(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Sermons for all the Sundays in the year"

rain 




SERMONS 



FOR 



ALL THE SUNDAYS IN THE YEAK. 




4 



SEKMOISTS 



FOB 



TRANSLATED FEOM THE ITALIAN 

OF 

ST. ALPHONSUS M. LIGUOBI, 

^is^op of Si. &gs%, 
AND FOUNDER OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE MOST HOLY REDEEMER. 



BY THE LATK 

VERY REV. NICHOLAS CALLAN, D.D., 

Cntbolic 



EIGHTH EDITION. 



DUBLIN : 
JAMES DUFFY & SONS, 15 WELLINGTON QUAY; 

AT<D 

LONDON: 1 PATERNOSTER ROW. 

1882. 



1P53 



DUBLIN : 

bti ffbmunb HJnrhe anb Co., 

tJl & 02 (JRKAT STRAND STREET. 



CONTENTS. 

PAGE 

OBJECT OF THE WORK . . 1 

INSTRUCTIONS TO PREACHERS . . 3 

SERMON I. First Sunday of Advent : 

On the General Judgment . . . .17 

SERMON II. Second Sunday of Advent : 

On the advantages of tribulations . . .23 

SERMON III. Third Sunday of Advent : 

On the means necessary for salvation . . 32 

SERMON IV. Fourth Sunday of Advent : 

On the love of Jesus Christ for us, and on our obli 
gation to love him . . . . .37 

SERMON V. Sunday within the Octave of the Nativity: 

In what true wisdom consists .... 43 

SERMON VI.: 

On the malice of mortal sin . . . .50 

SERMON VII. Second Sunday after the Epiphany : 

On the confidence with which we ought to recommend 

ourselves to the Mother of God . . .56 

SERMON VIIL Third Sunday after the Epiphany : 

On the remorse of the damned . . . . 64 

SERMON IX. Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany : 

Dangers to eternal salvation . . . . . 70 

SERMON X. Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany : 

On the pains of hell . . . . .76 

SERMON XL Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany : 

On the death of the just . . . . .. 83 



CONTEXTS. 



SERMON XII. Septuagesima Sunday : 

On the importance of salvation 93 

SERMON XI II Scxagesima Sunday : 

On the unhappy life of sinners, and on the liappy 

ltf e of those wJio love God . 99 

SERMON XIV. Quinquagesima Sunday: 

Decisions of sinners . . 107 

SERMON XV. First Sunday of Lent: 

On the number of sins beyond which God pardons 

no more .... ]i o 

SERMON XVL Second Sunday of Lent : 

On heaven ..... 119 

SERMON XVII. Third Sunday of Lent : 

On concealing sins in confession . 125 

SERMON XVIII. Fourth Sunday of Lent : 

On the tender compassion which Jesus Christ 

entertains towards sinners . 132 

SERMON XIX. Passion Sunday : 

On the danger to ivhich tepidity exposes the soul . 138 
SERMON XX. Palm Sunday : 

On the evil effects of bad habits . ..145 

SERMON XXL Easter Sunday : 

On t/ie miserable state of relapsing sinners . .152 
SERMON XXII. First Sunday after Easter : 

On avoiding the occasions of sin . . .159 
SERMON XXIII. Second Sunday after Easter : 

On scandal . . . . % . . 1GG 
SERMON XXIV. Third Sunday after Easter : 

On the value of time . , . . .174 

SERMON XXV. Fourth Sunday after Easter : 

On obedience to your confessor . . . . 181 
SERMON XXVI. Fifth Sunday after Easter : 

On the conditions of prayer . . . .189 



CONTENTS. 



SERMON XXVII. Sixth Sunday after Easter : 

On human respect . . . . , I$Q 

SERMON XXVIII Pentecost Sunday : 

On conformity to the will of God . . .204 
SERMON XXIX. Trinity Sunday : 

On the love of the Three Divine Persons for man 211 
SERMON XXX. First Sunday after Pentecost : 

On charity to our neighbour . . . 218 

SERMON XXXI. Second Sunday after Pentecost : 

On holy communion . . , . ,228 

SERMON XXXII. Third Sunday after Pentecost : 

On the mercy of God towards sinners . . 235 

SERMON XXXIII. Fourth Sunday after Pentecost : 

Death is certain and uncertain . . .242 

SERMON XXXIV Fifth Sunday after Pentecost : 

On the sin of anger ...... 250 

SERMON XXXV. Sixth Sunday after Pentecost : 

On the vanity of the world . . . .259 

SERMON XXXVI. Seventh Sunday after Pentecost : 

On the education of children , . . .266 
SERMON XXXVIL Eighth Sunday after Pentecost : 

On the particular Judgment . . . .276 
SERMON XXXVIII, Ninth Sunday after Pentecost : 

On the death of the sinner . . . ,285 

SERMON XXXIX. Tenth Sunday after Pentecost : 

On the efficacy and necessity of prayer . .292 
SERMON XL. Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost : 

On tlie vice of speaking immodestly . . . 299 
SERMON XLL Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost : 

On the abuse of divine mercy .... 305 
SERMON XL1L Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost : 

On avoiding bad company . . . .313 



V111 CONTENTS. 



PAGE 



SERMON XLIIL Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost: 
All ends and soon ends . . , .319 

SERMON XLIV. Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost : 
On the practical death, or on what ordinarily hap 
pens at the death of men of the vjorld . .327 

SERMON XL V. Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost : 

On impurity . .337 

SERMON XLVL Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost : 
On the love of God . . . . . .347 

SERMON XL VII. Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost : 
On bad thoughts .... 356 

SERMON XL VIII. Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost: 
On the pain of loss which t/te damned suffer in hell 363 

SERMON XLIX. Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost : 

On the predominant passion . 372 

SERMON L. Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost : 

On the eternity of hell 380 

SERMON LI. Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost : 
On straits and anguish of dying Christians who have 
been negligent during life about the duties of 
religion 388 

SERMON LIL Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost : 

On impenitence . . 396 

SERMON LI II. Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost : 
On blasphemy . . : 406 



OBJECT OF THE WORK. 



THE present Work is entitled, ABRIDGED SERMONS 
FOR ALL THE SUNDAYS IN THE YEAR. They are 
called Abridged Sermons, because, although each 
contains abundant matter for a sermon, the senti 
ments are briefly expressed not, however, so 
briefly as to render the sense obscure. Hence 
the work may be used for spiritual lectures. 
Diffuseness has been purposely avoided, that the 
preacher may extend the subject treated in 
the way which may appear best to him. A 
preacher will scarce ever deliver, with zeal and 
warmth, sentiments which he has not made in 
some manner his own. Hence the matter of each 
sermon has been condensed into a small compass, 
that the preacher may extend it according to his 
pleasure, and thus make it his own. 

In each sermon there are many passages from 
the Scriptures and Holy Fathers, and a variety 
of reflections perhaps too many for a single dis 
course that the reader may select what will be 
most pleasing to him. The style is easy and 
simple, and therefore calculated to render the 
preaching of the Divine Word conducive to the 
salvation of souls. 



PROTESTATION. 

IN obedience to the decrees of Urban VIII., I 
protest that, of the miraculous works and gifts 
ascribed in this work to certain servants of God, 
and not already approved by the Holy See, I 
claim no other belief than that which is ordinarily 
given to history resting on mere human authority ; 
and that in bestowing the title of Saint or Blessed, 
on any person not canonized or beatified by the 
Church, I only intend to do it according to the 
usage and opinion of men. 



INSTRUCTIONS TO PREACHERS. 



1. IN the first place, the preacher, if he wishes that 
his preaching shall produce abundant fruit, should 
propose to himself the proper end thafcis, to preach, 
not with a view to obtain honour, or applause, or 
any temporal advantage, but solely to gain souls 
to God ; and hence it is necessary, that when he 
enters upon his exalted office of divine ambas 
sador, he should pray to God fervently to inflame 
his heart with his holy love; because it is by this 
means that his preaching will be productive of 
much fruit. The venerable Father John D Avila 
being once asked, what was most conducive to 
wards preaching well, replied in those short but 
expressive words" To love Jesus Christ ivell" 
It has been therefore found by experience, that 
preachers who love Jesus Christ have often effected 
more by a single discourse, than others by several. 
2. St. Thomas of Villanova said, that the words 
of a sermon should be like so many darts of fire, 
which would wound and inflame the hearers with 
divine love. " But how," he subjoined, " can the 
heart be set on fire by those sermons which, though 
long and elaborate, issue, notwithstanding, from 
a frozen heart ? " St. Francis de Sales observes, 
that the tongue speaks to the ear, but the heart 
speaks to the heart. He proceeds to say, that 
when the sentiments do not spring from the heart 
of the preacher, it is with difficulty they draw the 



INSTRUCTIONS TO PREACHERS. 



hearts of others to divine love ; he must himself 
be first inflamed with it. " Lampades ejus 
lampades ignis, atque flammarum." (Cant. viii. 6.) 
He must be first a fire to burn, and afterwards a 
flame to set others on fire. St. Bernard explained 
this in other terms, when he said, that he must be 
first a cistern, and then a canal ; first a cistern 
that is, full of the fervour and zeal which are 
collected in mental prayer ; and then a canal, to 
communicate it to others. 

3. With regard to the subject matter of sermons. 
Those subjects should be selected which move 
most powerfully to detest sin and to love God ; 
whence the preacher should often speak of the 
last things of death, of judgment, of Hell, of 
Heaven, and of eternity. According to the advice 
of the Holy Spirit, " Memorare novissima tua, et 
in setcrnum non peccabis," (Eccl. vii. 40,) it is 
particularly usefu often to m ae mention of death, 
by delivering several discourses on that subject 
during the year, speaking at one time on the 
uncertainty of death, which terminates all the 
pleasures as well as all the afflictions of this life ; 
at another, on the uncertainty of the time at 
which death may arrive ; now, on the unhappy 
death of the sinner ; and again, on the happy 
death of the just. 

4. The preacher should often speak of the love 
which Jesus Christ bears towards us, of the love 
which we should bear to Jesus Christ, and of the 
confidence we should have in his mercy whenever 
we are resolved to amend our lives. It would 
appear that some preachers do not know how to 
speak of anything but the justice of God, terrors, 
threats, and chastisements. There is no doubt 
but that terrifying discourses are of use to arouse 



INSTRUCTIONS TO PREACHERS. 



sinners from the sleep of sin ; but we should be 
persuaded at the same time, that those who abstain 
from sin solely through the fear of punishment, 
will with difficulty persevere for a long time. 
Love is that golden link which binds the soul to 
God, and makes it faithful in repelling temptation 
and practising virtue. St. Augustine said : "Ama 
et fac quod vis." He who truly loves God, flies 
from everything displeasing to Him, and seeks to 
please Him to the utmost of his power. And here 
let us cite that remarkable saying of St. Francis 
de Sales : " The love that does not spring from 
the passion of Christ is weak." By this the saint 
gives us to understand that the passion of Christ 
moves us most effectually to love him. 

5. Thus it is very useful, and most conducive 
to inspire the love of God, to speak to sinners of 
the confidence which we should have in Jesus 
Christ if we abandon sin. " Viam mandatorum, 
tuorum cucurri, cum dilatasti cor meum" (Ps, 
cxviii. 32.) When the heart is dilated with con 
fidence it easily runs in the way of the Lord. In 
like manner the preacher should often speak of 
the confidence which we should have in the inter 
cession of the Mother of God. Besides the dis 
courses delivered during the course of the year, 
on the principal festivals of the Blessed Virgin 
Mary as the Annunciation, the Assumption, her 
Patronage, and her Dolours let him oftentimes, 
in his addresses to the people, inculcate upon the 
minds of his auditors devotion to the Mother of 
God. Some preachers have a very laudable 
custom of introducing into every sermon some 
thing regarding the Blessed Virgin, either by re 
lating some example of graces bestowed on her 
clients, or of some act of homage performed by 



INSTRUCTIONS TO PREACHERS. 



her votaries, or some prayer which we should 
offer to her. 

6. Moreover, the preacher should often speak of 
the means by which we are preserved in the grace 
of God : such as, flying dangerous occasions and 
wicked companions, frequenting the sacraments, 
and especially recommending ourselves often to 
God and the Virgin Mother, in order to obtain 
the graces necessary for salvation, and principally 
the graces of perseverance and of the love of 
Jesus Christ, without which we cannot be saved. 

7. The preacher should likewise often speak 
against bad confessions, in which sins are con 
cealed through shame. This is an evil not of rare 
occurrence, but frequent, especially in small 
country districts, which consigns innumerable 
souls to hell. Hence it is very useful to mention, 
from time to time, some example of souls that 
were damned by wilfully concealing sins in con 
fession. 

8. We shall now speak briefly of the parts of a 
discourse, which arc nine : the exordium, the 
proposition, the division, the introduction, the 
proof, the confutation, the amplification, the 
peroration or conclusion, the epilogue, and the 
appeal to the passions. These are again reduced 
to three principal divisions : 1 the exordium ; 2 
the proof, which comprises the introduction 
that precedes, and the confutation of the 
opposite arguments, that follows it ; 3 the pero 
ration or conclusion, which comprises the epilogue, 
the moral exhortation, and the appeal to the 
passions. To the exordium rhetoricians assign 
seven parts : the introduction, general proposition, 
confirmation, repetition of the proposition, con 
nection, particular proposition, and division. But, 



INSTRUCTIONS TO PREACHERS. 



commonly speaking, the substantial parts of the 
exordium are three : 1 the general proposition ; 
2 the connection or the link by which it is con 
nected with the particular proposition ; 3 the 
particular proposition, or the principal one of the 
discourse, which includes the division of the points. 
For example : 1 " We must work out our salva 
tion, because there is no alternative : whosoever 
is not saved is damned : " that is the general pro 
position. 2 " But, to be saved, we must die a 
happy death : that is the connection or applica 
tion. 3 " But it is exceedingly difficult to die a 
happy death after a wicked life :" and that is the 
particular proposition, or principal one of the 
discourse, which ought to be clear, concise, and, 
simple, and, at the same time, one ; otherwise, if 
unity be not observed in the proposition, it would 
not be one sermon, but several ; and, therefore, 
the points into which the discourse is divided 
ought all tend to prove one single proposition. 
For example : "The person who is addicted to a 
bad habit is with difficulty saved, because the bad 
habit (1) darkens the understanding, (2) hardens 
the heart :" and these will be the two points of 
the discourse. Let the points be short and few, 
not exceeding two, or, at most, three ; and some 
times a single point will be sufficient. For ex 
ample : " Mortal sin is a great evil, because it is 
an injury done to God ;" or, " He who abuses too 
much the mercy of God will be abandoned by 
Him/ 

9. With regard to the body of the discourse, 
and, in the first place, the proof, it ought to be a 
perfect syllogism, but without appearing to be so. 
The major proposition should be proved before 
we pass to the minor ; and the minor before we 



INSTRUCTIONS TO PREACHERS. 



pass to the conclusion. This, however, is to be 
understood when the major or minor proposition 
requires proof : otherwise, when they express 
truths already known and certain, it is sufficient 
to amplify, without proving them. 

10. As far as regards the order of the proofs, 
generally speaking, the authority of the Scrip 
tures and of the Holy Fathers should be first ad 
duced ; then the arguments from reason ; and 
afterwards the illustrations and examples. The 
texts of Scripture should be cited in an impressive 
and emphatic manner. It is better than to dwell 
on the exposition of one cr two texts of Scripure 
than to cite many at once, without considering 
well their import. The citations from the Fathers 
should be few and brief, and containing some senti 
ment that is strong and animated, and not trivial. 
After the citations, the arguments from reason 
should be adduced ; concerning which, some 
assert that the weaker reasons should be adduced 
in the first place, and then the stronger ; but I 
am disposed to adopt the opinion of others, who 
think it better that the strong arguments should 
be advanced ; and that the weaker ones should 
occupy the middle place ; because, were a weak 
argument adduced in the commencement, it might 
make a bad impression on the minds of the 
auditors. After the arguments from reason come 
the examples and illustrations. I have said that 
this arrangement should be observed ordinarily ; 
but, occasionally, it will be of use to give some 
one of the foremen tioned proofs precedence of the 
others : this must be left to the discretion of the 
preacher. 

11. Care should be taken that the transition 
from one point to the other be made naturally r 



INSTRUCTIONS TO PREACHERS. 



without passing from one thing to another that 
has no relation to it. The most ordinary and 
easiest modes are these : " Let us proceed to the 
other point/ etc. ; or " Thus, after having seen," 
etc. And passing from one argument to another, 
you may say : " Besides, we should consider," etc., 
taking care, as far as it is possible, that the last 
part of the preceding argument has some connec 
tion with the following point or argument. 

12. We have spoken of proofs. As far as re 
gards the amplification of proofs, one is verbal, 
which consists in words ; another is real, which 
may consist either in climax ; for example : "It 
is a virtue to suffer tribulations with patience a 
greater virtue to desire them ; it is a greater still 
to take delight in them ;" or it may be borrowed 
from the circumstances of the subject, or from 
comparison with another subject of equal or lesser 
consideration. The morals have their proper 
place, as we shall remark in the peroration. It is, 
however, occasionally allowed, after a satisfactory 
proof has been adduced, to address a short exhor 
tation ; and this is particularly the case in the 
sermons of the Mission, in which the audience is 
generally composed of rude, uneducated persons, 
on whom moral exhortation makes more impres 
sion ; but these moral exhortations that are inci 
dentally introduced should not be too long or too 
frequent, so as to render the discourse tedious or 
languid. 

13. The peroration contains three parts the 
epilogue, the moral exhortation, and the appeal to- 
the passions. The epilogue is a recapitulation of 
the discourse, in which the most convincing argu 
ments that have been already advanced are re 
peated, but which must be handled with a view 



10 INSTRUCTIONS TO PREACHERS. 

to the movement of the passions which is to follow ; 
whence the preacher, in his recapitulation, should 
commence to move the passions. 

14. As to the moral exhortation, it may be 
observed, that oftentimes the principal fruit of the 
sermon consists, especially in discourses addressed 
to the people, in explaining the moral truths suit 
able to the subject of the discourse, with propriety 
and earnestness. The preacher, therefore, should 
take care to speak against the most prevalent 
vices, viz. : hatred, impurity, blasphemy ; against 
evil occasions, wicked companions ; against parents 
who allow their children to hold intercourse with 
persons of different sex ; and especially against 
mothers who invite young men into their houses 
to converse with their daughters. Let him also 
exhort the heads of families to remove from their 
houses bad books, and particularly novels, which 
insinuate a secret poison that corrupts youth. Let 
him speak against games of hazard, which are the 
ruin of families and of souls. 

15. In a word, let the preacher endeavour, in 
his sermons, always to insinuate whatever he can 
that is practical that is, the remedies of the 
different vices ; the means of persevering in a 
virtuous life ; such as, to fly dangerous occasions 
and bad company ; to offer violence to one s self 
in motions of anger, so as not to break out into 
injurious actions or words ; by suggesting to the 
hearers some form of expression, to avoid blas 
phemies or imprecations ; for example, " Lord, 
give me patience ! " " Virgin Alary, assist me ! " 
and the like. Let him recommend the people to 
hear Mass every morning : to read every day some 
spiritual book ; every morning to renew the reso 
lutions of not offending God, and to ask the 



INSTRUCTIONS TO PREACHERS. 11 

Divine assistance in order to persevere ; to make 
each clay a visit to the most holy sacrament and 
the Blessed Virgin, in some representation of her; 
each evening to make the examination of con 
science, with an act of sorrow ; after having com 
mitted a sin, immediately to make an act of 
contrition, and to confess it as soon as possible : 
above all, let him recommend his hearers to have 
recourse to God and to the Blessed Virgin in the 
time of temptation, by repeating oftentimes the 
name of Jesus and Mary, and continuing to invoke 
their aid until the temptation ceases. Those 
means and remedies should be often repeated by 
the preacher, and recommended frequently in the 
course of his sermons ; and he must not be de 
terred by the apprehension of being criticised by 
some learned person, who may remark that the 
preacher repeated the same things. In preaching 
we must not seek the applause of the learned, but 
the divine approbation and the advantages of souls, 
and particularly of poor ignorant persons, who do 
not profit so much by thoughts and arguments, as 
by those easy practices which are suggested and 
repeated to them. T say repeated, since those 
rude and unlettered persons will easily forget 
what they hear, unless it is oftentimes repeated 
to them. 

16. Let young preachers also take care to de 
velop, and to commit to memory, their sermons, 
before they deliver them from the pulpit. To 
preach extempore is useful, inasmuch as the dis 
course becomes thus more natural and familiar ; 
this, however, is not the case with young men, 
but only with those who have been in the habit 
of preaching for many years ; otherwise, young 
men would contract a habit of speaking without 



12 INSTRUCTIONS TO PREACHERS. 

preparation, and of preaching at random, saying 
whatever occurred to them, without any order or 
arrangement. However, young preachers should 
take care to develop their sermons, not in the florid 
style of elaborate expression, lofty thoughts, and 
sounding periods. Read the golden treatise on 
popular eloquence by the celebrated scholar, Louis 
Muratori ; in which he proves that all sermons 
addressed to an audience composed of learned 
and unlearned, ought to be not only familiar, but 
also popular; composed in an easy and simple style, 
such as the people are in the habit of using ; 
avoiding, however, all low and vulgar expressions, 
which are not suited to the dignity of the pulpit 
"The people," says Muratori, "are composed for 
the most part of the ignorant ; if you address to 
them abstruse doctrines and reflections, and use 
words and phrases that are not adapted to ordinary 
comprehensions, what fruit do you hope for from 
persons who do not understand you 1 Wherefore, 
the practice of those preachers will never be con 
formable to the rules of the art, or the principles 
of genuine eloquence, who, instead of accommo 
dating themselves to the limited capacity of so 
many of their hearers, appear to study to make 
themselves intelligible to the learned only ; as if 
they were ashamed to make themselves understood 
by the poor, who have as good a right to the word 
of God as the learned. Nay more, a Christian 
preacher is bound to each one of his auditory in 
particular, as if there were no other who heard 
him. He who employs lofty reasoning, and is not 
careful to make himself understood by all, betrays 
the cause of God and his own duty, and disregards 
the spiritual necessities of a great portion of his 
audience." Hence the Council of Trent prescribes 



INSTRUCTIONS TO PREACHERS. 13 

to all parish priests, to compose their discourses in 
a manner adapted to the capacity of their audience: 
" Archipresbyteri et parochi per se vel alios 
idoneos, plebes sibi commissas pro earum capaci 
tate pascant salutaribus verbis." (Sess. v. cap. i. 
de Eeform.) 

17. St. Francis de Sales said, that select 
language and sounding periods are the bane of 
sacred eloquence ; and the principal reason of this 
is, that sermons composed in this style have not 
the divine sanction and concurrence. They may 
be of use to the learned, but not to the illiterate, 
who generally constitute the principal part of 
every audience. On the other hand, sermons 
composed in a familiar style are useful to the 
illiterate as well as to the learned. Muratori adds, 
that when the preacher addresses the humbler 
classes alone, or country people, he ought to make 
use of the most popular and familiar style possible, 
in order to accommodate himself to the gross 
understanding of such ignorant persons. He 
says, that the preacher, when speaking to those 
rude people, should imagine himself to be one of 
them, who was desirous to persuade a companion 
of something ; that, on this account also, the 
periods of sermons addressed to the common 
people should be concise and broken, so that 
whoever has not caught the meaning of the first 
sentence, may be able to comprehend the second; 
which cannot be done when the sentences are 
long and connected ; for then, whoever does not 
understand the first period will not understand 
the second nor the third. 

18. Muratori also observes, that, in preaching 
to the people, it is very useful to make frequent 
use of the figure called antiplwra; by which a 



14 INSTRUCTIONS TO PREACH El IS. 

question is asked, and replied to by the speaker. 
For example : u Tell me why so many sinners re 
lapse, after confession, into the same sins ? I will 
tell you : because they do not remove the 
dangerous occasions of sin/ It is also useful 
oftentimes to call on the auditory to attend to 
what is said, and especially to certain things that 
are more important. For example : " good 
God ! you come to us in order to save us, and we 
fly from you to destroy ourselves." It is useful 
likewise to repeat with emphasis some striking 
maxim of religion ; as, for example : " There is no 
alternative : sooner or later we must die sooner 
or later we must die ;" or, " My brethren, it is 
certain that, after this life, we must be eternally 
happy, or eternally miserable/ 

19. I do not enlarge more on this subject, which 
I deem most important, as I have found it neces 
sary to write more at length on it in a letter of 
apology which I published in reply to a religious 
who censured me for approving of sermons com 
posed in a simple and popular style. I there pre 
mised in a sufficient manner whatever Muratori 
has observed on this subject, and subjoined what 
the Holy Fathers have written on it, as far as I 
was able to discover. I pray the reader not to 
omit to read this letter : it is an uncommon little 
treatise, which contains matter not treated by any 
preceding writer. 

20. I do not, however, deem it right to omit 
to say something on the modulation of the voice, 
and on the gesture which should be used in preach 
ing. As far as regards the voice, the preacher 
should avoid speaking in an inflated tone, or in a 
monotonous and invariably loud tone of voice. 
What moves and engages the attention of the 



INSTRUCTIONS TO PREACHERS. 15 

hearers is, to speak at one time in a strong, at 
another time in a middle voice, and at another in 
a low voice, according as it suits the sentiment 
that is expressed, but without any sudden or 
violent fall or elevation ; now to exclaim ; now to 
pause ; and now to resume with a sigh. This 
variety of tone and manner keeps the audience 
always attentive. 

21. The preacher should avoid gesture that is 
affected, or oftentimes repeated in the same form, 
or too vehement, with much agitation of the body. 
The arms should be moved with moderation : 
ordinarily the right hand should be used ; the left 
but seldom. The hands should not be raised 
above the head, nor too much extended sideways, 
nor held too confined. In delivering the exordium 
the preacher should remain stationery, and should 
not move from a middle position in the pulpit : in 
delivering the first sentence he should not use 
gesture ; in the second, he should only commence 
to move the right hand, keeping the left resting on 
the pulpit or the breast. Let him take care not to 
keep the arms attached close to the sides, or to 
raise them both at the same time in form of a cross, 
or throw them behind the shoulders. Ho must 
rarely strike them against each other or against 
the pulpit : to stamp the feet is very unbecoming. 
The motion of the head should correspond with 
that of the hand, accompanying it in the direction 
in which, it moves. It is a fault to twist the head, 
or move it too often or too violently, or to hold it 
always raised, or always inclined upon the breast. 
The eyes ought to accompany the motion of the 
head ; whence it is a fault to keep them always 
closed or cast downwards, or fixed immoveably in 
one direction . It may be permitted sometimes to 



16 INSTRUCTIONS TO PREACHERS. 

sit down, but it should be seldom. The same 
may be said of moving back and forward : but the 
preacher should never run from one side of the 
pulpit to the other. He should, for the most 
part, speak from a middle position, so as to be 
seen equally from either side ; but it is useful to 
incline occasionally to the right or left, without, 
however, turning the back to the opposite direc 
tion. Finally, as far as regards the length of the 
sermon. The Lent sermons should not exceed an 
Lour ; and the Sunday discourses should not oc 
cupy more than three quarters of an hour ; but the 
parochial instructions should not be longer than 
a half-hour, including the act of contrition, to 
which, ordinarily, it is advisable to accustom the 
common people ; making them, at the close of the 
sermon, have recourse to the mother of God, to 
ask of her some particular grace as, holy perse 
verance, a happy death, the love of Jesus Christ, 
and the like. Nor does it signify, that in order 
to make room for the act of contrition, the time 
of the sermon must be shortened ; for these acts 
are the most precious fruit to be derived from it. 
It were well that the preacher should some 
times exhort the audience to relate to others what 
they have heard in the sermon ; as by this means 
it may be made useful even to those who have 
not heard it. 



SERMONS 



or 



SABTT ALPHONSUS LIGTTOBI. 

SERMON I. FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT. 

On the General Judgment. 

"And they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of Heaven 
with much power and majesty." MATT. xxiv. 30. 

AT present God is not known, and, therefore, he is as 
much despised by sinners, as if he could not avenge, 
whenever he pleases, the injuries offered to him. The 
wicked " looketh upon the Almighty as if he could do 
nothing/ (Job xxii. 17,) But the Lord has fixed a day, 
called in the Scriptures "the day of the Lord," on 
which the Eternal Judge will make known his power and 
majesty. " The Lord," says the Psalmist, "shall be 
known when he executeth judgment." (Ps. ix. 17.) On 
this text St. Bernard writes : " The Lord, who is now 
unknown while he seeks mercy, shall be known when he 
executes justice." (Lib. de xii. Rad.) The prophet 

bophonias calls the day of the Lord " a day of wrath 

a day of tribulation and distress a day of calamity and 
misery." (i. 15.) 

Let us now consider, in the first point, the different 
appearance of the just and the unjust; in the second, 
the scrutiny of consciences ; and in the third, the sen 
tence pronounced on the elect and on the reprobate. 

First Point On the different appearance of the just 
and of sinners in the valley of Josaphat. 

1. This day shall commence with fire from Heaven, 



13 SERMON I. 

which will burn the earth, all men then living, and all 
things upon the earth. " And the earth and the works 
which are in it shall be burnt up." (2 Pet. m. 10.) All 
shall become one heap of ashes. 

2 After the death of all men, " the trumpet shal 
sound, and the dead shall rise again." (1 Cor. xv. 52.) 
St Jerome used to say : " As often as I consider the day 
of judgment, I tremble. Whether I eat or drink, or 
whatever else I do, that terrible trumpet appears to 
sound in my ears, arise ye dead, and come to jud 
menV" (in Matt, c. v.) ; and St. Augustine declared, 
that nothing banished from him earthly thoughts so 
effectually as the fear of judgment. 

3 At the sound of that trumpet the souls of the 
blessed shall descend from Heaven to be united to t 
bodies with which they served God on Earth ; and the 
unhappy souls of the damned shall come up from Hell 
to take possession again of those bodies with which they 
have offended God. Oh ! . ^different the appearance 
of the former, compared with that of the latter ! 
damned shall appear deformed and b lack, like so many 
firebrands of Hell ; but the just shall shine as the sun 
rMitt xiii 43) Oh! how great shall then be the 
Sppnes of those who have fortified their bodies by 
works of penance ! We may estimate their felicity from 
the words addressed by St. Peter of Alcantara, after 
death, to St. Teresa : " O happy penance ! which 

^V^Afte^the^r 3 resurrection, they shall be summoned 

ssasiiwA&SfSs 

*:u f ,, si iitK. tJJL = 

XflS the Liter of, th. right, rf " , - 

&r !h. .^1.^.60 ,~t "j *y;-i-- 

the wicked from among the just/ (Matt. xin. J.l 
how Sat will then be the confusion which the un- 
Id ^hal suffer^ "What think you/ says 

SSS^3^3S3SBft 



THE GENERAL JUDGMENT. 19 

constitute a hell for the wicked. " Et si nihil ulterius 
paterentur, ista sola verecundia sufficerit eis ad pcenam," 
(in Matt, c. xxiv.) The brother shall he separated from 
the brother, the husband from his wife, the son from the 
father, etc. 

5. But, behold ! the heavens are opened the angels 
come to assist at the general judgment, carrying, as St. 
Thomas says, the sign of the cross and of the other in 
struments of the passion of the Redeemer. " Yeniente 
Domino ad judicium signum crucis, et alia passionis 
indicia demonstrabunt." (Opusc. ii. 244.) The same 
may be inferred from the twenty-fourth chapter of St. 
Matthew : " And then shall appear the sign of the Son 
of Man in Heaven ; and then shall all the tribes of the 
earth mourn." (xxiv. 30.) Sinners shall weep at the 
sign of the cross ; for, as St. Chrysostom says, the nails 
will complain of them the wounds and the cross of Jesus 
Christ will speak against them. " Clavi de te conquer- 
entur, cicatrices contra et loquentur, crux Chris ti contra 
te perorabit." (Horn, xx., in Matt.) 

6. Most holy Mary, the queen of saints and angels, 
shall come to assist at the last judgment ; and lastly, the 
Eternal Judge shall appear in the clouds, full of splen 
dour and majesty. " And they shall see the Son of Man 
coming in the clouds of Heaven with much power and 
majesty." (Matt. xxiv. 30.) Oh ! how great shall be the 
agony of the reprobate at the sight of the Judge ! "At 
their presence/ says the Prophet Joel, " the people shall 
be in grievous pains." (Joel ii. 6.) According to St. 
Jerome, the presence of Jesus Christ will give the repro 
bate more pain than Hell itself. " It would," he says, 
" be easier for the damned to bear the torments of Hell 
than the presence of the Lord." Hence, on that day, 
the wicked shall, according to St. John, call on the 
mountains to fall on them and to hide them from the 
sight of the judge. " And they shall say to the moun 
tains and the rocks : Fall upon us, and hide us from the 
face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the 
wrath of the Lamb." (Apoc. vi. 16.) 

