Let Us Hasten to Give Ourselves to God

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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

 

Let Us Hasten to Give Ourselves to God


by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

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David calls the happiness of this life a dream of one who awakes from sleep - (Psalm 72:20). In explaining these words, a certain author explains that the goods of this world appear great, but they are nothing: like a dream, which lasts but a little, and afterwards vanishes, they are enjoyed but a short time. The thought that with death all ends, made Saint Francis Borgia resolve to give himself entirely to God. The Saint was obliged to accompany the dead body of the Empress Isabella to Granada. When the coffin was opened, her appearance was so horrible and the smell so intolerable that all ran away. But Saint Francis remained to contemplate the dead body of his sovereign and the vanity of the world, and looking at it, he exclaimed: "Are you then my empress? Are you the queen before whom so many bent their knee in reverential awe? O Isabella, where is your majesty, your beauty gone? Thus then," he said within himself, "end the greatness and the crowns of this world. I will, therefore, henceforth serve a Master Who can never die". From that moment he consecrated himself to the love of Jesus crucified; and he made a vow to become a religious, should his wife die before him. This vow he afterwards fulfilled by entering into the Society of Jesus.

Justly then has a person who was undeceived written on a skull these words: Cogitanti vilescunt omnia "To him who reflects on death, everything in this world appears contemptible"; he cannot love the earth. And why are there so many unhappy lovers of this world? It is because they do not think of death. "O ye sons of men, how long will you be dull of heart? Why do you love vanity, and seek after lying?" - (Psalm 4:3).  Miserable children of Adam, says the Holy Ghost, why do you not chase away from your heart so many earthly affections, which make you love vanity and lies? What has happened to your forefathers must befall you. They have dwelt in the same palace which you inhabit, and have slept in your very bed; but now they are no more. Such, too, will be your lot.

My brother, give yourself then to God before death comes upon you. "Whatsoever thy hand is able to do, do it earnestly" - (Ecclesiastes). What you can do today, defer not till tomorrow; for a day once passed never returns, and tomorrow death may come, and prevent you from ever being able to do good. Detach yourself instantly from everything which removes, or can remove, you from God. Let us instantly renounce in affection the goods of this earth, before death strips us of them by force. "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord" - (Revelation 14:13). Happy they who at death are already dead to all attachment to this world. They fear not, but desire death, and embrace it with joy; for, instead of separating them from the good which they love, it unites them to the Supreme Good, Who is the sole object of their affections, and Who will render them happy for eternity.

Prayer

My dear Redeemer, I thank Thee for having waited for me. What should have become of me had I died when I was at a distance from Thee? May Thy mercy and patience, which I have experienced for so many years, be forever blessed! I thank Thee for the light and grace with which Thou dost now assist me. I did not then love Thee, and I cared but little to be loved by Thee. I now love Thee with my whole heart, and nothing grieves me so much as the thought of having displeased so good a God. This sorrow tortures my soul; but it is a sweet torment, because it gives me confidence that Thou hast already pardoned me. O my sweet Savior, would that I had died a thousand times before I sinned against Thee! I tremble lest I should hereafter offend Thee again. Ah! Make me die the most painful of all deaths, rather than permit me evermore to lose Thy grace. I have been once the slave of hell; but now I am Thy servant, O God of my soul. Thou hast said that Thou lovest those who love Thee (Proverbs 8:17). I love Thee: then I am Thine, and Thou art mine. I may lose Thee at some future time; but the grace which I ask to Thee is, to take me out of life rather than suffer me ever to lose Thee again. Unasked, Thou hast bestowed upon me so many graces; I cannot now fear that Thou wilt not hear my prayer for the grace which I now implore. Do not permit me ever to lose Thee. Give me Thy love, and I desire nothing more.

Mary, my hope! Intercede for me.

Amen