20 November 2009

The Pains of Hell


On the pains of Hell.

" Gather up first the cockle, and bind into bundles to burn." MATT. xiii. 30.

I shall first speak of the fire, which is the principal pain that torments the senses of the damned, and afterwards of the other pains of hell.

1. BEHOLD! the final doom of sinners who abuse the divine mercy is, to burn in the fire of hell. God threatens hell, not to send us there, but to deliver us from that place of torments. " Minatur Deus gehennem, 1 says St. Chrysostom, " ut a gehenna liberet, et ut firmi ac stabiles evitemus minas." (Horn. v. de Poenit.) Remember, then, brethren, that God gives you to-day the opportunity of hearing this sermon, that you may be preserved from hell, and that you may give up sin, which alone can lead you to hell.

2. My brethren, it is certain and of faith that there is a hell. After judgment the just shall enjoy the eternal glory of Paradise, and sinners shall be con demned to suffer the everlasting chastisement reserved for them in hell. "And these shall go into everlasting punishment, but the just into life everlasting." (Matt. xxv. 46.) Let us examine in what hell consists. It is what the rich glutton called it a place of torments. " In hunc locum tormentorum." (Luc. xvi. 28.) It is a place of suffering, where each of the senses and powers of the damned has its proper torment, and in which the torments of each person will be increased in proportion to the forbidden pleasures in which he indulged. " As much as she hath glorified herself and lived in delicacies, so much torment and sorrow give ye to her." (Apoc. xviii. 7.)

3. In offending God the sinner does two evils: he abandons God, the sovereign good, who is able to make him happy, and turns to creatures, who are incapable of giving any real happiness to the soul. Of this injury which men commit against him, the Lord complains by his prophet Jeremy: "For my people have done two evils. They have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and have digged to themselves cisterns broken cisterns that can hold no water." (Jer. ii. 13.) Since, then, the sinner turns his back on God, he shall be tor mented in hell, by the pain arising from the loss of God, of which I shall speak on another occasion [see the Ser mon for the nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost], and since, in offending God, he turns to creatures, he shall be justly tormented by the same creatures, and princi pally by fire.

4. " The vengeance on the flesh of the ungodly is fire and* worms." (EccL vii. 19.) Fire and the remorse of conscience are the principal means by which God takes vengeance on the flesh of the wicked. Hence, in con demning the reprobate to hell, Jesus Christ commands them to go into eternal fire. :t Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire." (Matt. xxv. 41.) This fire, then, shall be one of the most cruel executioners of the damned.

5. Even in this life the pain of fire is the mosUemolc of all torments. But St. Augustine says, that in com parison of the fire of hell, the fire of this earth is no more than a picture compared with the reality, ^ In cuius comparatione noster hie ignus depictus est. Anselm teaches, that the fire of hell as far surpasses the fire of this world, as the fire of the real exceeds that of painted fire. The pain, then, produced by the nre ot hell is far greater than that which is produced by our fire because God has made the fire of this earth for the use of man, but he has created the fire of hell purposely for the chastisement of sinners ; and therefore, as ler- tullian says, he has made it a minister of his justice. " Longe alius est ignis, qui usui humano, alms qui l> justitiS, deservit." This avenging fire is always kept alive by the wrath of God. " A fire is kindled in my rage " And the rich man also died, and he was buried in hell." (Luke xvi. 22.) The damned are buried m the fire of hell ; hence they have an abyss of fire below, an abyss of fire above, and an abyss of fire on every side. As a fish in the sea is surrounded by water, so the un happy reprobate are encompassed by fire on every side. The sharpness of the pain of fire may be inferred from the circumstance, that the rich glutton complained of no othei torment. " I am tormented in this flame." (Ibid, v 23.)

7 The Prophet Isaias says that the Lord will punish the guilt of sinners with the spirit of fire. u If the Lord shall wash away the filth of the daughters of Sion by the spirit of burning" (iv. 4). " The spirit of burning" is the pure essence of fire. All spirits or essences, though taken from simple herbs or flowers, are so penetrating, that they reach the very bones. Such is the fire of hell. Its activity is so great, that a single spark of it would be sufficient to melt a mountain of bronze. The disciple relates, that a damned nerson, who appeared to a religious, dipped his hand into a vessel of water; the religious placed in the vessel a candlestick of bronze, which was instantly dissolved.

8. This fire shall torment the damned not only exter nally, but also internally. It will burn the bowels, the heart, the brains, the blood within the veins, and the marrow within the bones. The skin of the damned shall be like a caldron, in which their bowels, their flesh, and their bones shall be burned. David says, that the bodies of the damned shall be like so many furnaces of fire. " Thou shalt make them as an oven of fire in the time of thy anger." (Ps. xx. 10.)

9. O God ! certain sinners cannot bear to walk under a strong sun, or to remain before a large fire in a close room ; they cannot endure a spark from a candle ; and they fear not the fire of hell, which, according to the Prophet Isaias, not only burns, but devours the unhappy damned. " Which of you can dwell with devouring fire V 9 (Isaias xxxiii. 14.) As a lion devours a lamb, so the fire of hell devours the reprobate ; but it devours without destroying life, and thus tortures them with a continual death. Continue, says St. Peter Damian to the sinner who indulges in impurity, continue to satisfy your flesh ; a day will come, or rather an eternal night, when your impurities, like pitch, shall nourish a fire within your very bowels. " Venit dies, imo nox, quando libido tua vertetur in picem qua se nutriet perpetuus ignis in visceribus tuis." (Epist. 6.) And according to St. Cyprian, the impurities of the wicked shall boil in the very fat which will issue from their accursed bodies.

10, St. Jerome teaches, that in this fire sinners shall suffer not only the pain of the fire, but also all the pains which men endure on this earth. " In uno igne omnia supplicia sentient in inferno peccatores." (Ep. ad Pam.) How manifold are the pains to which men are subject in this life. Pains in the sides, pains in the head, pains in the loins, pains in the bowels. All these together torture the damned.

11. The fire itself will bring with it the pain of dark ness ; for, by its smoke it will, according to St. J ohn, produce a storm of darkness which shall blind the damned." " To whom the storm of darkness is reserved for ever." (St. Jude 13.) Hence, hell is called a land of darkness covered with the shadow of death. " A land that is dark and covered with the mist of death a land of misery and darkness, wheie the shadow of death, and no order but everlasting horror dwelleth." (Job x. 21, 22.) To hear that a criminal is shut up in a dungeon for ten or twenty years excites our compas sion. Hell is a dungeon closed on every side, into which a ray of the sun or the light of a candle never enters. Thus the damned " shall never see light." (Ps xlviii. 20.) ^The fire of this world gives light, but the fire of hell is utter darkness. In explaining the words of David, " the voice of the Lord divideth the flame of fire," (Ps. xxviii. 7,) St. Basil says, that in hell the Lord separates the fire that burns from the flame which illuminates, and therefore this fire burns, but gives no light. B. Albertus Magnus explains this passage more concisely by saying that God " divides the heat from the light." St. Thomas teaches, that in hell there is only so much lig;ht as is necessary to torment the damned by the sight of their associates and of the devils: " Quan tum sufficit ad videndum ilia qua3 torquere possunt." (3 p., q. 97, art. 5.) And according to St. Augustine, the bare sight of these infernal monsters excites sufficient terror to cause the death of all the damned, if they were capable of dying. " Videbunt monstra, quorum visio postet illos occidere."

12. To suffer a parching thirst, without having a drop of water to quench it, is intolerably painful. It has sometimes happened, that travellers who could procure no refreshment after a long journey, have fainted from the pain produced by thirst. So great is the thirst of the damned, that if one of them were offered all the water on this earth, he would exclaim : All this water is not sufficient to extinguish the burning thirst which I endure. But, alas ! the unhappy darned shall never have a single drop of water to refresh their tongues. " He cried out and said : Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, to cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame. 1 (St. Luke xvi. 24.) The rich glutton has not obtained, and shall never obtain, this drop of water, as long as God shall be God.

13. The reprobate shall be likewise tormented by the stench which pervades hell. The stench shall arise from the very bodies of the damned. " Out of their carcasses shall arise a stink." (Isaiah xxxiv. 3.) The bodies of the damned are called carcasses, not because they are dead (for they are living, and shall be for ever alive to pain), but on account of the stench which they exhale. Would it not be very painful to be shut up in a close room with a fetid corpse ? St. Bonaventure says, that if the body of one of the damned were placed in the earth, it would, by its stench, be sufficient to cause the death of all men. How intolerable, then, must it be to live for ever in the dungeons of hell in the midst of the immense multitudes of the damned ! Some foolish worldlings say : If I go to hell, I shall not be there alone. Miserable fools ! do you not see that the greater the number of your companions, the more insufferable shall be your torments ? " There," says St. Thomas, " the society of the reprobate shall cause an increase and not a diminution of misery." (Suppl., q. 86, art. 1.) The society of the reprobate augments their misery, because each of the damned is a source of suffering to all the others. Hence, the greater their number, the more they shall mutually torment each other. " And the people," says the prophet Isaias, " shall be ashes after a fire, as a bundle of thorns they shall be burnt with fire." (Isa. xxxiii. 12.) Placed in the midst of the furnace of hell, the damned are like so many grains reduced to ashes by that abyss of fire, and like so many thorns tied together and wounding each other.

14. They are tormented not only by the stench of their companions, but also by their shrieks and lamentations. How painful it is to a person longing for sleep to hear the groans of a sick man, the barking of a dog, or the screams of an infant. The damned must listen inces santly to the wailing and howling of their associates, not for a night, nor for a thousand nights, but for all eternity, without the interruption of a single moment.