Second Point. The scrutiny of conscience. 

7. "The judgment sat, and the books were opened. * 



20 SERMON I. 



(Dan. vii. 10.) The books of conscience are opened, and 
the judgment commences. The Apostle says, that the 
Lord " will bring to light the hidden things of darkness." 
(1 Cor. iv. 5.) And, by the mouth of his prophet, Jesus 
Christ has said : " I will search Jerusalem with lamps." 
(Soph. i. 12.) The light of the lamp reveals all that is 
hidden. 

8. " A judgment," says St. Chrysostom, " terrible to 
sinners, but desirable and sweet to the just." (Horn. iii. de 
Dav.) The last judgment shall fill sinners with terror, 
but will be a source of joy and sweetness to the elect ; 
for God will then give praise to each one according to 
his works. (1 Cor. iv. 5.) The Apostle tells us that on 
that day the just will be raised above the clouds to be 
united to the angels, and to increase the number of those 
who pay homage to the Lord. " We shall be taken up 
together with them in the clouds to meet Christ, into tho 
air." (IThess. iv. 16.) 

9. Worldlings now regard as fools the saints who 
led mortified and humble lives; but then they shall 
confess their own folly, and say: "We fools esteemed 
their life madness, and their end without honour. 
Behold how they are numbered among the children 
of God, and their lot is among the saints." (Wis. v. 
4, 5.) In this world, the rich and the noble are called 
happy ; but true happiness consists in a life of sanc 
tity. Rejoice, ye souls who live in tribulation ; " your 
sorrow shall be turned into joy." (John xvi. 20.) In 
the valley of Josaphat you shall be seated on thrones of 
glory. 

10. But the reprobate, like goats destined for the 
slaughter, shall be placed on the left, to await their last 
condemnation. " Judicii tempus," says St. Chrysostom, 
" misericordiam non recipit." On the day of judgment 
there is no hope of mercy for poor sinners. Magna," 
says St. Augustine, "jam est pcona peccati, metum et me- 
moriam divini perdidisse judicii." (Serm. xx. de Temp.) 
The greatest punishment of sin in those who live in 
enmity with God, is to lose the fear and remembrance 
of the divine judgment. Continue, continue, says the 
Apostle, to live obstinately in sin ; but in proportion to 
your obstinacy, you shall have accumulated for the 



THE GENERAL JUDGMENT. 21 



day of judgment a treasure of the wrath of God 
But according to thy hardness and impenitent heart 

1*$ %self wrath a ^ st ^ <% 

11. Then sinners will not be able to hide themselves 
but, with insufferable pain, they shall be compelled to 
appear m judgment. "To lie hid/ says St. Anselm, 

will be impossible to appear will be intolerable." 
The devils will perform their office of accusers, and as 
bt. Augustine says, will say to the Judge : -Most iust 

3d, declare him to be mine, who was unwilling to be 
yours ^The witnesses against the wicked shall be 
first, their own conscience" Their conscience bearing 
witness to them,- (Rom. ii. 15) ; secondly, the very walls 
of the house in which they sinned shall cry out against 
them--" The stone shall cry out of the wall," (Hab. ii 
11) ; thirdly, the Judge himself will say "I am the 
judge and the witness, saith the Lord." (Jer. xxix 23 ) 
Hence, according to St. Augustine, "He who is now 
the witness of .your life, shall be the judge of your 
cause. (Lib. x. de Chord., c. ii.) To Christians particu 
larly he will say: "Woe to thee, Corozain, woe to 
thee, Bethsaida; for if in Tyre and Sidon had been 
wrought the miracles that have been wrought in you, 
they had long ago done penance in sackcloth and ashes " 
(Matt. xi. 21.) Christians, he will say, if the graces 
which I have bestowed on you had been given to the 
lurks or to the Pagans, they would have done penance 
tor their sins; but you have ceased to sin onV with 
your death. He shall then manifest to all men their 
most hidden crimes. " I will discover thy shame to thy 
lace. (JNahum iii. 5.) He will expose to view all their 
secret impurities, injustices, and cruelties. " I will set 

a i 1 y J abominations a S ainst thee -" (Ezech. vii. 3.) Each 
of the damned shall carry his sins written on his fore 
head. 



A i 1 ?" T^ hat excuses can save tne wicked on that day? 
Ah ! they can offer no excuses. " All iniquity shall 
stop her mouth." (Ps. cvi. 42.) Their very sins shall 
close the mouth of the reprobate, so that they will not 
have courage to excuse themselves. They shall pro 
nounce their own condemnation. 



22 SERMON I. 

Third Point. Sentence of the elect, and of the 
reprobate. 

13. St. Bernard says, that the sentence of the elect, 
and their destiny to eternal glory, shall be first declared, 
that the pains of the reprobate may be increased ^ by 
the sight of what they lost. " Prius prommciabitur 
sententia electis ut acrius (reprobi) doleant yidentes 
quid amiserunt." (Ser. viii., in Ps. xc.) Jesus Christ, then, 
shall first turn to the elect, and with a serene counte 
nance shall say: "Come, ye blessed of my Father, 
possess the kingdom preparad for you from the foun 
dation of the world. " (Matt. xxv. 34.) He will then 
bless all the tears shed through sorrow for their sins, 
and all their good works, their prayers, mortifications, 
and communions ; above all, he will bless for them the 
pains of his passion and the blood shed for their salva 
tion. And, after these benedictions, the elect, singing 
alleluias, shall enter Paradise to praise and love God 
eternity. 

14. The Judge shall then turn to the reprobate, and 
shall pronounce the sentence of their condemnation in 
these words . " Depart from me, you cursed, into ever 
lasting fire." (Matt. xxv. 41 ) They shall then be for 
ever accursed, separated from God, and sent to burn for 
ever in the fire of hell. And these shall go into evcr- 
lastin" 1 punishment : but the just into life everlasting. 
(Matt? xxv. 46.) 

15. After this sentence, the wicked shall, according 
to St. Ephrem, be compelled to take leave for ever of 
their relatives, of Paradise, of the saints, and of Mary 
the divine Mother. "Farewell, ye just ! Farewell, ( 
cross I Farewell, Paradise ! Farewell, fathers and 
brothers : we shall never see you again ! Farewell, I 
Mary, mother of God I" (St. Eph. de variis serm. inf.) 
Then a great pit shall open in the middle of the valley : 
the unhappy damned shall be cast into it, and shall see 
those doors shut which shall never again be opened. 
O accursed sin ! to what a miserable end will you one 
day conduct so many souls redeemed by the blood of 
Jesus Christ. unhappy souls ! for whom is prepared 
such a melancholy end. But, brethren, have con 
fidence. Jesus Christ is now a Father, and not 



ADVANTAGES OF TRIBULATIONS. 23 

judge. He is ready to pardon all who repent. Let us 
then instantly ask pardon from him. 

[Let the preacher here propose for the people an act 
of sorrow, a purpose of amendment, and a prayer to 
Jesus ^ and to Mary for the gift of holy perseverance. 
Let him repeat the same at the end of every sermon.] 



SERMON II. SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT. 

On the advantages of tribulations. 

" Now when John had heard of the wonderful works of Christ," etc. 
MATT. ix. 2. 

IN tribulations God enriches his beloved souls with the 
greatest graces. Behold, St. John in his chains comes 
to the knowledge of the works of Jesus Christ : " When 
John had heard in prison the works of Christ." Great 
indeed are the advantages of tribulations. The Lord 
sends them to us, not because he wishes our misfortune, 
but because he desires our welfare. Hence, when they 
come upon us we must embrace them with thanks 
giving, and must not only resign ourselves to the divine 
will, but^ must also rejoice that God treats us as he 
treated his Son Jesus Christ, whose life, upon this earth 
was always full of tribulation. I shall now show, in the 
first point, the advantages we derive from tribulations ; 
and in the second, I shall point out the manner in which 
we ought to bear them. 

First Point. On the great advantages we derive from 
tribulations. 

1. "What doth he know that had not been tried? 
A man that hath much experience shall think of many 
things, and he that hath learned many things shall 
show forth understanding." (Eccl. xxxiv. 9.) They 
who live in prosperity, and have no experience of 
adversity, know nothing of the state of their souls. In 
the first place, tribulation opens the eyes which pros 
perity had kept shut. St. Paul remained blind after 
Jesus Christ appeared to him, and, during his blindness, 



24 SERMON II. 



he perceived the errors in which he lived. During his 
imprisonment in Babylon, King Man asses had recourse 
to God, was convinced of the malice of his sins, and 
did penance for them. "And after that he was in 
distress he prayed to the Lord his God, and did penance 
exceedingly before the God of his fathers." (2 Paral. 
xxxiii. 12.) The prodigal, when he found himself 
under the necessity of feeding swine, and afflicted with 
hunger, exclaimed : " I will arise and go to my father." 
(Luke xv. 18.) 

Secondly, tribulation takes from our hearts all affec 
tions to earthly things. When a mother wishes to 
wean her infant she puts gall on the paps, to excite his 
disgust, and induce him to take better food. God 
treats us in a similar manner : to detach us from 
temporal goods, he mingles them with gall, that by 
tasting its bitterness, we may conceive a dislike for 
them, and place our affections on the things of Heaven. 
" God," says St. Augustine, " mingles bitterness with 
earthly pleasures, that we may seek another felicity, 
whose sweetness does not deceive." (Ser. xxix., de Verb. 
Dom.) 

Thirdly, they who live in prosperity are molested by 
many temptations of pride , of vain-glory ; of desires of 
acquiring greater wealth, great honours, and greater plea 
sures. Tribulations free us from these temptations, and 
make us humble and content in the state in which the 
Lord has placed us. Hence the Apostle says : " We are 
chastised by the Lord that we may not be condemned 
with this world." (1 Cor. xi. 32.) 

2. Fourthly, by tribulation we atone for the sins we 
have committed much better than by voluntary works 
of penance. " Be assured," says St. Augustine, " that 
God is a physician, and that tribulation is a salutary 
medicine." Oh ! how great is the efficacy of tribulation 
in healing the wounds caused by our sins ! Hence, the 
same saint rebukes the sinner who complains of God 
for sending him tribulations. " Why," he says, " do 
you complain ? What you suffer is a remedy, not a 
punishment." (In Ps. lv.) Job called those happy men 
whom God corrects by tribulation ; because he heals 
them with the very hands with which he strikes and 



ADVANTAGES OF TRIBULATIONS. 25 

wounds them. "Blessed is the man whom God cor- 
recteth. . . . For he woundeth and cureth. He striketh, 
and his hand shall heal." (Job v. 17, 18.) Hence, St. 
Paul gloried in his tribulations : " Gloriamur in tribu- 
lationibus." (Rom. v. 3.) 

3. Fifthly, by convincing us that God alone is able 
and willing to relieve us in our miseries, tribulations 
remind us of him, and compel us to have recourse to his 
mercy. " In their affliction they will rise early to me." 
(Oseevi. 1.) Hence, addressing the afflicted, the Lord 
said : " Come to me, all you that labour and are bur 
dened, and I will refresh you." (Matt. xi. 28.) Hence 
he is called " a helper in troubles." (Ps. xlv. 1 .) When," 
says David, " he slew them, then they sought him, and 
they returned." (Ps. Ixxvii. 34.) When the Jews were 
afflicted, and were slain by their enemies, they remem 
bered the Lord, and returned to him. 

4. Sixthly, tribulations enable us to acquire great 
merits before God, by giving us opportunities of exer- 
cising the virtues of humility, of patience, and of resig 
nation to the divine will. The venerable John d Ayila 
used to say, that a single blessed be God : in adversity, 
is worth more than a thousand acts in prosperity. 
" Take away," says St. Ambrose, " the contests of 
the martyrs, and you have taken away their crowns." 
(In Luc., c. iv.) * Oh ! what a treasure of merit is 
acquired by patiently bearing insults, poverty, and sick 
ness ! Insults from men were the great objects of the 
desires of the saints, who sought to be despised for the 
love of Jesus Christ, and thus to be made like unto 
him. 

5. How great is the merit gained by bearing with the 
inconvenience of poverty. " My God and my all," says 
St. Francis of Assisium: in expressing this sentiment, 
he enjoyed more of true riches than all the princes of 
the Earth. How truly has St. Teresa said, that " the 
less we have here, the more we shall enjoy hereafter." 
Oh ! how happy is the man who can say from his heart : 
My Jesus, thou alone art sufficient for me ! If, says St. 
Chrysostom, you esteem yourself unhappy because you 
are poor, you are indeed miserable and deserving of 
tears ; not because you are poor, but because, being poor, 



2G SERMON II. 



you do not embrace your poverty, and esteem yourself 
happy." " Sane dignus es lachrymis ob hoc, quod mise- 
rum te extimas, non ideo quod pauper es." (Serin, ii., 
Epis. ad Phil.) 

6. By bearing patiently with the pains of sickness, a 
great, and perhaps the greater, part of the crown which 
is prepared for us in Heaven is completed. The sick 
sometimes complain that in sickness they can do no 
thing ; but they err ; for, in their infirmities they 
can do all things, by accepting their sufferings with 
peace and resignation. " The Cross of Christ," says St. 
Chrysostora, " is the key of Paradise." (Com. in Luc. de 
vir.) 

7. St. Francis de Sales used to say . " To suffer con 
stantly for Jesus is the science of the saints ; we shall 
thus soon become saints." It is by sufferings that God 
proves his servants, and finds them worthy of himself. 
" Deus tentavit es, et invenit eos dignos se." (Wis. iii. 
5) "Whom," says St. Paul, "the Lord loveth, he 
chastiseth; and he scourgeth every son whom he re- 
ceiveth." (Ileb. xii. 6.) Hence, Jesus Christ once said 
to St. Teresa : " Be assured that the souls dearest to my 
Father are those who suffer the greatest afflictions." 
Hence Job said : " If we have received good things at 
the hand of God, why should we not receive evil ?" 
(Job. ii. 10.) If we have gladly received from God the 
goods of this Earth, why should we not receive more 
cheerfully tribulations, which are far more useful to us 
than worldly prosperity ? St. Gregory informs us that, 
as flame fanned by the wind increases, so the soul is 
made perfect when she is oppressed by tribulations. 
" Ignis flatu premitur, ut crescat." (Ep. xxv.) 

8. To holy souls the most severe afflictions are the 
temptations by which the Devil impels them to offend 
God: but they who bear these temptations with patience, 
and banish them by turning to God for help, shall 
acquire great merit. " And," says St. Paul, " God is 
faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above 
that which you are able, but will also make issue with 
the temptation that you may be able to bear it." 
(1 Cor. x. 13.) God permits us to be molested by 
temptations, that, by banishing them, we may gain 



ADVANTAGES OF TRIBULATIONS. 



27 



greater merit. " Blessed," says the Lord, " are they 
that mourn, for they shall be comforted. " (Matt. v. 5.) 
They are blessed, because, according to the Apostle, our 
tribulations are momentary and very light, compared 
with the greatness of the glory which they shall obtain 
for us for eternity in Heaven. " For that which is at 
present momentary and light of our tribulation, worketh 
for us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of 
glory/ (1 Cor. iv. 17.) 

9. It is necessary, then, says St. Chrysostom, to bear 
tribulations in peace ; for, if you accept them with resig 
nation, you shall gain great merit ; but if you submit to 
them with reluctance, you shall increase, instead of 
diminishing, your misery " Si vero segre feras, neque 
calamitatum minorem facies, et majorem reddes pro- 
cellam/ (Horn. Ixiv., ad Pop.) If we wish to be saved, 
we must submit to trials. " Through many tribulations 
we must enter into the kingdom of God." (Acts xiv. 21.) 
A great servant of God used to say, that Paradise is the 
place of the poor, of the persecuted, of the humble and 
afflicted. Hence St. Paul says : " Patience is necessary 
for you, that, doing the will of God, you may receive 
the promise." (Heb. x. 36.) Speaking of the tribulations 
of the saints, St. Cyprian asks " What are they to the 
servants of God, whom Paradise invites ?" (Ep, ad 
Demetr.) Is it much for those to whom the eternal 
goods of Heaven are promised, to embrace the short 
afflictions of this life ? 

10. In fine, the scourges of Heaven are sent not for 
our injury, but for our good. " Let us believe that 
these scourges of the Lord, with which, like servants, 
we are chastised, have happened for our amendment, 
and not for our destruction." (Judith viii. 27.) " God," 
says St. Augustine, " is angry when he does not scourge 
the sinner." (In Ps. Ixxxix.) When we see a sinner in 
tribulation in this life, we may infer that God wishes to 
have mercy on him in the next, and that he exchanges 
eternal for temporal chastisement. But miserable the 
sinner whom the Lord does not punish in this life ! 
For those whom he does not chastise here, he treasures 
up his wrath, and for them he reserves eternal chastise 
ment. 



28 SERMON II. 



11. " Why," asks the Prophet Jeremy, " doth the 
way of the wicked prosper V (xii. 1.) Why, Lord, 
do sinners prosper ? To this the same prophet answers : 
" Gather them together as sheep for a sacrifice, and 
prepare them for the day of slaughter." (Tb. v. 3.) As 
on the day of sacrifice the sheep intended for slaughter 
are gathered together, so the impious, as victims of 
divine wrath, are destined to eternal death. " Destine 
them," says Du Hamel, in his commentary on this 
passage, " as victims of thy anger on the day of sacri 
fice." 

12. When, then, God sends us tribulations, let us say 
with Job: "I have sinned, and indeed I have offended, and 
I have not received what I have deserved." (Job xxxiii. 
27.) O Lord, my sins merit far greater chastisement 
than that which thou hast inflicted on me. We should 
even pray with St. Augustine, " Burn cut spare not 
in this life, that thou mayest spare for eternity." How 
frightful is the chastisement of the sinner of whom the 
Lord says : * Let us have pity on the wicked, but he 
will not learn justice." (Is. xxvi. 10.) Let us abstain 
from chastising the impious : as long as they remain in 
this life they will continue to live in sin, and shall thus 
be punished with eternal torments. On this passage St. 
Bernard says : " Misericordiam hanc nolo, super omnem 
iram miseratio ista." (Serin, xlii., in Cant.) Lord, I do 
not wish for such mercy, which is a chastisement that 
surpasses all chastisements. 

13. The man whom the Lord afflicts in this life has a 
certain proof that he is dear to God. " And," said the 
angel to Tobias, " because thou wast acceptable to God, 
it was necessary that temptations should prove thee." 
(Tob. xii. 13.) Hence, St. James pronounces blessed the 
man who is afflicted : because after he shall have been 
proved by tribulation, he will receive the crown of life." 
(Jam. i. 12.) 

14. He who wishes to share in the glory of the 
saints, must suffer in this life as the saints have suffered. 
None of the saints has been esteemed or treated well by 
the world all of them have been despised and perse 
cuted. In them have been verified the words of the 
Apostle : " All that will live godly in Christ Jesus, 



ADVANTAGES OF TRIBULATIONS. 29 

shall suffer persecution." (2 Tim. iii. 12.) Hence St. 
Augustine said, that they who are unwilling to suffer 
persecutions, have not as yet begun to be Christians. 
" Si putas non habere persecutiones, nondum csepisti esse 
Christianus." (In Ps. Iv.) "When we are in tribulation, 
let us be satisfied with the consolation of knowing that 
the Lord is then near us and in our company. u The 
Lord is nigh unto them that are of a contrite heart." 
(Ps. xxxiii. 19.) " I am with him in tribulation." (Ps. 
xc. 15.) 

Second Point. On the manner in which we should 
bear tribulations. 

15. He who suffers tribulations in this world should, 
in the first place, abandon sin, and endeavour to recover 
the grace of God ; for as long as he remains in sin, the 
merit of all his sufferings is lost. " If," says St. Paul, 
" I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not 
charity, it profiteth me nothing." (1 Cor. xiii. 3.) If 
you suffered all the torments of the martyrs > or bore to 
be burned alive, and were not in the state of grace, it 
would profit you nothing. 

16. But, to those who can suffer with God, and with 
resignation for God s sake, all the tribulations shall be a 
source of comfort and gladness. " Your sorrow shall be 
turned into joy." (John xvi. 20.) Hence, after having 
been insulted and beaten by the Jews, the apostles de 
parted from the council full of joy, because they had been 
maltreated for the love of Jesus Christ. " And _they 
indeed went from the presence of the council, rejoicing 
that they were accounted worthy to suffer reproach for 
the name of Jesus." (Acts v. 41.) Hence, when God 
visits us with any tribulations, we must say with Jesus 
Christ : " The chalice which my Father hath given me, 
shall I not drink it ?" (John xviii. 11.) It is necessary 
to know that every tribulation, though it may come from 
men, is sent to us by God. 

17. When we are surrounded on all sides with tri 
bulations, and know not what to do, we ^must turn to 
God, who alone can console us. Thus King Josaphat, 
in his distress, said to the Lord : " As we know not 
what to do, we can only turn our eyes to thee." (2 



SO SERMON II. 



Par. xx. 12.) Thus David also in his tribulation had 
recourse to God, and God consoled him : " In my 
trouble I cried to the Lord, and he heard me." (Ps. 
cxix. 1.) We should turn to God, and pray to him, and 
never cease to pray till he hears us. " As the eyes of 
the handmaid are on the hands of her mistress, so are 
our eyes unto the Lord our God, until he have mercy 
on us." (Ps. cxxii. 2.) We must keep our eyes con 
tinually raised to God, and must continue to implore 
his aid, until he is moved to compassion for our miseries. 
We must have great confidence in the heart of Jesus 
Christ, and ought not to imitate certain persons, who 
instantly lose courage because they do not feel that 
they are heard as soon as they begin to pray. To 
them may be applied the words of the Saviour to St. 
Peter : "0 thou of little faith ! why didst thou doubt?" 
(Matt. xiv. 31.) When the favours which we ask are 
spiritual, or can be profitable to our souls, we should 
be certain of being heard, provided we persevere in 
prayer, and do not lose confidence. " All things 
whatsoever you ask when ye pray, believe that you 
shall receive, and they shall come unto you." (Mark xi. 
24.) In tribulations, then, we should never cease to 
hope with confidence that the divine mercy will console 
us ; and if our afflictions continue, we must say with 
Job : " Although he should kill me, I will trust in 
him." (xiii. 15.) 

18. Souls of little faith, instead of turning to God in 
their tribulations, have recourse to human means, and 
thus provoke God s anger, and remain in their miseries. 
" Unless the Lord build the house, they labour in vain 
that build it. Unless the Lord keep the city, he 
watcheth in vain that keepeth it." (Ps. cxxvi. 1.) On 
this passage St. Augustine writes : " Ipse aedificat, ipse 
intellectum aperit, ipse ad finem applicat sensum ves- 
trum : et tamen laboramus et nos tanquam operarii, sed 
nisi Dominus custodierit civitatem," etc. All good all 
help must come from the Lord. Without him creatures 
can give us no assistance. 

19. Of this the Lord complains by the mouth of his 
prophet : " Is not," he says, " the Lord in Sion ? . . .Why 
then have they provoked me to wrath with their idols. . . 



ADVANTAGES OF TRIBULATIONS. 31 

Is there no balm in Galaad ? or is there no physician 
there ? Why then is not the wound of the daughter of 
my people closed?" (Jer. viii. 19, 22.) Am I not in Sion? 
Why then do men provoke me to anger by recurring to 
creatures, which they convert into idols by placing in 
them all their hopes ? Do they seek a remedy for their 
miseries ? Why do they not seek it in Galaad, a moun 
tain full of balsamic ointments, which signify the divine 
mercy ? There they can find the physician and the remedy 
of all their evils. Why then, says the Lord, do your 
wounds remain open ? Why are they not healed ? It 
is because you have recourse not to me, but to creatures, 
and because you confide in them, and not in me. 

20. In another place the Lord says : " Am I become 
a wilderness to Israel, or a late ward springing land ? 
Why then have my people said : We are revolted ; we 
will come to thee no more ?. .But my people have for 
gotten me days without number." (Jer. ii. 31, 32.) God 
complains, and says : " Why, my children, do you say 
that you will have recourse to me no more ? Am I 
become to you a barren land, which gives no fruit, or 
gives it too late ? Is it for this reason that you have so 
long forgotten me ? By these words he manifests to us 
his desire that we pray to him, in order that he may be 
able to give us his graces ; and he also gives us to under 
stand that when we pray to him, he is not slow, but 
instantly begins to assist us. 

21. The Lord, says David, is not asleep when we turn 
to his goodness, and ask the graces which are profitable 
to our souls : he hears us immediately, because he is 
anxious for our welfare. "Behold, he shall neither 
slumber nor sleep that keepeth Israel." (Ps. cxx. 4.) 
When we pray for temporal favours, St. Bernard says 
that God " will give what we ask, or something more 
useful." He will grant us the grace which we desire, 
whenever it is profitable to our souls ; or he will give us 
a more useful grace, such as the grace to resign ourselves 
to the divine will, and to suffer with patience our tribu 
lations, which shall merit a great increase of glory in 
Heaven. 

[Act of sorrow and amendment, prayer to Jesus 
and Mary.] 



32 SERMON* II T. 



SERMON III. THIRD SUNDAY OP ADVENT. 
On the means necessary for salvation. 

tf I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness : Make straight the 
way of the Lord." JOHN i. 23. 

ALL would wish to bo saved and to enjoy the glory of 
Paradise ; but to gain Heaven, it is necessary to walk 
in the straight road that leads to eternal bliss. This 
road is the observance of the divine commands. Hence, 
in his preaching, the Baptist exclaimed: "Make straight 
the way of the Lord." In order to be able to walk 
always in the way of the Lord, without turning to tho 
right or to the left, it is necessary to adont the proper 
means. These means are, first, diffidence in ourselves ; 
secondly, confidence in God ; thirdly, resistance to temp 
tations. 

First Means. Diffidence in ourselves. 

1. " With fear and trembling," says the Apostle, 
" work out your salvation." (Phil. ii. 12.) To secure 
eternal life, we must be always penetrated with fear, 
we must be always afraid of ourselves (with fear and 
trembling), and distrust altogether our own strength ; 
for, without the divine grace we can do nothing. 
" Without me," says Jesus Christ, " you can do 
nothing." We can do nothing for the salvation of our 
own souls. St. Paul tells us, that of ourselves we are 
not capable of even a good thought. " Not that we are 
sufficient to think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves, 
but our sufficiency is from God." (2 Cor. iii. 5.) With 
out the aid of the Holy Ghost, we cannot even pronounce 
the name of Jesus so as to deserve a reward. " And no 
one can say the Lord Jesus, but by the Holy Ghost/ 
(1 Cor. xii. 8.) 

2. Miserable the man who trusts to himself in the 
way of God. St. Peter experienced the sad effects of 
self-confidence. Jesus Christ said to him : " In this 
night, before cock-crow, thou wilt deny me thrice." 
(Matt. xxvi. 31.) Trusting in his own strength and his 



MEANS NECESSARY FOR SALVATION. 33 

good will, the Apostle replied : " Yea, though I should 
die with thee, I will not deny thee." (v. 35.) What was 
the result ? On the night on which Jesus Christ had 
been taken, Peter was reproached in the court of 
Caiphas with heing one of the disciples of the Saviour. 
The reproach filled him with fear : he thrice denied 
his Master, and swore that he had never known 
him. Humility and diffidence in ourselves are so 
necessary for us, that God permits us sometimes to 
fall into sin, that, by our fall, we may acquire humi 
lity arid a knowledge of our own weakness. Through 
want of humility David also fell : hence, after his sin, 
lie said : " Before I was humbled, I offended." (Ps. 
cxviii. 67.) 

3. Hence the Holy Ghost pronounces blessed the man 
who is always in fear : " Blessed is the man who is 
always fearful." (Prov. xxviii. 14.) He who is afraid 
of falling distrusts his own strength, avoids as much as 
possible all dangerous occasions, and recommends him 
self often to God, and thus preserves his soul from sin. 
But the man who is not fearful, but full of self- 
confidence, easily exposes himself to the danger of sin : 
he seldom recommends himself to God, and thus he falls. 
Let us imagine a person suspended over a great preci 
pice by a cord held by another. Surely he would con 
stantly cry out to the person who supports him : Hold 
fast, hold fast ; for God s sake, do not let go. We are 
all in danger of falling into the abyss of all crime, if 
God does not support us. Hence we should constantly 
beseech him to keep his hands over us, and to succour 
us in all dangers. 

4. In rising from bed, St. Philip Neri used to say 
every morning : Lord, keep thy hand this day over 
Philip ; if thou do not, Philip will betray thee. And 
one day, as he walked through the city, reflecting on 
his own misery, he frequently said, / despair, I despair. 
A Certain religious who heard him, believing that the 
saint was really tempted to despair, corrected him, and 
encouraged him to hope in the divine mercy. But the 
saint replied : "I despair of myself, but I trust in God." 
Hence, during this life, in which we are exposed to so 
many dangers of losing God, it is necessary for us to 



34 SERMON III. 



live always in great diffidence of ourselves, and full of 
confidence in God. 

Second Means. Confidence in God. 

5. St. Francis de Sales says, that the mere attention 
to self- diffidence on account of our own weakness, would 
only render us pusillanimous, and expose us to great 
danger of abandoning ourselves to a tepid life, or even 
to despair. The more we distrust our own strength, the 
more we should confide in the divine mercy. This is a 
balance, says the same saint, in which the more the scale 
of confidence in God is raised, the more the scale of diffi 
dence in ourselves descends. 

6. Listen to me, O sinners who have had the mis- 
fo^tune of having hitherto offended God, and of being 
condemned to hell : if the Devil tells you that but little 
hope remains of your eternal salvation, answer him in 
the words of the Scripture : " No one hath hoped in the 
Lord, and hath been confounded. (Eccl. ii. 11.) No 
sinner has ever trusted in God, and has been lost. Make, 
then, a firm purpose to sin no more ; abandon your 
selves into the arms of the divine goodness ; and rest 
assured that God will have mercy on you, and save you 
from Hell. " Cast thy care upon the Lord, and he shall 
sustain thee." (Ps. liv. 23.) The Lord, as we read in 
Blosius, one day said to St. Gertrude : " He who confides 
in me, does me such violence that I cannot but hear all 
his petitions/ 

7. " But," says the Prophet Isaias, " they that hope 
in the Lord shall renew their strength ; they shall take 
wings as eagles ; they shall run, and not be weary ; they 
shall walk, and not faint." (xl. 31.) They who place 
their confidence in God shall renew their strength ; they 
shall lay aside their own weakness, and shall acquire the 
strength of God ; they shall fly like eagles in the way of 
the Lord, without fatigue and without ever _ failing. 
David says, that " mercy shall encompass him that 
hopeth in the Lord." (Ps. xxxi. 10.) He that hopes in 
the Lord shall be encompassed by his mercy, so that he 
shall never be abandoned by it. 

8. St. Cyprian says, that the divine mercy is an inex 
haustible fountain. They who bring vessels of the 



MEANS NECESSARY FOR SALVATION. 35 



greatest .confidence, draw from it the greatest graces 
Hence the Royal Prophet has said: "Let thy mercy 
Lord be upon us, as we have hoped in thee." (Ps! 
xxxii. 22.) Whenever the Devil terrifies us by placing 
before our eyes the great difficulty of persevering in 
the grace of God in spite of all the dangers and sinful 
occasions of this life, let us, without answering him, 
raise our eyes to God, and hope that in his goodness he 
will certainly send us help to resist every attack. I 
have lifted up my eyes to the mountains, from whence 
help shall come to me." (Ps. cxx. 1.) And when the 
enemy represents to us our weakness, let us say with the 

" YPV Ca ?Q d ? a L tHngS in him who strengthened 
me. (Phil. iv. 13 ) Of myself I can do nothing ; but 
E trust in God, that by his grace I shall be able to do all 
tmngs. 

9. Hence, in the midst of the greatest dangers of per 
dition to which we are exposed, we should continually 
turn to Jesus Christ, and. throwing ourselves into the 
hands of him who redeemed us by his death, should say : 

Into thy hands I commend my spirit: thou hast re 
deemed me, O Lord, the God of truth." (Ps. xxx. 6.) 
Ihis prayer should be said with great confidence of 
obtaining eternal life, and to it we should add: "In 
thee, O Lord, I have hoped ; let me not be confounded 
for ever/ (Ps. xxx. 1.) 

Third Means. Ptesistance to temptations. 

10. It is true that when we have recourse to God with 
confidence in dangerous temptations, he assists us ; but, 
in certain very urgent occasions, the Lord sometimes 
wishes that we cooperate, and do violence to ourselves, 
to resist temptations. On such occasions, it will not be 
enough to have recourse to God once or twice ; it will 

5 necessary to multiply prayers, and frequently to pros- 
*;? S selves and send up our sighs before the image 
of the Blessed Virgin and the crucifix, crying out with 
tears: Mary, my mother, assist me ; Jesus, my Saviour, 
save me, lor thy mercy s sake do not abandon me, do 
not permit me to lose thee. 

