Continuing our meditations taken from “Introduction to the Devout Life” by St. Francis de Sales, to prepare ourselves to make a General Confession before Holy Week, we come to Chapter XV: the Seventh Meditation – Hell.
1. PLACE yourself in God’s Presence. 2. Humble yourself, and ask His Aid. 3. Picture to yourself a dark city, reeking with the flames of sulphur and brimstone, inhabited by citizens who cannot get forth.
1. Even so the lost are plunged in their infernal abyss;—suffering indescribable torture in every sense and every member; and that because having used their members and senses for sin, it is just that through them they should suffer now. Those eyes which delighted in impure vicious sights, now behold devils; the ears which took pleasure in unholy words, now are deafened with yells of despair;—and so on with the other senses.
2. Beyond all these sufferings, there is one greater still, the privation and pain of loss of God’s Glory, which is for ever denied to their vision. If Absalom cared not to be released from exile, if he might not see his father’s face, how much sorer will it be to be deprived for ever of the blessed vision of God?
3. Consider how insupportable the pains of Hell will be by reason of their eternal duration. If the irritating bite of an insect, or the restlessness of fever, makes an ordinary night seem so long and tedious, how terrible will the endless night of eternity be, where nought will be found save despair, blasphemy and fury!
Affections and Resolutions.
1. Read the Prophet’s descriptions of the terrors of the Lord, and ask your soul whether it can face them—whether you can bear to lose your God for ever?
2. Confess that you have repeatedly deserved to do so. Resolve henceforth to act differently, and to rescue yourself from this abyss. Resolve on distinct definite acts by which you may avoid sin, and thereby eternal death.
Give thanks, offer yourself, pray.