15. The damned are also tormented by the narrow ness of the place in which they are confined; for, although the dungeon of hell is large, it will be too small for so many millions of the reprobate, who like sheep shall be heaped one over the other. " They are," says David, "laid in hell like sheep." (Ps. xlviii. 15.) We learn from the Scriptures that they shall be pressed together like grapes in the winepress, by the vengeance of an angry God. " The winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of God the Almighty." (Apoc. xix. 15.) From this pressure shall arise the pain of immobility. * Let them become unmoveable as a stone." (Exod. xvi. 16.) In whatever position the damned shall fall into hell after the general judgment, whether on the side, or on the back, or with the head downwards, in that they must remain for eternity, without being ever able to move foot or hand or finger, as long as God shall be God. In a word, St. Chrysostom says, that all the pains of this life, however great they may be, are scarcely^ shadow of the torments of the damned. " Hcec omnia ludicra sunt et risus ad ilia supplicia : pone ignem, ferrum, et bestias, attamen vix umbra sunt ad ilia tormenta." (Horn, xxxix. ad pop. Ant.)

16. The reprobate, then, shall be tormented in all the senses of the body. They shall also be tormented in all the powers of the soul. Their memory shall be tormented by the remembrance of the years which they had received from God for the salvation of their souls, and which they spent in labouring for their own damna tion ; by the remembrance of so many graces and so many divine lights which they abused. Their under standing shall be tormented by the knowledge of the great happiness which they forfeited in losing their souls, heaven, and God ; and by a conviction that this loss is irreparable. Their will shall be tormented by seeing that whatsoever they ask or desire shall be refused. "The desire of the wicked shall perish." (Ps. cxi. 10.) They shall never have any of those things for which they wish, and must for ever suffer all that is repugnant to their will. They would wish to escape from these torments and to find peace ; but in these torments they must for ever remain, and peace they shall never enjoy. 17. Perhaps they may sometimes receive a little com fort, or at least enjoy occasional repose ? No, says Cyprian : " Nullum ibi refrigerium, nullum remedium, atque ita omni tormento atrocius desperatio." (Serm. de Ascens.) In this life, how great soever may be the tribulations which we suffer, there is always some relief or interruption. The damned must remain for ever in a pit of fire, always in torture, always weeping, without ever enjoying a moment s repose. But perhaps there is some one to pity their sufferings? At the very time that they are so much afflicted the devils continually reproach them with the sins for which they are tor mented, saying : Suffer, burn, live for ever in despair : you yourselves have been the cause of your destruction. And do not the saints, the divine mother, and God, who is called the Father of Mercies, take compassion on their miseries ? No ; " the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven." (Matt. xxvi. 29.) The saints, represented by tbe stars, not only do not pity the damned, but they even rejoice in the vengeance inflicted on the injuries offered to their God. Neither can the divine mother pity them, because they hate her Son. And Jesus Christ, who died for the love of them, cannot pity them, because they have despised his love, and have voluntarily brought themselves to perdition.

taken from the Sermons of Saint Alphonsus

The Malice of Mortal Sin



" Behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. 1 LUKE ii. 48.

MOST holy Mary lost her Son for three days : during that time she wept continually for having lost sight of Jesus, and did not cease to seek after him till she found him. How then does it happen that so many sinners not only lose sight of Jesus, hut even lose his divine grace ; and instead of weeping for so great a loss, sleep in peace, and make no effort to recover so great^a bless ing ? This arises from their not feeling what it is to lose God by sin. Some say : I commit this sin, not to lose God, but to enjoy this pleasure, to possess the property of another, or to take revenge of an enemy. They who speak such language show that they do not ^ understand the malice of mortal sin. What is mortal sin ?

First Point. It is a great contempt shown to God. Second Point. It is a great offence offered to God.

First Point. Mortal sin is a great contempt shown to God.

1. The Lord calls upon Heaven and Earth to detest the ingratitude of those who commit mortal sin, after they had been created by him, nourished with his blood, and exalted to the dignity of his adopted children. " Hear, O ye Heavens, and give ear, Earth ; for the Lord hath spoken. I have brought up children _ and exalted them ; but they have despised me." (Isa. i. 2.) Who is this God whom sinners despise ? ; He is a God of infinite majesty, before whom all the kings of the Earth and all the blessed in Heaven are less than a drop of water or a grain of sand. As a drop of a bucket, . . . as a little dust/ (Isa. xl. 15.) In a word, such is the majesty of God, that in his presence all creatures are as if they did not exist. " All nations are before him as if they had no being at all." (Ibid. xl. 17.) And what is man, who insults him? St. Bernard answers: " Saccus vermium, cibus vermium." A heap of worms, the food of worms, by which he shall be devoured in the grave. " Thou art wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." (Apoc. iii. 17.) He is so miserable that he can do nothing, so blind that he knows nothing, and so poor that he possesses nothing. And this worm dares to despise a God, and to provoke his wrath. " Vile dust," says the same saint, " dares to irritate such tremendous majesty." Justly, then, has St. Thomas asserted, that the malice of mortal sin is, as it were, infinite : " Pecca- tum habet quandam infinitatem malitiae ex infinitatem divine majestatis." (Par. 3, q. 2,^ a. 2, ad. 2.) And St. Augustine calls it an infinite evil. Hence Hell and a thousand Hells are not sufficient chastisement for a single mortal sin.

2. Mortal sin is commonly defined by theologians to be <( a turning away from the immutable good." St. Thorn., par. 1, q. 24, a. 4 ; a turning one s back on the sovereign good. Of this God complains by his prophet, saying: " Thou hast forsaken me, saith the Lord; thou art gone backward/ (Jer. xv. 6.) Ungrateful man, he says to the sinner, I would never have separated myself from thee ; thou hast been the first to abandon me : thou art gone backwards; thou hast turned thy back upon me.

3. He who contemns the divine law despises God; because he knows that, by despising the law, he loses the divine grace. " By transgression of the law, thou dishonourest God." (Rom. ii. 23.) God is the Lord of all things, because he has created them. " All things are in thy power... Thou hast made Heaven and Earth." (Esth. xiii. 9.) Hence all irrational creatures the winds, the sea, the fire, and rain obey God, " The winds and the sea obey him." (Matt. viii. 27.) " Fire, hail, snow, ice, stormy winds, which fulfil his word." (Ps. cxlviii. 8.) But man, when he sins, says to God : Lord, thou dost command me, but I will not obey ; thou dost command me to pardon such an injury, but I will resent it ; thou dost command me to give up the property of others, but I will retain it ; thou dost wish that I should abstain from such a forbidden pleasure, but I will indulge in it. " Thou hast broken my yoke, thou hast burst my bands, and thou saidst : I will not serve " (Jer. ii. 20.) In fine, the sinner when he creaks the command, says to God: I do not acknowledge thee for my Lord. Like Pharaoh, when Moses, on the part of God, commanded him in the name of the Lord to allow the people to go into the desert, the sinner answers : " Who is the Lord, that I should hear his voice, and let Israel go ?" (Exod. v. 2.)

4. The insult offered to God by sin is heightened by the vileness of the goods for which sinners offend him. " Wherefore hath the wicked provoked God." (Ps. x. 13.) For what do so many offend the Lord ? For a little vanity ; for the indulgence of anger ; or for a beastly pleasure. " They violate me among my people for a handful of barley and a piece of bread." (Ezec. xiii. 19.) God is insulted for a handful of barley for a morsel of bread ! God ! why do we allow ourselves to be so easily deceived by the Devil ? " There is," says the Prophet Osee, t( a deceitful balance in his hand." (xii. 7.) We do not weigh things in the balance of God, which cannot deceive, but in the balance of Satan, who seeks only to deceive us, that he may bring us with him self into Hell. " Lord," said David, " who is like to thee ?" (Ps. xxxiv. 10.) God is an infinite good ; and when he sees sinners put him on a level with some earthly trifle, or with a miserable gratification, he justly complains in the language of the prophet: " To whom, have you likened me or made an equal ? saith the Holy One." (Isa. xl. 25.) In your estimation, a vile pleasure is more valuable than my grace. Is it a momentary satis faction you have preferred before me ? " Thou hast cast me off behind thy back." (Ezec. xxiii. 35.) Then, adds Salvian, " there is no one for whom men have less esteem than for God." (Lib. v., Avd. Avar.) Is the Lord so contemptible in your eyes as to deserve to have the miserable things of the Earth preferred before him ?

5. The tyrant placed before St. Clement a heap of gold, of silver, and of gems, and promised to give them to the holy martyr if he would renounce the faith of Christ. The saint heaved a sigh of sorrow at the sight of the blindness of men, who put earthly riches in comparison with God. But many sinners exchange the divine grace for things of far less value ; they seek after certain miserable goods, and abandon that God who is an infinite good, and who alone can make them happy. Of this the Lord complains, and calls on the Heavens to be astonished, and on its gates to be struck with horror: " Be astonished O ye Heavens, at this ; and ye gates thereof, be very desolate, saith the Lord." He then adds : " For my people^have done two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and have digged to themselves cisterns broken cisterns that can hold no water." (Jer. ii. 12 and 13.) We regard with wonder and amazement the injustice of the Jews, who, when Pilate offered to deliver Jesus or Barabbas, answered : " Not this man, but Barabbas." (John xviii. 40.) The conduct of sinners is still worse ; for, when the Devil proposes to them to choose between the satisfaction of revenge a miserable pleasureand Jesus Christ, they answer: "Not this man, but Barabbas." That is, not the Lord Jesus, but sin.