11. Let us keep in mind the words of the Gospel: 
How narrow is the gate and strait is the way that 



36 SERMON 111. 

leadeth to life : and few there are that find it." (Matt. 
vii. 14.) The way to Heaven is strait and narrow: they 
who wish to arrive at that place of hliss by walking in 
the paths of pleasure shall be disappointed: and^ there 
fore few reach it, because few are willing to use violence 
to themselves in resisting temptations. : ^The kingdom 
of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it 
away." (Matt. xi. 12.) In explaining this passage, a 
certain writer says : " Vi queritur, invaditur, occupatur." 
It must be sought and obtained by violence: he who 
wishes to obtain it without inconvenience, or by leading 
a soft and irregular life, shall not acquire it he shall 
be excluded from it. 

12. To save their souls, some of the saints have 
retired into the cloister ; some have confined themselves 
in a cave ; others have embraced torments and death. 
" The violent bear it away " Some complain of their 
want of confidence in God ; but they do not perceive 
that their diffidence arises from the weakness of their 
resolution to serve God. St. Teresa used to say: " Of 
irresolute souls the Devil has no fear/ And the Wise 
Man has declared, that "desires kill the slothful. * 
(Prov. xxi. 25.) Some would wish to be saved and to 
become saints, but never resolve to adopt the means of 
salvation, such as meditation, the frequentation of the 
sacraments, detachment from creatures ; or, if they 
adopt these means, they soon give them up. In a word, 
they are satisfied with fruitless desires, and thus continue 
to live in enmity with God, or at least in tepidity, which 
in the end leads them to the loss of God. Thus in them 
are verified the words of the Holy Ghost, " desires kill 
the slothful." 

13. If, then, we wish to save our souls, and to become 
saints, we must make a strong resolution not only in 
general to give ourselves to God, but also in particular 
to adopt the proper means, and never to abandon them 
after having once taken them up. Hence we must 
never cease to pray to Jesus Christ, and to His holy 
Mother for holy perseverance. 



LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST FOR US. 37 



SERMON IV. FOUETH SUNDAY OF ADYENT. 

On the love of Jesus Christ for us, and on our obliga 
tions to love him. 

* And all flesh shall see the salvation of God." LUKE iii. 6. 

THE Saviour of the world, whom, according to the pre 
diction of the prophet Isaias, men were one day to see 
on this Earth " and all flesh shall see the salvation of 
God," has already come. "We have not only seen him 
conversing among men, but we have also seen him suffer 
ing and dying for the love of us. Let us, then, this 
morning consider the love which we owe to Jesus Christ 
at least through gratitude for the love which he bears to 
us. In the first point we shall consider the greatness of 
the love which Jesus Christ has shown to us ; and in 
the second we shall see the greatness of our obligations 
to love him. 

First Point. On the great love which Jesus Christ 
has shown to us. 

1 . " Christ," says St. Augustine, " came on Earth 
that men might know how much God loves them." He 
has come, and to show the immense love which this God 
bears us, he has given himself entirely to us, by aban 
doning himself to all the pains of this life, and afterwards 
to the scourges, to the thorns, and to all the sorrows and 
insults which he suffered in his passion, and by offering 
himself to die, abandoned by all, on the infamous tree 
of the cross. " Who loved me, and delivered himself 
for me." (Gal. ii. 20.) 

2. Jesus Christ could save us without dying on the 
cross, and without suffering. One drop of his blood 
would be sufficient for our redemption. Even a prayer 
offered to his Eternal Father would be sufficient ; be 
cause, on account of his divinity, his prayer would be 
of infinite value, and would therefore be sufficient for 
the salvation of the world, and of a thousand worlds. 
" But/ says St. Chrysostom, or another ancient author, 



38 SERMON IV. 



" what was sufficient for redemption was not sufficient 
for love." To show how much he loved us, he wished 
to shed not only a part of his blood, but the entire of it, 
by dint of torments. This may be inferred from the 
words which he used on the night before his death: 
" This is my blood of the new testament, which shall be 
shed for many. 7 (Matt. xxvi. 28.) The words shall be 
shed show that, in his passion, the blood of Jesus Christ 
was poured forth even to the last drop. Hence, when 
after death his side was opened with a spear, blood and 
water came forth, as if what then flowed was all that 
remained of his blood. Jesus Christ, then, though he 
could save us without suffering, wished to embrace a life 
of continual pain, and to suffer the cruel and ignominious 
death of the cross. " He humbled himself, becoming 
obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." (Phil. 
ii. 8.) 

3. " Greater love than this no man hath, that a man 
lay down his life for his friends." (John xv. 13.) To 
show his love for us, what more could the Son of God 
do than die for us ? What more can one man do for 
another than give his life for him ? " Greater love than 
this no man hath." Tell me, my brother, if one of your 
servants if the vilest man on this Earth had done for 
you what Jesus Christ has done in dying through pain 
on a cross, could you remember his love for you, and not 
love him ? 

4. St. Francis of Assisium appeared to be unable to 
think of anything but the passion of Jesus Christ ; and, 
in thinking of it, he continually shed tears, so that by 
his constant weeping he became nearly blind. Being 
found one day weeping and groaning at the foot of the 
crucifix, he was asked the cause of his tears and lamen 
tations. He replied : " I weep over the sorrows and 
ignominies of my Lord. And what makes me weep still 
more is, that the men for whom he has suffered so much 
live in forgetfulness of him," 

5. O Christian, should a doubt ever enter your mind 
that Jesus Christ loves you, raise your eyes and look at 
him hanging on the cross. Ah ! says St. Thomas of 
Villanova, the cross to which he is nailed, the internal 
and external sorrows which he endures, and the cruel 



LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST FOR US. 39 



death which he suffers for you, are convincing proofs of 
the love which he bears you: "Testis crux, testes dolores, 
testis amara mors quam pro te sustinuit." (Cone. 3.) Do 
you not, says St. Bernard, hear the voice of that cross, 
and of those wounds, crying out to make you feel that 
he truly loves you ? " Clamat crux, clamat vulnus, 
quod vere dilexit." 

6. St. Paul says that the love which Jesus Christ has 
shown in condescending to suffer so much for our salva 
tion, should excite us to his love more powerfully than 
the scourging, the crowning with thorns, the painful 
journey to Calvary, the agony of three hours on the 
cross, the buffets, the spitting in his face, and all the 
other injuries which the Saviour endured. According to 
the Apostle, the love which Jesus has shown us not only 
obliges, but in a certain manner forces and constrains us, 
to love a God who has loved us so much. " For the 
charity of Christ presseth us." ( 2 Cor. v. 14.) On this 
text St. Francis de Sales says : " We know that Jesus 
the true God has loved us so as to suffer death, and even 
the death of the cross, for our salvation. Does not such 
love put our hearts as it were under a press, to force from 
them love by a violence which is stronger in proportion 
as it is more amiable ? 

7. So great was the love which inflamed the ena 
moured heart of Jesus, that he not only wished to die 
for our redemption, but during his whole life he sighed 
ardently for the day on which he should suffer death for 
the love of us. Hence, during his life, Jesus used to 
say : " I have a baptism wherewith I am to be baptized ; 
and how am I straitened until it be accomplished." 
(Luke xii. 50.) In my passion I am to be baptized with 
the baptism of my own blood, to wash away the sins of 
men. " And how am I straitened !" How, says St. 
Ambrose, explaining this passage, am I straitened by the 
desire of the speedy arrival of the day of my death ? 
Hence, on the night before his passion he said : " With 
desire I have desired to eat this pasch with you before I 
suffer." (Luke xxii. ]5.) 

8. " We have," says St. Lawrence Justinian, " seen 
wisdom become foolish through an excess of love." We 
have, he says, seen the Son of God become as it were a 



40 SERMON IV. 



fool, through, the excessive love which he bore to men. 
Such, too, was the language of the Gentiles when they 
heard the apostles preaching that Jesus Christ suffered 
death for the love of men. " But we," says St. Paul, 
" preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews indeed a stum 
bling block, unto the Gentiles foolishness." (1 Cor. i. 23.) 
Who, they exclaimed, can believe that a God, most 
happy in himself, and who stands in need of no one, 
should take human flesh and die for the love of men, 
who are his creatures ? This would be to believe that a 
God became foolish for the love of men. " It appears 
folly," says St. Gregory, " that the author of Life should 
die for men." (Horn vi.) But, whatever infidels may 
say or think, it is of faith that the Sou of God has shed 
all his blood for the love of us, to wash away the sins of 
our souls. " Who hath loved us, and washed us from 
our sins in his own blood." (Apoc. i. 5.) Hence, the 
saints were struck dumb with astonishment at the con 
sideration of the love of Jesus Christ. At the sight of 
the crucifix, St. Francis of Paul could do nothing but 
exclaim, love ! love ! love ! 

9. " Having loved his own who were in the world, 
he loved them unto the end/ (John xiii. 1.) This 
loving Lord was not content with showing us his love by 
dying on the cross for our salvation ; but, at the end of 
his life, he wished to leave us his own very flesh for the 
food of our souls, that thus he might unite himself 
entirely to us. " Take ye and eat, this is my body." 
(Matt. xxvi. 26.) But of this gift and this excess of 
love we shall speak at another time, in treating of the 
most holy sacrament of the altar. Let us pass to the 
second point. 

Second Point. On the greatness of our obligations to 
love Jesus Christ. 

10. He who loves wishes to be loved. u When," 
says St. Bernard, " God loves, he desires nothing else 
than to be loved." (Ser. Ixxxiii., in Cant.) The Redeemer 
said: " I am come to casJt^we^on the Earth, and what 
will I but that it is kiiidfeS^^aike xii. 49.) I, says 
Jesus Christ, came or/eafrth to lightVup the fire of divine 
love in the hearts of mepi f8u<Hvhac will I but that it 



LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST FOR IIS. 41 

be kindled ?" God wishes nothing else from us than to 
be loved. Hence the holy Church prays in the following 
words : " We beseech thee, Lord, that thy Spirit may 
inflame us with that fire which Jesus Christ cast upon 
the Earth, and which he vehemently wished to be 
kindled. * Ah ! what have not the saints, inflamed with 
this fire, accomplished ! They have abandoned all 
things delights, honours, the purple and the sceptre 
that they might burn with this holy fire. But you will 
ask what are you to do, that you too may be inflamed 
with the love of Jesus Christ. Imitate David: " In my 
meditation a fire shall flame out/ (Ps. xxxviii). Medi 
tation is the blessed furnace in which the holy fire of 
divine love is kindled. Make mental prayer every day, 
meditate on the passion of Jesus Christ, and doubt not 
but you too shall burn with this blessed flame. 

11. St. Paul says, that Jesus Christ died for us to 
make himself the master of the hearts of all. " To this 
end Christ died and rose again, that he might be Lord 
both of the dead and of the living." (Bom. xiv. 9.) He 
wished, says the Apostle, to give his life for all men, 
without a single exception, that not even one should live 
any longer to himself, but that all might live only to 
that God who condescended to die for them. " And 
Christ died for all, that they also who live may not now 
live to themselves, but unto him who died for them." 
(2 Cor. v. 15.) 

12. Ah! to correspond to the love of this God, it 
would be necessary that another God should die for him, 
as Jesus Christ died for us. ingratitude of men ! A 
God has condescended to give his life for their salvation, 
and they will not even think on what he has even done 
for them ! Ah ! if each of you thought frequently on 
the sufferings of the Redeemer., and on the love which 
he has shown to us in his passion, how could you but 
love him with your whole hearts? To him who sees 
with a lively faith the Son of God suspended by three 
nails on an infamous gibbet, every wound of Jesus 
speaks and says: " Thou shalt love the Lord thy God." 
Love, man, thy Lord and thy God, who has loved 
thee so intensely. "Who can resist such tender expres 
sions ? " The wounds of Jesus Christ," says St. Bona- 



42 SERMON IV. 



venture, " wound the hardest hearts, and inflame frozen 
souls." 

13. " Oh ! if you knew the mystery of the cross ! 
said St. Andrew the Apostle to the tyrant by whom he 
was tempted to deny Jesus Christ. tyrant, if you 
knew the love which your Saviour has shown you by 
dying on the cross for your salvation, instead of tempt 
ing me, you would abandon all the goods of this Earth 
to give yourself to the love of Jesus Christ. 

14. I conclude, my most beloved brethren, by recom 
mending you henceforth to meditate every day on the 
passion of Jesus Christ. I shall be content, if you daily 
devote to this meditation a quarter of an hour. Let each 
at least procure a crucifix, let him keep it in^ his room, 
and from time to time give a glance at it, saying: "Ah! 
my Jesus, thou hast died for me, and I do not love thee. 
Had a person suffered for a friend injuries, buffets, and 
prisons, he would be greatly pleased to find that they 
were remembered and spoken of with gratitude. But he 
should be greatly displeased if the friend for whom they 
had been borne, were unwilling to think or hear of his 
sufferings. Thus frequent meditation on his passion is 
very pleasing to our Redeemer ; but the neglect of ^it 
greatly provokes his displeasure. Oh ! how^ great will 
be the consolation which we shall receive in our last 
moments from the sorrows and death of Jesus Christ, if, 
during life, we shall have frequently meditated on them 
with love ! Let us not wait till others, at the hour of 
death, place in our hands the crucifix ; let us not wait 
till they remind us of all that Jesus Christ sufiered for 
us. Let us, during life, embrace Jesus Christ crucif 

let us keep ourselves always united to him, that we may 
live and die with him. He who practises devotion to 
the passion of our Lord, cannot but be devoted to the 
dolours of Mary, the remembrance of which will be to us 
a source of great consolation at the hour of death, 
how profitable and sweet the meditation of Jesus on the 
cross ! Oh ! how happy the death of him who dies in the 
embraces of Jesus crucified, accepting death with cheer, 
fulness for the love of that God who has died lor the 
love of us 1 



IN WHAT TRUE WISDOM CONSISTS. 43 



SERMON V. SUNDAY WITHIN THE OCTAVE 
OF THE NATIVITY. 

In what true wisdom consists. 

" Behold, this CHILD is set for the fall and for the resurrection of 
many in Israel." LUKE ii. 34. 

SUCH was the language of holy Simeon when he had the 
consolation to hold in his hands the infant Jesus. Among 
other things which he then foretold, he declared that 
" this child was set for the fall and for the resurrection 
of many in Israel." In these words he extols the lot of 
the saints, who, after this life, shall rise to a life of 
immortality in the kingdom of bliss, and he deplores the 
misfortune of sinners, who, for the transitory and mise 
rable pleasures of this world, bring upon themselves 
eternal ruin and perdition. But, notwithstanding the 
greatness of his own misery, the unhappy sinner, reflect 
ing only on the enjoyment of present goods, calls the 
saints fools, because they seek to live in poverty, in humi 
liation, and self-denial. But a day will come when 
sinners shall see their errors, and shall say. " We fools 
esteemed their life madness, and their end without 
honour." (Wis. v. 4.) We fools; behold how they 
shall confess that they themselves have been truly fools. 
Let us examine in what true wisdom consists, and we 
shall see, in the first point, that sinners are truly foolish, 
and, in the second, that the saints are truly wise. 

First Point. Sinners are truly foolish. 

1. What greater folly can be conceived than to have 
the power of being the friends of God, and to wish to 
be his enemies ? Their living in enmity with God 
makes the life of sinners unhappy in this world, and 
purchases for them an eternity of misery hereafter 
St. Augustine relates that two courtiers of the emperor 
entered a monastery of hermits, and that one of them 
began to read the life of St. Anthony. " He read/ 
says the saint, " and his heart was divested of the 



SERMON V. 



world." He read, and, in reading, his affections were 
detached from the Earth. Turning to his companion 
he exclaimed : " What do we seek ? The friendship of 
the emperor is the most we can hope for. And through 
how many perils shall we arrive at still greater danger ? 
Should we obtain his friendship, how long shall it last ?" 
Friend, said he, fools that we are, what do we seek ? 
Can we expect more in this life, by serving the emperor, 
than to gain his friendship ? And should we, after many 
dangers, succeed in making him our friend, we shall 
expose ourselves to greater danger of eternal perdition. 
What difficulties must we encounter in order to become 
the friend of Caesar I " But, if I wish, I can in a moment 
become the friend of God." I can acquire his friend 
ship by endeavouring to recover his grace. His divine 
grace is that infinite treasure which makes us worthy 
of his friendship. " For she is an infinite treasure to 
men, which they that use become the friends of God " 
(Wis. vii. 14.) 

2. The Gentiles believe it impossible for a creature to 
become ^the friend of God ; for, as St. Jerome says, 
friendship makes friends equal. "Amicitia pares ac- 
cipit, aut pares facit." But Jesus Christ has declared, 
that if we observe his commands we shall be his friends. 

You are my friends, if you do the things I command."* 
(John xv. 14.) 

3. How great then is the folly of sinners, who, though 
they have it in their power to enjoy the friendship of 
God, wish to live in enmity with him ! The Lord does 
not hate any of his creatures: he does not hate the tiger, 
the viper, or the toad. " For thou lovest all things that 
are, and hatest none of the things which thou hast 
made." (Wis. xi. 25.) But he necessarily hates sinners. 
" Thou hatest all the workers of iniquity." (Ps. v. 7.) 
God cannot but hate sin, which is his enemy and diame 
trically opposed to his will ; and therefore, in hating 
sin, he necessarily hates the sinner who is united with 
his sin. " But to God the wicked and his wickedness 
are hateful alike. " (Wis. xiv. 9.) 

4. The sinner is guilty of folly in leading a life 
opposed to the end for which he was created. God has 
not created us, nor does he preserve our lives, that we 



IN WHAT TRUE WISDOM CONSISTS. 45 

may labour to acquire riches or earthly honours, or that 
we may indulge in amusements, but that we may love 
and serve him in this world, in order to love and enjoy 
him for eternity in the next. " And the end life ever 
lasting." (Rom. vi. 22.) Thus the present life, as St. 
Gregory says, is the way by which we must reach Para 
dise, our true country. " In the present life we are, as 
it were, on the road by which we journey to our 
country." (St. Greg. hom. xi. in Evan.) 

5. But the misfortune of the greater part of mankind 
is, that instead of following the way of salvation, they 
foolishly walk in the road to perdition,. Some have a 
passion for earthly riches ; and, for a vile interest, they 
lose the immense goods of Paradise : others have a pas 
sion for honours ; and, for a momentary applause, they 
lose their right to be kings in Heaven : others have a 
passion for sensual pleasures ; and, foi? transitory de 
lights, they lose the grace of God, and are condemned 
to burn for ever in a prison of fire. Miserable souls ! 
if, in punishment of a certain sin, their hand was to be 
burned with a red-hot iron, or if they were to be shut 
up for ten years in a dark prison, they certainly would 
abstain from it. And do they not know that, in chas 
tisement of their sins, they shall be condemned to remain 
for ever in Hell, where their bodies, buried in fire, shall 
burn for all eternity? Some, says St. John Chry- 
sostom (Hom. de recup. laps?), to save the body, choose 
to destroy the soul ; but, do they not know that, m 
losing the soul, their bodies shall be condemned to 
eternal torments ? " If we neglect the soul, we cannot 
save the body" 

6. In a word, sinners lose their reason, and imitate 
brute animals, that follow the instinct of < nature, and 
seek carnal pleasures without ever reflecting on their 
lawfulness or unlawfulness. But to act in this manner 
is, according to St. Chrysostom, to act not like a man, 
but like a beast. " Hominem ilium dicimus" says the 
saint/ "qui imaginem hominis salvam retinet : qua 
autem est imago hominis 1 Rationalem esse" To be men 
we must be rational: that is, we must act, not according 
to the sensual appetite, but according to the dictates ol 
reason. If God gave to beasts the use of reason, and it 



SERMON V. 



they acted according to its rules, we should say that they 
acted like men. And it must, on the other hand, be 
said, that the man whose conduct is agreeable to the 
senses, but contrary to reason, acts like a beast. He 
who follows the dictates of reason, provides for the 
future. "Oh! that they would be wise, and would 
understand, and would provide for their last end." 
(Deuter. xxxii. 29.) He looks to the future that is, to 
the account he must render at the hour of death, after 
which he shall be doomed to Hell or to Heaven, accord 
ing to his merits, " Non est sapiens/ says St. Bernard, 
" qui sibi non est." (Lib. de consid.) 

7. Sinners think only of the present, but regard not 
the end for which they were created. But what will it 
profit them to gain all things if they lose their last end, 
which alone can make them happy. " But one thing 
is necessary." (Luke x. 42.) To attain our end is the 
only thing necessary for us : if we lose it, all is lost. 
What is this end ? It is eternal life. " Finem vero 
vitam seternam." During life, sinners care but little 
for the attainment of their end. Each day brings them 
nearer to death and to eternity; but they know not 
their destination. Should a pilot who is asked whither 
he is going, answer that he did not know, would not all, 
says St. .Augustine, cry out that he was bringing the 
vessel to destruction ? " Fac hominem perdidisse quo 
tendit, et dicatur ei : quo is ? et dicat, nescio : nonne 
iste navem ad naufragium perducet ?" The saint then 
adds : " Talis est qui currit prater viam." Such are 
the wise of the world, who know how to acquire wealth 
and honours, and to indulge in every kind of amuse 
ment, but who know not how to save their souls. How 
miserable the rich glutton, who, though able to lay up 
riches and to live splendidly, was, after death, buried 
in Hell ! How miserable Alexander the Great, who, 
after gaining so many kingdoms, was condemned to 
eternal torments ? How great the folly of Henry the 
Eighth, who rebelled against the Church, but seeing at 
the hour of death that his soul should be lost, cried out 
in despair: " Friends, we have lost all !" O God, how 
many others now weep in Hell, and exclaim : " What 
hath pride profited us? or what advantage hath the 



IN WHAT TRUE WISDOM CONSISTS. 47 

toasting of riches brought us ? All those things are 
passed away like a shadow." (Wis. v. 8.) In the world 
we made a great figure we enjoyed abundant riches 
and honours; and now all is passed away like a shadow, 
and nothing remains for us but to suffer and weep for 
eternity. St. Augustine says, that the happiness which 
sinners enjoy in this life is their greatest misfortune, 
" Nothing is more calamitous than the felicity of sinners, 
by which their perverse will, like an internal enemy, is 
strengthened." (Ep. v. ad Marcellin.) 

8. In fine, the words of Solomon are fulfilled with 
regard to all who neglect their salvation : " Mourning 
taketh hold of the end of joy." (Prov. xiv. 13.) All 
their pleasures, honours, and greatness, end in eternal 
sorrow and wailing. " Whilst I was yet beginning, he 
cut me off." (Is. xxxviii. 12.) Whilst they are laying 
the foundation of their hopes of realizing a fortune, 
death comes, and, cutting the thread of life, deprives 
them of all their possessions, and sends them to Hell to 
burn for ever in a pit of fire. What greater folly can 
be conceived, than to wish to be transformed from the 
friend of God into the slave of Lucifer, and from the 
heir of Paradise to become, by sin, doomed to Hell ? 
For, the moment a Christian commits a mortal sin, his 
name is written among the number of the damned ! St. 
Francis de Sales said that, if the angels were capable of 
weeping, they would do nothing else than shed tears at 
the sight of the destruction which a Christian who com 
mits mortal sin brings upon himself. 

9. Oh ! how great is the folly of sinners, who, by 
living in sin, lead a life of misery and discontent ! All 
the goods of this world cannot content the heart of 
man, which has been created to love God, and can find 
no peace out of God. What are all the grandeurs and 
all the pleasures of this world but "vanity of vanities !" 
(Eccl. i. 2.) What are they but " vanity and vexation of 
spirit?" (Ibid. iv. 16.) Earthly goods are, according 
to Solomon, who had experience of them, _ vanity of 
vanities ; that is mere vanities, lies, and deceits. They 
are also a " vexation of spirit :" they not only do not 
content, but they even afflict the soul ; and the more 
abundantly they are possessed, the greater the anguish 



43 SERMOX V. 



which they produce. Sinners hope to find peace in their 
sins ; but what peace can they enjoy ? " There is no 
peace to the wicked, saith the Lord." (Is. xlviii. 22.) I 
abstain from saying more at present on the unhappy life 
of sinners : I shall speak of it in another place. At 
present, it is enough for you to know that God gives 
peace to the souls who love him, and not to those who 
despise him. Instead of seeking to be the friends of 
God, sinners wish to be the slaves of Satan, who is a 
cruel and merciless tyrant to all who submit to his yoke. 
" Crudelis est et non miserebitur." (Jer. vi. 23.) And 
if he promises delights, he does it, as St. Cyprian says, 
not for our welfare, but that we may be the companions 
of his torments in hell : " Ut habeat socios pccna3, socios 
gehenna)." 

Second Point. The saints are truly wise. 

10. Let us be persuaded that the truly wise are those 
who know how to love God and to gain Heaven. Happy 
the man to whom God has given the science of the saints. 
"Dedit illi scientiam sanctorum/ (Wis. x. 10.) Oh! 
how sublime the science which teaches us to know how 
to love God and to save our souls ! Happy, says St. 
Augustine, is the man " ^uho knows God, although he is 
ignorant of other things." They who know God, the 
love which he merits, and how to love him, stand not in 
need of any other knowledge. They are wiser than those 
who are masters of many sciences, but know not how to 
love God. Brother Egidius, of the order of St. Francis, 
once said to St. Bonaventure : Happy you, Father 
Bonayenture, who are so learned, and who, by your 
learning, can become more holy than I can, who am a 
poor ignorant man. Listen, replied the saint : if an old 
woman knows how to love God better than I do, she is 
more learned and more holy than I am. At hearing this, 
Brother Egidius exclaimed : " poor old woman ! poor 
old woman ! Father Bonaventure says that, if you love 
God more than he does, you can surpass him in sanctity." 

11. This excited the envy of St. Augustine, and 
made him ashamed of himself. " Surgunt indocti," he 
exclaimed, " et rapiunt coelum." Alas ! the ignorant 
rise up, and bear away the kingdom of Heaven ; and 



IN WHAT TRUE WISDOM CONSISTS. 49 

what are we, the learned of this world, doing ? Oh ! 
how many of the rude and illiterate are saved, because, 
though unable to read, they know how to love God ; and 
how many of the wise of the world are damned ! Oh ! 
truly wise were St. John of God, St. Felix of the order 
of St. Capuchins, and St. Paschal, who were poor lay 
Franciscans, and unacquainted with human sciences, but 
learned in the science of the saints. But the wonder is, 
that, though worldlings themselves are fully persuaded 
of this truth, and constantly extol the merit of those who 
retire from the world to live only to God, still they act 
as if they believed it not. 

12. Tell me, brethren, to which class do you wish to 
belong to the wise of the world, or to the wise of God? 
Before you make a choice, St. Chrysostom advises you 
to go to the graves of the dead ! " Prqficiscamur ad 
sepulchral Oh ! how eloquently do the sepulchres of 
the dead teach us the science of the saints and the vanity 
of all earthly goods ! " For my part," said the saint, 
" I see nothing but rottenness, bones, and worms/ As 
if he said : Among these skeletons I cannot distinguish 
the noble, the rich, or the learned ; I see that they have 
all become dust and rottenness : thus all their greatness 
and glory have passed away like a dream. 

13. What then must we do ? Behold the advice of 
St. Paul : " This, therefore, I say, brethren : the time 
is short : it remaineth that . . . they that use this world 
BE as if they used it not ; for the fashion of this world 
passeth away." (1 Cor. vii. 29-31.) This world is a 
scene which shall pass away and end very soon . " The 
time is short." During the days of life that remain, let 
us endeavour to live like men who are wise, not accord 
ing to the world, but according to God, by attending to 
the sanctification of our souls, and by adopting the means 
of salvation ; by flying dangerous occasions ; by practis 
ing prayer ; joining some pious sodality ; frequenting 
the sacraments ; reading every day a spiritual book ; 
and by daily hearing Mass, if it be in our power ; or, at 
least, by visiting Jesus in the holy sacrament of the 
altar, and some image of the most holy Mary. Thus 
we shall be truly wise, and shall be happy for time and 
eternity. 



50 SERMON VI. 



SERMON VI. 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 



MALICE OF MORTAL SIX. 



51 



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 : tkou 
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/ " 



52 SERMON VI. 



(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 rne 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 



MALICE OF MORTAL SIN. 53 



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. 
" Yitium in corde est idolum in altari/ 



SERMON VI. 



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. 



MALICE OP MORTAL SIN. 55 

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 



56 



SERMON VI. 



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. 

\_An act of sorrow t etc.} 



SERMON VII. SECOND SUNDAY AFTER THE 
EPIPHANY. 

On the confidence with which we ought to recommend our 
selves to the Mother of God* 

" And the wine failing, the Mother of Jesus saith to him : They have 
no wme." JOHN ii. 3. 

IN the Gospel of this day we read that Jesus Christ, 
having been invited, went with his holy mother to a 
marriage of Cana of Galilee. " The wine failing, Mary 

* In a notice to the reader, prefixed to the Glories of Mary, St. 
Alphonsus explains the sense in which he wished his doctrine regard 
ing the privileges of the Blessed Virgin to be understood. He 



ON RECOMMENDING OURSELVES TO THE B. V. MARY. 57 

said to her divine Son : " They have no wine." By 
these words she intended to ask her Son to console the 
spouses, who were afflicted because the wine had failed. 
Jesus answered: "Woman, what is it to me and to 
thee ? my hour is not yet come." (John ii. 4.) He 
meant that the time destined for the performance of 
miracles was that of his preaching through Judea. But, 
though his answer appeared to be a refusal of the request 
of Mary, the Son, says St. Chrysostom, resolved to yield 
to the desire of the mother. " Although he said, my 
hour is not yet come, he granted the petition of his 
mother." (Horn, in ii. Joan.) Mary said to the waiters: 
" Whatever he shall say to you, do ye." Jesus bid 
them fill the water-pots with water the water was 
changed into the most excellent wine. Thus the bride 
groom and the entire family were filled with gladness. 
From the fact related in this day s gospel, let us consider, 
in the first point, the greatness of Mary s power to obtain 
from God the graces which we stand in need of ; and 

concludes this explanation in the following words : " Then, to say all 
in a few words, the God of all holiness, in order to glorify the Mother 
of the Redeemer, has decreed and ordained, that her great charity 
should pray for all those for whom her Divine Son has paid and 
offered the most superabundant price of his precious blood, in which 
alone is our salvation, life, and resurrection? And on the foundation 
of this doctrine, and inasmuch as they accord with it, I have intended 
to lay down my propositions, which the saints, in their affectionate 
colloquies with Mary, and in their fervent discourses upon her, have 
not hesitated to assert." Glories of Mary. Monza Edition, vol. i., pp. 
11, 12. 

In the third chapter of the first volume (pp. 123, 124), St. Alphonsus 
compares the hope which we place in the Blessed Virgin to the con 
fidence which a person has in a minister of state whom he asks to pro 
cure a favour from his sovereign. 

"Whatsoever Mary obtains for us, she obtains it through the 
merits of Jesus Christ, and because she prays in the name of Jesus 
Christ." Glories of Mary, vol. i., p. 188. 

* Mary, then, is said to be omnipotent in the manner in which 
omnipotence can be understood of a creature ; for a creature is inca 
pable of a divine attribute. Thus she is omnipotent, inasmuch as she 
obtains by her prayers whatever she asks. " Ibid., p. 223. 

To obtain favours through the intercession of Mary, by practising 
devout exercises in her honour, "the first condition is, that we per 
form our devotions with a soul free from sin, or, at least, with a desire 
to give up sin." "If a person wish to commit sin with the hope of 
being saved by the Blessed Virgin, he shall thus render himself un 
worthy and incapable of her protection." Glories of Mary, vol. ii., 
pp. 325, 326. 



58 SERMON VII. 



in the second, the tenderness of Mary s compassion, and 
her readiness to assist us all in our wants. 

First Point. The greatness of Mary s power to obtain 
from God for us all the graces we stand in need of. 

1. So great is Mary s merit in the eyes of God, that, 
according to St. Bonaventure, her prayers are infallibly 
heard. " The merit of Mary is so great before God, 
that her petition cannot be rejected." (De Virg., c. iii.) 
But why are the prayers of Mary so powerful in the 
sight of God ? It is, says St. Antonine, because she is 
his mother. u The petition of the mother of God 
partakes of the nature of a command, and therefore it 
is impossible that she should not be heard." (Par. 4, tit. 
13, c. xvii., 4.) The prayers of the saints are the 
prayers of servants ; but the prayers of Mary are the 
prayers of a mother, and therefore, according to the 
holy doctor, they are regarded in a certain manner as 
commands by her Son, who loves her so tenderly. It 
is then impossible that the prayers of Mary should be 
rejected. 

2. Hence, according to Cosmas of Jerusalem, the inter 
cession of Mary is all-powerful. " Omnipotens auxilium 
tutirn, Maria/ It is right, as Richard of St. Lawrence 
teaches, that the son should impart his power to the 
mother. Jesus Christ, who is all-powerful, has made 
Mary omnipotent, as far as a creature is capable of 
omnipotence ; that is, omnipotent in obtaining from him, 
her divine Son, whatever she asks. " Cum autem eadem 
sit potestas filii et matris ab omnipotente filio, omnipotens 
mater facta est." (Lib. 4, de Laud. Virg.) 

