentence. But Thou, my God, hast never ceased to seek after me, and to invite me to pardon. But, who can assure me that Thou hast pardoned me? Must I, O my Jesus, live in this uncertainty till Thou judgest me? But the sorrow which I feel for having offended Thee, my desire to love Thee, and still more Thy Passion, O my beloved Redeemer, make me hope that Thy grace dwells in my soul. I am sorry for having offended Thee, O Sovereign Good, and I love Thee above all things. I resolve to forfeit everything rather than lose Thy grace and Thy love. Thou wishest that the heart which seeks Thee should be full of joy. “Let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord” - (1Chronicles 16:10).  Lord, I detest all injuries I have offered to Thee. Give me courage and confidence. Give me Thy love; I ask nothing else.

O Mary, thou, after Jesus, art my hope; obtain for me holy perseverance.

Amen