6. " There shall be no new God in thee," says the Lord. (Ps. Ixxx. 10.) You shall not abandon me, your true God, and make for yourself a new god, whom you shall serve. St. Cyprian teaches that men make their god whatever they prefer before God, by making it their last end ; for God is the only last end of all : " Quidquid homo Deo anteponit, Deum sibi facit." And St. Jerome says : " Unusquisque quod cupit, si veneratur, hoc illi Deus est. Vitium in corde, est idolum in altari." (In Ps. Ixxx.) The creature which a person prefers to God, becomes his God. Hence, the holy doctor adds, that as the Gentiles adored idols on their altars, so sinners wor ship sin in their hearts. When King Jeroboam rebelled against God, he endeavoured to make the people imitate him in the adoration of idols. He one day placed the idols before them, and said : " Behold thy gods, Israel !" (3 Kings xii. 28.) The Devil acts in a similar manner towards sinners: he places before them such a gratifica tion, and says: Make this your God. Behold! this pleasure, this money, this revenge is your God: adhere to these, and forsake the Lord. When the sinner con sents to sin, he abandons his Creator, and in his heart adores as^ his god the pleasure which lie indulges. " Vitium in corde est idolum in altari".

7. The contempt which the sinner offers to God is increased by sinning in God s presence. According to St. Cyril of Jerusalem, some adored the sun as their god, that during the night they might, in the absence of the sun, do what they pleased, without fear of divine chas tisement. " Some regarded the sun as their God, that, after the setting of the sun, they might be without a god." (Catech. iv.) The conduct of these miserable dupes was very criminal ; but they were careful not to sin in presence of their god. But Christians know that God is present in all places, and that he sees all things. " Do not I fill Heaven and Earth ? saith the Lord," (Jer. xxiii. 24) ; and still they do not abstain from insulting him, and from provoking his wrath in his very presence : * A people that continually provoke me to anger before my face." (Isa. Ixv. 3.) Hence, by sinning before him who is their judge, they even make God a witness of their iniquities : " I am the judge and the witness, saith the Lord." (Jer. xxix. 23.) St. Peter Chrysologus says, that, " the man who commits a crime in the presence of his judge, can offer no defence." The thought of having offended God in his divine presence, made David weep and exclaim : " To thee only have I sinned, and have done evil before thee." (Ps. i. 6.) But let us pass to the second point, in which we shall see more clearly the enormity of the malice of mortal sin.

Second Point. Mortal sin is a great offence offered to God.

8. There is nothing more galling than to see oneself despised by those who were most beloved and most highly favoured. Whom do sinners insult ? They insult a God who bestowed so many benefits upon them, and who loved them so as to die on a cross for their sake ; and by the commission of mortal sin they banish that God from their hearts. A soul that loves God is loved by him, and God himself comes to dwell within her. " If any one love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and will make our abode with him." (John xiv. 23.) The Lord, then, never departs from a soul, unless he is driven away, even though he should know that she will soon. banish him from her heart. According to the Council of Trent, " he deserts not the soul, unless he is deserted."

9. When the soul consents to mortal sin she ungrate fully says to God: Depart from me. " The wicked have said to God : Depart from us." (Job xxi. 14.) Sinners, as St. Gregory observes, say the same, not in words, but by their conduct. " Recede, non verbis, sed moribus." They know that God cannot remain with sin in the soul : and, in violating the divine commands, they feel that God must depart ; and, by their acts they say to him : since you cannot remain any longer with us, depart farewell. And through the very door by which God departs from the soul, the Devil enters to take possession of her. When the priest baptizes an infant, he com mands the demon to depart from the soul: " Go out from him, unclean spirits, and make room for the Holy Ghost." But when a Christian consents to mortal sin, he says to God : Depart from me ; malce room- for the Devil, whom I wish to serve.

10. St. Bernard says, that mortal sin is so opposed to God, that, if it were possible for God to die, sin would deprive him of life ; " Peccatum quantum in se est Deum perimit." Hence, according to Job, in committing mortal sin, man rises up against God, and stretches forth his hand against him : " For he hath stretched out his hand against God, and hath strengthened himself against the Almighty." (Job. xv. 25.)

11. According to the same St. Bernard, they who wil fully violate the divine law, seek to deprive God of life in proportion to the malice of their will ; " Quantum in ipsa est Deum perimit propria voluntas." (Ser. iii. de Res.) Because, adds the saint, self-will " would wish God to see its own sins, and to be unable to take vengeance on them." Sinners know that the moment they consent to mortal sin, God condemns them to Hell. Hence, being firmly resolved to sin, they wish that there was no God, and, consequently, they would wish to take away his life, that he might not be able to avenge their crime. * He hath," continues Job, in his description of the wicked, " run against him witb his neck raised up, and is armed with a fat neck." (xv. 26.) The sinner raises his neck ; that is, his pride swells up, and he runs to insult his God ; and, because he contends with a power ful antagonist, " he is armed with a fat neck." " A fat nech" is the symbol of ignorance, of that ignorance which makes the sinner say : This is not a great sin ; God is merciful ; we are flesh ; the Lord will have pity on us. O temerity! illusion! which brings so many Christians to Hell.

Moreover, the man who commits a mortal sin afflicts the heart of God. " But they provoked to wrath, and afflicted the spirit of the Holy One." (Isaias Ixiii. 10.) "What pain and anguish would you not feel, if you knew that a person whom you tenderly loved, and on whom you bestowed great favours, had sought to take away your life ! God is not capable of pain ; but, were he capable of suffering, a single mortal sin would be suffi cient to make him die through sorrow. " Mortal sin," says Father Medina, u if it were possible, would destroy God himself : because it would be the cause of infinite sadness to God." As often, then, as you committed mortal sin, you would, if it were possible, have caused God to die of sorrow ; because you knew that by sin you insulted him and turned your back upon him, after he had bestowed so many favours upon you, and even after he had given all his blood and his life for your salvation.

taken from the Sermons of Saint Alphonsus

The Eternity of Hell


On the eternity of hell.

" And his Lord, being angry, delivered him to the torture until he paid all the debt." MATT, xviii. 34.

IN this day s gospel we find that a certain servant, having badly administered the affairs of his master, was found to owe him a debt of ten thousand talents. The master demanded payment ; but the servant falling down said : " Have patience and I will pay thee all." The master took pity on him, and forgave the entire debt. One of his fellow-servants who owed him a hundred pence, besought him to have patience, and promised to pay him the last farthing ; but the wicked servant cast him into prison. Hearing of this act of cruelty to his fellow-servant, the master sent for him, and said to him: "Wicked servant, I have forgiven thee ten thousand talents, and for a debt of a hundred pence thou hast refused to show compassion to thy fellow-servant. He then delivered him to the tortures till he paid all the debt. Behold, dearly beloved brethren, in these last words, a description of the sen tence of the eternal death which is prepared for sinners. By dying in sin, they die debtors to God for all their iniquities ; and being unable to make any satisfaction in the other life for their past sins, they remain for ever debtors to the divine justice, and must suffer for eternity in hell. Of this miserable eternity I will speak to-day : listen to me with attention.

1. The thought of eternity is a great thought: so it was called by St. Augustine : Macjna cogitatio. Accord ing to the holy doctor, God has made us Christians, and instructed us in the maxims of faith, that we may think of eternity. " We are Christians that we may always think of the world to come." This thought has driven from the world so many of the nobles of the earth, has made them renounce all their riches, and shut themselves up in the cloister, there to live in poverty and penance. This thought has sent so many young men into caves and deserts, and has animated so many martyrs to embrace torments and death, in order to save their souls for eternity. " For," exclaims St. Paul, " we have not here a lasting city, but we seek one that is to come." (Heb. xiii. 14.) This earth, dearly beloved Christians, is not our country ; it is for us a place of passage, through which we must soon pass to the house of eternity. " Man shall go into the house of his eternity." (Eccl. xii. 5.) In this eternity the house of the just, which is a palace of delights, is very different from the house of sinners, which is a dungeon of torments. Into one of these two houses each of us must certainly go. " In hanc vel illam seternitatem," says St. Ambrose, " cadam necesse est. ; (S. Amb., in Ps. cxviii.) " Into this or that eternity I must fall."

2. And where the soul shall first go, there she shall remain for ever. " If the tree fall to the south or to the north, in what place soever it shall fall there shall it lie." (Eccl. xi. 3.) On what side does a tree fall when it is cut down ? It falls on the side to which it inclines. On what side, brethren, will you fall, when death shall cut down the tree of your life ? You will fall on the side to which you incline. If you shall be found inclining to the south that is, in favour with God you shall be for ever happy ; but if you i- h ill fall to the north, you must be for ever miserable. There is no middle place : you must be for ever happy in heaven, or overwhelmed with despair in hell. We must all die, says St. Bernard or some other author (de Quat. Noviss.), but we know not which of the two eternities shall be our lot after death. " Necessi morem, post ha3c autem dubia ceter- nitatis."

3. This uncertainty about his lot for eternity was the constant subject of the thoughts of David : it de prived his eyes of sleep, and kept him always in terror. " My eyes prevented the watches: I was troubled, and I spoke not : I thought upon the days of old, and I had in my mind the eternal years." (Ps. Ixxvi. 5, 6.) What, says St. Cyprian, has encouraged the saints to lead a life, which, on account of their continual austerities, was an uninterrupted martyrdom? It was, he answers, the thought of eternity that inspired them with courage to submit to such unceasing rigours. A certain monk shut himself in a cave, and did nothing else than constantly exclaim : " eternity ! eternity !" The famous sinner converted hy the Abbot Paphnutius, kept eternity always before her eyes, and was accustomed to say : " Who can assure me of a happy eternity, and that I will not fall into a miserable eternity." The same uncertainty kept St. Andrew Avellino in continual terrors and tears till his last breath. Hence he used to ask every one he met, " What do you say ? shall I be saved or damned for eternity ?"