3. St. Bridget heard our Saviour one day addressing 
the Virgin in the following words : " Ask from me 
whatever you wish, for your petition cannot be fruit 
less." (Rev. 1. 1, cap. iv.) My mother, ask of me what 
you please ; I cannot reject any prayer which you 
present to me ; " because since you refused me nothing 
on earth, I will refuse you nothing in Heaven." (Ibid.) 
St. George, Archbishop of Nicomedia, says that Jesus 
Christ hears all the prayers of his mother, as if he wished 
thereby to discharge the obligation which he owes to 
her for having given to him his human nature, by con- 



ON RECOMMENDING OURSELVES TO THE B. V. MA.RY. 59 

senting to accept him for her Son. " Filius, exolvens 
debitum petitiones tuas implet." (Orat. de Exitu Mar.) 
Hence, St. Methodius, martyr, used to say to Mary : 
" Euge, euge, quae debitorum habeas filium, Deo enim 
universi debemus, tibi autem ille debitor est." (Orat, 
Hyp. Dom.) Rejoice, rejoice, holy virgin ; for thou 
hast for thy debtor that Son to whom we are all debtors ; 
to thee he owes the human nature which he received 
from thee. 

4. St. Gregory of Nicomedia encourages sinners by 
the assurance that, if they have recourse to the Virgin 
with a determination to amend their lives, she will save 
them by her intercession. Hence, turning to Mary, he 
exclaimed : " Thou hast insuperable strength, lest the 
multitude of our sins should overcome thy clemency." 
O mother of God, the sins of a Christian, however great 
they may be, cannot overcome thy mercy. " Nothing," 
adds the same saint, " resists thy power ; for the Creator 
regards thy glory as his own." Nothing is impossible 
to thee, says St. Peter Damian : thou canst raise even 
those who are in despair to hopes of salvation. " Nihil 
tibi impossibile, qua3 etiam desperates in spem salutis 
potes relevare." (Ser. i. de Nat. B.V.) 

5. Eichard of St. Lawrence remarks that, in announc 
ing to the Virgin that God has chosen her for the mother 
of his Son, the Archangel Gabriel said to her : u Fear 
not, Mary ; for thou hast found grace with God." (Luke 
i. 30.) From which words the same author concludes : 
" Cupientes invenire gratiam, quoaramus inventricem 
gratise." If we wish to recover lost grace, let us seek 
Mary, by whom this grace has been found She never 
lost the divine grace ; she always possessed it. If the 
angel declared that she had found grace, he meant that 
she had found it not for herself, but for us miserable 
sinners, who have lost it. Hence Cardinal Hugo 
exhorts us to go to Mary, and say to her : O blessed 
lady, property should be restored to those who lost it : 
the grace which thou hast found is not thime for thou 
hast never lost the grace of God but it is ours ; we 
have lost it through our own fault : to us, then, thou 
oughtest to restore it. "Sinners, who by your sins 
have forfeited the divine grace, run to the Virgin, and 



GO 



SERMON TIT. 



say to her with confidence : Restore us to our property, 
which thou hast found." 

6. It was revealed to St. Gertrude, that all the graces 
which we ask of God through the intercession of Mary, 
shall be given to us. She heard Jesus saying to his 
divine mother : " Through thee all who ask mercy with 
a purpose of amending their lives, shall obtain grace." 
If all Paradise asked a favour of God, and Mary asked 
the opposite grace, the Lord would hear Mary, and would 
reject the petition of the rest of the celestial host. 
Because, says Father Suarez, " God loved the Virgin 
alone more than all the other saints." Let us, then, 
conclude this first point in the words of St. Bernard : 
" Let us seek grace, and let us seek it through Mary ; 
for she is a mother, and her petition cannot be rejected." 
(Serm. de Aqua$d.) Let us seek through Mary all the 
graces we desire to receive from God, and we shall 
obtain them ; for she is a mother, and her son cannot 
refuse to hear her prayers, or to grant the graces which 
she asks from him. 

Second Point. On the tender compassion of Mary, 
and her readiness to assist us in all our wants. 

7. The tenderness of Mary s mercy may be inferred 
from the fact related in this day s Gospel. The wine 
fails the spouses are troubled no one speaks to Mary 
to ask her Son to console them in their necessity. But 
the tenderness of Mary s heart, which, according to St. 
Bernardine of Sienna, cannot but pity the afflicted, 
moved her to take the office of advocate, and, without 
being asked, to entreat her Son to work a miracle. 
" Unasked, she assumed the office of an advocate and a 
compassionate helper." (Tom. 3, ser. ix.) Hence, adds 
the same saint, if, unasked, this good lady has done so 
much, what will she not do for those who invoke her 
intercession ? "Si hoc non rogata perfccit, quid ro#ata 
perficiet ?" 

8. From the fact already related, St. Bonaventure 
draws another argument to show the great graces which 
we may hope to obtain through Mary, now that she 
reigns in Heaven. If she was so compassionate on 
earth, how much greater must be her mercy now that 



ON RECOMMENDING OURSELVES TO THE B. V. MARY. 61 

she is in Paradise ? " Great was the mercy of Mary 
while in exile on earth ; but it is much greater now that 
she is a queen in Heaven ; because she now sees the 
misery of men." (St. Bona. in Spec. Virg., cap. viii.) 
Mary in Heaven enjoys the vision of God ; and there 
fore she sees our wants far more clearly than when she 
was on earth ; hence, as her pity for us is increased, so 
also is her desire to assist us more ardent. How truly 
has Richard of St. Yictor said to the Yirgin : t( So tender 
is thy heart that thou canst not see misery and not afford 
succour." It is impossible for this loving mother to 
behold a human being in distress without extending to 
him pity and relief. 

9. St. Peter Damian says that the Virgin " loves us 
with an invincible love." (Ser, i. de Nat. Yirg.) How 
ardently soever the saints may have loved this amiable 
queen, their affection fell far short of the love which 
Mary bore to them. It is this love that makes her so 
solicitous for our welfare. The saints in Heaven, says 
St. Augustine, have great power to obtain grace from 
God for those who recommend themselves to their 
prayers ; but as Mary is of all the saints the most 
powerful, so she is of all the most desirous to procure 
for us the divine mercy : " Sicut omnibus sanctis poten- 
tior, sic omnibus est pro nobis sollicitior." 

] 0. And, as this our great advocate once said to St. 
Bridget, she regards not the iniquities of the sinner who 
has recourse to her, but the disposition with which he 
invokes her aid. If he comes to her with a firm purpose 
of amendment she receives him, and by her intercession 
heals his wounds, and brings him to salvation. " How 
ever great a man s ,sins may be, if he shall return to me, 
I am ready instantly to receive him. Nor do I regard 
the number or the enormity of his sins, but the will with 
which he comes to me ; for I do not disdain to anoint 
and heal his wounds, because I am called, and truly am, 
the mother of mercy." 

11. The blessed Virgin is called a " fair olive tree in 
the plains:" "Quasi oliva speciosa in campis." (Eccl. 
xxiv. 19.) From the olive, oil only comes forth ; and 
from the hands of Mary only graces and mercies flow. 
According to Cardinal Hugo, it is said that she remains 



G2 SERMON VII. 



in the plains, to show that she is ready to assist all those 
who have recourse to her : " Speciosa in campis ut 
omnes ad earn confugiant." In the Old Law there were 
five cities of refuge, in which not all, but only those 
who had committed certain crimes, could find an asylum ; 
but in Mary, says St. John Damascene, all criminals, 
whatever may be their offences, may take refuge. Hence 
he calls her " the city of refuge for all who have recourse 
to her." Why, then, says St. Bernard, should we be 
afraid to approach Mary? She is all sweetness and 
clemency ; in her there is nothing austere or terrible : 
" Quid ad Mariam accedere trepidat humana fragilitas ? 
Nihil austerum in ea, nihil terribile, tota sauvis est." 

12. St. Bonaventure used to say that, in turning to 
Mary, he saw mercy itself receiving him. " When I 
behold thee, O my lady, I see nothing but mercy. The 
Virgin said one day to St. Bridget: " Miser erit, qui ad 
misericordiam cum possit, non accedit." Miserable and 
miserable for eternity shall be the sinner who, though 
he has it in his power during life to come to me, who am 
able and willing to assist him, neglects to invoke my aid, 
and is lost, " The devil/ says St. Peter, " as a roaring 
lion goeth about seeing whom he may devour." (1 Pet. 
v. 8.) But, according to Bernardine a Bustis, this 
mother of mercy is constantly going about in search of 
sinners to save them. "She continually goes about 
seeking whom she may save." (Maril. par. 3, ser. iii.) 
This queen of clemency, says Richard^ of St. Victor, 
presents our petitions, and begins to assist us before we 
ask the assistance of her prayers ; " Velocius occurrit 
ejus pietas quam invocetur, et causas miserorum antici- 
pat." (In Can., c. xxiii.) Because, as the same author 
says, Mary s heart is so full of tenderness towards us, 
that she cannot behold our miseries without affording 
relief. " Nee possis miserias scire, et non sub venire." 

13. Let us, then, in all our wants, be most careful to 
have recourse to this mother of mercy, who is always 
ready to assist those who invoke her aid. " Invenies 
semper paratam auxiliari," says Richard of St. Lawrence. 
She is always prepared to come to our help, and 
frequently prevents our supplications: but, ordinarily, 
she requires that we should pray to her, and is offended 



ON RECOMMENDING OURSELVES TO THE B. V. MARY. 83 

when we neglect to ask her assistance. " In te domina 
peccant," says St. Bonaventure, " non solum qui tibi 
injuriam irrogant, sed etiam qui te non rogant." (In 
Spec. Yirg.) Thou, blessed lady, art displeased not 
only with those who commit an injury against thee, 
but also with those who do not ask favours from thee. 
Hence, as the same holy doctor teaches, it is not possible 
that Mary should neglect to succour any soul that flies 
to her for protection ; for she cannot but pity and con 
sole the afflicted who have recourse to her. " Ipsa enim 
non misereri ignorat et miseris non satisfacere." 

14. But, to obtain special favours from this good 
lady, we must perform in her honour certain devotions 
practised by her servants ; such as, first, to recite every 
day at least five decades of the Rosary ; secondly, to 
fast every Saturday in her honour. Many persons fast 
every Saturday on bread and water : you should fast in 
this manner at least on the vigils of her seven principal 
festivals. Thirdly, to say the three Aves when the bell 
rings for the Angelus Domini; and to salute her 
frequently during the day with an Ave Maria, particu 
larly when you hear a clock strike, or when you see an 
image of the Yirgin, and also when you leave or return 
to your house. Fourthly, to say every evening the 
Litany of the Blessed Yirgin before you go to rest ; and 
for this purpose procure an image of Mary, and keep it 
near your bed. Fifthly, to wear the scapular of Mary 
in sorrow, and of Mount Carmel. There are many 
other devotions practised by the servants of Mary ; but 
the most useful of all is, to recommend yourself 
frequently to her prayers. Never omit to say three 
Aves in the morning, to beg of her to preserve you from 
sin during the day. In all temptations have immediate 
recourse to her, saying: Mary, assist me." To resist 
every temptation, it is sufficient to pronounce the names 
of Jesus and Mary ; and if the temptation continues, let 
us continue to invoke Jesus and Mary, and the devil 
shall never be able to conquer us. 

15. St. Bonaventure calls Mary the salvation of those 
who invoke her : " salus te invocantium." And if a 
true servant of Mary were lost (I mean one truly devoted 
to her, who wishes to amend his life, and invoke with 



SERMON VIII. 



confidence this advocate of sinners), this should happen 
either because Mary would be unable or unwilling to 
assist him. But, says St. Bernard, this is impossible : 
being the mother of omnipotence and of mercy, Mary 
cannot want the power or the will to save her servants. 
Justly then is she called the salvation of all who invoke 
her aid. Of this truth there are numberless examples : 
that of St. Mary of Egypt will be sufficient. After 
leading for many years a sinful and dissolute life, she 
wished to enter the church of Jerusalem in which the 
festival of the holy cross was celebrated. To make her 
feel her miseries, God closed against her the door which 
was open to all others: as often as she endeavoured to 
enter, an invisible force drove her back. She instantly 
perceived her miserable condition, and remained in 
sorrow outside the church. Fortunately for her there 
was an image of most holy Mary over the porch of the 
church. As a poor sinner she recommended herself to 
the divine mother, and promised to change her life. 
After her prayer, she felt encouraged to go into the 
church, and, behold ! the door which was before closed 
against her she now finds open: she enters, and con 
fesses her sins.^ She leaves the church, and, under the 
influence of divine inspiration, goes into the desert, 
where she lived for forty-seven years, and became a 
saint. 



SERMON YIIL THIRD SUNDAY AFTER THE 
EPIPHANY. 

On the remorse of the damned. 

" But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into the exterior 
darkness ; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." MATT. 
viii. 12. 

IN the Gospel of this day it is related that, tl when Jesus 
Christ entered into Capharnaum, there came to him a 
centurion beseeching him" to cure his servant, who lay 
sick of the palsy. Jesus answered : "I will come and 



REMORSE OF THE DAMNED. 65 

teal him." No," replied the centurion, " I am not 
worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof; but 
only say the word, and my servant shall be healed." 
(v. 8.) Seeing the centurion s faith, the Redeemer in 
stantly consoled him by restoring health to his servant ; 
and, turning to his disciples, he said : " Many shall come 
from the east and the west, and shall sit down with 
Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of 
Heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be 
cast out into the exterior darkness ; there shall be 
weeping and gnashing of teeth." By these words our 
Lord wished to signify, that many persons born in 
infidelity shall be saved, and enjoy the society of the 
saints, and that many who are born in the bosom of the 
Church shall be cast into Hell, where the worm of con 
science, by its gnawing, shall make them weep bitterly 
for all eternity. 

Let us examine the remorses of conscience which, a 
damned Christian shall suffer in Hell. First remorse, 
arising from the thought of the little which he required 
to do in order to save his soul. Second remorse, arisin^ 
from the remembrance of the trifles for which he lost his 
soul. Third remorse, arising from the knowledge of the 
great good which he has lost through his own fault. 

First remorse of the damned Christian, arising from 
the thought of the little which he required to do in order 
to save his soul. 

1 . A damned soul once appeared to St. Hubert, and 
said, that two remorses were her most cruel executioners 
in Hell : the thought of the little which was necessary 
for her to have done in this life to secure her salvation ; 
and the thought of the trifles for which she brought 
herself to eternal misery. The same thing has been 
said by St. Thomas. _ Speaking of the reprobate, he 
says : " They shall be in sorrow principally because they 
are damned for nothing, and because they could most 
easily have obtained eternal life." Let us stop to con 
sider this first source of remorse; that is, how few and 
transitory are the pleasures for which all the damned 
are lost. Each of the reprobate will say for eternity : 
If I abstained from such a gratification ; if in certain 



E 



66 



SERMON VIII. 



circumstances I overcame human respect ; if I avoided 
such an occasion of sin such a companion, I should 
not now he damned; if I had frequented some pious 
sodality ; if I had gone to confession every week ; if in 
temptations I had recommended myself to God, I would 
not have relapsed into sin. I have so often proposed to 
do these things, but I have not done them. I began to 
practise these means of salvation, but afterwards gave 
them up ; and thus I am lost. 

2. This torment of the damned will be increased by 
the remembrance of the good example given them by 
some young companions who led a chaste and pious life 
even in the midst of the world. It will be still more 
increased by the recollection of all the gifts which the 
Lord had bestowed upon them, that by their co-opera 
tion they might acquire eternal salvation ; the gifts of 
nature health, riches, respectability of family, talents ; 
all gifts granted by God, not to be employed in the 
indulgence of pleasures and in the gratification of 
vanity, but in the sanctification of their souls, and in 
becoming saints. So many gifts of grace, so many 
divine lights, holy inspirations, loving calls, and so 
many years of life to repair past disorders. But they 
shall for ever hear from the angel of the Lord that for 
them the time of salvation is past. " The angel whom 
I saw standing, swore by Him that liveth for ever and 
ever. . . . that time shall be no longer." (Apoc. x. 6.) 

3. Alas ! what cruel swords shall all these blessings 
received from God be to the heart of a poor damned 
Christian, when he shall see himself shut up in the 
prison of Hell, and that there is no more time to repair 
his eternal ruin ! In despair he will say to his wretched 
companions : " The harvest is past ; the summer is 
ended ; and we are not saved." (Jer. viii. 20.) The 
time, he will say, of gathering fruits of eternal life is 
past ; the summer, during which we could have saved 
our souls, is over, but we are not saved : the winter is 
come ; but it is an eternal winter, in which we must live 
in misery and despair as long as God shall be God. 

4. fool, he will say, that I have been ! If I had 
suffered for God the pains to which I have submitted 
for the indulgence of my passions if the labours which 



REMORSE OF THE DAMNED. 67 

I have endured for my own damnation, had been borne 
for my salvation, how happy should I now be ! And 
what now remains of all past pleasures, but remorse and 
pain, which now torture, and shall torture me for eter 
nity ? Finally, he will say, I might be for ever happy 
and now .[ must be for ever miserable. Ah! this 
thought will torture the damned more than the fire and 
all the other torments of Hell. 

Second remorse of the damned, arising from the re 
membrance of the trifles for which they lost their souls. 
> Saul forbid the people, under pain of death, to 
taste food. His son Jonathan, who was then young 
being hungry, tasted a little honey. Having dis 
covered that Jonathan had violated the command, the 
king declared that he should die. Seeing himself con 
demned to death, Jonathan said with tears : " I did but 

taste a little honey, and behold I must die." (1 

Kings xiv. 43.) But the people, moved to pity for 
Jonathan, interposed with his father, and delivered him 
from death. For the unhappy damned there is no com 
passion ; there is no one to intercede with God to deliver 
them from the eternal death of Hell. On the contrary, 
all rejoice at the just punishment which they suffer for 
having wilfully lost God and Paradise for the sake of a 
transitory pleasure. 

6. After having eaten the pottage of lentiles for 
which he sold his right of primogeniture, Esau was 
tortured with grief and remorse for what he had lost, 
and "roared out with a great cry." (Gen. xxvii. 34.) 
Oh ! how great shall be the roaring and howling of the 
damned, at the thought of having lost, for a few poison 
ous and momentary pleasures, the everlasting kingdom 
of Paradise, and of being condemned for eternity to a 
continual death ! 

7. The unfortunate reprobate shall be continually 
employed in reflecting on the unhappy cause of their 
damnation. To us who live on earth our past life 
appears but a momentbut a dream. Alas ! what will 
the fifty or sixty years which they may have spent in 
this world appear to the damned, when they shall find 
themselves in the abyss of eternity, and when they shall 



G8 SERMON VIII. 

have passed a hundred and a thousand millions of years 
in torments, and shall see that their miserable eternity 
is only beginning, and shall be for ever in its commence 
ment ? liut have the fifty years spent on this ^ earth 
been full of pleasures ? Perhaps the sinner, living in 
enmity with God, enjoyed uninterrupted happiness in 
his sins? How long do the pleasures of sin last? 
Only for a few minutes ; the remaining part of the lives 
of those who live at a distance from God is full of anguish 
and pain. Oh ! what will these moments of pleasure 
appear to a damned soul, when she shall find herself in 
a pit of fire ? 

8. " What hath pride profited us ? or what advantage 
hath the boasting of riches brought us ? All those things 
have passed away like a shadow." (Wis. v. 8.) Un 
happy me ! each of the damned shall say, I have lived 
on earth according to my corrupt inclinations ; I have 
indulged my pleasures ; but what have they profited me ? 
They have lasted but for a short time ; they have made 
me lead a life of bitterness and disquietude ; and now 
I must burn in this furnace for ever, in despair, and 
abandoned by all. 

Third remorse of the damned, arising from the know 
ledge of the great good which they have lost by their 
own fault. 

9. A certain queen, blinded by the ambition of being 
a sovereign, said one day : " If the Lord gives me a reign 
of forty years, I shall renounce Paradise." The unhappy 
queen reigned for forty years ; but now that she is in 
another world, she cannot but be grieved at having 
made such a renunciation. Oh ! how great must be her 
anguish at the thought of having lost the kingdom of 
Paradise for the sake of a reign of forty years, full of 
troubles, of crosses, and of fears ! " Plus ccelo torque- 
tor, quam gehenna," says St. Peter Chrysologus. To 
the damned the voluntary loss of Paradise is a greater 
loss than the very pains of Hell. 

10. The greatest pain in Hell is the loss of God, that 
sovereign good, who is the source of all the joys of 
Paradise. " Let torments," says St. Bruno, " be added 
to torments, and let them not be deprived of God." 



REMORSE OF THE DAMNKD. (]9 

(Serai, de Jud. fin.) The damned would be content to 
have a thousand Hells added to the Hell which they 
suffer provided they were not deprived of God; but 
their Hell shall consist in seeing themselves deprived 
lor ever of God through their own fault. St. Teresa 
used to say, that when a person loses, through his own 
iault, a trifle a small sum of money, or a ring of little 
value the thought of having lost it through* his own 
neglect afflicts him and disturbs his peace. What then 
must be the anguish of the damned in reflecting that 
they have lost God, a good of infinite value, and have 
lost him through their own fault ? 

11. The damned shall see that God wished them to 
be saved, and had given them the choice of eternal life 
or of eternal death. "Before man is life and death, 
that which he shall choose shall be given to him." (Eccles." 
xv. 18.) They shall see that, if they wished, they might 
have acquired eternal happiness, and that, by their own 
choice, they are damned. On the day of judgment 
they shall see many of their companions among the 
elect ; but, because they would not put a stop to their 
career of sin, they have gone to end it in Hell. * " There 
fore we have erred," they shall say to their unhappy 
associates in Hell ; we have erred in losing Heaven and 
God through our own fault, and our error is irreparable. 
They shall continually exclaim : " There is no peace for 
my bones because of my sins." (Ps. xxxvii. 4.) The 
thought of having been the cause of their own damna 
tion produces an internal pain, which enters into the 
very bones of the damned, and prevents them from ever 
enjoying a moment s repose. Hence, each of them shall 
be to himself an object of the greatest horror. Each 
shall suffer the pain threatened by the Lord : " I will 
set THEE before thy face." (Ps. xlix. 21.) 

12. If, beloved brethren, you have hitherto been so 
foolish as to lose God for a miserable pleasure, do not 
persevere in your folly. Endeavour, now that you have 
it in your power, to repair your past error. Tremble ! 
Perhaps, if you do not now resolve to change your 
life, you shall be abandoned by God, and be lost for ever. 
When the Devil tempts you, remember Hell the 
thought of Hell will preserve you from that land of 



70 SERMON IX. 

misery. I say, remember Hell and have recourse to 
Jesus Christ and to most holy Mary, and they will 
deliver you from sin, which is the gate of Hell. 



SERMON IX. FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER THE 
EPIPHANY. 

Dangers to eternal salvation. 

" And when he entered into the boat, his disciples followed him ; and, 
behold, a great tempest arose in the sea." MATT. viii. 23, 24. 

On the greatness of the dangers to which our eternal sal 
vation is exposed, and on the manner in which we ought 
to guard against them. 

1. IN this day s Gospel we find that, when Jesus Christ 
entered the boat along with his disciples, a great tem 
pest arose, so that the boat was agitated by the waves, 
and was on the point of being lost. During this storm 
the Saviour was asleep ; but the disciples, terrified by 
the storm, ran to awake him, and said : " Lord, save us : 
we perish." (v. 25.) Jesus gave them courage by saying : 
" Why are ye fearful, ye of little faith ? Then rising 
up, he commanded the winds and the sea, and there 
came a great calm." Let us examine what is meant by 
the boat in the midst of the sea, and by the tempest 
which agitated the sea. 

2. The boat on the sea represents man in this world. 
As a vessel on the sea is exposed to a thousand dangers 
to pirates, to quicksands, to hidden rocks, and to tem 
pests ; so man in this life is encompassed with perils 
arising from the temptations of Hell from the occa 
sions of sin, from the scandals or bad counsels of men, 
from human respect, and, above all, from the bad pas 
sions of corrupt nature, represented by the winds that 
agitate the sea and expose the vessel to great danger of 
being lost. 

6. Thus, as St. Leo says, our life is full of dangers, 
of snares, and of enemies: u Plena omnia periculis, 
plena laqueis: incitant cupiditates, insidiantur illecebra3 ; 
blandiuntur lucra." (S. Leo, serm. v, de Quad.) The 



DANGERS TO ETERNAL SALVATION. 71 

first enemy of the salvation of every Christian is his own 
corruption. "But every man is tempted by his own 
concupiscence, being drawn away and allured." (St. 
James i. 14.) Along with the corrupt inclinations which 
live within us, and drag us to evil, we have many enemies 
from without that fight against us. We have the devils, 
with whom the contest is very difficult, because they 
are stronger than we are." " Bellum grave/ says Cas- 
siodorus, " qui cum fortiore." (In Psal. v.) Hence, 
because we have to contend with powerful enemies, St. 
Paul exhorts us to arm ourselves with the divine aid: 
" Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able 
to stand against the deceits of the Devil. For our 
wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against 
principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world 
of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in 
high places." (Eph. vi. 11, 12.) The Devil, according to 
St. Peter, is a lion who is continually going about 
roaring, through the rage and hunger which impel him 
to devour our souls. " Your adversary, the Devil, like 
a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may 
devour." (1 Peter, v. 8,) St. Cyprian says that Satan 
is continually lying in wait for us, in order to make us 
his slaves : " Circuit demon nos singulos, et tanquam hos- 
tis clauses obsidens muros explorat et tenat num sit pars 
aliqua minis stabilis, cujus auditu ad interiora penetre- 
tur." (S. Cyp. lib. de zelo, etc.) 

4. Even the men with whom we must converse 
endanger our salvation. They persecute or betray us, 
or deceive us by their flattery and bad counsels. St. 
Augustine says that, among the faithful there are in 
every profession hollow and deceitful men. "Omnis 
professio in ecclesia habet fictos." (In Ps. xciv.) Now 
if a fortress were full of rebels within, and encompassed 
by enemies from without, who is there that would not 
regard it as lost ? Such is the condition of each of us 
as long as we live in this world. Who shall be able to 
deliver us from so many powerful enemies ? Only God : 
" Unless the Lord keep the city, he watcheth in vain 
that keepeth it." (Ps. cxxvi. 2.) 

5. What then is the means by which we can save our 
souls in the midst of so many dangers? It is to imitate 



72 SERMON IX. 



the holy disciples to have recourse to our Divine 
Master, and say to him : " Save us ; we perish." Save 
us, Lord ; if thou do not we are lost. When the 
tempest is violent, the pilot never takes his eyes from 
the light which guides him to the port. In like mannei 
we should keep our eyes always turned to God, whc 
alone can deliver us from the many dangers to which we 
are exposed. It was thus David acted when he found 
himself assailed hy the dangers of sin. " I have lifted 
up my eyes to the mountains, from whence help shall 
come to me." (Ps. cxx. 1.) To teach us to recommend 
ourselves continually to him who alone can save us by 
his grace, the Lord has ordained that, as long as we 
remain on this earth, we should live in the midst of a 
continual tempest, and should be surrounded by enemies. 
The temptations of the Devil, the persecutions of men, 
the adversity which we suffer in this world, are not evils : 
they are, on the contrary, advantages, if we know how 
to make of them the use which God wishes, who sends 
or permits them for our welfare. They detach our 
affections from this earth, and inspire a disgust for this 
world, by making us feel bitterness and thorns even in 
its honours, its riches, its delights, and amusements. 
The Lord permits all these apparent evils, that we may 
take away our affections from fading goods, in which 
we meet with so many dangers of perdition, and that we 
may seek to unite ourselves with him who alone can 
make us happy. 

6. Our error and mistake is, that when we find our 
selves harassed by infirmities, by poverty, by persecu 
tions, and by such tribulations, instead of having recourse 
to the Lord, we turn to men, and place our confidence 
in their assistance, and thus draw upon ourselves the 
malediction of God, who says, " Cursed be the man who 
trusteth in man." (Jer. xvii. 5.) The Lord does not 
forbid us, in our afnictions and dangers, to have recourse 
to human means ; but he curses those who place their 
whole trust in them. He wishes us to have recourse to 
himself before all others, and to place our only hope in 
him, that we may also centre in him all our love. 

7. As long as we live on this earth, we must, accord 
ing to St. Paul, work out our salvation with fear and 



DANGERS TO ETERNAL SALTATION. 



trembling, in the midst of the dangers by which we are 
beset. " Cum metu et tremore vestram salutem opera- 
mini." (Phil. ii. 12.) Whilst a certain vessel was in the 
open sea a great tempest arose, which made the captain 
tremble. ^ In the hold of the vessel there was an animal 
eating with as much tranquillity as if the sea were per 
fectly calm. The captain being asked why he was so 
much afraid, replied: If I had a soul like the soul of 
this brute, I too would be tranquil and without fear ; but 
because I have a rational and an immortal soul, I am 
afraid of death, after which I must appear before the 
judgment-seat of God ; and therefore I tremble through 
fear. Let us also tremble, beloved brethren. The salva 
tion of our immortal souls is at stake. They who do not 
tremble are, as St. Paul says, in great danger of being 
lost; because they who fear not, seldom recommend 
themselves to God, and labour but little to adopt the 
means of salvation. Let us beware: we are, says St. 
Cyprian, still in battle array, and still combat for eternal 
salvation. "Adhuc in acie constituti de vita nostra 
dimicamus." (S. Cypr., lib. 1, cap. i.) 

8. The first means of salvation, then, is to recom 
mend ourselves continually to God, that he may keep 
his hands over us, and preserve us from offending him. 
The ^ next is, to cleanse the soul from all past sins by 
making a general confession. A general confession is 
a powerful help to a change of life. When the tempest 
is violent the burden of the vessel is diminished, and 
each person on board throws his goods into the sea in 
order to save his life. folly of sinners, who, in the 
midst of such great dangers of eternal perdition, instead 
of diminishing the burden of the vessel that is, instead 
of unburdening the soul of her sins load her with a 
greater weight. Instead of flying from the dangers of 
sm, they fearlessly continue to put themselves voluntarily 
into dangerous occasions; and, instead of having re 
course to God s mercy for the pardon of their offences, 
they offend him still more, and compel him to abandon, 
them. 

9. Another means is, to labour strenuously not to 
allow ourselves to become the slaves of irregular pas 
sions. " Give me not over to a shameless and foolish 



SERMON IX. 



mind." (Eccl. xxiii. 6.) Do not, Lord, deliver me up 
to a mind blinded by passion. He who is blind sees not 
what he is doing, and therefore he is in danger of falling 
into every crime. Thus so many are lost by submitting 
to the tyranny of their passions. Some are slaves to the 
passion of avarice. A person who is now in the other 
world said : Alas ! I perceive that a desire of riches is 
beginning to rule over me. So said the unhappy man ; 
but he applied no rerne dy. He did not resist the passion 
in the beginning, but fomented it till death, and thus at 
his last moments left but little reason to hope for his 
salvation. Others are slaves to sensual pleasures. They 
are not content with lawful gratifications, and therefore 
they pass to the indulgence of those that are forbidden. 
Others are subject to anger ; and because they are not 
careful to check the fire at its commencement, when it 
is small, it increases and grows into a spirit of revenge. 

10. " Hi hostes cavendi," says St. Ambrose, " hi gra- 
viores tyranni. Multi in persecutione publica coronati, 
in hac persecutione ceciderunt." (In Ps. cxviii. serm. 20.) 
Disorderly affections, if they are not beaten down in the 
beginning, become our greatest tyrants. Many, says St. 
Ambrose, after having victoriously resisted the persecu 
tions of the enemies of the faith, were afterwards lost 
because they did not resist the first assaults of some 
earthly passion. Of this, Origen was a miserable 
example. He fought for, and was prepared to give his 
life in defence of the faith ; but, by afterwards yielding 
to human respect, he was led to deny it. (Natalis Alex 
ander, His. Eccl., torn. 7, dis. xv., q. 2, a. 1.) We have 
still a more miserable example in Solomon, who, after 
having received so many gifts from God, and after being 
inspired by the Holy Ghost, was, by indulging a passion 
for certain pagan, women, induced to offer incense to idols. 
The unhappy man who submits to the slavery of his 
wicked passions, resembles the ox that is sent to the 
slaughter after a life of constant labour. During their 
whole lives worldlings groan under the weight of their 
sins, and, at the end of their days, fall into Hell. 

