Meditation for Lent, Thursday after Ash Wednesday, by St Alphonsus Liguori
How shall a dying man who has spent his life in sin, be able in the midst of the pains, the stupefaction, and the confusion of death, to repent sincerely of all his past iniquities? O God, what terrors and confusion will seize upon the unhappy Christian who has led a careless life, when he shall find himself overwhelmed with sins and the fear of Judgment, of Hell and Eternity And how should he not tremble who has offended God by many mortal sins and has done no penance for them!
Consider the fear which the thought of Judgment will cause in the mind of a dying man, when he reflects that in a very short time he must present himself before Jesus Christ, his Judge, to render an account of all the actions of his past life. When the awful moment of his passage out of this world into another, out of time into eternity, arrives, then will there be nothing so tormenting to him as the sight of his sins. St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi, being ill, and thinking of Judgment, trembled. Her confessor told her not to fear. “Ah, Father,” she replied, “it is an awful thing to appear before Jesus Christ as our Judge!” Such were the feelings of this holy virgin who was a Saint from her infancy. What will he say who has frequently deserved hell?
The Abbot Agatha after many years of penance trembled, saying, “What will become of me when I shall be judged?” And how should he not tremble who has offended God by many mortal sins, and yet has done no penance for them! At death, the sight of his crimes, the rigour of the Divine judgments, the uncertainty of the sentence to be pronounced upon him–what a tempest of horror and confusion will these raise around him! Let us be careful to throw ourselves at the feet of Jesus Christ, and secure our pardon before the arrival of our accounting day.
Ah, my Jesus and my Redeemer, Who wilt one day be my Judge, have pity on me before the day of justice. Behold at Thy feet a deserter who has often promised to be faithful to Thee, and has as often again turned his back upon Thee. No, my God, Thou hast not deserved the treatment Thou hast hitherto received at my hands. Forgive me, O Lord, for I desire truly to change and amend my life. I am sorry, my Sovereign Good, for having despised Thee: take pity on me.
Then will be decided the great affair of our eternal salvation. Upon this decision will depend our being either saved for ever, or lost for ever, our being happy or miserable for all eternity. But, O God, each one knows this, and says, “Yes, so it is.” But since it is so, why do we not leave all to attend only to our sanctification, and to the securing of our eternal salvation?
My God, I give Thee thanks for the light which Thou hast given me. Remember, O Jesus, that Thou didst die for my salvation; grant that when I first behold Thee I may see Thee appeased. If hitherto I have despised Thy grace, I now esteem it above every other good. I love Thee, O Infinite Goodness, and because I love Thee I am sorry for having offended Thee. Hitherto I have forsaken Thee, but now I desire Thee and seek Thee; grant that I may find Thee, O God of my soul! Mary, my Mother, recommend me to thy Son, Jesus.