4. 0! that we, too, had eternity always before our eyes ! We certainly should not be so much attached to the world. ^ " Quisquis in aeternitatis disiderio figitur, nee prosperitate attollitur, nee adversitate quassatur : et dum nihil habet in mundo quod appetat, nihil est quod de mundo^pertimescat." He who fixes his thoughts on eternity, is not elated by prosperity nor dejected by adversity; because, having nothing to desire in this world, he has nothing to fear : he desires only a happy eternity, and fears only a miserable eternity. A certain lady, who was greatly attached to the world, went one day to confession to Father M. D Avila. He bid her go home, and reflect on these two words always and never. She obeyed, took away her affections from the world, and consecrated them to God. St. Augustine says that the man who thinks on eternity, and is not con verted to God, either has no faith, or has lot his reason. : acternitas ! qui te cogitat, nee poonitet, aut certo fidem npn habet, aut si habet, cor non habet." (In soliloq.) eternity ! he who thinks on thee, and does not repent, has certainly no faith, or has lost his heart. Hence St. Chrysostom relates, that the pagans upbraided the Chris tians with being liars or fools : liars, if they said they believed ^ what they did not believe ; fools, if they believed in eternity and committed sin. " Exprobabant gentiles aut mendaces, aut stultos esse Christianos; mendaces si non crederent quod credere dicebant ; stultos si credebant et peccabant."

5. Woe to sinners, says St. Cesarius of Aries ; they enter into eternity without having known it ; hut their woes shall be doubled when they shall have entered into eternity, and shall never be able to leave. " Yae pecca- toribus, ineognitam ingrediuntur." To those who enter hell, the door opens for their admission, but never opens for their departure. " I have the keys of death and of hell." (Apoc. i. 18.) God himself keeps the keys of hell, to show us that whosoever enters has no hope of ever escaping from it. St. John Chrysostom writes, that the condemnation of the reprobate is engraved on the pillar of eternity, so that it never shall be revoked. In hell there is no calendar ; there the years are not counted. St. Antonine says, that if a damned soul heard that she was to be released from hell after so many millions of years as there are drops of water in the sea, or grains of sand in the earth, she would feel a greater joy than a criminal condemned to death would experience at hearing that he was reprieved, and was to be made the monarch of the whole world ! But, no ! as many millions of years shall pass away as there are drops of water in the ocean, or grains of dust in the earth, and the hell of the damned shall be at its com mencement. All these millions of years shall be mul tiplied an infinite number of times, and hell will begin again. But of what use is it, says St. Hilary, to count years in eternity ? Where you expect the end, there it commences. " Ubi putas finem invenire, ibi incipit." And St. Augustine says, " that things which have an end cannot be compared with eternity." (In Ps. xxxvi.) Each of the damned would be content to make this com pact with God Lord, increase my torments as much as thou pleasest ; assign a term for them as distant as thou pleasest ; provided thou fix a time at which they shall cease, I am satisfied. But, no ! this time shall never arrive. * My end," the damned shall say, " is perished." (Lamen. iii. 18.) Then, is there no end to the torments of the damned ? No ! the trumpet of divine justice sounds in the caverns of hell, and continually reminds the reprobate that their hell shall be eternal, and shall never have an end.

6. If hell were not eternal, it would not be so frightful a chastisement. Thomas a Kempis says, that everything which passes with time is trifling and short." Any pain which has an end is not very appalling. The man who labours under an imposthume or a cancer, must submit to the knife or the cautery : the pain is severe ; but because it is soon over it can be borne. But a tooth-ache which lasts for three months without inter ruption is insupportable. Were a person obliged to lie in the same posture for six months on a soft bed, or even to hear the same music, or the same comedy, night and day for one year, he would fall into melancholy and despondency. Poor blind sinners ! When threatened w r ith hell they say: " If I go there I must have patience." But they shall not say so when they will have entered that region of woes, where they must suffer, not by lis tening to the same music or the same comedy, nor by lying in the same posture, or by tooth -ache, but by en during all torments and all evils. " I will heap evils upon them." (Deut. xxxiii. 23.) And all these torments shall never end.

7. They shall never end, and shall never be diminished in the smallest degree. The damned must for ever suffer the same fire, the same privation of God, the same sad ness, the same despair. Yes, says St. Cyprian, in eternity there is no change, because the decree is im mutable. This thought shall immensely increase their sufferings, by making them feel beforehand, and at each moment, all that they shall have to suffer for eternity. In this description of the happiness of the saints, and the misery of the reprobate, the Prophet Daniel says : " They shall wake some unto life everlast ing, and some unto reproach to see it always." (Dan. xii. 2.) They shall always see their unhappy eternity. Ut videant semper. Thus eternity tortures each of the damned not only by his present pains, but with all his future sufferings, which are eternal.

8. These are not opinions controverted among theo logians ; they are dogmas of faith clearly revealed in the sacred Scriptures. " Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire." (Matt. xxv. 41.) Some will say : The fire, but not the punishment of the damned is ever lasting. Such the language of the incredulous, but it is folly. For what other purpose would God make this fire eternal, than to chastise the reprobate, who are im mortal ? But, to take away every shadow of doubt, the Scriptures, in many other places, say, that not only the fire, but the punishment, of the damned is eternal. " And these/ 7 says Jesus Christ, " shall go into ever lasting punishment." (Matt. xxv. 46.) Again we read in St. Mark, " Where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished." (ix. 43.) St. John says : " And the smoke of their torments shall ascend up for ever and ever." (Apoc. xvi. 11.) "Who," says St. Paul, " shall suffer eternal punishment in destruction." (2 Thess. i. 9.)

9. Another infidel will ask: How can God justly punish with eternal torments a sin that lasts but a moment ? I answer, that the grievousness of a crime is measured not by its duration, but by the enormity of its malice. The malice of mortal sin is, as St. Thomas says, infinite. (1, 2, q. 87, art. 4.) Hence, the damned deserve infinite punishment ; and, because a creature is not capable of suffering pains infinite in point of inten sity, God, as the holy doctor says, renders the punish ment of the damned infinite in extension by making it eternal. Moreover, it is just, that as long as the sinner remains in his sin, the punishment which he deserves should continue. And, therefore, as the virtue of the saints is rewarded in Heaven, because it lasts for ever, so also the guilt of the damned in Hell, because it is everlasting, shall be chastised with everlasting torments. " Quia non recipit causse remedium," says Eusebius Emissenus, " carebit fine supplicium." The cause of their perverse will continues : therefore, their chastise ment will never have an end. The damned are so obstinate in their sins, that even if God offered pardon, their hatred for him would make them refuse it. The Prophet Jeremias, speaking in the name of the repro bate, says: Why is my sorrow become perpetual and my wound desperate, so as to refuse to be healed?" (Jer. xv. 18.) My wound, they say, is incurable, be cause I do not wish it to be healed. JSTow, how can God heal the wound of their perverse will, when they would refuse the remedy, were it offered to them ? Hence, the punishment of the reprobate is called a sword, a vengeance which is irrevocable. " I, the Lord, have drawn my sword out of its sheath, not to be turned back." (Ezech. xxi. 5.)

10. Death, which is so terrible in this life, is desired in hell by the damned ; but they never shall find it. " And in these days men shall seek death, and shall not find it : and they shall desire to die, and death shall fly from them." (Apoc. xi. 6.) They would wish, as a remedy for their eternal ruin, to be exterminated and destroyed. But " there is no poison of destruction in them." (Wis. i. 14.) If a man, condemned to die, be not deprived of life by the first stroke of the axe, his torture moves the people to pity. Miserable damned souls ! They live in continual death in the midst of the pains of hell : tleath excites in them all the agony of death, but does not give them a remedy by taking away life. u Prima mors," says St. Augustine, " animam nolentem pellit de corpore, secunda mors nolentem tenet in corpore/ The first death expels from the body the soul of a sinner who is unwilling to die : but the second death that is, eternal death retains in the body a soul that wishes to die. " They are laid in hell like sheep ; death shall feed upon them." (Ps. xlviii. 15.) In feeding, sheep eat the blades of grass, but leave the root untouched ; hence the grass dies not, but grows up again. It is thus that death treats the damned ; it torments them with pain, but spares their life, which may be called the root of suffering.

11. But, if these miserable souls have no chance of release from hell, perhaps they can at least deceive or flatter themselves with the hope, that God may one day l>e moved to pity, and free them from their torments ? No : in hell there is no delusion, no flattery, no perhaps; the damned are as certain as they are of God s existence that their hell shall have no end. " Thou thoughtest unjustly that I shall be like to thee ; but I will reprove thee, and set before thy face." (Ps. xlix. 21.) They shall for ever see before their eyes their sins and the sentence of their eternal condemnation. " And I will set before thy face."

12. Let us conclude. Thus, most beloved brethren, the affair of our eternal salvation should be the sole object of all our concerns. " The business for which we struggle/ says St. Eucharius, " is eternity." There is question of eternity : there is question whether we will be saved, and be for ever happy in a city of delights, or be damned, and confined for eternity in a pit of fire. This is not an affair of little importance ; it is of the utmost and of eternal importance to us. When Thomas More was condemned to death by Henry the Eighth, his wife Louisa went to him for the purpose of tempting him to obey the royal command. Tell me, Lousia, replied the holy man, how many years can I, who am now so old, expect to live ? You might, said she, live for twenty years. O foolish woman ! he exclaimed, do you want me to condemn my soul to an eternity of torments for twenty years of life ?