11. Let us conclude. When the winds are strong 
and violent, the pilot lowers the sails and casts anchor. 
So, when we find ourselves assailed by any bad passion, 



DANGERS TO ETERNAL SALVATION. 75 

we .should always lower the sails ; that is, we should 
avoid all the occasions which may increase the passion 
and should cast anchor by uniting ourselves to God, and 
by begging of him to give us strength not to offend him 
12. But some of you will say, What am I to do ? I 
live in the midst of the world, where my passions con 
tinually assail me even against my will. I will answer 
in the words of Origen : < Donee quis in tenebris scecu- 
lanbus manet et in negotiorum obscuritate versatur, nou 
potest servire Domino. Exeundum est ergo de Egypto, 
relmquendus est mundus, non loco sed ammo." (Horn. 
111. in Exod.) The man who lives in the darkness of the 
world and in the midst of secular business, can with 
difficulty serve God. Whoever then wishes to insure 
his eternal salvation, let him retire from the world, and 
take refuge in one of those exact religious communities 
which are the secure harbours in the sea of this world. 
11 he cannot actually leave the world, let him leave it at 
least in affection, by detaching his heart from the things 
ol this world, and from his own evil inclinations : " Go 
not after thy lusts," says the Holy Ghost, " but turn 
away from thy own will." (Eccl. xviii. 30.) Follow not 
your own concupiscence; and when your will impels 
you to evil, you must not indulge, but must resist its 
inclinations. 

13. " The time is short : it remaineth that they also 
who have wives be as if they had none ; and they that 
weep, as though they wept not ; and they that rejoice, 
as it they rejoiced not ; and they that buy, as if they 
possessed not ; and they that use this world, as if they 
used it not ; for the fashion of this world passeth away " 
1 Cor. vii. 29, etc.) The time of life is short ; we should 
then prepare for death, which is rapidly approaching ; 
and to prepare for that awful moment, let us reflect that 
everything m this world shall soon end. Hence, the 

? S ? tells those wto suffer in tnis life to be as if they 
Buttered not, because the miseries of this life shall soon 
pass away, and they who save their souls shall be happy 
for eternity; and he exhorts those who enjoy the goods 
of this earth to be as if they enjoyed them not, because 
they must one day leave all things; and if they lose 
their souls, they shall be miserable for ever. 



SERMON X. 



SERMON X. FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER THE 
EPIPHANY. 

On the pains of Hell. 

" Gather up first the coclde, 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 2)ains 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 



PAINS OF HELL. 77 



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 

^ ? " 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, 



78 SERMON X. 



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 



PAINS OF HELL. 79 

within your very bowels. " Yenit 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 



80 SERMON X. 

terror to cause the death of all the damned, if they were 
capable of dying. " Yidebunt 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 



PAINS OF HELL. 81 



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 tor 
mented by the remembrance of the years which they 



82 



SERMON X. 



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. 



DEATH OF THE JUST. 83 



SERMON XI. SIXTH SUNDAY AFTEE, THE 
EPIPHANY. 

On the death of the just. 

"The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took 
and hid in three measures of meal until the whole was leavened." 
MATT. xiii. 33. 

IN this day s gospel we find that a woman, after putting 
leaven in the dough, waits till the entire is fermented. 
Here the Lord gives us to understand that the kingdom 
of heaven that is, the attainment of eternal beatitude 
is like the leaven. By the leaven is understood the 
divine grace, which makes the soul acquire merits for 
eternal life. But this eternal life is obtained only when 
" the whole is leavened ;" that is, when the soul has 
arrived at the end of the present life and the completion 
of her merits. We shall, then, speak to-day of the death 
of the just, which we should not fear, but should desire 
with our whole souls. For, says St. Bonaventure, 
" Triplex in morte congratulatio, hominem ab omni 
labore, peccato, et periculo liberari." Man should 
rejoice at death, for three reasons First, because death 
delivers him from labour that is, from suffering the 
miseries of this life and the assault of his enemies. 
Secondly, because it delivers him from actual sins. 
Thirdly, because it delivers him from the danger of fall 
ing into hell, and opens Paradise to him. 

First Point. Death delivers us from the miseries of 
this life, and from the assaults of our enemies. 

1. What is death? St. Eucherius answers, that 
" death is the end of miseries." Job said that our life, 
however short it may be, is full of miseries, of infirmities, 
of crosses, of persecutions, and fears. " Man born of a 
woman, living for a short time, is filled with many 
miseries." (Job xiv. 1.) What, says St. Augustine, do 
men who wish for a prolongation of life on this earth 
desire but a prolongation of suffering ?" " Quid est diu 
vivere nisi diu tor queri." (Serm. xviL de Serb. Dom.) 
Yes ; for, as St. Ambrose remarks, the present life was 



SERMON XI. 



given to us not for repose or enjoyment, but for labour 
and suffering, that by toils and pains we may merit 
Paradise. " Haic vita homini non ad quitem data est, 
sed ad laborem." (Serm. xliii.) Hence the same holy 
doctor says, that, though death is the punishment of sin, 
still the miseries of this life are so great, that death 
appears to be a relief rather than a chastisement : " Ut 
mors rcmediuni videatur esse, non poena. 1 

2. To those who love God, the severest of all the 
crosses of this life are the assaults of hell to rob them 
of the divine grace. Hence St. Denis the Areopagite 
says, that they joyfully meet death, as the end of their 
combats, and embrace it with gladness, because they 
hope to die a good death, and to be thus freed from all 
fear of ever again falling into sin. " Diyino gaudio et 
mortis terminum tanquam ad finem certaminum tendunt, 
non amplius metuentus pervertii." (De Hier. Eccl., cap. 
vii.) The greatest consolation which a soul that loves 
God experiences at the approach of death, arises from 
the thought of being delivered from so many tempta 
tions, from so many remorses of conscience, and from 
so many dangers of offending God. Ah ! says St. 
Ambrose, as long as we live, "we walk among snares." 
We walk continually in the midst of the snares of our 
enemies, who lie in wait to deprive us of the life of 
grace. It was the fear of falling into sin that made St. 
Peter of Alcantara, in his last moments, say to a lay 
brother who, in attending the saint, accidently touched 
him : " Brother, remove, remove from me, for I am still 
alive and in danger of being lost." The thought of 
being freed from the danger of sin by death consoled 
St. Teresa, and made her rejoice as often as she heard 
the clock strike, that an hour of the combat \yas past. 
Hence she used to say : " In each moment of life we 
may sin and lose God." Hence the news of approaching 
death filled the saints not with sorrow or regret, but 
with sentiments of joy ; because they knew that their 
struggles and the dangers of losing the divine grace 
were soon to have an end. 

3. " But the just man, if he be prevented with death, 
shall be in rest." (Wis. iv. 7.) He who is prepared to 
die, regards death as a relief. If, says St. Cyprian, you 



DEATH OF THE JUST. 85 

lived in a house whose roof and walls were tottering and 
threatening destruction, would you not fly from, it as 
soon as possible ? In this life everything menaces ruin 
to the poor soul the world, the devils, the flesh, the 
passions, all draw her to sin and to eternal death. It 
was this that made St. Paul exclaim: " Who shall deliver 
me from the body of this death?" (Rom. vii. 24.) Who 
shall deliver me from this body of mine, which lives 
continually in a dying state, on account of the assaults 
of my enemies ? Hence he esteemed death as a great 
gam, because it brought to him the possession of Jesus 
Christ, his true life. Happy then are they who die in 
the Lord : because they escape from pains and toils, and 
go to rest. " Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. 
From henceforth now, saith the spirit, that they may 
rest from their labours." (Apoc. xiv. 13.) It is related 
in the lives of the ancient fathers, that one of them who 
was very old, when dying, smiled, while the others wept. 
Being asked why he smiled, he said : (t Why do you weep 
at seeing me go to rest ? Ex labore ad requiem vado, et 
vos ploratis ?" At the hour of death, St. Catherine of 
Sienna said to her sisters in religion : Hejoice with me: 
for I leave this land of suffering, and am going to the 
kingdom of p^eace. The death of the saints is called a 
sleep that is, the repose which God gives to his 
servants as the reward of their toil " When he shall 
give sleep to his beloved, behold the inheritance of the 
Lord." (Ps. cxxvi. 2.) Hence the soul that loves God 
neither weeps nor is troubled at the approach of death, 
but, embracing the crucifix, and burning with love, she 
says : " In peace in the self same I will sleep and I will 
rest." (Ps. iv. 9.) 

4. That " Proficiscere de hoc mundo," (" Depart, 
Christian soul, from this world,") which is so appalling to 
sinners at the hour of death, does not alarm the saints. 
" But the souls of the just are in the hands of God, and 
the torment of death shall not touch them." (Wis. iii. 
1.) The saint is not afflicted, like worldlings, at the 
thought of being obliged to leave the goods of this 
earth, because he has kept the soul detached from 
them. During life, he always regarded God as tho 
Lord of his heart and as the sole riches which ha 



SERMON XT. 



desired : " What have I in heaven ? and, besides thee, 
what do I desire upon earth ? Thou art the God of 
my heart and the God that is my portion for ever." (Ps. 
Ixxxii. 25, 26.) He is not afflicted at leaving honours, 
because the only honour which he sought was, to love 
and to be loved by God. All the honours of this world 
he has justly esteemed as smoke and vanity. He is not 
afflicted at leaving his relatives, because he loved them 
only in God. In his last moments he recommends them 
to his heavenly Father, who loves them more than he 
does. And having a secure confidence of salvation, he 
hopes to be better able to assist his relatives from Para 
dise, than on this earth. In a word, what he frequently 
said during life, he continues to repeat with greater 
fervour at the hour of death " My God and my all." 

5. Besides, his peace is not disturbed by the pains of 
death ; but, seeing that he is now at the end of his life, 
and that he has no more time to suffer for God, or to 
offer him other proofs of love, he accepts those pains 
with joy, and offers them to God as the last remains of 
life ; and uniting his death with the death of Jesus Christ, 
he offers it to the Divine Majesty. 

0. And although the remembrance of the sins which 
he has committed will afflict, it will not disturb him ; 
for, since he is convinced that the Lord will forget the 
sins of all true penitents, the very sorrow which he feels 
for his sins, gives him an assurance of pardon. " If the 
wicked do penance. ... I will not remember all his 
iniquities that he hath done." (Ezec. xviii. 21 and 22.) 
"How," asks St. Basil, "can anyone be certain that 
God has pardoned his sins ? He may be certain of 
pardon if he say : I have hated and abhorred iniquity." 
(In Reg. inter. 12.) He who detests his sins, and offers 
to God his death in atonement for them, may rest secure 
that God has pardoned them. " Mors," says St. Augus 
tine, " qua3 in lege naturae erat poona peccati in lege 
gratis est hostia pro peccato." (Lib. iv. de Trin. c. xxii.) 
Death, which was a chastisement of sin under the law 
of nature, has become, in the law of grace, a victim of 
penance, by which the pardon of sin is obtained. 

7. The very love which a soul bears to God, assures 
her of his grace, and delivers her from the fear of being 



DEATH OF TFIE JUST. 87 

lost. " Charity casteth out fear." (1 John iv. 18.) If, 
at the hour of death, you are unwilling to pardon an 
enemy, or to restore what is not your own, or if you 
wish to keep up an improper friendship, then tremble 
for your eternal salvation ; for you have great reason to 
be afraid of death ; but if you seek to avoid sin, and to 
preserve in your heart a testimony that you love God, 
bo assured that he is with you : and if the Lord is with 
you, what do you fear ? And if you wish to be assured 
that you have within you the divine love, embrace 
death with peace, and offer it from your heart to God. 
He that offers to God his death, makes an act of love 
the most perfect that is possible for him to perform ; 
because, by cheerfully embracing death to please God, 
at the time and in the manner which God ordains, he 
becomes like the martyrs, the entire merit of whose 
martyrdom consisted in suffering and dying to please 
God. 

Second Point. Death frees us from actual sins. 

8. It is impossible to live in this world without com 
mitting at least some slight faults. " A just man shall 
fall seven times/ (Prov. xxiv. 16.) He who ceases to 
live, ceases to offend God. Hence St. Ambrose called 
death the burial of vices : by death they are buried, and 
never appear again. " Quid est mors nisi sepultura 
vitorum?" (De Bono Mort. cap. iv.) The venerable 
Vincent Caraffa consoled himself at the hour of death 
by saying : now that I cease to live, I cease for ever to 
offend my God. He who dies in the grace of God, goes 
into that happy state in which he shall love God for 
ever, and shall never more offend him. " Mortuus," 
says the same holy doctor, " nescit peccare. Quid 
tanto pere vita mistam desideramus, in qua quanto diutius 
quis fuerit, tanto majori oneratur sarcina peccatorum." 
How can we desire this life, in which the longer we live, 
the greater shall be the load of our sins ? 

9. Hence the Lord praises the dead more than any 
man living : " I praised the dead rather than the living." 
(Eccl. iv. 2.) Because no man on this earth, however 
holy he may be, is exempt from sins. A spiritual soul 
gave directions that the person who should bring to her 



88 SERMON XI. 



the news of death, should say : " Console yourself, for the 
time has arrived when you shall no longer offend God." 

10. St. Ambrose adds, that God permitted death to 
enter into the world, that, by dying, men should cease 
to sin: "Passus est Dominus subintrare mortem ut 
culpa cessaret." (Loco cit.) It is, then, a great error to 
imagine that death is a chastisement for those who love 
God. It is a mark of the love which God bears to 
them , because he shortens their life to put an end to 
sin, from which they cannot be exempt as long as they 
remain on this earth. " For his soul pleased God : 
therefore he hastened to bring him out of the midst of 
iniquities." (Wis. iv. 14.) 

Third Point. Death delivers us from the danger of 
falling into hell, and opens Paradise to us. 

11. " Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death 
of the saints." (Ps. cxv. 16.) Considered according to 
the senses, death excites fear and terror ; but, viewed 
with the eye of faith, it is consoling and desirable. To 
the saints it is as amiable and as precious, as it appears 
terrible to sinners. " It is precious," says St. Bernard, 
" as the end of labours, the consummation of victory, the 
gate of life." The joy of the cup-bearer of Pharaoh, 
at hearing from Joseph that he should soon be released 
from prison, bears no comparison to that which a soul 
that loves God feels on hearing that she is to be liber 
ated from the exile of this earth, and to be transported 
to the enjoyment of God in her true country. The 
Apostle says, that, as long as we remain in the body, we 
wander at a distance from our country in a strange land, 
and far removed from the life of God : " While we are 
in the body, we are absent from the Lord." (2 Cor. v. 
6.) Hence, St. Bruno teaches, that our death should 
not be called death, but the beginning of life. " Mors 
dicenda non est, sed vita} principium." And St. Athana- 
sius says: " Non est justis mors sed translatio." To the 
just, death is but a passage from the miseries of this 
earth to the eternal delights of Paradise. O desirable 
death ! exclaimed St. Augustine ; who is there that does 
not desire thee ? For thou art the term of evils, the end 
of toils, and the beginning of everlasting repose ! " O 



DEATH OF THE JUST. 89 



mors desirabilis, malorum finis, laboris clausula, quietis 
principium." 

12. No one can enter into heaven to see God without 
passing through the gate of death. " This is the gate 
of the Lord the just shall enter into it." (Ps. cxvii. 
20.) Hence, addressing death, St. Jerome said : " Aperi 
mini soror mea." Death, my sister, if you do not open 
the gate to me, I cannot enter to enjoy my God. And 
St. Charles Borromeo, seeing in his house a picture of 
death with a knife in the hand, sent for a painter to 
cancel the knife, and substitute for it a key of gold ; 
because, said the saint, it is death that opens Paradise. 
Were a queen confined in a dark prison, how great 
would be her joy at hearing that the gates of the 
prison are open, and that she is to return from the 
dungeon to her palace ! It was to be liberated by death 
from the prison of this life that David asked, when he 
said : " Bring my soul out of prison." (Ps. cxli. 8.) 
This, too, was the favour which the venerable Simeon 
asked of the infant Jesus, when he held him in his arms : 
" Now thou dost dismiss thy servant." (Luke ii. 29.) 
" As if detained by force," says St. Ambrose, " he asked 
to be dismissed." Simeon sought to be delivered by 
death, as if he had been compelled by force to live on 
this earth. 

13. St. Cyprian says, that the sinner who shall pass 
from temporal to eternal death, has just reason to be 
afraid of death. " Mori timeat, qui ad secundum mor 
tem de hac morte transibit." But he who is in the 
state of grace and hopes to pass from death to eternal 
life which is the true life tears not death. It is re 
lated that a certain rich man gave to St. John the 
Almoner a large sum of money to be dispensed in alms, 
for the purpose of obtaining from God a long life for 
his only son. The son died in a short time. The father 
complained of the death of his son ; but, to console him, 
the Lord sent an angel to say to him : " You have sought 
a long life for your son, and the Lord has heard your 
prayer ; for your son is in heaven, where he enjoys 
eternal life." This is the grace which, according to the 
promise of the prophet Osee, the Redeemer obtained 
for us. " death, I will be thy death." (xiii. 14.) By 



90 



SERMON XI. 



his redemption, Jesus Christ destroyed death, and 
changed it into a source of life to us. When St. Pionius, 
martyr, was asked how he could go to death with sc 
much joy, he answered: " You err; I do not go to death 
but to life." " Erratis non ad mortem, sed ad vitam con- 
tendo." (Apud Eusub., lib. iv. cap. xiv ) Thus also St. 
Symphorosa exhorted her son, St. Symphorian, to mar 
tyrdom : " My son," said she, " life is not taken away 
from you; it is only changed for a better one." 

14. St. Augustine says, that they who love God desire 
to see him speedily, and that, therefore, to them life is 
a cause of suffering, and death an occasion of joy. 
"Patienter vivit, delectabiliter moritur." (Trac. ix. in 
Ep. Joan.) St. Teresa used to say, that to her life was 
death. Hence she composed the celebrated hymn, " I 
die because I dp not die." To that great servant of God 
D. Sancia Carriglio a penitent of Father M. Avila it 
was one day revealed, that she had but a year to live ; 
she answered : " Alas ! must I remain another year at a 
distance from God? O sorrowful year, which will 
appear to me longer than an age." Such is the language 
of souls who love God from their heart. It is a mark 
of little love of God not to desire to see him speedily. 

15. Some of you will say : I desire to go to God, but 
I fear death. I am afraid of the assaults which I shall 
then experience from hell. I find that the saints have 
trembled at the hour of death ; how much more ought 
I to tremble ! I answer : It is true that hell doos not 
cease to assail even the saints at death, but it is also true 
that God does not cease to assist his servants at that 
moment ; and when the dangers are increased, ho mul 
tiplies his helps. " Ibi plus auxilii," says St. Ambrose, 
" ubi plus periculi." (ad Jos. cap. v.) The servant of 
Eliseus was struck with terror when he saw the city 
surrounded by enemies ; but the saint inspired him with 
courage by showing to him a multitude of angels sent 
by God to defend it. Hence the prophet afterwards 
said : " Fear not, for there are more with us than with 
them." (4 Kings vi. 16.) The powers of hell will assail 
the dying Christian ; but his angel guardian will come 
to console him. His patrons, and St. Michael, who has 
been appointed by God to defend his faithful servants 



DEATH OF THE JUST. 91 



in their last combat with the devils, will come to his aid. 
The mother of God will come to assist those who have 
been devoted to her. Jesus Christ shall come to defend 
from the assaults of hell the souls for which he died on 
a cross : he will give them confidence and strength to 
resist every attack. Hence, filled with courage, they 
will say: "The Lord is my light and my salvation: 
whom shall I fear?" (Isa. xxvi. I.) Truly has Origen 
said, that the Lord is more desirous of our salvation 
than the devil is of our perdition, because God s love 
for us far surpasses the devil s hatred of our souls. 
" Major ilia cura est, ut nos ad veram pertrahat salutem, 
quam diabolo, ut nos ad a3ternam damnationem impellat." 
(Horn, xx.) 

16. God is faithful, he will never permit us to be 
tempted above our strength : " Fidelis Deus non patietur 
vos tentari supra id quod potestis." (1 Cor. x. 13.) It is 
true that some saints have suffered great fear at the 
hour of death ; but they have been few. The Lord, as 
Belluacensis says, has permitted this fear to cleanse them 
at death from some defect. " Justi quandoque dure 
moriendo purgantur in hoc mundo." But we know that, 
generally speaking, the saints have died with a joyful 
countenance. Father Joseph Scamacca, a man of a holy 
life, being asked if, in dying, he felt confidence in God, 
answered : Have I served Mahomet, that I should now 
doubt of the goodness of my God, or of his wish to save 
me ? Ah ! the Lord knows well how to console his 
servants in their last moments. Even in the midst of 
the agony of death, he infuses into their souls a certain 
sweetness and a certain foretaste of that happiness which 
he will soon bestow upon them. As they who die in sin 
begin to experience from the bed of death a certain fore 
taste of hell certain extraordinary terrors, remorses, 
and fits of despair ; so, on the other hand, the saints, by 
the fervent acts of divine love which they then make, 
and by the confidence and the desire which they feel of 
soon seeing God, taste, before death, that peace which 
they shall afterwards fully enjoy in heaven. 

17. Father Suarez died with so much peace, that in 
his last moments he said : " I could not have imagined 
that death was so sweet." Being advised by his 



92 SERMON XT. 



physician not to fix his thoughts so constantly on death, 
Cardinal Baronius said: Is it lest the fear of death should 
shorten my life ? I fear not ; on the contrary, I love 
and desiie death. Of the Cardinal Bishop of Rochester, 
Saunders relates, that, in preparing to die for the faith, 
he put on his best clothes, saying that ho was going to 
a nuptial feast. When he came within view of the 
place of execution, he threw away his staff, and said : 
O my feet, walk fast ; for we are not far from Paradise. 
" Ite pedes, parum a paradiso distamus." Before death, 
he wished to recite the TE DEUM, in thanksgiving to 
God for permitting him to die for the holy faith ; and, 
full of joy, he laid his head on the block. St. Francis of 
Assisium began to sing at the hour of death. Brother 
Elias said to him: Father, at the hour of death, we ought 
rather to weep than to sing. But, replied the saint, I 
cannot abstain from singing at the thought of soon going 
to enjoy God. A nun of the order of St. Teresa, in her 
last moments, said to her sisters in religion, who were in 
tears: O God! why do you weep? I am going to 
possess my Jesus ; if you love me, weep not, but rejoice 
with me. (Dis. Parol. i. 6.) 

18. Father Granada relates, that a certain sportsman 
found in a wood a solitary singing in his last agony. 
How, said the sportsman, can you sing in such a state ? 
The hermit replied: Brother, between me and God there 
is nothing but the wall of this body. I now see that 
since my flesh is falling in pieces, the prison shall be 
destroyed, and I shall soon go to see God. It is for 
this reason I rejoice and sing. Through the desire of 
seeing God, St. Ignatius, martyr, said, that if the wild 
beasts should spare him, he would provoke them to 
devour him. "Ego vim faciam, ut devorer." St. 
Catherine of Genoa was astonished that some persons 
regarded death as a misfortune, and said : " O beloved 
death, in what a mistaken light do men view you ! Why 
do you not come to me ? 1 call on you day and ni^ht " 
(Yita, c. 7.) 

19. Oh ! how peculiarly happy is the death of the 
servants of Mary ! Father Binetti relates, that a person 
whom he assisted in his last moments, and who was 
devoted to the Blessed Virgin, said to him : " Father, 



IMPORTANCE OF SALVATION. 



93 



you cannot conceive the consolation which arises at 
death from the remembrance of having served Mary. 
Ah ! my father, if you knew what happiness I feel on 
account of having served this good mother ! I cannot 
express it." What joy shall the lovers of Jesus Christ 
experience at his coming to them in the most holy 
viaticum ! Happy the soul that can then address her 
Saviour in the words which St. Philip Neri used when 
the viaticum was brought to him : " Behold my love ! 
behold my love ! give me my love !" But, to entertain 
these sentiments at death, we must have ardently loved 
Jesus Christ during life. 



SERMON XII. SEPTUAGESIMA SUNDAY. 

On the importance of salvation. 

" He sent them into his vineyard." MATTHEW xx. 2 

THE vines of the Lord are our souls, which he has given 
us to cultivate by good works, that we may be one day 
admitted into eternal glory. "How," says Salvian, 
" does it happen that a Christian believes, and still docs 
not fear the future?" Christians believe death, judg 
ment, hell, and Paradise: but they live as if they 
believed them not as if these truths of faith were tables 
or the inventions of human genius. Many live as it 
they were never to die, or as if they had not to give 
God an account of their life as if there were neither^ 
hell nor a heaven. Perhaps they do not believe in 
them? They believe, but do not reflect on them ; and 
thus they are lost. They take all possible care of worldly 
affairs, but attend not to the salvation of their souls. 1 
shall show you, this day, that the salvation of your souls 
is the most important of all affairs. 

First Point. Because, if the soul is lost, all is lost 
Second Point. Because, if the soul is lost once, it is 
lost for ever. 

First Point. If the soul is lost, all is lost. 



SERMON XI T. 



1. "But," says St. Paul, "we entreat you .... that 
you do your own business." (1 Thess. iv. 10, 11.) The 
greater part of worldlings are most attentive to the 
business of this world. What diligence do they not 
employ to gain a law-suit or a post of emolument ! 
How many means are adopted how many measures 
taken? They neither eat nor sleep. And what efforts 
do they make to save their souls ? All blush at being 
told that they neglect the affairs of their families ; and 
how few are ashamed to neglect the salvation of their 
souls. " Brethren," says St. Paul, I entreat you that 
you do your own business ;" that is, the business of your 
eternal salvation. 

2. "JS T ugcc puerorum," says St. Bernard, " nuga) 
vocantur, nuga) malorum negotia vocantur." The 
trifles of children ^ are called trifles, but the trifles of 
men are called business ; and for these many lose their 
souls. If in one worldly transaction you suffer a loss, 
you may repair it in another; but if you die in enmity 
with God, and lose your soul, how can you repair the 
loss ? " What exchange can a man give for his soul:" 
(Matt. xvi. 26.) To those who neglect the care of sal 
vation, St. Euterius says : " Quam pretiosus sis, homo, 
si Creatori non credis, interroga Redemptorem." (Horn. 
ii. in Symb.) If, from being created by God to his own 
image, you do not comprehend the value of your soul, 
learn it from Jesus Christ, who has redeemed you with 
his own blood. " You were not redeemed with cor 
ruptible things, as gold or silver, but with the 

precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb unspotted and 
undefiled." (1 Pet. i. 18, 19.) 

3. God, then, sets so high a value on your soul ; 
such is its value in the estimatien of Satan, that, to 
become master of it, he does not sleep night or day, 
but is continually going about to make it his own. 
Hence St. Augustine exclaims : " The enemy sleeps not, 
and you are asleep." The enemy is always awake to 
injure you, and you slumber. Pope Benedict the 
Twelfth, being asked by a prince for a favour which 
he could not conscientiously grant, said to the ambas 
sador : Tell the prince, that, if I had two souls, I might 
be able to lose one of them in order to please him ; 



TMP011TAXCE OF SALVATION. 95 

but, since I have but one, I cannot consent to lose it. 
Thus lie refused the favour which the prince sought 
from him. 

4. Brethren, remember that, if you save your souls, 
your failure in every worldly transaction will be but of 
little importance : for, if you are saved, you shall enjoy 
complete happiness for all eternity. But, if you lose 
your _ souls, what will it profit you to have enjoyed all 
the riches, honours, and amusements of this world ? If 
you lose your souls, all is lost. " What doth it profit 
a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss 
of his_own soul ?" (Matt. xvi. 26.) By this maxim St. 
Ignatius of Loyola drew many souls to God, and among 
them the soul of St. Francis Xavier, who was then 
at Paris, and devoted his attention to the acquirement 
of worldly goods. One day St, Ignatius said to him : 
" Francis, whom do you serve ? You serve the world, 
which is a traitor, that promises, but does not perform. 
And if it should fulfil all its promises, how long do 
its goods last ? Can they last longer than this life ? 
And, after death, what will they profit you, if you shall 
not have saved your soul ?" He then reminded Francis 
of the maxims of the Gospel: "What doth it profit 
a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss 
of his own soul ?" " But one thing is necessary ?" 
(Luke x. 42.) It is not necessary to become rich on 
this earth to acquire honours and dignities ; but it is 
necessary to save our souls ; because, unless we gain 
heaven we shall be condemned to hell: there is no 
middle place : we must be either saved or damned. 
God has not created us for this earth ; neither does he 
preserve our lives that we may become rich and enjoy 
amusements. "And the end life everlasting." (Horn, 
vi. 22.) He has created us, and preserved us, that we 
may acquire eternal glory. 

5. St. Philip Neri used to say, that he who does not 
seek, above all _ things, the salvation of his soul, is a 
fool. If on this earth there were two classes of men, 
one mortal, and the other immortal, and if the former 
saw the latter entirely devoted to the acquisition of 
earthly goods, would they not exclaim : O fools that 
you are ! You have it in your power to secure the 



96 SERMON XII. 



immense and eternal goods of Paradise, and you lose 
your time in procuring the miserable goods of this earth, 
which shall end at death. And for these you expose 
yourselves to the danger of the eternal torments of hell. 
Leave to us, for whom all shall end at death, the care 
of these earthly things. But, brethren, we are all 
immortal, and each of us shall be eternally happy or 
eternally miserable in the other life. But the misfor 
tune of the greater part of mankind is, that they are 
solicitous about the present, and never think of the, 
future. " Oh ! that they would be wise, and would 
understand, and would provide for their last end." 
(Deut. xxxii. 29.) Oh ! that they knew how to detach 
themselves from present goods, which last but a short 
time, and to provide for what must happen after death 
an eternal reign in heaven, or everlasting slavery in 
hell. St. Philip Neri, conversing one day with Francis 
Zazzera, a young man of talent who expected to make 
a fortune in the world, said to him : " You shall realize 
a great fortune; you shall be a prelate, afterwards a car 
dinal, and in the end, perhaps, pope. But what must 
follow? what must follow? Go, my son, think on these 
words." The young man departed, and after meditating 
on the words, what mustfolloiv? ivhat must follow? he 
renounced his worldly prospects, andgave himself entirely 
to God; and, retiring from the world, he entered into the 
congregation of St. Philip, and died a holy death. 

(3. " The fashion of this world passeth away." (i Cor. 
vii. 31.) On this passage, Cornelius a Lapide, says, that 
" the world is as it were a stage." The present life is a 
comedy, which passes away. Happy the man who acts 
his part well in this comedy by saving his soul. But if 
he shall have spent his life in the acquisition of riches 
and worldly honours, he shall justly be called a fool ; 
and at the hour of death he shall receive the reproach 
addressed to the rich man in the gospel : " Fool, this 
night do they require thy soul of thee ; and^ whose shall 
these things be which thou hast provided?" (Luke xii 
20.) In explaining the words " they require/ Toletus 
says, that the Lord has given us our souls to guard 
them against the assaults of our enemies ; and that at 
death the angel shall come to require them of us, and 



IMPORTANCE OF SALVATION. 97 

shall present them at the tribunal of Jesus Christ. But 
it we shall have lost our souls by attending only to the 
acquisition of earthly possessions, these shall belong to 
us no longer they shall pass to other hands: and what 
shall then become of our souls ? 

7. Poor worldlings ! of all the riches which they 
acquired, of all the pomps which they displayed in this 
life, what shall they find at death ? They have slept 
their sleep : and all the men of riches have found 
nothing in their hands." (Ps. Ixxv. 6.) The dream of 
this present life shall be over at death, and they shall 
have acquired nothing for eternity. Ask of so many 
great men of this earth of the princes and emperors, 
who, during life, have abounded in riches, honours, and 
pleasures, and are at this moment in hell what now 
remains of all the riches which they possessed in this 
world ? They answer with tears: " Nothing, nothing. - 1 
And of so many honours enjoyed of so many past plea 
suresof so many pomps and triumphs, what now re 
mains ? They answer with howling : " Nothing, nothing." 

8. Justly, then, has St. Francis Xavier said, that in 
the world there is but one good and one evil. The 
former consists in saving our souls ; the latter in losing 
them. Hence, David said: " One thing I have asked of 
the Lord ; this I will seek after that I may dwell in 
the house of the Lord." (Ps. xxvi. 4.) One thing only 
have I sought, and will for ever seek, from God that 
he may grant me the grace to save my soul ; for, if I 
save my soul, all is safe ; if I lose it, all is lost. And, 
what is more important, if my soul be once lost, it is lost 
for ever. Let us pass to the second point. 

Second Point. If the soul be once lost, it is lost for ever. 

9. Men die but once. If a Christian died twice, he 
might lose his soul the first, and save it the second time. 
But we can die only once : if the soul be lost the first 
time, it is lost for ever. This truth St. Teresa frequently 
inculcated to her nuns: "One soul," she would say, "one 
eternity." As if she said : We have but one soul : if 
this be lost, all is lost. There is but " one eternity ;" if the 
soul be once lost, it is lost for ever. " Periisse semel 
seternum est." 



98 



SERMON XII. 