13. God ! Christians believe in the existence of hell, and commit sin ! Dearly beloved brethren, let not us also be fools, like so many who are now weeping in hell. Miserable beings ! What benefit do they now derive from all the pleasures which they enjoyed in this life ? Speaking of the rich and of the poor, St. John Chrysostom said : " unhappy felicity, which has drawn the rich into eternal infelicity ! O happy infelicity, which has brought the poor to the felicity of eternity ! " The saints have buried themselves alive in this life, that after death they may not find themselves buried in hell for all eternity. If eternity were a doubtful matter, we ought even then make every effort in our power to escape an eternity of torments ; but no, it is not a matter of doubt ; it is a truth of faith, that after this life each of us must go into eternity, to be for ever in glory or for ever in despair. St. Teresa says, that it is through a want of faith that so many Chris tians are lost. As often as we say the words of the Creed, life everlasting, let us enliven our faith, and re member that there is another life, which never ends ; and let us adopt all the means necessary to secure a happy eternity. Let us do all, and give up all; if necessary, let us leave the world, in order to secure eter nal happiness. When eternity is at stake no security can be too great. " Nulla nimia securitas," says St. Bernard, " ubi periclitatur Eeternitas."

taken from the Sermons of Saint Alphonsus



On Heaven.

" Lord, it is good for us to be here." MATT. xvii. 4.

IN this day s gospel we read, that wishing to give his disciples a glimpse of the glory of Paradise, in order to animate them to labour for the divine honour, the Redeemer was transfigured, and allowed them to behold the splendour of his countenance. Ravished with joy and delight, St. Peter exclaimed : " Lord, it is good .for us to be here." Lord, let us remain here ; let us -.never more depart from this place ; for, the sight of thy beauty consoles us more than all the delights of the earth. Brethren, let us labour during the remainder of our lives to gain heaven. Heaven is so great a good, that, to purchase it for us, Jesus Christ has sacri ficed his life on the cross. Be assured, that the greatest of all the torments of the damned in hell, arise from the thought of having lost heaven through their own fault. The blessings, the delights, the joys, the sweetness of Paradise may be acquired ; but they can be described and understood only by those blessed souls that enjoy them. But let us, with the aid of the holy Scripture, explain the little that can be said of them here below.

1. According to the Apostle, no man on this earth, can comprehend the infinite blessings which God has prepared for the souls that love him. " Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him." (1 Cor. ii. 9.) In this life we cannot have an idea of any other pleasures than those which we enjoy by means of the senses. Perhaps we imagine that the beauty of heaven resembles that of a wide ex tended plain covered with the verdure of spring, interspersed with trees in full bloom, and abounding in birds fluttering about and singing on every side ; or, that it is like the beauty of a garden full of fruits and flowers, and surrounded by fountains in continual play. " Oh ! what a Paradise," to behold such a plain, or such a garden ! But, oh ! how much greater are the beauties of heaven ! Speaking of Paradise, St. Bernard says : O man, if you wish to understand the blessings of heaven, know that in that happy country there is nothing which can be disagreeable, and everything that you can desire. " Nihil est quod nolis, totum est quod velis." Although there are some things here below which are agreeable to the senses, how many more are there which only torment us ? If the light of day is pleasant, the darkness of night is disagreeable: if the spring and the autumn are cheering, the cold of winter and the heat of summer are painful. In addition, we have to endure the pains of sickness, the persecution of men, and the inconveniences of poverty ; we must sub mit to interior troubles, to fears, to temptations of the devil, doubts of conscience, and to the uncertainty of eternal salvation.

2. But, after entering into Paradise, the blest shall have no more sorrows. " God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." The Lord shall dry up the tears which they have shed in this life. " And death shall be no more, nor mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow, shall be any more, for the former things are passed away. And he that sat on the throne, said : " Behold, I make all things new." (Apoc. xxi. 4, 5.) In Paradise, death and the fear of death are no more : in that place of bliss there are no sorrows, no infirmities, no poverty, no inconveniencies, no vicissitudes of day or night, of cold or of heat. In that kingdom there is a continual day, always serene, a continual spring, always blooming. In Paradise there are no persecutions, no envy ; for all love each other with tenderness, and each rejoices at the happiness of the others, as if it were his own. There is no more fear of eternal perdition ; for the soul confirmed in grace can neither sin nor lose God.

3. " Totum est quod velis." In heaven you have all you can desire. " Behold, I make all things new." There everything is new ; new beauties, new delights, new joys. There all our desires shall be satisfied. The sight shall be satiated with beholding the beauty of that city. How delightful to behold a city in which the streets should be of crystal, the houses of silver, the windows of gold, and all adorned with the most beau tiful flowers. But, oh ! how much more beautiful shall be the city of Paradise ! the beauty of the place shall be heightened by the beauty of the inhabitants, who are all clothed in royal robes ; for, according to St. Augustine, they are all kings. " Quot cives, tot reges." How delighted to behold Mary, the queen of heaven, who shall appear more beautiful than all the other citizens of Paradise ! But, what it must be to behold the beauty of Jesus Christ ! St. Teresa once saw one of the hands of Jesus Christ, and was struck with astonishment at the sight of such beauty. The smell shall be satiated with odours, but with the odours of Paradise. The hearing shall be satiated with the harmony of the celestial choirs. St. Francis once heard for a moment an angel playing on a violin, and he almost died through joy. How delightful must it be to hear the saints and angels sing ing the divine praises ! "They shall praise thee for ever and ever." (Ps. Ixxxiii. 5.) What must it be to hear Mary praising God ! St. Francis de Sales says, that, as the singing of the nightingale in the wood surpasses that of all other birds, so the voice of Mary is far superior to that of all the other saints. In a word, there are in Paradise all the delights which man can desire.

4. But the delights of which we have spoken are the least of the blessings of Paradise. The glory of heaven consists in seeing and loving God face to face. " Totum quod expectamus," says St. Augustine, " duaa syllabas sunt, Deus." The reward which God promises to us does not consist altogether in the beauty, the harmony, and other advantages of the city of Paradise. God himself, whom the saints are allowed to behold, is, accord ing to the promises made to Abraham, the principal reward of the just in heaven. " I am thy reward exceeding great." (Gen. xv. 1.) St. Augustine asserts, that, were God to show his face to the damned, " Hell would be instantly changed into a Paradise of delights." (Lib. de trip, habit., torn. 9.) And he adds that, were a departed soul allowed the choice of seeing God and suffering the pains of hell, or of being freed from these pains and deprived of the sight of God, " she would prefer to see God, and to endure these torments."

5. The delights of the soul infinitely surpass all tho pleasures of the senses. Even in this life divine love infuses such sweetness into the soul when God com municates himself to her, that the body is raised from the earth. St. Peter of Alcantara once fell into such an ecstacy of love, that, taking hold of a tree, he drew it up from the roots, and raised it with him on high. So great is the sweetness of divine love, that the holy martyrs, in the midst of their torments, felt no pain, but were on the contrary filled with joy. Hence, St. Augustine says that, when St. Lawrence was laid on a red-hot gridiron, the fervour of divine love made him insensible to the burning heat of the fire. " Hoc igne incensus non sentit incendium." Even on sinners who Teep for their sins, God bestows consolations which exceed all earthly pleasures. Hence St. Bernard says: " If it be so sweet to weep for thee, what must it be to rejoice in thee !"

6. How great is the sweetness which a soul experiences, when, in the time of prayer, God, by a ray of his own light, shows to her his goodness and his mercies towards her, and particularly the love which Jesus Christ has borne to her in his passion ! She feels her heart melting, and as it were dissolved through love. But in this life we do not see God as he really is : we see him as it were in. the dark. " We see now through. a glass in a dark manner, but then face to face." (1 Cor. xiii. 12.) Here below God is hidden from, our view ; we can see him only with the eyes of faith : how great shall be our happiness when the veil shall be raised, and we shall be permitted to behold God face to face ! Wo shall then see his beauty, his greatness, his perfection, his amiableness, and his immense love for our souls.

7. " Man knoweth not whether he be worthy of love or hatred." (Eccl. ix. 1.) The fear of not loving God, and of not being loved by him, is the greatest affliction which souls that love God endure on the earth ; but, in heaven, the soul is certain that she loves God, and that he loves her ; she sees that the Lord embraces her with infinite love, and that this love shall not be dissolved for all eternity. The knowledge of the love which Jesus Christ has shown her in offering himself in sacri fice for her on the cross, and in making himself her food in the sacrament of the altar, shall increase the ardour of her love. She shall also see clearly all the graces which God has bestowed upon her, all the helps which he has given her, to preserve her from falling into sin, and to draw her to his love. She shall see that all the tribulations, the poverty, infirmities, and persecutions which she regards as misfortunes, have all proceeded from love, and have been the means employed by Divine Providence to bring her to glory. She shall see all the lights, loving calls, and mercies which God had granted to her, after she had insulted him by her sins. From the blessed mountain of Paradise she shall see so many souls damned for fewer sins than she had committed, and shall see that she herself is saved and secured against the possibility of ever losing God.

8. The goods of this earth do not satisfy our desires : at first they gratify the senses ; but when we become accustomed to them they cease to delight. But the joys of Paradise constantly satiate and content the heart. " I shall be satisfied when thy glory shall appear." (Ps. xvi. 15.) And though they satiate they always appear to be as new as the first time when they were experienced ; they are always enjoyed and always desired, always desired and always possessed. " Sati ety," says St. Gregory, " accompanies desire." (Lib. 13, Mor., c. xviii.) Thus, the desires of the saints in Paradise do not beget pain, because they are always satisfied ; and satiety does not produce disgust, because it is always accompanied with desire. Hence the soul shall be always satiated and always thirsty : she shall be for ever thirsty, and always satiated with delights. The damned are, according to the Apostle, vessels full of wrath and of torments, " vessels of wrath, fitted for destruction." (Rom. ix. 22.) But the just are vessels full of mercy and of joy, so that they have nothing to desire. " They shall be inebriated with the plenty of thy house." (Ps. xxxv. 9.) In beholding the beauty of God, the soul shall be so inflamed and so inebriated with divine love, that she shall remain happily lost in God ; for she shall entirely forget herself, and for all eternity shall think only of loving and praising the immense good which she shall possess for ever, without the fear of having it in her power ever to lose it. In this life, holy souls love God ; but they cannot love him with all their strength, nor can they always actually love him. St. Thomas teaches, that this perfect love is only given to the citizens of heaven, who love God with their whole heart, and never cease to love him actually. " Ut toturn cor hominis semper actualiter in Deum feratur ista est perfectio patria>." (2, 2 quacst. 44, art. 4, ad. 2.)

9. Justly, then, has St. Augustine said, that to gain the eternal glory of Paradise, we should cheerfully embrace eternal labour. " Pro aeterna requie acternus labor subeundus esset." " For nothing/ says David, " shalt thou save them." (Ps. Iv. 8.) The saints have done but little to acquire Heaven. So many kings, who have abdicated their thrones and shut themselves up in a cloister ; so many holy anchorets, who have confined themselves in a cave; so many martyrs, who have cheer fully submitted to torments to the rack, and to red-hot plates have done but little. " The sufferings of this life are not worthy to be compared to the glory to come." (Rom. viii. 18.) To gain heaven, it would be but little to endure all the pains of this life.

10. Let us, then, brethren, courageously resolve to bear patiently with all the sufferings which shall come upon us during the remaining days of our lives : to secure heaven they are all little and nothing. Rejoice then ; for all these pains, sorrows, and persecutions shall, if we are saved, be to us a source of never-ending joys and delights. " Your sorrows shall be turned into joy." (John xvi. 20.) When, then, the crosses of this life afflict us, let us raise our eyes to heaven, and console ourselves with the hope of Paradise. At the end of her life, St. Mary of Egypt was asked, by the Abbot St. Zozimus, how she had been able to live for forty-seven years in the desert where he found her dying. She answered : " With the hope of Paradise." If we be animated with the same hope, we shall not feel the tribulations of this life. Have courage ! Let us love God and labour for heaven. There the saint expects us, Mary expects us, Jesus Christ expects us ; he holds in his hand a crown to make each of us a king in that eternal kingdom.

taken from The Sermons of Saint Alphonsus




On impurity.

11 And behold, there was a certain man before him, who had the dropsy." LUKE xiv. 2.

THE man who indulges in impurity is like a person labouring under the dropsy. The latter is so much tor mented by thirst, that the more he drinks the more thirsty he becomes. Such, too, is the nature of the accursed vice of impurity ; it is never satiated. "As," says St. Thomas of Yillanova, " the more the dropsical man abounds in moisture, the more he thirsts ; so, too, is it with the waves of eternal pleasures." I will speak to-day of the vice of impurity, and will show, in the first point, the delusion of those who say that this vice- is but a small evil ; and, in the second, the delusion of those who say, that God takes pity on this sin, and that he does not punish it.

First Point. Delusion of those who say that sins against purity are not a great evil. 1. The unchaste, then, say that sins contrary to purity are but a small evil. Like " the sow wallowing in the mire" (" Sus lota in volutabro luti "2 Pet. ii. 22), they are immersed in their own filth, so that they do not see the malice of their actions ; and therefore they neither feel nor abhor the stench of their impurities, which excite disgust and horror in all others. Can you, who say that the vice of impurity is but a small evil can you, I ask, deny that it is a mortal sin ? If you deny it, you are a heretic ; for as St. Paul says : "Do not err. Neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor the effeminate, etc., shall possess the kingdom of God." (1 Cor. vi. 9.) It is a mortal sin ; it cannot be a small evil. It is more sinful than theft, or detraction, or tbe violation of the fast. How then can you say that it is not a great evil ? Perhaps mortal sin appears to you to be a small evil ? Is it a small evil to despise the grace of God, to turn your back upon him, and to lose his friendship, for a transitory, beastly pleasure ?

2. St. Thomas teaches, that mortal sin, because it is an insult offered to an infinite God, contains a certain infinitude of malice. "A sin committed against God has a certain infinitude, on account of the infinitude of the Divine Majesty." (S. Thorn., 3 p., q. 1, art. 2, ad. 2.) Is mortal sin a small evil? It is so great an evil, that if all the angels and all the saints, the apostles, martyrs, and even the Mother of God, offered all their merits to atone for a single mortal sin, the oblation would not be sufficient. No ; for that atonement or satisfaction would be finite ; but the debt contracted by mortal sin is infi nite, on account of the infinite Majesty of God which has been offended. The hatred which God bears to sins against purity is great beyond measure. If a lady find her plate soiled she is disgusted, and cannot eat. Now, with what disgust and indignation must God, who is purity itself, behold the filthy impurities by which his law is violated ? He loves purity with an infinite love ; and consequently he has an infinite hatred for the sen suality which the lewd, voluptuous man calls a small evil. Even the devils who held a high rank in heaven before their fall disdain to tempt men to sins of the flesh.

3. St. Thomas says (lib. 5, de Erud. Princ., c. li.), that Lucifer, who is supposed to have been the devil that tempted Jesus Christ in the desert, tempted him to commit other sins, but scorned to tempt him to offend against chastity. Is this sin a small evil ? Is it, then, a small evil to see a man endowed with a rational soul, and enriched with so many divine graces, bring himself by the sin of impurity to the level of a brute ? " For nication and pleasure," says St. Jerome, " pervert the understanding, and change men into beasts." (In Oseam., c. iv.) In the voluptuous and unchaste are literally verified the words of David : " And man, when he was in honour, did not understand : he is compared to sense less beasts, and is become like to them." (Ps. xlviii. 13.) St. Jerome says, that there is nothing more vile or degrading than to allow oneself to be conquered by the flesh. " Nihil vilius quam vinci a carne." Is it a small evil to forget God, and to banish him from the soul, for the sake of giving the body a vile satis faction, of which, when it is over, you feel ashamed ? Of this the Lord complains by the Prophet Ezechiel : " Thus saith the Lord God : Because thou hast forgotten me, and has cast me off behind thy back " (xxiii. 35.) St. Thomas says, that by every vice, but particularly by the vice of impurity, men are removed far from God. " Per luxuriant maxime recedit a Deo." (In Job cap. xxxi.)

4. Moreover, sins of impurity, on account of their great number, are an immense evil. A blasphemer does not always blaspheme, but only when he is drunk or provoked to anger. The assassin, whose trade is to murder others, does not, at the most, commit more than eight or ten homicides. But the unchaste are guilty of an unceasing torrent of sins, by thoughts, by words, by looks, by complacencies, and by touches ; so that, when they go to confession they find it impossible to tell the number of the sins they have committed against purity. Even in their sleep the devil represents to them obscene objects, that, on awakening, they may take delight in them; and because they are made the slaves of the enemy, they obey and consent to his suggestions ; for it is easy to contract a habit of this sin. To other sins, such as blasphemy, detraction, and murder, men are not prone ; but to this vice nature inclines them. Hence St. Thomas says, that there is no sinner so ready to offend God as the votary of lust is, on every occasion that occurs to him. " Nullus ad Dei contemptum promptior." The sin of impurity brings in its train the sins of defamation, of theft, hatred, and of boasting of its own filthy abominations. Besides, it or dinarily involves the malice of scandal. Other sins, such as blasphemy, perjury, and murder, excite horror in those who witness them ; but this sin excites and draws others, who are flesh, to commit it, or, at least, to commit it with less horror.

5. " Totum hominem," says St. Cyprian, " agit in triumphum libidinis." (Lib. de bono pudic.) By lust the evil triumphs over the entire man, over his body and over his soul ; over his memory, filling it with the remembrance of unchaste delights, in order to make him take complacency in them ; over his intellect, to make him desire occasions of committing sin ; over the will, by making it love its impurities as his last end, and as if there were no God. "I made," said Job, u a covenant with my eyes, that I would not so much as think upon a virgin. For what part should God from above have in me?" (xxxi. 1, 2.) Job was afraid to look at a virgin, because he knew that if he con sented to a bad thought God should have no part in him. According to St. Gregory, from impurity arises blindness of understanding, destruction, hatred of God, and despair of eternal life. " De luxuria ccccitas mentis pirccipitatio, odium Dei, desperatio futuri srcculi generantur." (S. Greg., Mor., lib. 13.) St. Augustine says, though the unchaste may grow old, the vice of impurity does not grow old in them. Hence St. Thomas says, that there is no sin in which the devil delights so much as in this sin ; because there is no other sin to which nature clings with so much tenacity. To the vice of impurity it adheres so firmly, that the appetite for carnal pleasures becomes insatiable. " Dia- bolus dicitur gaudere maxime de peccato Iuxuria3, quia est maxim 33 adhoorentia}: et difficile ab eo homo eripi potest ; insatiabilis est enim delectabilis appetitus." (1 X, qu. 73, a. 5, ad. 2.) Go now, and say that the sin of impurity is but a small evil. At the hour of death you shall not say so ; every sin of that kind shall then appear to you a monster of hell. Much less shall you say so before the judgment-seat of Jesus Christ, who will tell you what the Apostle has already told you : "No fornicator, or unclean, hath inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God." (Eph. v. 5.) The man who has lived like a brnte does not deserve to sit with the angels.