10. St. Eucherius says that there is no error so great 
as the neglect of eternal salvation. " Sane supra omnem 
errorem est dissimulare negotium aeternoe salutis." It is 
an error which surpasses all errors, hecause it is irreme 
diable. Other mistakes may be repaired : if a person 
loses property in one way, he may acquire it in another ; 
if he loses a situation, a dignity, he may afterwards re 
cover them ; if he even loses his life, provided his soul 
be saved, all is safe. But he who loses his soul has no 
means of repairing the loss. The wailing of the damned 
arises from the thought, that for them the time of salva 
tion is over, and that there is no hope of remedy for their 
eternal ruin. " The summer is ended, and we are not 
saved." (Jer. viii. 20.) Hence they weep, and shall 
inconsolably weep for ever, saying: " Therefore we have 
erred from the way of truth, and the light of justice hath 
not shined unto us." (Wis. v. 6.) But what will it 
profit them to know the error they have committed, 
when it will be too late to repair it ? 

11. The greatest torment of the damned arises from 
the thought of having lost their souls, and of having 
lost them through their own fault. " Destruction is thy 
own, O Israel ; thy help is only from me." (Osee xiii. 9.) 
O miserable being ! God says to each of the damned ; 
thy perdition is thine own ; that is from thyself ; by sin 
thou hast been the cause of thy damnation ; for I was 
ready to save thee if thou hadst wished to attend to thy 
salvation. St. Teresa used to say, that when a person 
loses a trifle through negligence, his peace is disturbed 
by the thought of having lost it through his own fault. 
O God ! what shall be the pain which each of the damned 
shall feel on entering into hell, at the thought of having 
lost his soul his all and of having lost them through 
his own fault ! 

12. "We must, then, from this day forward, devote all 
our attention to the salvation of our souls. There is no 
question, says St. John Chrysostom, of losing some 
earthly good which we must one day relinquish. But 
there is question of losing Paradise, and of going to 
suffer for ever in hell : " De immortalibus suppliciis, 
de coalestis regni amissione res agitur." We must fear 
and tremble ; it is thus we shall be able to secure eternal 



UNHAPPY LIFE OF SINNERS. 99 

happiness. " With fear and trembling work out your 
salvation. 5 (Phil. ii. 12.) Hence, if we wish to save our 
souls,^ we must labour strenuously to avoid dangerous 
occasions, to resist temptations, and to frequent the 
sacraments. Without labour we cannot obtain heaven. 
The violent bear it away." The saints tremble at the 
thought of eternity. St. Andrew Avellino exclaimed 
with tears : Who knows whether I shall be saved or 
damned ? St. Lewis Bertrand said with trembling : 
What shall be my lot in the other world ? And shall 
we not tremble ? Let us pray to Jesus Christ and his 
most holy mother to help us to save our souls. This is 
for us the most important of all affairs : if we succeed in 
it, we shall be eternally happy ; if we fail, we must be 
for ever miserable. 



SERMON XIIL-SEXAGESIMA SUNDAY. 

On the unhappy life of sinners, and on the happy life of 
those who love God. 

" And that which fell among the thorns are they who have heard, 
and, going their way, are choked with the cares and riches of this 
life, and yield no fruit." LUKE viii. 14. 

IN the parable of this day s gospel we are told that part 
of the seed which the sower went out to sow fell among 
thorns. The Saviour has declared that the seed repre 
sents the divine word, and the thorns the attachment of 
men to earthly riches and pleasures, which are the thorns 
that prevent the fruit of the word of God, not only in 
the future, but even in the present life. misery of 
poor sinners ! By their sins they not only condemn 
themselves to eternal torments in the next, but to an 
unhappy life in this world. This is what I intend to 
demonstrate in the following discourse. 

First Point. The unhappy life of sinners. 
Second Point. Happy life of those who love God. 



100 SERMON XIII. 



First Point. Unhappy life of sinners. 

1. The devil deceives sinners, and makes them imagine 
that, hy indulging their sensual appetites, they shall lead 
a life of happiness, and shall enj oy peace. But there is no 
peace for those who offend God. " There is no peace to 
the wicked, saith the Lord. (Isa. xlviii. 22.) God 
declares that all his enemies have led a life of misery, 
and that they have not even known the way of peace. 
" Destruction and unhappiness in their ways : and the 
way of peace they have not known." (Ps. xiii. 3.) 

2. Brute animals that have been created for this 
world, enjoy peace in sensual delights. Give to a dog 
a bone, and he is perfectly content ; give to an ox a 
bundle of hay, and he desires nothing more. But man, 
who has been created for God, to love God, and to be 
united to him, can be made happy only by God, and 
not by the world, though it should enrich him with all 
its goods. What are worldly goods ? They may be 
all reduced to pleasures of sense, to riches, and to 
honours. " All that is in the world," says St. John, 
" is the concupiscence of the flesh," or sensual delights, 
tl and the concupiscence of the eyes," or riches, " and 
the pride of life" that is, earthly honours. (1 John ii. 
16.) St. Bernard says, that a man may be puffed up with 
earthly goods, but can never be made content or happy 
by them. " Inflari potcst, satiari, non potest." And 
how can earth and wind and dung satisfy the heart of 
man ? In his comment on these words of St. Peter 
" Behold, we have left all things" the same saint says, 
that he saw in the world different classes of fools. All 
had a great desire of happiness. Some, such as the 
avaricious, were content with riches; others, Ambitious 
of honours and of praise, were satisfied with wind; 
others, seated round a furnace, swallowed the sparks 
that were thrown from it these were the passionate and 
vindictive ; others, in fine, drank fetid water from a 
stagnant pool and these were the voluptuous and un 
chaste. O fools ! adds the saint, do you not perceive 
that all these things, from which you seek content, do 
not satisfy, but, on the contrary, increase the cravings 
of your heart ? " Haec potius famem provocant, quam 
extinguunt." Of this we have a striking example in 



UNHAPPY LIFE OF SINNERS. 101 

Alexander the Great, who, after having conquered half 
the world, burst into tears, because he was not master 
of the whole earth. 

3. Many expect to find peace in accumulating riches ; 
but how can these satisfy their desires ? " Major 
pecunia," says St. Augustine, " avaritire fauces non 
claudit, sed extendit." A large quantity of money does 
not close, but rather extends, the jaws of avarice ; that 
is, the enjoyment of riches excites, rather than satiates, 
the desire of wealth. " Thou wast debased even to 
hell ; thou hast been wearied in the multitude of thy 
ways ; yet thou saidst not, I will rest. (Isa. Ivii. 9, 10.) 
Poor worldlings ! they labour and toil to acquire an 
increase of wealth and property, but never enjoy 
repose : the more they accumulate riches, the greater 
their disquietude and vexation. " The rich have 
wanted, and have suffered hunger ; but they that seek 
the Lord shall not be deprived of any good/ (Ps. 
xxxiii. 11.) The rich of this world are, of all men, the 
most miserable ; because, the more they possess, the 
more they desire to possess. They never succeed in 
attaining all the objects of their wishes, and therefore 
they are far poorer than men who have but a com 
petency, and seek God alone. These are truly rich, 
because they are content with their condition, and find 
in God every good. " They that seek the Lord shall 
not be deprived of any good." To the saints, because 
they possess God, nothing is wanting ; to the worldly 
rich, who are deprived of God, all things are wanting, 
because they want peace. The appellation of tool was, 
therefore, justly given to the rich man in the gospel 
(Luke xii. 19), who, because his land brought forth 
plenty of fruits, said to his soul : " Soul, thou hast much 
goods laid up for many years : take rest, eat, drink, 
make good cheer." (Luke xii. 19.) But this man was 
called a fool. " Thou fool, this night do they require 
thy soul of thee ; and whose shall those things be which 
thou hast provided ?" (v. 20.) And why was he called 
a fool. Because he imagined that by these goods by 
eating and drinking he should be content, and should 
enjoy peace. "Rest," he said, " eat, drink." "Num- 
quid, says St. Basil of Seleucia, "animam porcinam 



102 SERMON XIII. 



habes ?" Hast thou the soul of a brute, that thou ex- 
pectest to make it happy by eating and drinking ? 

4. But, perhaps sinners who seek after and attain 
worldly honours are content ? All the honours of this 
earth are but smoke and wind (" Ephraim feedeth on 
the wind" Osee xii. 1), and how can these content the 
heart of a Christian ? " The pride of them," says 
David, " ascendeth continually." (Ps. Ixxiii. 23.) The 
ambitious are not satisfied by the attainment of certain 
honours : their ambition and pride continually increase ; 
and thus their disquietude, their envy, and their fears 
are multiplied. 

5. They who live in the habit of sins of impurity, 
feed, as the Prophet Jeremiah says, on dung. " Qui 
voluptuose vescebantur, amplexati sunt stercora." (Thren. 
iv. 5.) How can dung content or give peace to the 
soul ? Ah ! what peace, what peace can sinners at a 
distance from God enjoy ? They may possess the riches, 
honours, and delights of this world ; but they never shall 
have peace. No ; the word of God cannot fail : he has 
declared that there is no peace for his enemies. " There 
is no peace to the wicked, saith the Lord/ (Isaias, 
xlviii. 22.) Poor sinners ! they, as St. Chrysostom says, 
always carry about with them their own executioner 
that is, a guilty conscience, which continually torments 
them. " Peccator conscientiam quasi carnificem circum- 
gestat." (Serm. x. do Laz.) St. Isidore asserts, that 
there is no pain more excruciating than that of a guilty 
conscience. Hence he adds, that he who leads a good 
life is never sad. " Nulla poena gravior poena con- 
scientiso : vis nunquam esse tristis ? bene vive." (S. Isid., 
lib. 2, Solit.) 

6. In describing the deplorable state of sinners, the 
Holy Ghost compares them, to a sea continually tossed 
by the tempest. " The wicked are like the raging sea, 
which cannot rest." (Isa. Ivii. 20.) Waves come and go, 
but they are all waves of bitterness and rancour ; for 
every cross and contradiction disturbs and agitates the 
wicked. If a person at a ball or musical exhibition, 
were obliged to remain suspended by a cord with his 
head downwards, could he feel happy at the entertain 
ment ? Such is the state of a Christian in enmity with 



UNHAPPY LIFE OF SINNERS. 103 

God : his soul is as it were turned upside down ; instead 
of being united with God and detached from creatures, 
it is united with creatures and separated from God. 
But creatures, says St. Yincent Ferrer, are without, and 
do not enter to content the heart, which God alone can 
make happy. Non intrant ibi ubi est sitis." The 
sinner is like a man parched with thirst, and standing in 
the middle of a fountain: because the waters which 
surround him do not enter to satisfy his thirst, he 
remains in the midst of them more thirsty than before. 

7. Speaking of the unhappy life which he led when 
he was in a state of sin, David said : " My tears have 
been my bread, day and night, whilst it is said to me 
daily : Where is thy God ?" (Ps. xli. 4.) To relieve 
himself, he went to his villas, to his gardens, to musical 
entertainments, and to various other royal amusements, 
but they all said to him: "David, if thou expectest 
comfort from us, thou art deceived. "Where is thy God? 
Go and seek thy God, whom thou hast lost ; for he 
alone can restore thy peace." Hence David confessed 
that, in the midst of his princely wealth, he enjoyed no 
repose, and that he wept night and day. Let us now 
listen to his son Solomon, who acknowledged that he 
indulged his senses in whatsoever they desired. "What 
soever my eyes desired, I refused them not." (Eccl. ii. 
10.) But, after all his sensual enjoyments, he exclaimed: 
" Vanity of vanities :... behold all is vanity and affliction 
of spirit." (Eccles. i. 2 and 14.) Mark! he declares 
that all the pleasures of this earth are not only vanity 
of vanities, but also affliction of spirit. And this sinners 
well know from experience ; for sin brings with it the 
fear of divine vengeance. The man who is encompassed 
by powerful enemies never sleeps in peace ; and can the 
sinner, who has God for an enemy, enjoy tranquillity ? 
" Fear to them that work evil." (Prov. x. 29.) The 
Christian who commits a mortal sin feels himself 
oppressed with fear every leaf that moves excites 
terror. " The sound of dread is always in his ears." 
(Job xv. 21.) He appears to be always flying away, 
although no one pursues him. " The wicked man fleeth 
when no man pursueth." (Prov. xxviii. 1.) He shall 
be persecuted, not by men, but by his own sin. It was 



104 SERMON XIII. 



thus with Cain, who, after having killed his brother 
Abel, was seized with fear, and said : " Every one, there 
fore, that findeth me shall kill me." (Gen. iv. 14.) The 
Lord assured him that no one should injure him : " The 
Lord said to him : " No ; it shall not be so/ (v. 15.) 
I3ut, notwithstanding this assurance, Cain, pursued by 
his own sins, was, as the Scripture attests, always flying 
from one place to another " He dwelt a fugitive on the 
earth." (v. 16.) 

8. Moreover, sin brings with it remorse of conscience 
that cruel worm that gnaws incessantly, and never 
dies. " Their worm shall not die." (Isa Ixvi. 24.) If 
the sinner goes to a festival, to a comedy, to a banquet, 
his conscience continually reproaches him, saying: Un 
happy man ! you have lost God ; if you were now to 
die, what should become of you ? The torture of re 
morse of conscience, even in the present life, is so great 
that, to free themselves from it, some persons have put 
an end to their lives Judas, through despair, hanged 
himself. A certain man who had killed an infant, was 
so much tormented with remorse that he could not rest. 
To rid himself of it he entered into a monastery ; but 
finding no peace even there, he went before u judge, 
acknowledged his crime, and got himself condemned to 
death. 

9. God complains of the injustice of sinners in leaving 
him, who is the fountain of all consolation, to plunge 
themselves into fetid and broken cisterns, which can 
give no peace. " 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. 13.) You have, the 
Lord says to sinners, refused to serve me, your God, in 
peace. Unhappy creatures ! you shall serve your 
enemies in hunger, and thirst, and nakedness, and in 
want of every kind. " Because thou didst not serve the 
Lord thy God with joy and gladness, .... thou shalt 
serve thy enemy in hunger, and thirst, and nakedness, 
and in want of all things." (Deut. xxviii. 47, 48.) This 
is what sinners experience every day. What do not the 
vindictive endure after they have satisfied their revenge 
by the murder of an enemy ? They fly continually 



UNHAPPY LIFE OF SINNERS. 105 

from the relations of their murdered foe, and from the 
minister of justice. They live as fugitives, poor, afflicted, 
and abandoned by all. What do not the voluptuous 
and unchaste suffer in order to gratify their wicked 
desires ? "What do not the avaricious suffer in order to 
acquire the possessions of others ? Ah ! if they suffered 
for God what they suffer for sin, they would lay up great 
treasures for eternity, and would lead a life of peace and 
happiness : but, by living in sin, they lead a life of 
misery here, to lead a still more miserable life for eter 
nity hereafter. Hence they weep continually in hell, 
saying : " We wearied ourselves in the way of iniquity 
and destruction, and have walked through hard ways." 
(Wis. v. 7.) We have, they exclaim, walked through 
hard ways, through paths covered with thorns. We 
wearied ourselves in the way of iniquity : we have 
laboured hard : we have sweated blood : we have led a 
life full of misery, of gall, and of poison. And why ? 
To bring ourselves to a still more wretched life in this 
pit of fire. 

Second Point. The happy life of those who love God. 

10. * Justice and peace have kissed." (Ps. Ixxxiv. 11.) 
Peace resides in every soul in which justice dwells. 
Hence David said : " Delight in the Lord, and he will 
give thee the requests of thy heart." (Ps. xxxvi. 4.) To 
understand this text, we must consider that worldlings 
seek to satisfy the desires of their hearts with the goods 
of this earth ; but, because these cannot make them 
happy, their hearts continually make fresh demands ; 
and, how much soever they may acquire of these goods, 
they are not content. Hence the Prophet says : 
" Delight in the Lord, and he will give thee the requests 
of thy heart." Give up creatures, seek your delight in 
God, and he will satisfy all the cravings of your heart. 

11. This is what happened to St. Augustine, who, as 
long as he sought happiness in creatures, never enjoyed 
peace ; but, as soon as he renounced them, and gave to 
God all the affections of his heart, he exclaimed : " All 
things are hard, O Lord, and thou alone art repose." As 
if he said : Ah ! Lord, I now know my folly. I expected 
to find felicity in earthly pleasures ; but now I know 



106 SERMON XIII. 



that they are only vanity and affliction of spirit, and that 
thou alone art the peace and joy of our hearts. 

12. The Apostle says, that the peace which God gives 
to those who love, surpasses all the sensual delights 
which a man can enjoy on this earth. " The peace of 
God, which surpasseth all understanding. (Phil. iv. 7.) 
St. Francis of Assisium, in saying " My God and my all," 
experienced on this earth an anticipation of Paradise. 
St. Francis Xavier, in the midst of his labours in India 
for the glory of Jesus Christ, was so replenished with 
divine consolations, that he exclaimed: "Enough, 
Lord, enough." Where, I ask, has any lover of this 
world been found, so satisfied with the possessions of 
worldly goods, as to say : Enough, O world, enough ; no 
more riches, no more honours, no more applause, no 
more pleasures ? Ah, no ! worldlings are constantly 
seeking after higher honours, greater riches, and new 
delights ; but the more they have of them, the less are 
their desires satisfied, and the greater their disquietude. 

13. It is necessary to persuade ourselves of this truth, 
that God alone can give content. "Worldlings do not 
wish to be convinced of it, through an apprehension 
that, if they give themselves to God, they shall lead a 
life of bitterness and discontent. But, with the Royal 
Prophet, I say to them : " taste, and see that the Lord 
is sweet." (Ps. xxxiii. 9.) Why, sinners, will you de 
spise and regard as miserable that life which you have 
not as yet tried ? " taste and see." Begin to make 
a trial of it ; hear Mass every day ; practise mental 
prayer and the visitation of the most holy sacrament ; 
go to communion at least once a week ; fly from evil 
conversations ; walk always with God ; and you shall 
see that, by such a life, you will enjoy that sweetness 
and peace which the world, with all its delights, has not 
hitherto been able to give you. 



DELUSIONS OF SINNERS. 107 

SERMON XIY. QUINQUAGESIMA SUNDAY. 

Delusions of sinners. 

"Lord, that I may see." LUKE xviii. 41. 

1. THE Devil brings sinners to hell by closing their eyes 
to the dangers of perdition. He first blinds them, and 
then leads them with himself to eternal torments. If, 
then, we wish to be saved, we must continually pray to 
God in the words of the blind man in the gospel of this 
day, " Lord, that I may see." Give me light: make me 
see the way in which I must walk in order to save my 
soul, and to escape the deceits of the enemy of salvation. 
I shall, brethren, this day place before your eyes the 
delusion by which the devil tempts men to sin and to 
persevere in sin, that you may know how to guard 
yourselves against his deceitful artifices. 

2. To understand these delusions better, let us imagine 
the case of a young man who, seized by some passion, 
lives in sin, the slave of Satan, and never thinks of his 
eternal salvation. My son, I say to him, what sort of 
life do you lead ? If you continue to live in this manner, 
how will you be able to save your soul ? But, behold ! 
the devil, on the other hand, says to him: Why should 
you be afraid of being lost ? Indulge your passions for 
the present: you will afterwards confess your sins, and 
thus all shall be remedied. 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 meantime 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 ? 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 accord 
ing to the present order of providence, for every mortal 
sin you commit, your name is written among the num 
ber of the damned. But you say . " I hope to recover 



103 SERMON* XIV. 



God s grace by making a good confession." And if you 
should not recover it, what shall be the consequences ? 
To make a good confession, a true sorrow for sin is 
necessary, and this sorrow is the gift of God : if he does 
not give it, will you not be lost for ever ? 

3. You rejoin : " I am young; God compassionates my 
youth ; I will hereafter give myself to God." Behold 
another delusion ! You are young ; but do you not 
know that God counts, not the years, but the sins of each 
individual ? You are young ; but how many sins have 
you committed ? Perhaps there are many persons of a 
very advanced age, who have not been guilty of the 
fourth part of the sins which you have committed. And 
do you not know that God has fixed for each of us the 
number of sins which he will pardon ? " The Lord 
patiently expecteth, that, when the day of judgment 
shall come, he may punish them in the fulness of their 
sins." (2 Mach. vi. 14.) God has patience, and waits 
for a while ; but, when the measure of the sins which he 
has determined to pardon is tilled up, he pardons no 
more, but chastises the sinner, by suddenly depriving 
him of life in the miserable state of sin, or by abandon 
ing him in his sin, and executing that threat which he 
made by the prophet Isaias " I shall take away the 
hedge thereof, and it shall be wasted." (Isa. v. 5.) If a 
person has cultivated land for many years, has encom 
passed it with a hedge for its protection, and expended 
a large sum of money on it, but finds that, after all, it 
produces no fruit, what will he do with it ? He will 
pluck up the hedge, and abandon it to all men and beasts 
that may wish to enter. Tremble, then, lest God should 
treat you in a similar manner. If you do not give up sin, 
your remorse of conscience and your fear of divine chas 
tisement shall daily increase. Behold the hedge taken 
away, and your soul abandoned by God a punishment 
worse than death itself. 

4. You say: " I cannot at present resist this passion." 
Behold the third delusion of the devil, by which he 
makes you believe that at present you have not strength 
to overcome certain temptations. But St. Paul tells us 
that God is faithful, and that he never permits us to be 
tempted above our strength. "And God is faithful, 



DELUSIONS OF SINNERS. 



109 



who will not permit you to be tempted above that which 
you are able." (1 Cor. x. 13.) I ask, if you are not now 
able to resist the temptation, how can you expect to 
resist it hereafter ? If you yield to it, the Devil will 
become stronger, and you shall become weaker ; and if 
you be not now able to extinguish this flame of passion, 
how can you hope to be able to extinguish it when it 
shall have grown more violent? You say: "God will 
give me his aid." But this aid God is ready to give at 
present if you ask it. "Why then do you not implore his 
assistance ? Perhaps you expect that, without now tak 
ing the trouble of invoking his aid, you will receive from 
him increased helps and graces, after you shall have 
multiplied the number of your sins ? Perhaps you doubt 
the veracity of God, who has promised to give whatever 
we ask of him ? " Ask," he says, " and it shall be 
given you." (Matt. vii. 7.) God cannot violate his pro 
mises. " God is not as man, that he should lie, nor as 
the son of man, that he should be changed. Hath he 
said, then, and will he not do ?" (Num. xxiii. 19.) Have 
recourse to him, and he will give you the strength neces 
sary to resist the temptation. God commands you to 
resist it, and you say: " I have not strength." Does 
God, then, command impossibilities ? No ; the Council 
of Trent has declared that " God does not command 
impossibilities; but, by his commands, he admonishes 
you to do what you can, and to ask what you cannot do ; 
and he assists, that you may be able to do it." (Seas. 6. 
c. xiii.) When you see that you have not sufficient 
strength to resist temptation with the ordinary assist 
ance of God, ask of him the additional help which you 
require, and he will give it to you ; and thus^ you shall 
be able to conquer all temptations, however violent they 
may be. 

5. But you will not pray ; and you say that at present 
you will commit this sin, and will afterwards confess it. 
But, I ask, how do you know that God will give you 
time to confess it ? You say: " I will go to confession 
before the lapse of a week." And who has promised you 
this week ? Well, then you say : " I will go to confession 
to-morrow." And who promises you to-morrow ? ^ras- 
tinum Deus non promisit," says St. Augustine, " fortasse 



110 SERMON XIV. 



dabit, ct fortasse non dabit." God has not promised you 
to-morrow. Perhaps he will give it, and perhaps he 
will refuse it to you, as he has to so many others. How 
many have gone to bed in good health, and have been 
found dead in the morning ! How many, in the very 
act of sin, has the Lord struck dead and sent to hell ! 
Should this happen to you, how will you repair your 
eternal ruin ? " Commit this sin, and confess it after 
wards." Behold the deceitful artifice by which the devil 
has brought so many thousands of Christians to hell. 
We scarcely ever find a Christian so sunk in despair as 
to intend to damn himself. All the wicked sin with the 
hope of afterwards going to confession. But, by this 
illusion, how many have brought themselves to perdi 
tion ! For them there is now no time for confession, no 
remedy for their damnation. 

6. " But God is merciful." Behold another common 
delusion by which the devil encourages sinners to perse 
vere in a life of sin! A certain author has said, that 
more souls have been sent to hell by the mercy of God 
than by his justice. This is indeed the case ; for men 
are induced by the deceits of the devil to persevere in 
sin, through confidence in God s mercy ; and thus they 
are lost. "God is merciful." Who denies it? But, 
great as his mercy, how many does he every day send to 
hell ? God is merciful, but he is also just, and is, there 
fore, obliged to punish those who offend him. " And his 
mercy," says the divine mother, " to them that fear 
him." (Luke i. 50.) But with regard to those who 
abuse his mercy and despise him, he exercises justice. 
The Lord pardons sins, but he cannot pardon the deter 
mination to commit sin. St. Augustine says, that he 
who sins with the intention of repenting after his sins, 
is not a penitent but a scoffer. " Irrisor est non pceni- 
tens." But the Apostle tells us that God will not be 
mocked. " Be not deceived ; God is not mocked." (Gal. 
vi. 7.) It would be a mockery of God to insult him as 
often and as much as you pleased, and afterwards to 
expect eternal glory. 

7. " But, ; you say, " as God has shown me so many 
miseries hitherto, I hope he will continue to do so for the 
future." Behold another delusion ! Then, because God 



DELUSIONS OF SINNERS. 



Ill 



has not as yet chastised your sins, he will never punish 
them ! On the contrary, the greater have been his 
mercies, the more you should tremble, lest, if you offend 
him again, he should pardon you no more, and should 
take vengeance on your sins. Behold the advice of the 
Holy Ghost : " Say not : I have sinned, and what harm 
hath befallen me ? for the Most High is a patient re- 
warder." (Eccles. v. 4.) Do not say : " I have sinned, 
and no chastisement has fallen upon me." God bears for 
a time, but not for ever. He waits for a certain time ; 
but when that arrives, he then chastises the sinner for all 
his past iniquities: and the longer he has waited for 
repentance, the more severe the chastisement. " Quos 
diutius expectat," says St. Gregory, " durius damnat." 
Then, my brother, since you know that you have 
frequently offended God, and that he has not sent you 
to hell, you should exclaim : " The mercies of the Lord, 
that we are not consumed." (Thren. iii. 22.) Lord, I 
thank you for not having sent me to hell, which I have 
so often deserved. And therefore you ought to give 
yourself entirely to God, at least through gratitude, and 
should consider that, for less sins than you have com 
mitted, many are now in that pit of fire, without the 
smallest hope of being ever released from it. The 
patience of God in bearing with you, should teach you 
not to despise him still more, but to love and serve him 
with greater fervour, and to atone, by penitential austeri 
ties and by other holy works, for the insults you have 
offered to him. You know that he has shown mercies 
to you, which he has not shown to others. " He hath 
not done in like manner to every nation." (Ps. cxlvii. 
20.) Hence you should tremble, lest, if you commit a 
single additional mortal sin, God should abandon you, 
and cast you into hell. 

8. Let us come to the next illusion. " It is true that, 
by this sin, I lose the grace of God ; but, even after com 
mitting this sin, I may be saved." You may, indeed, be 
saved : but it cannot be denied that if, after having 
committed so many sins, and after having received so 
many graces from God, you again offend him, there is 
great reason to fear that you shall be lost. Attend to 
the words of the sacred Scripture : " A hard heart shall 



SERMON XV. 



fare evil at the last." (Eccles. iii. 27.) The obstinate 
sinner shall die an unhappy death. Evil doers shall 
be cut off." (Ps. xxxvi. 9.) The wicked shall be cut oil 
by the divine justice. " For what things a man shall 
sow, those also shall he reap." (Gal. vi. 8.) He that sows 
in sin, shall reap eternal torments. " Because I called 
and you refused, I also will laugh in your destruc 
tion and will mock when that shall come to you which 
you feared." (Prov. i. 24, 26.) I called, says the Lord, 
and you mocked me ; but I will mock you at the hour 
of death. " Revenge is mine, and I will repay them m 
dm time." (Dout. xxxii. 35.) The chastisement of sins 
belongs to me, and I will execute vengeance on them 
when the time of vengeance shall arrive. :< The man 
that with a stiff neck despiseth him that reproveth him, 
shall suddenly be destroyed, and health shall not follow 
him." (Prov. xxix. 1.) The man who obstinately despises 
those who correct him, shall be punished with a sudden 
death, and for him there shall be no hope of salvation. 

9. Now, brethren, what think you of these divine 
threats against sinners ? Is it easy, or is it not very 
difficult, to save your souls, if, after so many divine calls, 
and after so many mercies, you continue to offend God ? 
You say : " But after all, it may happen that I will save 
my soul." I answer: "What folly is it to trust your 
salvation to a perhaps ?" How many with this " per 
haps I may be saved," are now in hell ? Do you wish 
to be one of their unhappy companions ? Dearly beloved 
Christians, enter into yourselves, and ^ tremble ; for this 
sermon may be the last of God s mercies to you. 



SERMON XV. FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT. 

On the number of sins beyond which God pardons no 
more. 

" Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." MATT. iv. 7. 

IN this day s gospel we read that, having gone into the 
desert, Jesus Christ permitted the devil to " set him upon 



NUMBER OF SINS WHICH GOD PARDONS. 113 

the pinnacle of the temple," and say to him: "If thoube 
the Son of God, cast thyself down ;" for the angels shall 
preserve thee from all injury. But the Lord answered 
that, in the Sacred Scriptures it is written : " Thou shalt 
not tempt the Lord thy God." The sinner who abandons 
himself to sin without striving to resist temptations, or 
without at least asking God s help to conquer them, and 
hopes that the Lord will one day draw him from the 
precipice, tempts God to work miracles, or rather to show 
to him an extraordinary mercy not extended to the 
generality of Christians. God, as the Apostle says, 
" will have all men to be saved," (1 Tim. ii. 4) ; but he 
also wishes us all to labour for our own salvation, at 
least by adopting the means of overcoming our enemies, 
and of obeying him when he calls us to repentance. 
Sinners hear the calls of God, but they forget them, and 
continue to offend him. But God does not forget them. 
He numbers the graces which he dispenses, as well ^ as 
the sins which we commit. Hence, when the time which 
he has fixed arrives, God deprives us of his graces, and 
begins to inflict chastisement. I intend to show, in this 
discourse, that, when sins reach a certain number, God 
pardons no more. Be attentive, 

1. St. Basil, St. Jerome, St. John Chrysostom, St. 
Augustine, and other fathers, teach that, as God (accord 
ing to the words of Scripture, " Thou hast ordered all 
things in measure, and number, and weight " (Wis. xi. 
21), has fixed for each person the number of the days of 
his life, and the degrees of health and talent which he 
will give him, so he has also determined for each the 
number of sins which he will pardon ; and when this 
number is completed, he will pardon no more. " Illud 
sentire nos convenit," says St. Augustine, " tamdiu 
unumquemque a Dei patientia sustineri, quo consum 
mate nullam illi veniam reserveri." (De Vita Christi, 
cap. iii.) Eusebius of Cesarea says : " Deus^ expectat 
usque ad certum numerum et postea deserit." (Lib. 8, 
cap. ii.) The same doctrine is taught by the above- 
mentioned fathers. 

2. " The Lord hath sent me to heal the contrite of 
heart." (Isa. Ixi. 1.) God is ready to heal those who 
sincerely wish to amend their lives, but cannot take 



114 SERMON XV 



pity on the obstinate sinner The Lord pardons sins, 
but he cannot pardon those who are determined to 
offend him. Nor can we demand from God a reason 
why he pardons one a hundred sins, and takes others out 
of life, and sends them to hell, after three or four tans. 
By his Prophet Amos, God has said : " For three crimes 
of Damascus, and for four, I will not convert it." (i. 3.) 
In this we must adore the judgments of God, and say 
with the Apostle : " the depth of the riches, of the 
wisdom, and of the knowledge of God ! How incom 
prehensible are his judgments/ (Rom. xi. 33.) He who 
receives pardon, says St. Augustine, is pardoned through 
the pure mercy of God ; and they who are chastised are 
justly punished. " Quibus datur misericordia, gratis 
datur : quibus non datur ex justitia non datur." (1 de 
Corrept.) How many has God sent to hell for the first 
offence ? St. Gregory relates, that a child of five years, 
who had arrived at the use of reason, for having uttered 
a blasphemy, was seized by the devil and carried to hell. 
The divine mother revealed to that great servant of God, 
Benedicta of Florence, that a boy of twelve years was 
damned after the first sin. Another boy of eight years 
died after his first sin and was lost. You say : I am 
young : there are many who have committed more sins 
than I have. But is God on that account obliged to 
wait for your repentance if you offend him ? In the 
gospel of St. Matthew (xxi. 19) we read, that the Saviour 
cursed a fig tree the first time he saw it without fruit. 
" May no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. 
And immediately the fig tree withered away." You 
must, then, tremble at the thought of committing a single 
mortal sin, particularly if you have already been guilty 
of mortal sins. 