6. Most beloved brethren, let us continue to pray to God to deliver us from this vice : if we do not, we shall lose our souls. The sin of impurity brings with it blindness and obstinacy. Every vice produces darkness of understanding ; but impurity produces it in a greater degree than all other sins. " Fornication, and wine, and drunkenness take away the understanding." (Osee iv. 11.) Wine deprives us of understanding and reason ; so does impurity. Hence St. Thomas says, that the man who indulges in unchaste pleasures, does not live according to reason. " In nullo procedit secundum judicium rationis." Now, if the unchaste are deprived of light, and no longer see the evil which they do, how can they abhor it and amend their lives ? The Prophet Osee says, that being blinded by their own mire, they do not even think of returning to God; because their impurities take away from them all knowledge of God. " They will not set their thought to return to their God ; for the spirit of fornication is in the midst of them, and they have not known the Lord." (Osee v. 4.) Hence St. Lawrence Justinian writes, that this sin makes men forget God. " Delights of the flesh induced forgetfulness of God." And St. John Damascene teaches that " the carnal man cannot look at the light of truth." Thus, the lewd and voluptuous no longer understand what is meant by the grace of God, by judgment, hell, and eternity. " Fire hath fallen upon them, and they shall not see the sun." (Ps. Ivii. 9.) Some of these blind miscreants go so far as to say, that fornication is not in itself sinful. They say, that it was not forbidden in the Old Law ; and in support of this execrable doctrine they adduce the words of the Lord to Osee : " Go, take thee a wife of fornication, and have of her children of fornication." (Osee i. 2.) In answer I say, that God did not permit Osee to commit fornication ; hut wished him to take for his wife a woman who had been guilty of fornication : and the children of this marriage were called children of fornication, because the mother had been guilty of that crime. This is, according to St. Jerome, the meaning of the words of the Lord to Osee. " Idcirco," says the holy doctor, " Fornicationis appelandi sunt filii, quod sunt de meretrice generati." But fornication was always forbidden, under pain of mortal sin, in the Old, as well as in the New Law. St. Paul says : " No fornicator or unclean, hath inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God." (Eph. v. 5.) Behold the impiety to which the blindness of such sinners carry them ! From this blindness it arises, that though they go to the sacraments, their confessions are null for want of true contrition ; for how is it possible for them to have true sorrow, when they neither know nor abhor their sins ?

7. The vice of impurity also brings with it obstinacy. To conquer temptations, particularly against chastity, continual prayer is necessary. " Watch ye, and pray, that ye enter not into temptation." (Mark xiv. 38.) But how will the unchaste, who are always seeking to be tempted, pray to God to deliver them from temptation ? They sometimes, as St. Augustine confessed of himself, even abstain from prayer, through fear of being heard and cured of the disease, which they wish to continue. "I feared," said the saint, "that you would soon hear and heal the disease of concupiscence, which I wished to be satiated, rather than extinguished." (Conf., lib. 8, cap. vii.) St. Peter calls this vice an unceasing sin. " Having eyes full of adultery and sin that ceaseth not." (2 Pet. ii. 14.) Impurity is called an unceasing sin on account of the obstinacy which it induces. Some person addicted to this vice says : always confess the sin. So much the worse ; for since you always relapse into sin, these confessions serve to make you persevere in the sin. The fear of punishment is diminished by saying : always confess the sin. If you felt that this sin certainly merits hell, you would scarcely say : I will not give it up ; I do not care if I am damned. But the devil deceives you. Commit this sin, he says ; for you afterwards confess it. But, to make a good confession of your sins, you must have true sorrow of the heart, and a firm purpose to sin no more. Where are this sorrow and this firm purpose of amendment, when you always return to the vomit? If you had had these dispositions, and had received sanctifying grace at your confessions, you should not have relapsed, or at least you should have abstained for a consider able time from relapsing. You have always fallen back into sin in eight or ten days, and perhaps in a shorter time, after confession. What sign is this ? It is a sign that you were always in enmity with God. If a sick man instantly vomits the medicine which he takes, it is a sign that his disease is incurable.

8. St. Jerome says, that the vice of impurity, when habitual, will cease when the unhappy man who in dulges in it is cast into the fire of hell. " infernal fire, lust, whose fuel is gluttony, whose sparks are brief conversations, whose end is hell." The unchaste be come like the vulture that waits to be killed by the fowler, rather than abandon the rottenness of the dead bodies on which it feeds. This is what^ happened to a young female, who, after having lived in the habit of sin with a young man, fell sick, and appeared to be converted. At the hour of death she asked leave of her confessor to send for the young man, in order to exhort him to change his life at the sight of her death. The confessor very imprudently gave the permission, and taught her what she should say to her accomplice in sin. But listen to what happened. As soon as she saw him, she forgot her promise to the confessor and the exhortation she was to give to the young man. And what did she do ? She raised herself up, sat in bed, stretched her arms to him, and said : Friend, I have always loved you, and even now, at the end of my life, I love you : I see that, on your account, I shall go to hell : but I do not care : I am willing, for the love of you, to be damned. After these words she fell back on the bed and expired. These facts are related by Father Segneri (Christ. Istr. Bag., xxiv., n. 10.) Oh ! how difficult is it for a person who has contracted a habit of this vice, to amend his life and return sincerely to God ! how difficult is it for him not to terminate this habit in hell, like the unfortunate young woman of whom I have just spoken.

Second Point. Illusion of those who say that God takes pity on this sin.

9. The votaries of lust say that God takes pity on this sin ; hut such is not the language of St. Thomas of Yillanova. He says, that in the sacred Scriptures \ve do not read of any sin so severely chastised as the sin of impurity. " Luxuriic facinus pro) aliis punitum legimus." (Serm. iv., Dom. 1, Quadrag.) We find in the Scriptures, that in punishment of this sin, a deluge of fire descended from heaven on four cities, and, in an instant, consumed not only the inhabitants, but even the very stones. " And the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven. And he destroyed these cities, and all things that spring from the earth." (Gen. xix. 24.) St. Peter Damian relates, that a man and a woman who had sinned against impurity, were found burnt and black as a cinder.

10. Salvian writes, that it was in punishment of the sin of impurity that God sent on the earth the universal deluge, which was caused by continued rain for forty days and forty nights. In this deluge the waters rose fifteen cubits above the tops of the highest mountains ; and only eight persons along with Noah were saved in the ark. The rest of the inhabitants of the earth, who were more numerous then than at present, were pun ished with death in chastisement of the vice of im purity. Mark the words of the Lord in speaking of this chastisement which he inflicted on that sin : " My spirit shall not remain in man for ever ; because he is flesh." (Gen. vi. 3.) "That is," says Liranus, "too deeply involved in carnal sins." The Lord added : " For it repenteth me that I made man." (Gen. vi. 7.) The indignation of God is not like ours, which clouds the mind, and drives us into excesses : his wrath is a judgment perfectly just and tranquil, by which God punishes and repairs the disorders of sin. But to make us understand the intensity of his hatred for the sin of impurity, he represents himself as if sorry for having created man, who offended him so grievously by this vice. "We, at the present day, see more severe temporal punishment inflicted on this than on any other sin. Go into the hospitals, and listen to the shrieks of so many young men, who, in punishment of their impuri ties, are obliged to submit to the severest treatment and to the most painful operations, and who, if they escape death, are, according to the divine threat, feeble, and subject to the most excruciating pain for the remainder of their lives. " Thou hast cast me off behind thy back ; bear thou also thy wickedness and thy fornications." (Ezec. xxiii. 35.)

11. St. Remigius writes that, if children.be excepted, the number of adults that are saved is few, on account of the sins of the flesh. " Exceptis parvulis ex adultis propter vitiam carnis pauci salvantur." (Apud S. Cypr. de bono pudic.) In conformity with this doctrine, it was revealed to a holy soul, that as pride has filled hell with devils, so impurity fills it with men. (Col., disp. ix., ex. 192.) St. Isidore assigns the reason. He says that there is no vice which so much enslaves men to the devil as impurity. " Magis per luxuriam, humanum genus subditur diabolo, quam per aliquod aliud." (S. lad., lib. 2, c. xxxix.) Hence, St. Augustine says, that with regard to this sin, " the combat is common and the victory rare." Hence it is, that on account of this sin hell is filled with souls.

12. All that I have said on this subject has been said, not that any one present, who has been addicted to the vice of impurity, may be driven to despair, but that such persons may be cured. Let us, then, come to the remedies. These are two great remedies prayer, and the flight of dangerous occasions. Prayer, says St. Gregory of Nyssa, is the safeguard of chastity. " Oratio pudicitiae presidium et tutamen est." (De Orat.) And before him, Solomon, speaking of himself, said the same. " And as I knew that I could not otherwise be continent, except God gave it... I went to the Lord, and besought him." (Wis. viii. 21.) Thus, it is impossible for us to conquer this vice without God s assistance. Hence, as soon as temptation against chastity presents itself, the remedy is, to turn instantly to God for help, and to repeat several times the most holy names of Jesus and Mary, which have a special virtue to banish bad thoughts of that kind. I have said immediately, with out listening to, or beginning to argue with the tempta tion. When a bad thought occurs to the mind, it is necessary to shake it off instantly, as you would a spark that flies from the fire, and instantly to invoke aid from Jesus and Mary.

13. As to the flight of dangerous occasions, St. Philip !N"eri used to say that cowards that is, they who fly from the occasions gain the victory. Hence you must, in the first place, keep a restraint on the eyes, and must abstain from looking at young females. Otherwise, says St. Thomas, you can scarcely avoid the sin. " Luxuria vitari vix protest nisi vitatur aspectus mulieris pulchrae." (S. Thorn. 1, 2, qu. 167, a. 2.) Hence Job said : " I made a covenant with my eyes, that I would not so much as think upon a virgin" (xxxi. 1). He was afraid to look at a virgin ; because from looks it is easy to pass to desires, and from desires to acts. St. Francis de Sales used to say, that to look at a woman does not do so much evil as to look at her a second time. If the devil has not gained a victory the first, he will gain the second time. And if it be necessary to abstain from looking at females, it is much more necessary to avoid conversation with them/ "Tarry not among women." (Eccl. xlii. 12.) We should be persuaded that, in avoiding occasions of this sin, no caution can be too great. Hence we must be always fearful, and fly from them. " A wise man feareth and declineth from evil ; a fool is confident." (Prov. xiv. 16.) A wise man is timid, and flies away ; a fool is confident, and falls.

taken from The Sermons of Saint Alphonsus

13 November 2009

On avoiding bad thoughts

Above all, in order to avoid bad thoughts, men must abstain from looking at women, and females must be careful not to look at men. I repeat the words of Job which I have frequently quoted. " I made a covenant with my eyes, that I would not so much as think upon a virgin." - Job, xxx. 1. He says that he made a covenant with his eys that he would not think. What do they eyes have to do with thinking? The eyes do not think; the mind alone thinks. But he had just reason to say, that he made a covenant with his eyes that he would not think on women; for St. Bernard says, that through the eyes the darts of impure love, which kills the soul, enter into the mind. "Per oculos intrat in mentem sagitta impuri amoris". Hence, the Holy Ghost says: "Turn away thy face from a woman dressed up" - Eccl., ix. 8. It is always dangerous to look at young persons elegantly dressed; and to look at them purposely and without a just cause, is, at least, a venial sin.

taken from the Sermons of Saint Alphonsus

12 November 2009

Delusions of Sinners

Behold the net by which the Devil drags so many souls into Hell. Indulge your passions; you will hereafter make a good confession. But, in reply, I, say, that in the mean time you lose your soul. Tell me: if you had a jewel worth a thousand pounds, would you throw it into a river with the hope of afterwards finding it again? What if all your efforts to find it were fruitless? O God! you hold in your hand the invaluable jewel of your soul, which Jesus Christ has purchased with His own blood, and you cast it into Hell! Yes; you cast it into Hell; because, according to the present order of providence, for every mortal sin you commit, your name is written among the number of the damned. But you say: I hope to recover God's grace by making a good confession. And if you should not revoer it, what shall be the consequences? To make a good confession, a true sorrow for sin in necessary, and this sorrow if the gift from God: if He does not give it, will you not be lost forever?

taken from the Sermons of Saint Alphonsus

11 November 2009

Novena to Saint Joseph in special necessities

O Holy Joseph, thou who hast never been invoked in vain, whose arms are ever open to receive the poor afflicted who have recourse to thee, whose heart is ever accessible to those who seek refuge with thee, mercifully cast a glance of pity on my great misery. Thou knowest the great trial that God sees fit to send me; thou knowest the excessive grief that fills my heart. The cross weighs heavily on my shoulders "for the hand of the Lord hath touched me."

In vain have I raised my voice to the throne of the Divine Majesty; the Lord seems not to hearken to my petitions. I have indeed deserved these trials, these temptations, these afflictions, for I have sinned and therefore I must suffer. But do thou, O St. Joseph, whose influence with God is so great, do thou, beloved father, make intercession for me with Jesus. Oh, be my advocate with thy Divine Son, whose protector, foster father, and solicitous guardian thou hast been/ Add to thy great glory also this, that thou wilt give aid in the hopeless affairs which I now commend to thee.

I believe, yes, I believe that thou canst deliver me from my afflictions and will grant me petition/ I have unshaken confidence that thou wilt leave nothing undone to assist one in darkness who humbly and fervently asks thy help. Behold me here at thy feet, O good St. Joseph! Look upon me, have pity on my sighs and tears. Do not abandon me; I will not depart until thou hast spread over me the mantle of thy compassion and promised me thine intercession with God.

Now, ask Saint Joseph for his blessing

Bless me, O dearly beloved Father, St. Joseph; bless my body and my soul, bless my resolutions, my words and deeds, all my actions and omissions, my every step; bless all that I possess, all my interior and exterior goods, that all may redound to the greater honor of God. Bless me for time and eternity, and preserve me from every sin.

Obtain for me the grace to make atonement for all my sins by love and contrition here on earth, so that after my last breath I may, without delay, prostrate at your feet, return thee thanks in Heaven for all the love and goodness thou, O dearest father, hast shown me here below. Amen.

Now, pray an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be three times, in thanksgiving to God for the graces bestowed upon Saint Joseph.

O Jesus, Mary and Joseph, accept these three Our Fathers from me, a poor sinner, and grant that my prayer may be pleasing to thee. Let my sighs penetrate thy hearts, that my petition may be favorably received.

I beseech thee by the faithful love which thou hadst for one another, and by all the compassion thou ever showed to those in distress, show me thy love also to me in my present need, and grant my earnest petition. (Name your request)

Novena to Saint Joseph

O Glorious St. Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, to thee do we raise our hearts and hands to implore thy powerful intercession in obtaining from the benign Heart of Jesus all the helps and graces necessary for our spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly the grace of a happy death, and the special favor we now implore (state your petition).

O Guardian of the Word Incarnate, we have confidence that thy prayers on our behalf will be graciously heard before the throne of God. Amen.

(Then say the following seven times in honor of the seven sorrows and joys of St. Joseph.)

V. O Glorious St. Joseph! Through thy love for Jesus Christ and for the glory of His Name,
R. Hear our prayers and obtain our petitions.
V. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
R. Assist us!


To pray a novena, pray the above prayer once a day, for nine consecutive days.

Memorare to Saint Joseph

Remember, O most illustrious Patriarch St. Joseph, on the testimony of St. Teresa, thy devoted client, that never has it been heard that anyone invoked thy protection or sought thy mediation who has not obtained relief. In this confidence I come before thee, my loving protector, chaste spouse of Mary, foster father of the Saviour of men and dispenser of the treasures of His Sacred Heart. Despise not my earnest prayer, but graciously hear and obtain my petition. (Mention here your intention.)

Let us pray

O God, Who in Thine ineffable Providence didst vouchsafe to choose Blessed Joseph to be the spouse of Thy most holy Mother, grant, we beseech Thee, that he whom we venerate as our protector on earth may be our intercessor in Heaven. Who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

01 November 2009

The Maxims and Sayings of Saint Philip Neri


1. The great thing is to become saints.

2. In order to enter Paradise we must be well justified and well purified.

3. Let the young man look after the flesh, and the old man after avarice, and we shall all be saints together.

4. Where there is no great mortification there is no great sanctity.

5. The sanctity of a man lies in the breadth of three fingers, (the forehead,) that is to say, in mortifying the understanding, which would fain reason upon things.

6. He who really wishes to become a saint must never defend himself, except in a few rare cases, but always acknowledge himself in fault, even when what is alleged against him is untrue.

7. What we know of the virtues of the saints is the least part of them.

8. The relics of the saints ought to be venerated, and we may laudably keep them in our room; but it is not well, unless for some grave occasion, to wear them on our persons, because it will often happen then that they are not treated with all the respect which is becoming.

9. The old patriarchs possessed riches, and had wives and children, but they lived without defiling their affections with these things, although they possessed them, because they only allowed themselves the use of them, and were ready to abandon them in whatever way the Majesty of God might require of them.

10. We ought to pray God importunately to increase in us every day the light and heat of his goodness.

11. It is an old custom with the servants of God always to have some little prayers ready, and to be darting them up to heaven frequently during the day, lifting their minds to God from out of the filth of this world. He who adopts this plan will get great fruit with little pains.

12. Tribulations, if we bear them patiently for the love of God, appear bitter at first, but they grow sweet, when one gets accustomed to the taste.

13. The man who loves God with a true heart, and prizes him above all things, sometimes sheds floods of tears at prayer, and has in abundance of favours and spiritual feelings coming upon him with such vehemence, that he is forced to cry out, “Lord! let me be quiet!”

14. But a man ought not to seek for these sweetnesses and sensible devotions forcibly, for he will be easily deluded by the devil, and will run a risk of injuring his health.

15. When the soul lies resignedly in the hands of God, and is contented with the divine pleasure, it is in good hands, and has the best security that good will happen to it.

16. To be entirely conformed and resigned to the Divine Will, is truly a road in which we cannot get wrong, and is the only road which leads us to taste and enjoy that peace which sensual and earthly men know nothing of.

17. Resignation is all in all to the sick man; he ought to say to God, “Lord, if You want me, here I am, although I have never done any good: do with me what You will.”

18. Never make a noise of any sort in church, except for the greatest necessity.

19. Patience is necessary for the servant of God, and we must not be distressed at trouble, but wait for consolation.

20. When seculars have once chosen their secular state, let them persevere in it, and in the devout exercises which they have begun, and in their works of charity, and they shall have contentment at their death.

21. The vocation to the religious life is one of the great benefits which the Mother of God obtains from her Son for those who are devoted to her.

22. There is nothing more dangerous in the spiritual life, than to wish to rule ourselves after our own way of thinking.

23. Among the things we ought to ask of God, is perseverance in well-doing and in serving the Lord; because, if we only have patience, and persevere in the good life we have begun to lead, we shall acquire a most eminent degree of spirituality.

24. He is perfect in the school of Christ who despises being despised, rejoices in self-contempt, and accounts himself to be very nothingness.

25. The way which God takes with the souls that love him, by allowing them to be tempted and to fall into tribulations, is a true espousal between Himself and them.

26. In temptations of the flesh, a Christian ought to have immediate recourse to God, make the sign of the cross over his heart three times, and say, “Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.”

27. As to temptations, some are mastered by flying from them, some by resisting them, and some by despising them.

28. In order to acquire prudence, and to make a good judgment, we must have lived long and been intimate with many people.

29. It is a great perfection in a heart when it is discreet and does not overstep the limits of convenience and what is befitting.

30. We must seek Christ where Christ is not, that is, in crosses and tribulations, in which truly He is not now, but we shall find Him in glory by this road.