3. " Be not without fear about sins forgiven, and 
add not sin to sin." (Eccl. v. 5.) Say not then, O sinner; 
As God has forgiven me other sins, so he will pardon 
me this one if I commit it. Say not this ; for, if to the 
sin which has been forgiven you add another, you 
have reason to fear that this new sin shall be united to 
your former guilt, and that thus the number will be 
completed, and that you shall be abandoned. Behold 
how the Scripture unfolds this truth more clearly in 



NUMBER OF SINS WHICH GOD PARDONS. 



115 



another place. " The Lord patiently expecteth, that 
when the day of judgment shall come, he may punish 
them in the fulness of sins." (2 Mac. vi. 14.) God waits 
with patience until a certain number of sins is com 
mitted, but, when the measure of guilt is filled up, he 
waits no longer, but chastises the sinner. "Thou hast 
sealed up my offences as it were in a bag." (Job xiv. 
17.) Sinners multiply their sins without keeping any 
account of them ; but God numbers them that, when the 
harvest is ripe, that is, when the number of sins is com 
pleted, he may take vengeance on them. " Put ye in 
the sickles, for the harvest is ripe." (Joel iii. 13.) 

4. Of this there are many examples in the Scriptures. 
Speaking of the Hebrews, the Lord in one place says : 
" All the men that have tempted me now ten times. . . . 
shall not see the land/ (Num. xiv. 22, 23.) In another 
place he says, that he restrained his vengeance against 
the Amorrhites, because the number of their sins was 
not completed. " For as yet the iniquities of the Amorr 
hites are not j the full." (Gen. xv. 16.) We have 
again the example of Saul, who, after having disobeyed 
God a second time, was abandoned. He entreated 
Samuel to interpose before the Lord in his behalf. 
" Bear, I beseech thee, my sin, and return with me, 
that I may adore the Lord," (1 Kings xv. 25.) But, 
knowing that God had abandoned Saul, Samuel answered: 
" I will not return with thee ; because thou hast rejected 
the word of the Lord, and the Lord hath rejected thee," 
etc. (v. 26.) Saul, you have abandoned God, and he has 
abandoned you. We have another example in Balthassar, 
who, after having profaned the vessels of the temple, 
saw a hand writing on the wall, "Mane, Thecel, Phares." 
Daniel was requested to expound the meaning of these 
words. In explaining the word Thecel, he said to the 
king : 6t Thou art weighed in the balance, and art found 
wanting." (Dan. v 27.) By this explanation he gave 
the king to understand that the weight of his sins in the 
balance of divine justice had made the scale descend. 
" The same night, Balthassar, the Chaldean king, was 
killed." (Dan. v. 30.) Oh ! how many sinners have met 
with a similar fate ! Continuing to offend God till their 
sins amounted to a certain number they have been 



J16 SERMON XV. 



struck dead and sent to hell. They spend their days 
in wealth, and in a moment they go down to hell." (Job 
xxi. 13.) Tremble, brethren, lest, if you commit another 
mortal sin, God should cast you into hell. 

5. If God chastised sinners the moment they insult 
him, we should not see him so much ^ despised. But, 
because he does not instantly punish their transgressions, 
and because, through mercy, he restrains his anger and 
waits for their return, they are encouraged to continue 
to offend him. " For, because sentence is not speedily 
pronounced against the evil, the children of men commit 
evil without any fear." (Eccles. viii. 11.) But it is 
necessary to be persuaded that, though God bears with 
us, he does not wait, nor bear with us for ever. Expect 
ing, as on former occasions, to escape from the snares of 
the Philistines, Samson continued to allow himself to be 
deluded by Dalila. " I will go out as I did before, and 
shake myself. (Judges xvi. 20.) But " the Lord was 
departed from him." Samson was at length taken by 
liis enemies, and lost his life. The Lord warns you not 
to say : I have committed so many sins, and God has not 
chastised me " Say not : I have sinned, and what harm 
hath befallen me ? for the Most High is a patient re- 
warder." (Eccl. v. 4.) God has patience for a certain 
term, after which he punishes the first and last sins. 
And the greater has been his patience, the more severe 
his vengeance 

6. Hence, according to St. Chrysostom, God is more 
to be feared when he bears with sinners than when he 
instantly punishes their sins. " Plus timendum est, cum 
tolerat quam cum festinanter punit." And why ? 
Because, says St. Gregory, they to whom God has 
shown most mercy, shall, if they do not cease to offend 
him, be chastised with the greatest rigour. " Quos 
diutius expectat durius damnat." The saint adds that 
God often punishes such sinners with a sudden death, 
and does not allow them time for repentance. " Sacpe 
qui diu tolerati sunt subita morte rapiuntur, ut nee 
Here ante mortem liceat." And the greater the light 
which God gives to certain sinners for their correction, 
the greater is their blindness and obstinacy in sin. "For 
it had been better for them not to have known the way 



NUMBER OF SINS WHICH GOD PARDONS. 117 

of justice, than, after they had known it, to turn hack." 
(2 Pet. ii. 21.) Miserable the sinners who, after having 
been enlightened, return to the vomit. St Paul says, 
that it is morally impossible for them to be again con 
verted. " For it is impossible for those who were once 
illuminated have tasted also the heavenly gifts, ... and 
are fallen away, to be renewed again to penance." (Heb. 
vi. 4, 6.) 

7. Listen, then, sinner, to the admonition of the 
Lord : " My son, hast thou sinned ? Do so no more, but 
for thy former sins pray that they may be forgiven thee." 
(Eccl. xxi. 1.) Son, add not sins to those which you 
have already committed, but be careful to pray for the 
pardon of your past trangressions ; otherwise, if you 
commit another mortal sin, the gates of the divine mercy 
may be closed against you, and your soul may be lost for 
ever. When, then, beloved brethren, the devil tempts 
you again to yield to sin, say to yourself : If God pardons 
me no more, what shall become of me for all eternity ? 
Should the Devil, in reply, say : " Fear not, God is mer 
ciful ;" answer him by saying : What certainty or what 
probability have I, that, if I return again to sin, God 
will show me mercy or grant me pardon ? Because the 
threat of the Lord against all who despise his calls: 
"Behold I have called and you refused. . . I also will laugh 
in your destruction, and will mock when that shall come 
to you which you feared." (Prov. i. 24, 26.) Mark the 
words I also ; they mean that, as you have mocked the 
Lord by betraying him again after your confession and 
promises of amendment, so he will mock you at the hour 
of death. " I will laugh and will mock." But " God is 
not mocked." (Gal. vi. 7.) As a dog," says the Wise 
Man, " that returneth to his vomit, so is the fool that 
repeateth his folly." (Prov. xxvi. 11.) B. Denis the 
Carthusian gives an excellent exposition of this text. He 
says that, as a dog that eats what he has just vomited, 
is an object of disgust and abomination, so the sinner 
who returns to the sins which he has detested and con 
fessed, becomes hateful in the sight of God. " Sicut id 
quod per vomitum est rejectum, resumere est valide 
abominabile ac turpe sic peccata deleta reiterari." 

8. folly of sinners ! If you purchase a house, you 



118 -SERMON XV. 



spare no pains to get all the securities necessary to guard 
against the loss of your money ; if you take medicine, 
you are careful to assure yourself that it cannot injure 
you ; if you pass over a river, you cautiously avoid all 
danger of falling into it ; and for a transitory enjoy 
ment, for the gratification of revenge, for a beastly plea 
sure, which lasts but a moment, you risk your eternal 
salvation, saying: "I will go to confession after I 
commit this sin." And when, I ask, are you to go to 
confession ? You say : " On to-morrow." But who pro 
mises you to-morrow ? Who assures you that you shall 
have time for confession, and that God will not deprive 
you of life, as he has deprived so many others, in the act 
of sin ? " Diem tenes," says St. Augustine, " qui horam 
non tenes." You cannot be certain of living for another 
hour, and you say: " I will go to confession to-morrow." 
Listen to the words of St. Gregory : " He who has pro 
mised pardon to penitents, has not promised to-morrow 
to sinners." (Horn. xii. in Evan). God has promised 
pardon to all who repent ; but he has not promised to 
wait till to-morrow for those who insult him. Perhaps 
God will give you time for repentance, perhaps he will 
not. But, should he not give it, what shall become of 
your soul ? In the meantime, for the sake of a miserable 
pleasure, you lose the grace of God, and expose yourself 
to the danger of being lost for ever. 

9. Would you, for such transient enjoyments, risk 
your money, your honour, your possessions, your liberty, 
and your life ? No, you would not. How then does it 
happen that, for a miserable gratification, you lose your 
soul, heaven, and God ? Tell me : do you believe that 
heaven, hell, eternity, are truths of faith ? Do you 
believe that, if you die in sin, you are lost for ever ? 
Oh ! what temerity, what folly is it, to condemn yourself 
voluntarily to an eternity of torments with the hope of 
afterwards reversing the sentence of your condemnation ! 
" Nemo," says St. Augustine, " sub spe salutis vult 
aegrotare." No one can be found so foolish as to take 
poison with the hope of preventing its deadly effects by 
adopting the ordinary remedies. And you will condemn 
yourself to hell, saying that you expect to be afterwards 
preserved from it. folly ! which, in conformity with 



HEAVEN. 119 



the divine threats, has brought, and brings every day, 
so many to hell. lt Thou hast trusted in thy wickedness, 
and evil shall come upon thee, and thou shalt not know 
the rising thereof." (Isa. xlvii. 10, 11.) You have 
sinned, trusting rashly in the divine mercy : the punish 
ment of your guilt shall fall suddenly upon you, and you 
shall not know from whence it comes. What do you 
say ? What resolution do you make ? If, after this 
sermon, you do not firmly resolve to give yourself to 
God, I weep over you, and regard you as lost. 



SERMON XVI. SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT. 

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. 



120 SERMON XVI. 



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 



HEAVEN. 121 



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 



122 SERMON XVI. 



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 experi 
ences, 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. 



HEAVEN. 



123 



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, 



124 SERMON XVI. 



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 






CONCEALING SINS IN CONFESSION. 125 

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. 



SERMON XVIL THIRD SUNDAY IN LENT. 

On concealing sins in confession. 

" And he was casting out a devil, and the same was dumb." LUKE 
xi. 14. 

THE devil does not bring sinners to hell with their eyes 
open : he first blinds them with the malice of their own 
sins. " For their own malice blinded them." (Wis. ii. 
21.) He thus leads them to eternal perdition. Before 
we fall into sin, the enemy labours to blind us, that we 
may not see the evil we do and the ruin we bring upon 
ourselves by offending God. After we commit sin, he 
seeks to make us dumb, that, through shame, we may 
conceal our guilt in confession. Thus, he leads us to 
hell by a double chain, inducing us, after our trans 
gressions, to consent to a still greater sin the sin of 
sacrilege. I will speak on this subject to-day, and will 
endeavour to convince you of the great evil of conceal 
ing sins in confession 



126 SERMON XVII. 



1. In expounding the words of David " Set a door 
O Lord, round about my lips," (Ps. cxl. 3) St. Augus 
tine says : " Non dixit claustrum, sed ostium : ostium et 
aperitur et clauditur : aperiatur ad confessionem peccati : 
claudatur ad excusationem peccati." "We should keep 
a door to the mouth, that it may be closed against 
detraction, and blasphemies, and all improper words, 
and that it may be opened to confess the sins we have 
committed. " Thus," adds the holy doctor, " it will be 
a door of restraint, and not of destruction." To be 
silent when we are impelled to utter words injurious to 
God or to our neighbour, is an act of virtue ; but, to be 
silent in confessing our sins, is the ruin of the soul. 
After we have offended God, the devil labours to keep 
the mouth closed, and to prevent us from confessing 
our guilt. St. Antonine relates, that a holy solitary 
once saw the devil standing beside a certain person who 
wished to go to confession. The solitary asked the 
fiend what he was doing there. The enemy said in 
reply : " I now restore to these penitents what I before 
took away from them ; I took away from them shame 
while they were committing sin ; I now restore it that 
they may have a horror of confession." " My sores are 
putrefied and corrupted, because of my foolishness." (Ps. 
xxxvii. 6.) Gangrenous sores are fatal ; and sins con 
cealed in confession are spiritual ulcers, which mortify 
and become gangrenous. 

2. "Pudorem," says St. Chrysostom, " dedit Deus 
peccato, confessioni nduciam: invertit rem diabolis, 
peccato fiduciam preebet, confessioni pudorem." (Proem, 
in Isa.) God has made sin shameful, that we may 
abstain from it, and gives us confidence to confess it by 
promising pardon to all who accuse themselves of their 
sins. But the devil does the contrary: he gives confi 
dence to sin by holding out hopes of pardon ; but, when 
sin is committed, he inspires shame, to prevent the 
confession of it. 

3. A disciple of Socrates, at the moment he was 
leaving a house of bad fame, saw his master pass : to 
avoid being seen by him, he went back into the house. 
Socrates came to the door and said : My son, it is a 
shameful thing to enter, but not to depart from this 






CONCEALING SINS IN CONFESSION. 127 

house. " Non te pudeat, fili egredi ex hoc loco, intrasse 
pudeat." To you also, brethren, who have sinned, I 
say, that you ought to be ashamed to offend so great 
and so good a God. But you have no reason to be 
ashamed of confessing the sins which you have com 
mitted. Was it shameful in St. Mary Magdalene to 
acknowledge publicly at the feet of Jesus Christ that 
she was a sinner ? By her confession she became a 
saint. Was it shameful in St. Augustine not only to 
confess his sins, but also to publish them in a book, that, 
for his confusion, they might be known to the whole 
world ? Was it shameful in St. Mary of Egypt to con 
fess, that for so many years she had led a scandalous 
life ? By their confessions these have become saints, 
and are honoured on the altars of the Church. 

4. We say that the man who acknowledges his guilt 
before a secular tribunal is condemned , but in the 
tribunal of Jesus Christ, they who confess their sins 
obtain pardon, and receive a crown of eternal glory. 
" After confession," says St. Chrysostom, " a crown is 
given to penitents." He who is afflicted with an ulcer 
must, if he wish to be cured, show it to a physician : 
otherwise it will fester and bring on death. " Quod 
ignorat," says the Council of Trent, " medicina non 
curat." If, then, brethren, your souls be ulcerated with 
sin, be not ashamed to confess it; otherwise you are lost. 
" For thy soul be not ashamed to say the truth." (Eccl. 
iv. 24.) ^ But, you say, I feel greatly ashamed to confess 
such a sin. If you wish to be saved, you must conquer 
this shame. " For there is a shame that bringeth sin, 
and there is a shame that bringeth glory and grace." 
(Ib. iv. 25.) There are, according to the inspired writer, 
two kinds of shame : one of which leads souls to sin, 
and that is the shame which makes them conceal their 
sins ^ at confession ; the other is the confusion which a 
Christian feels in confessing his sins ; and this confusion 
obtains for him the grace of God in this life, and the 
glory of heaven in the next. 

5. St. Augustine says, that to prevent the sheep from 
seeking assistance by her cries the wolf seizes her by the 
neck, and thus securely carries her away and devours 
her. The devil acts in a similar manner with the sheep 



128 SERMON XVII. 



of Jesus Christ. After having induced them to yield 
to sin, he seizes them by the throat, that they may not 
confess their guilt ; and thus he securely brings them to 
hell. For those who have sinned grievously, there is 
no means of salvation but the confession of their sins. 
But, what hope of salvation can he have who goes to 
confession and conceals his sins, and makes use of the 
tribunal of penance to offend God, and to make himself 
doubly the slave of Satan ? What hope would you 
entertain of the recovery of the man who, instead of 
taking the medicine prescribed by his physician, drank 
a cup of poison ? God ! What can the sacrament of 
penance be to those who conceal their sins, but a deadly 
poison, which adds to their guilt the malice of sacrilege ? 
In giving absolution, the confessor dispenses to his 
patient the blood of Jesus Christ ; for it is through the 
merits of that blood that he absolves from sin. What, 
then, does the sinner do, when he conceals his sins in 
confession ? He tramples under foot the blood of Jesus 
Christ. And should he afterwards receive the holy 
communion in a state of sin, he is, according to St. 
Chrysostom, as guilty as if he threw the consecrated 
host into a sink. " Non minus detestabile^ est in os 
pollutum, quam in sterquilinum mittere Dei Filium." 
(Horn. Ixxxiii., in Matt.) Accursed shame ! how many 
poor souls do you bring to hell ? " Magis memores 
pudoris," says Tertullian, " quam salutis." Unhappy 
souls ! they think only of the shame of confessing their 
sins, and do not reflect that, if they conceal them, they 
shall be certainly damned. 

6. Some penitents ask : " What will my confessor say 
when he hears that I have committed such a sin ?" What 
will he say ? He will say that you are, like all persons 
living on this earth, miserable and prone to sin : he will 
say that, if you have done evil, you have also performed 
a glorious action in overcoming shame, and in candidly 
confessing your fault. 

7. " But I am afraid to confess this sin." To how many 
confessors, I ask, must you tell it? It is enough to 
mention it to one priest, who hears many sins of the 
same kind from others. It is enough to confess it once : 
the confessor will give you penance and absolution, and 



CONCEALING SINS IN CONFESSION. 129 

your conscience shall be tranquillized. But, you say : 
" I feel a great repugnance to tell this sin to my spiri 
tual father." Tell it, then, to another confessor, and, if 
you wish, to one to whom you are unknown. " But, if 
this come to the knowledge of my confessor, he will be 
displeased with me." What then do you mean to do ? 
Perhaps, to avoid giving displeasure to him, you intend 
to commit a heinous crime, and remain under sentence 
of damnation. This would be the very height of folly. 

8. Are you afraid that the confessor will make known 
your sin to others ? Would it not be madness to suspect 
that he is so wicked as to break the seal of confession 
by revealing your sin to others ? Remember that the 
obligation of the seal of confession is so strict, that a 
confessor cannot speak out of confession, even to the 
penitent, of the smallest venial fault ; and if he did so,* 
he would be guilty of a most grievous sin. 

9. But you say : "I am afraid that my confessor, 
when he hears my sin, will rebuke me with great 
severity." God ! Do you not see that all these are 
deceitful artifices of the devil to bring you to hell ? No ; 
the confessor will not rebuke you, but he will give an 
advice suited to your state. A confessor cannot ex 
perience greater consolation than in absolving a penitent 
who confesses his sins with true sorrow and with 
sincerity. If a queen were mortally wounded by a 
slave, and you were in possession of a remedy by which 
she could be cured, how great would be your joy in 
saving her life ! Such is the joy which a confessor 
feels in absolving a soul in the state of sin. By his act 
he delivers her from eternal death : and by restoring to 
her the grace of God, he makes her a queen of Paradise. 

10. But you have so many fears, and are not afraid 
of damning your own soul by the enormous crime of 
concealing sins in confession. You are afraid of the 
rebuke of your confessor, and fear not the reproof 
which you shall receive from Jesus Christ, your Judge, 
at the hour of death. You are afraid that your sins 
shall become known (which is impossible), and you 
dread not the day of judgment, on which, if you conceal 

* That is, without the permission of the penitent. 

I 



130 SERMON XVII. 



them, they shall be revealed to all men. If you knew 
that, by concealing sins in confession, they shall be made 
known to all your relatives and to all your neighbours, 
you would certainly confess them. But, do you* not 
know, says St. Bernard, that if you refuse to confess 
your sins to one man, who, like yourself, is a sinner, 
they shall be made known not only to all your relatives 
and neighbours, but to the entire human race ? " Si 
pudor est tibi uni homini, et peccatori peccatum expo- 
nere, quid facturus es in die judicii, ubi omnibus exposita 
tua conscientia patebit ?" (S. Ber. super illud Joan., cap. 
xi.) " Lazare veni foras." If you do not confess your 
sin, God himself shall, for your confusion, publish not 
only the sin which you conceal, but also all your iniqui 
ties, in the presence of the angels and of the whole world. 
" I will discover thy shame to thy face, and will show 
thy wickedness to the nations." (Nah. iii. 5.) 

11. Listen, then, to the advice of St. Ambrose. The 
devil keeps an account of your sins, to charge you with 
ihem at the tribunal of Jesus Christ. Do you wish, 
says the saint, to prevent this accusation ? Anticipate 
your accuser: accuse yourself now to a confessor, and 
then no accuser shall appear against you at the judg 
ment-seat of God. " Pra3veni accusatorem tuum ; si to 
accusaveris, accusatorem nullum timebis." (Lib. 2 de 
Prcnit., cap. ii.) But, according to St. Augustine, if you 
excuse yourself in confession, you shut up sin within 
your soul, and shut out pardon. " Excusas te, includis 
peccatum, excludis indulgentiam." (Horn. xii. 50.) 

12. If, then, brethren, there be a single soul among 
you who has ever concealed a sin, through shame, in the 
tribunal of penance, let him take courage, and make a 
full confession of all his faults. " Give glory to God 
with a good heart." (Eccl. xxxv. 10.) Give glory to 
God, and confusion to the devil. A certain penitent 
was tempted by Satan to conceal a sin through shame ; 
but she was resolved to confess it ; and while she was 
going to her confessor, the devil came forward and 
asked her where she was going. She courageously 
answered: "I am going to cover myself and you with 
confusion." Act you in a similar manner; if you have 
ever concealed a mortal sin, confess it candidly to your 



CONCEALING SINS IN CONFESSION. 131 

director, and confound the devil. Eemember that the 
greater the violence you do yourself in confessing your 
sins, the greater will be the love with which Jesus Christ 
will embrace you. 

^ 13. Courage, then ! expel this viper which you har 
bour in your soul, and which continually corrodes your 
heart and destroys your peace. Oh ! what a hell does 
a Christian suffer who keeps in his heart a sin concealed 
through shame in confession ! He suffers an anticipation 
of hell. It is enough to say to the confessor : " Father, 
L have a certain scruple regarding my past life, but I 
am ashamed to tell it." This will be enough: the con 
fessor will help to pluck out the serpent which gnaws 
your conscience. And, that you may not entertain 
groundless scruples, I think it right to tell you, that if 
the sin which you are ashamed to tell be not mortal, or 
if you never considered it to be a mortal sin, you are not 
obliged to confess it ; for we are bound only to confess 
mortal sins. Moreover, if you have doubts whether you 
ever confessed a certain sin of your former life, but know 
that, in preparing for confession, you always carefully 
examined your conscience, and that you never concealed 
a sm through shame ; in this case, even though the sin 
about the confession of which you are doubtful, had been 
a grievous fault, you are not obliged to confess it- 
because it is presumed to be morally certain that you 
have already confessed it. But, if you know that the 
em was grievous, and that you never accused yourself of 
6 in confession, then there is no remedy ; you must 
confess it, or you must be damned for it. But, lost 
sheep, go instantly to confession. Jesus Christ is wait- 
ng for you; he stands with arms open to pardon and 
embrace you, if you acknowledge your guilt. I assure 
you that, after having confessed all your sins, you shall 
leef such consolation at having unburdened your con 
science and acquired the grace of God, that you shall for 
ever bless the day on which you made this confession, 
o as soon as possible in search of a confessor. Do not 
give the devil time to continue to tempt you. and to 
make you put off your confession: go immediately: for 
Jesus Christ is waiting for you 



132 SERMON XVIII. 



SERMON XVIII. FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT. 

On the tender compassion which Jesus Christ enter 
tains towards sinners. 

"Make the men sit down." JOHN vi. 10. 

WE read in this day s gospel that, having gone up into 
a mountain with his disciples, and seeing a multitude of 
five thousand persons, who followed him hecause they 
saw the miracles which he wrought on them that were 
diseased, the Redeemer said to St. Philip: "Whence 
shall we huy bread, that these may eat ?" " Lord," 
answered St. Philip, " two-hundred pennyworth of bread 
is not sufficient that every one may take a little." St. 
Andrew then said : There is a boy here that has five 
barley loaves and two fishes ; but what are these among 
so many ? But Jesus Christ said : " Make the men sit 
down." And he distributed the loaves and fishes among 
them. The multitude were satisfied : and the fragments 
of bread which remained filled twelve baskets. The Lord 
wrought this miracle through compassion for the bodily 
wants of these poor people ; but far more tender is his 
compassion for the necessities of the souls of the poor 
that is, of sinners who are deprived of the divine grace. 
This tender compassion of Jesus Christ for sinners shall 
be the subject of this day s discourse. 

1. Through the bowels of his mercy towards men, 
who groaned under the slavery of sin and Satan, our 
most loving Redeemer descended from heaven to earth, 
to redeem and save them from eternal torments by his 
own death. Such was the language of St. Zachary, the 
father of the Baptist, when the Blessed Virgin, who had 
already become the mother of the Eternal Word, entered 
his house. " Through the bowels of the mercy of our 
God, in which the Orient from on high hath visited us." 
(Luke i. 78.) 

2. Jesus Christ, the good pastor, who came into the 
world to obtain salvation for us his sheep, has said : " I 
am come that they may have life, and may have it 
more abundantly." (John x. 10.) Mark the expression, 



COMPASSION OF CHRIST. 133 

" more abundantly/ which signifies that the Son of Man 
came on earth not only to restore us to the life of grace 
which we lost, but to give us a better life than that 
which we forfeited by sin. Yes ; for as St. Leo says, 
the benefits which we have derived from the death of 
Jesus are greater than the injury which the devil has 
done us by sin. " Ampliora adepti sumus per Christ! 
gratiam quam per diaboli amiseramus invidiam." (Ser. 
i., de Ascen.) The same doctrine is taught by the 
Apostle, who says that, " where sin abounded, grace did 
more abound." (Rom. v. 20.) 

3. But, my Lord, since thou hast resolved to take 
human flesh, would not a single prayer offered by thee 
be sufficient for the redemption of all men ? What need, 
then, was there of leading a life of poverty, humiliation, 
and contempt, for thirty- three years, of suffering a cruel 
and shameful death on an infamous gibbet, and of shed 
ding all thy blood by dint of torments ? I know well, 
answers Jesus Christ, that one drop of my blood, or a 
simple prayer, would be sufficient for the salvation of 
the world ; but neither would be sufficient to show the 
love which I bear to men : and therefore, to be loved by 
men when they should see me dead on the cross for the 
love of them, I have resolved to submit to so many 
torments and to so painful a death. This, he says, is 
the duty of a good pastor. " I am the good shepherd. 
The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep... I lay 
down my life for my sheep." (John x. 11, 15.) 

4. O men, O men, what greater proof of love could 
the Son of God give us than to lay down his life for us 
his sheep ? " In this we have known the charity of 
God ; because he hath laid down his life for us." (L 
John iii. 16.) No one, says the Saviour, can show 
greater love to his friends than to give his life for them. 
" Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay 
down his life for his friends." (John xv. 13.) But thou, 
O Lord, hast died not only for friends, but for us who 
were thy enemies by sin. " When we were enemies, we 
were reconciled to God by the death of his Son." (Rom. 
v. 10.) infinite love of our God, exclaims St. Bernard ; 
" to spare slaves, neither the Father has spared the Son, 
nor the Son himself." To pardon us, who were rebellious 



134 SERMON XVIII. 



servants, the Father would not pardon the Son, and the 
Son would not pardon himself, but, by his death, has 
satisfied the divine justice for the sins which we have 
committed. 

5. When Jesus Christ was near his passion he went 
one day to Samaria: the Samaritans refused to receive 
him. Indignant at the insult offered by the Samaritans 
to their Master, St. James and St. John, turning to 
Jesus, said : " Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to 
come down from heaven and consume them ?" (Luke 
ix. 54.) But Jesus, who was all sweetness, even to those 
who insulted him, answered : " You know not of what 
spirit you are. The Son of Man came not to destroy 
souls, but to save." (r. 55 and 50.) lie severely rebuked 
the disciples. What spirit is ^ this, he said, which 
possesses you ? It is not my spirit : mine is the spirit 
of patience and compassion ; for I ain come, not to 
destroy, but to save the souls of men : and you speak of 
fire, of punishment, and of vengeance. Hence, in 
another place, he said to his disciples: "Learn of me, 
because I am meek and humble of heart." (Matt. xi. 29 ) 
I do not wish of you to learn of me to chastise, but to 
be meek, and to bear and pardon injuries. 

0. How beautiful has he described the tenderness of 
his heart towards sinners in the following words : 
" What man of you that hath an hundred sheep : and, 
if he lose one of them, doth he not leave ninety-nine in 
the desert, and go after that which is lost until he find 
it : and when he hath found it, lay it upon his shoulder 
rejoicing ; and coming home, call together his friends 
and neighbours, saying to them : Rejoice with me, 
because I have found my sheep that was lost ?" (Luke 
xv. 4, 5, and 6.) But, Lord, it is not thou that 
oughtest to rejoice, but the sheep that has found her 
pastor and her God. The sheep indeed, answers Jesus, 
rejoices at finding me, her shepherd ; but far greater is 
the joy which 1 feel at having found one of my lost 
sheep. He concludes the parable in these words : " I 
say to you, that even so there shall be joy in heaven, 
for one sinner that doth penance, more than upon 
ninety-nine just, who need not penance." (Luke xv. 7.) 
There is more joy in heaven at the conversion of one 



COMPASSION OF CHRIST. 135 

sinner, than upon ninety-nine just men who preserve 
their innocence. What sinner, then, can be so hardened 
as not to go instantly and cast himself at the feet of his 
Saviour, when he knows the tender love with which 
Jesus Christ is prepared to embrace him, and carry him 
on his shoulders, as soon as he repents of his sins ? 

7. The Lord has also declared his tenderness towards 
penitent sinners in the parable of the Prodigal Child. 
(Luke xv. 12, etc.) In that parable the Son of God 
says, that a certain young man, unwilling to be any 
longer under the control of his father, and desiring to 
live according to his caprice and corrupt inclinations, 
asked the portion of his father s substance which fell to 
him. The father gave it with sorrow, weeping over the 
ruin of his son. The son departed from his father s 
house. Having in a short time dissipated his substance, 
he was reduced to such a degree of misery that, to 
procure the necessaries of life, he was obliged to feed 
swine. _ All this was a figure of a sinner, who, after 
departing from God, and losing the divine grace and all 
the merits he had acquired, leads a life of misery under 
the slavery of the devil. In the gospel it is added that 
the young man, seeing his wretched condition, resolved 
to return to his father : and the father, who is a figure 
of Jesus Christ, seeing his son return to him, was 
instantly moved to pity. "His father saw him, and 
was moved with compassion" (v. 20); and, instead of 
driving him away, as the ungrateful son had deserved, 
"running to him, he fell upon his neck and kissed 
him." He ran with open arms to meet him, and, 
through tenderness, fell upon his neck, and consoled 
him by his embraces. He then said to his servants : 
" Bring forth quickly the first robe, and put it on him." 
According to St. Jerome and St. Augustine, the first 
robe signifies the divine grace, which, in addition to new 
celestial gifts, God, by granting pardon, gives to the 
penitent sinner. " And put a ring on his finger." Give 
him the ring of- a spouse. By recovering the grace of 
God, the soul becomes again the spouse of Jesus Christ. 
" And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it, and let 
us eat and make merry" (v. 23). Bring hither the 
fatted calf which signifies the holy communion, or 



136 SERMON XVIII. 



Jesus in the holy sacrament mystically killed and offered 
in sacrifice on the altar ; let us eat and rejoice. But 
why, divine Father, so much joy at the return of so 
ungrateful a child ? Because, answered the Father, 
this my son was dead, and he is come to life again ; he 
was lost, and I have found him. 

8. This tenderness of Jesus Christ was experienced 
by the sinful woman (according to St. Gregory, Mary 
Magdalene) who cast herself at the feet of Jesus, and 
washed them with her tears. (Luke vii. 47 and 50.) 
The Lord, turning to her with sweetness, consoled her 
by saying: "Thy sins are forgiven ;... thy faith hath 
made thee safe ; go in peace." (Luke vii. 48 and 50.) 
Child, thy sins are pardoned ; thy confidence in me has 
saved thee ; go in peace. It was also felt by the man 
who was sick for thirty- eight years, and who was infirm, 
both in body and soul. The Lord cured his malady, 
and pardoned his sins. " Behold," says Jesus to him, 
" thou art made whole ; sin no more, lest some worse 
thing happen to thee." (John v. 14.) The tenderness 
of the Redeemer was also felt by the leper who said to 
Jesus Christ: " Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me 
clean." (Matt. viii. 2.) Jesus answered: "I will: be 
thou made clean" (v. 3). As if he said: Yes; I will 
that thou be made clean ; for I have come down from 
heaven for the purpose of consoling all : be healed, then, 
according to thy desire. " And forthwith his leprosy 
was cleansed." 

9. We have also a proof of the tender compassion of 
the Son of God for sinners, in his conduct towards the 
woman caught in adultery. The scribes and pharisees 
brought her before him, and said : " This woman was 
even now taken in adultery. Now Moses, in the law, 
commands us to stone such a one. But what sayest 
thou ?" (John viii. 4 and 5.) And this they did, as St. 
John says, tempting him. They intended to accuse 
him of transgressing the law of Moses, if he said that 
she ought to be liberated ; and they expected to destroy 
his character for meekness, if he said that she should 
be stoned. " Si dicat lapidandam," says St. Augustine, 
" famam perdet mansuetudinis ; sin dimmitteudam, 
transgressa3 legis accusabitur." (Tract, xxxiii. in Joan.) 



COMPASSION OF CHRIST. 137 

But what was the answer of our Lord ? He neither 
said that she should be stoned nor dismissed ; but, 
" bowing himself down, he wrote with his finger on the 
ground." The interpreters say that, probably, what he 
wrote on the ground was a text of Scripture admonishing 
the accusers of their own sins, which were, perhaps, 
greater than that of the woman charged with adultery. 
" He then lifted himself up, and said to them : He that 
is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at 
her " (v . 7). The scribes and pharisees went away one 
by one, and the woman stood alone. Jesus Christ, 
turning to her, said: "Hath no one condemned thee ? 
neither will I condemn thee. Go, and now sin no 
more" (v. 11). Since no one has condemned you, fear 
not that you shall be condemned by me, who hath come on 
earth, not to condemn, but to pardon and save sinners: 
go in peace, and sin no more. 

10. Jesus Christ has come, not to condemn, but to 
deliver sinners from hell, as soon as they resolve to 
amend their lives. And when he sees them obstinately 
bent on their own perdition, he addresses them with 
tears in the words of Ezechiel : " Why will you die, O 
house of Israel?" (xviii. 31). My children, why will 
you die ? Why do you voluntarily rush into hell, 
when I have come from heaven to deliver you from it 
by death ? He adds : you are already dead to the grace 
of God. But I will not your death: return to me, and 
I will restore to you the life which you have lost. "For 
I desire not the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord 
God: return ye and live" (v. 32). But some sinners, 
who are immersed in the abyss of sin, may say: Perhaps, 
if we return to Jesus Christ, he will drive us away. 
No ; for the Redeemer has said: " And him that cometh 
to me I will not cast out." (John vi. 37.) No one that 
comes to me with sorrow for his past sins, however 
manifold and enormous they may have been, shall be 
rejected. 

11. Behold how, in another place, the Redeemer 
encourages us to throw ourselves at his feet with a 
secure hope of consolation and pardon. " Come to me, 
all you that labour and are burdened, and I will refresh 
you." (Matt. xi. 28.) Come to me, all ye poor sinners, 



138 



SERMON XIX. 



who labour for your own damnation, and groan under 
the weight of your crimes ; come, and I will deliver you 
from all your troubles. Again, he says, " Come and 
accuse me, saith the Lord ; if your sins be as scarlet, 
they shall be made white as snow ; and if they be red as 
crimson, they shall be made white as wool." (Isa. i. 18.) 
Come with sorrow for the offences you committed against 
me, and if I do not give you pardon, accuse me. As if 
he said : upbraid me ; rebuke me as a liar; for I promise 
that, though your sins were of scarlet that is, of the 
most horrid enormity your soul, by my blood, in which 
I sli all wash it, will become white and beautiful as 
snow. 

1 J. Let us then, sinners, return instantly to Jesus 
Christ. If we have left him, let us immediately return, 
before death overtakes us in sin and sends us to hell, 
where the mercies and graces of the Lord shall, if we do 
not amend, be so many swords which shall lacerate the 
heart for all eternity. 



SERMON XIX. PASSION SUNDAY. 
On the danger to which tepidity exposes the soul. 

"But Jesus hid himself." JOHN viii. 59. 

JESUS CHRIST "is the true light which enlighteneth 
every man that cometh into this world. (John i. 9.) 
He enlightens all ; but he cannot enlighten those who 
voluntarily shut their eyes to the light ; from them the 
Saviour hides himself. How then can they, walking in 
darkness, escape the many dangers of perdition to which 
we are exposed in this life, which God has given us as 
the road to eternal happiness ? I will endeavour to-day 
to convince you of the great danger into which tepidity 
brings the soul, since it makes Jesus Christ hide his 
divine light from her, and makes him less liberal in 
bestowing upon her the graces and helps, without which 
she shall find it very difficult to complete the journey 
of this life without falling into an abyss that is, into 
mortal sin. 

1. A tepid soul is not one that lives in enmity with 



DANGER OF TEPIDITY. 139 

God, nor one that sometimes commits venial sins 
through mere frailty, and not with full deliberation. 
On account of the corruption of nature by original sin, 
no man can be exempt from such venial faults. This 
corruption of nature renders it impossible for us, without 
a most special grace, which has been given only to the 
mother of God, to avoid all venial sins during our whole 
lives. Hence St. John has said: "If we say that we 
have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not 
in us." (1 John i. 8.) God permits defects of this kind, 
even in the saints, to keep them humble, and to make 
them feel that, as they commit such faults in spite of all 
their good purposes and promises, so also, were they not 
supported by his divine hand, they would fall into mortal 
sins. Hence, when w r e find that we have committed 
these light faults, we must humble ourselves, and 
acknowledging our own weakness, we must be careful to 
recommend ourselves to God, and implore of him to 
preserve us, by his almighty hand, from more grievous 
transgressions, and to deliver us from those w r e have 
committed. 

2. What then are we to understand by a tepid soul ? 
A tepid soul is one that frequently falls into fully deli 
berate venial sins such as deliberate lies, deliberate 
acts of impatience, deliberate imprecations, and the like. 
These faults may be easily avoided by those who are 
resolved to suffer death rather than commit a deliberate 
venial offence against God. St. Teresa used to say, 
that one venial sin does us more harm than all the devils 
in hell. Hence she would say to her mms : " My 
children, from deliberate sin, however venial it may be, 
may the Lord deliver you." Some complain of being 
left in aridity and dryness, and without any spiritual 
sweetness. But how can we expect that God will be 
liberal of his favours to us, when we are ungenerous to 
him ? We know that such a lie, such an imprecation, 
such an injury to our neighbour, and such detraction, 
though not mortal sins, are displeasing to God, and still 
we do not abstain from them. Why then should we 
expect that God will give us his divine consolations ? 

3. But some of you will say : Venial sins, however 
great they may be, do not deprive the soul of the grace 



140 SERMON XIX. 



of God : even though I commit them I will he saved ; 
and for me it is enough to obtain eternal life. You say 
that, " for you it is enough to be saved." Remember that 
St. Augustine says that, " where you have said, * It is 
enough/ there you have perished." To understand cor 
rectly the meaning of these words of St. Augustine, and 
to see the danger to which the state of tepidity exposes 
those who commit habitual and deliberate venial sins, 
without feeling remorse for them, and without endea 
vouring to avoid them, it is necessary to know that the 
habit of light faults leads the soul insensibly to mortal 
sins. For example : the habit of venial acts of aversion 
leads to mortal hatred ; the habit of small thefts leads 
to grievous rapine ; the habit of venial attachments leads 
to affections which are mortally sinful. " The soul," 
says St. Gregory, " never lies where it falls." (Moral., lib. 
xxxi.) No ; it continues to sink still deeper. Mortal 
diseases do not generally proceed from serious indis 
position, but from many slight and continued infirmities ; 
so, likewise, the fall of many souls into mortal sin 
follows from habitual venial sins ; for these render the 
soul so weak that, when a strong temptation assails her, 
she has not strengh to resist it, and she falls. 

4. Many are unwilling to be separated from God by 
mortal sins ; they wish to follow him, but at a distance, 
and regardless of venial sins. But to them shall pro 
bably happen what befel St. Peter. When Jesus Christ 
was seized in the garden, St. Peter was unwilling to 
abandon the Lord, but "followed him afar off." (Matt. 
xxvi. 58.) After entering the house of Caiphas, he was 
charged with being a disciple of Jesus Christ. He was 
instantly seized with fear, and three times denied his 
Master. The Holy Ghost says : " He that contemneth 
small things shall fall by little and little." (Eccl. xix. 1.) 
They who despise small falls will probably one day fall 
into an abyss ; for, being in the habit of committing 
light offences against God, they will feel but little 
repugnance to offer to him some grievous insult. 

5. The Lord says : " Catch us the little foxes that 
destroy the vines." (Cant. ii. 15.) He does not tell us to 
-catch the lions or the bears, but the little foxes. Lions 
and bears strike terror, and therefore all are careful to 



DANGER OF TEPIDITY. 141 

keep at a distance through fear of being devoured by 
them; but the little foxes, though they do not excite 
dismay, destroy the vine by drying up its roots. Mortal 
sin terrifies the timorous soul ; but, if she accustom her 
self to the commission of many venial sins with full 
deliberation, and without endeavouring to correct them, 
they, like the little foxes, shall destroy the roots that 
is, the remorse of conscience, the fear of offending God, 
and the holy desires of advancing in divine love ; and 
thus, being in a state of tepidity, and impelled to sin by 
some passion, the soul will easily abandon God and lose 
the divine grace. 

6. Moreover, deliberate and habitual venial sins not 
only deprive us of strength to resist temptations, but also 
of the special helps without which we fall into grievous 
sins. Be attentive, brethren ; for this is a point of 
great importance. It is certain, that of ourselves we 
have not sufficient strength to resist the temptations of 
the devil, of the flesh, and of the world. It is God that 
prevents our enemies from assailing us with temptations 
by which we would be conquered. Hence Jesus Christ 
has taught us the following prayer: " And lead us not 
into temptation." He teaches us to pray that God may 
deliver us from the temptations to which we would 
yield, and thus lose his grace. Wow, venial sins, when 
they are deliberate and habitual, deprive us of the special 
helps of God which are necessary for preservation in his 
grace. I say necessary, because the Council of Trent 
anathematizes those who assert that we can persevere in 
grace without a special help from God. " Si quis 
dixerit, justificatum vel sine speciali auxilio Dei in 
accepta justitia perseverare posse, vel cum eo non posse ; 
anathema sit." (Sess. 6, can. xxii.) Thus, with the 
ordinary assistance of God, we cannot avoid falling into 
some mortal sin : a special aid is necessary. But this 
special aid God will justly withhold from tepid souls 
who are regardless of committing, with full deliberation, 
many venial sins. Thus these unhappy souls shall not 
persevere in grace. 

7. They who are ungenerous to God well deserve 
that God should not be liberal to them. "He who 
soweth sparingly, shall also reap sparingly." (2 Cor. 



142 



SERMON XIX. 



ix. 6.) To such souls the Lord will give the graces 
common to all, but will probably withhold his special 
assistance ; and without this, as we have seen, they 
cannot persevere without falling into mortal sin. God 
himself revealed to B. Henry Suson, that, for tepid 
souls who are content with leading a life exempt from 
mortal sin, and continue to commit many deliberate 
venial sins, it is very difficult to preserve themselves in 
the state of grace. The venerable Lewis da Ponte used 
to say: "I commit many defects, but I never make 
peace with them." Woe to him who is at peace with 
his faults ! St. Bernard teaches that, as long as a person 
who is guilty of defects detests his faults, there is reason 
to hope that he will one day correct them and amend 
his life : but when he commits faults without endeavour 
ing to amend, he will continually go from bad to worse, 
till he loses the grace of God. St. Augustine says that, 
like a certain disease of the skin which makes the body 
an object of disgust, habitual faults, when committed 
without any effort of amendment, render the soul so 
disgusting to God, that he deprives her of his embraces. 
" Sunt velut scabies, et nostrum decus ita exterminant 
ut a sponsi amplcxibus separent." (Horn. 1., cap. iii.) 
Hence the soul, finding no more nourishment and 
consolation in her devout exercises, in her prayers, 
communions, or visits to the blessed sacrament, will 
soon neglect ^them, and thus neglecting the means of 
eternal salvation, she shall be in great danger of being 
lost. 

8. This danger will be still greater for those who 
commit many venial sins through attachment to any 
passion, such as pride, ambition, aversion to a neigh 
bour, or an inordinate affection for any person. 1st. 
Francis of Assisium says that, in endeavouring to draw 
to sin a soul that is afraid of being in enmity with God, 
the devil does not seek in the beginning to bind her 
with the chain of a slave, by tempting her to commit 
mortal sin, Because she would have a horror of yielding 
to mortal sin, and would guard herself against it. He 
first endeavours to bind her by a single hair ; then by a 
slender thread ; next by a cord ; afterwards by a rope ; 
and in the end by a chain of hell that is, by mortal 



DANGER OF TEPIDITY. 143 

sin ; and thus he makes her his slave. For example : 
A person cherishes an affection for a female through a 
motive of courtesy or of gratitude, or from an esteem 
for her good qualities. This affection is followed by 
mutual presents ; to these succeed words of tenderness ; 
and after the first violent assault of the devil, the 
miserable man shall find that he has fallen into mortal 
sin. He meets with the fate of gamesters, who, after 
frequently losing large sums of money, yield to an 
impulse of passion, risk their all, and, in the end, lose 
their entire property. 

9. Miserable the soul that allows herself to be the 
slave of any passion. " Behold, how small a fire what 
a great wood it kindleth." (St. James iii. 5.) A small 
spark, if it be not extinguished, will set fire to an entire 
wood ; that is, an unmodified passion shall bring the 
soul to ruin. Passion blinds us ; and the blind often fall 
into an abyss when they least expect it. According to 
St. Ambrose, the devil is constantly endeavouring to 
find out the passion which rules in our heart, and the 
pleasures which have the greatest attraction for us. 
When he discovers them, he presents occasions of 
indulging them : he then excites concupiscence, and 
prepares a chain to make us the slaves of hell. " Tune 
maxime insidiatur adversarius quando videt in nobis 
passiones aliquas generari : tune tbmites movet, laqueos 
parat." 

10. St. Chrysostom asserts, that he himself knew 
many persons who were gifted with great virtues, and 
who, because they disregarded light faults, fell into an 
abyss of crime. When the devil cannot gain much 
from us, he is in the beginning content with the little ; 
by many trifling victories he will make a great conquest. 
No one, says St. Bernard, suddenly falls from the state 
of grace into the abyss of wickedness. They who rush 
into the most grievous irregularities, begin by committing 
light^faults. "Nemo repente fit turpissimus : a minimis 
incipiunt qui in maxima proruunt." (Tract de Ord. 
vita3.) It is necessary also to understand that, when 
a soul that has been favoured by God with special 
lights and graces, consents to mortal sin, her fall shall 
not be a simple fall, from which she will easily rise 



144 



SERMON XIX. 



again, but it will be a precipitous one, from which she 
will find it very difficult to return to God. 

11. Addressing a person in the state of tepidity, our 
Lord said : " I would that thou wert cold or hot ; but 
because thou art luke-warm, and neither hot nor cold, I 
will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth." (Apoc. iii. 
15, 16.) " I would thou wert cold" that is, it would 
be better for thee to be deprived of my grace, because 
there should then be greater hopes of thy amendment ; 
but, because thou livest in tepidity, without any desire 
of improvement, " I will begin to vomit thee out of my 
mouth." By these words he means, that he will begin 
to abandon the soul ; for, what is vomited, is taken back 
only with great horror. 

12. A certain author says, that tepidity is a hectic 
fever, which does not excite alarm, because it is not 
perceived ; but it is, at the same time, so malignant that 
it is rarely cured. The comparison is very just; for 
tepidity makes the soul insensible to remorses of con 
science ; and, as she is accustomed to feel no remorse 
for venial faults, she will by degrees become insensible 
to the stings of remorse which arise from mortal sins. 

13. Let us come to the remedy. The amendment of 
a tepid soul is difficult ; but there are remedies for those 
who wish to adopt them. First, the tepid must sincerely 
desire to be delivered from a state which, as we have 
seen, is so miserable and dangerous ; for, without this 
desire, they shall not take pains to employ the proper 
means. {Secondly, they must resolve to remove the 
occasions of their faults ; otherwise they will always 
relapse into the same defects. Thirdly, they must 
earnestly beg of the Lord to raise them from so 
wretched a state. By their own strength they can do 
nothing ; but they can do all things with the assistance 
of God, who has promised to hear the prayers of all. 
" Ask, and it shall be given ; seek, and you shall find." 
(Luke xi. 9.) We must pray, and continue to pray 
without interruption. If we cease to pray we shall be 
defeated ; but if we persevere in prayer we shall 
conquer. 



EVIL KFFKCTS OF BAD HABITS. 145 

SERMON XX. PALM SUNDAY. 

On the evil effects of bad habits. 

Go ye into the village that is over against you, and immediately you 
shall find an ass tied." MATT. xxi. 2. 

WISHING to enter Jerusalem, to be there acknowledged 
as the promised Messiah sent by God for the salvation 
of the world, the Saviour said to his disciples : " Go to 
a certain village, and you will find an ass tied, and a 
colt with her ; loose them, and bring them to me." 
" The ass which was tied," says St. Bonaventure, 
" denotes a sinner." This exposition is conformable to 
the doctrine of the Wise Man, who says, that the 
wicked are bound by the chains of their own sins. 
"His own iniquities catch the wicked, and he is fast 
bound with the rope of his own sins." (Prov. v. 22.) 
But, as Jesus Christ could not sit on the ass before she 
was loosed, so he cannot dwell in a soul bound with 
her own iniquities. If, then, brethren, there be among 
you a soul bound by any bad habit, let her attend to 
the admonition which the Lord addresses to her this 
morning. " Loose the bond from off thy neck, cap 
tive daughter of Sion." (Isa. Hi. 2.) Loose the bonds 
of your sins, which make you the slave of Satan. 
Loose the bonds before the habit of sin gains such power 
over you, as to render your conversion morally impos 
sible, and thus to bring you to eternal perdition. This 
morning I will show, in three points, the evil effects of 
bad habits. 

First Point. A bad habit blinds the understanding. 
Second Point. It hardens the heart. 
Third Point. It diminishes our strength. 

First Point. A bad habit blinds the understanding. 

1. Of those who live in the habit of sin, St. Augus 
tine says : " Ipsa consuetudo non sinit videre malum, 
quod faciunt." The habit of sin blinds sinners, so that 
they no longer see the evil which they do, nor the ruin 



146 SERMON XX. 



which they "bring upon themselves ; hence they live in 
blindness, as if there was neither God, nor heaven, nor 
hell, nor eternity. " Sins," adds the saint, " however 
enormous, when habitual, appear to be small, or not to 
be sins at all." How then can the soul guard against 
them, when she is no longer sensible of their deformity, 
or the evil which they bring upon her? 

2. St. Jerome says, that habitual sinners " are not 
even ashamed of their crimes." Bad actions naturally 
produce a certain shame ; but this feeling is destroyed 
by the habit of sin. St. Peter compares habitual sinners 
to swine wallowing in mire. " The sow that was washed 
is returned to her wallowing in the mire." (2 Pet. ii. 
"2 2.) The very mire of sin blinds them ; and, therefore, 
instead of feeling sorrow and shame at their unclean- 
ness, they revel and exult in it. " A fool worketh 
mischief as it were for sport." (Prov. x. 23.) " Who are 
glad when they have done evil." (Prov. ii. 14.) Hence 
the saints continually seek light from God ; for they 
know that, should he withdraw his light, they may 
become the greatest of sinners. How, then, do so many 
Christians, who know by faith that there is a hell, and 
a just God, who cannot but chastise the wicked, how, I 
say, do they continue to live in sin till death, and thus 
bring themselves to perdition ? " Their own malice 
blinded them." (Wis. ii, 21.) Sin blinds them, and thus 
they are lost. 

3. Job says, that habitual sinners are full of iniquities. 
" His bones shall be filled with the vices of his youth." 
(xx. 11.) Every sin produces darkness in the under 
standing. Hence, the more sins are multiplied by a bad 
habit, the greater the blindness they cause. The light 
of the sun cannot enter a vessel filled with clay ; and a 
heart full of vices cannot admit the light of God, which 
would make visible to the soul the abyss into which she 
is running. Bereft of light, the habitual sinner goes on 
from sin to sin, without ever thinking of repentance. 
" The wicked walk round about," (Ps. xi. 9.) Fallen 
into the dark pit of evil habits, he thinks only of sin 
ning, he speaks only of sins, and no longer sees the 
evil of sin. In fine, he becomes like a brute devoid of 
reason, and seeks and desires only what pleases the 



EVIL KFFKCTS OF BAD HABITS. 147 



senses. " And man, when he was in honour, did not 
understand : he is compared to senseless beasts, and is 
become like to them/ (Ps. xlviii. 13.) Hence the words 
of the Wise Man are fulfilled with regard to habitual 
sinners. " The wicked man when he comes into the 
depth of sin, contemneth." (Prov. xviii. 3.) This passage 
St. Chrysostom applies to habitual sinners, who, shut up 
in a pit of darkness, despise sermons, calls of God, ad 
monitions, censures, hell, and God, and become like the 
vulture that waits to be killed by the fowler, rather than 
abandon the corrupt carcass on which it feeds. 

4. Brethren, let us tremble, as David did when he 
said : " Let not the tempests of water drown me, nor the 
deep swallow me up; and let not the pit shut her mouth 
upon me." (Ps. Ixviii. 16.) Should a person fall into a 
pit, there is hope of deliverance as long as the mouth of 
the pit is not closed ; but as soon as it is shut, he is lost. 
When a sinner falls into a bad habit, the mouth of the 
pit is gradually closed as his sins are multiplied ; the 
moment the mouth of the pit is shut, he is abandoned 
by God. Dearly beloved sinners, if you have contracted 
a habit of any sin, endeavour instantly to go out of that 
pit of hell, before God shall deprive you entirely of his 
light, and abandon you ; for, as soon as he abandons 
you by the total withdrawal of his light, all is over, and 
you are lost. 

Second Point. A bad habit hardens the heart. 

5. The habit of sin not only blinds the understand 
ing, but also hardens the heart of the sinner. " His 
heart shall be as hard as a stone, and as firm as a smith s 
anvil." (Job xli. 15.) By the habit of sin the heart 
becomes like a stone ; and, as the anvil is hardened by 
repeated strokes of the hammer, so, instead of being 
softened by divine inspirations or by instructions, the 
soul of the habitual sinner is rendered more obdurate 
by sermons on the judgment of God, on the torments 
of the damned, and on the passion of Jesus Christ: "his 
heart shall be firm as a smith s anvil." "Their heart," 
says St. Augustine, "is hardened against the dew of 
grace, so^as to produce no fruit." Divine calls, remorses 
of conscience, terrors of Divine justice, are showers of 



148 SERMON XX. 

divine grace ; but when, instead of drawing fruit from 
these divine blessings, the habitual sinner continues to 
commit sin, he hardens his heart, and thus, according to 
St. Thomas of Yillanova, he gives a sign of his certain 
damnation " Induratio damnationis indicium;" for, 
from the loss of God s light, and the hardness of his 
heart, the sinner will, according to the terrible threat of 
the Holy Ghost, remain obstinate till death. " A hard 
heart shall fare evil at the end." (Eccl. iii. 27.) 

6. Of what use are confessions, when, in a short time 
after them, the sinner returns to the same vices ? " He 
who strikes his breast," says St. Augustine, " and does 
not amend, confirms, but does not take away sins." 
When you strike your breast in the tribunal of penance, 
but do not amend and remove the occasions of sin, you 
then, according to the saint, do not take away your sins, 
but you make them more firm and permanent ; that is, 
you render yourself more obstinate in sin. " The 
wicked walk round about." (Ps. xi. 9.) Such is the 
unhappy life of habitual sinners. They go round about 
from sin to sin ; and if they abstain for a little, they 
immediately, at the first occasion of temptation, return 
to their former iniquities. St. Bernard regards as certain 
the damnation of such sinners : " Ya3 homini, qui sequitur 
hunc circuitum." (Serm. xii. sup. Psalmos.) 

7. But some young persons may say : I will hereafter 
amend, and sincerely give myself to God. But, if a 
habit of sin takes possession of you, when will you 
amend ? The Holy Ghost declares, that a young man 
who contracts an evil habit will not relinquish it even 
in his old age. A young man, according to his way, 
even when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Prov. 
xxii. G.) Habitual sinners have been known to yield, 
even at the hour of death, to the sins which they have 
been in the habit of committing. Father Kecupito 
relates, that a person condemned to death, even while he 
was going to the place of execution, raised his eyes, saw 
a young female, and consented to a bad thought. We 
read in a work of Father Gisolfo, that a certain blas 
phemer, who had been likewise condemned to death, 
when thrown off the scaffold, broke out into a blasphemy, 
and died in that miserable state. 



! 



EVIL EFFECTS OF BAD HABITS. 149 

8. " He hath mercy on whom he will, and whom he 
will he hardeneth." (Rom. ix. 18.) God shows mercy 
for a certain time, and then he hardens the heart of the 
sinner. How does God harden the hearts of sinners ? 
St. Augustine answers : " Obduratio Dei est non 
misereri." The Lord does not directly harden the hearts 
of habitual sinners; but, in punishment of their ingrati 
tude for his benefits, he withdraws from them his graces, 
and thus their hearts are hardened, and become like a 
stone. " God does not harden the heart by imparting 
malice, but by withholding mercy." God does not render 
sinners obdurate by infusing the malice of obstinacy, 
but by not giving them the efficacious graces by which 
they would be converted. By the withdrawal of the 
sun s heat from the earth, water is hardened into ice. 

9. St. Bernard teaches, that hardness or obstinacy of 
heart does not take place suddenly; but, by degrees the 
soul becomes insensible to the divine threats, and more 
obstinate by divine chastisements. " Paulatim in cordis 
dulitiam itur; cor durum non minis cedit, flagellis 
duratur." In habitual sinners are verified the words of 
David, " And thy rebuke, God of Jacob, they have 
slumbered." (Ps. Ixxv. 7.) Even earthquakes, thunders, 
and sudden deaths do not terrify an habitual sinner. 
Instead of awakening him to a sense of his miserable 
state, they rather bring on that deadly sleep in which he 
slumbers and is lost. 

Third Point. A bad habit diminishes our strength. 

10. " He hath torn me with wound upon wound ; he 
hath rushed in upon me like a giant." (Job xvi. 15.) On 
this text St. Gregory reasons thus: A person assailed by 
an enemy, is rendered unable to defend himself by the 
first wound which he receives ; but, should he receive a 
second and third, his strength will be so much exhausted, 
that death will be the consequence. It is so with sin : 
after the first and second wound which it inflicts on the 
soul, she shall still have some strength, but only through 
the divine grace. But, if she continue to indulge in 
vice, sin, becoming habitual, rushes upon her like a giant 
and leaves her without any power to resist it. St. Ber 
nard compares the habitual sinner to a person who has 



150 SERMON XX. 



fallen under a large stone, which he is unable to remove. 
A person in such a case will rise only with difficulty. 
" The man on whom the weight of a bad habit presses, 
rises with difficulty." St. Gregory says : " Lapis super- 
pc situs, cum consuetudine mens in peccato demoratur 
ut esti velit exsurgere, jam non possit quia moles desuper 
premit," (Moral, lib. 26, c. xxiv.) 

11. St. Thomas of Villanova teaches, that a soul 
which is deprived of the grace of God, cannot long 
abstain from new sins. " Anima a gratia destituta diu 
evadere ulteriora pcccata non potest." (Cone. 4 in Dom. 
4 quadrages.) In expounding the words of David, " O 
my God, make them like a wheel, and as a stubble before 
the wind," (Ps. Ixxxii. 14.) St. Gregory says, that the 
man who struggled for a time before he fell into the 
habit of tin, as soon as he contracts the habit, yields and 
yields again to every temptation, with as much facility 
as a straw is moved by the slightest blast of wind. 
Habitual sinners, according to St. Chrysostom, become 
so weak in resisting the attacks of the devil, that, 
dragged to sin by their evil habit, they are sometimes 
driven to sin against their inclination. " Dura res est 
consuetudo, quoenonnunquam nolentes committere cogit 
illicita," Yes ; because, as St. Augustine says, a bad 
habit in the course of time brings on a certain necessity 
of falling into sin. " Dum consuetudini non resistitur, 
facta est necessitas." 

12. St. Bernardino of Sienna says, that evil habits 
are changed into one s nature. " Usus veritur in na- 
tura." Hence, as it is necessary for men to breathe, so 
it appears that it becomes necessary for habitual sinners 
to commit sins. They are thus made the slave of sin. 
I say, the slaves. In society there are servants, who 
serve for wages, and there are slaves, who serve by 
force, and without remuneration. Having sold them 
selves as slaves to the devil, habitual sinners are re 
duced to such a degree of slavery, that they sometimes 
sin without pleasure, and sometimes even without being 
in the occasion of sin. St. Bernardino compares them 
to the wings of a windmill, which continue to turn the 
mill even when there is no corn to be ground ; that is, 
they continue to commit sin, at least by indulging bad 



EVIL EFFECTS OF BAD HABITS. 151 

thoughts, even when there is no occasion of sin presented 
to them. The unhappy beings, as St. Chrysostom says, 
having lost the divine aid, no longer do what they wish 
themselves, but what the devil wishes. "Homo per- 
dito Dei auxilio, non quod vult agit, sed quod diabolus." 
13. Listen to what happened in a city in Italy. 
A certain young man, who had contracted a vicious 
habit, though frequently called by God, and admonished 
by friends to amend his life, continued to live in sin. 
One day he saw his sister suddenly struck dead. He 
was terrified for a short time ; but she was scarcely 
buried, when he forgot her death and returned to the 
vomit. In two months after he was confined to bed by 
a slow fever. He then, sent for a confessor, and made 
his confession. But after all this, on a certain day, he 
exclaimed : Alas ! how late have I known the rigour of 
divine justice ! And turning to his physician, he said: 
Do not torment me any longer by medicines ; for my 
disease is incurable. I know for certain that it will bring 
me to the grave. And to his friends, who stood around, 
he said : As for the life of this body of mine there is no 
remedy, so for the life of my poor soul there is no hope. 
I expect eternal death. God has abandoned me ; this 
I see in the hardness of my heart. Friends and religi 
ous came to encourage him to hope in the mercy of God ; 
but his answer to all their exhortations was, God has 
abandoned me. The writer who relates this fact says, 
that, being alone with the young man, he said to him : 
Have courage ; unite yourself with God ; receive the 
viaticum. Friend, replied the young man, speak to a 
stone. The confession which I have made has been 
null for want of sorrow. I do not wish for a confessor, 
nor for the sacraments. Do not bring me the viaticum ; 
for, should you bring it, I will do that which must 
excite borror. He then went away quite disconsolate ; 
and returning to see the young man, learned from his 
relatives that he expired during the night without the 
aid of a priest, and that near his room frightful howlings 
were heard. 

14. Behold the end of habitual sinners ! Brethren, 
if you have the misfortune of having contracted a habit 
of sin, make, as soon as possible, a general confession ; 



152 SERMON XXI. 



for your past confessions can scarcely have been valid. 
Go forth instantly from the slavery of the devil. Attend 
to the advice of the Holy Ghost. "Give not thy ears 
to the cruel." (Prov. v. 9.) Why will you serve the 
devil, your enemy, who is so cruel a master who 
makes you lead a life of misery here, to bring you to 
a life of still greater misery in hell for all eternity ? 
" Lazarus, come forth. " Go out of the pit of sin ; give 
yourself immediately to God, who calls you, and is 
ready to receive you if you turn to him. Tremble ! this 
may be for you the last call, to which if you do not cor 
respond, you shall be lost. 



SERMON XXI. EASTER SUNDAY. 

On the miserable state of relapsing sinners. 

" Be not affrighted : you seek Jesus of Kazxireth, who was crucified. 
He is risen ; he is not here." MARK xvi. G. 

I HOPE, my dear Christians, that, as Christ is risen, you 
have in this holy paschal time, gone to confession, and 
have risen from your sins. But, attend to what St. 
Jerome teaches that many begin well, but few perse 
vere. " Incipere multorem est, perseverare paucorum." 
Now the Holy Ghost declares, that he who perseveres 
in holiness to death, and not they who begin a good 
life, shall be saved. " " But he that shall persevere to 
the end, he shall be saved." (Matt. xxiv. 13.) The crown 
of Paradise, says St. Bernard, is promised to those who 
commence, but it is given only to those who persevere. 
" Inchoantibus pramium promittitur, perseverantibus 
datur." (Ser. vi. Deinodo bene viv.) Since, then, bre 
thren, you have resolved to give yourselves to God, 
listen to the admonition of the Holy Ghost : " Son, 
when thou comest to the service of God, stand in 
justice and in fear, and prepare thyself for temptation." 
(Eccl. ii. 1.) Do not imagine that you shall have no 
more temptations, but prepare yourself for the combat, 
and guard against a relapse into the sins you have con 
fessed ; for, if you lose the grace of God again, you 



MISERABLE STATE OF RELAPSING SINNERS. 153 

shall find it difficult to recover it. I intend this day 
to show you the miserable state of relapsing sinners ; 
that is, of those who, after confession, miserably fall 
back into the sins which they confessed. 

] . Since, then, dearly beloved Christians, you have 
made a sincere confession of your sins, Jesus Christ says 
to you what he says to the paralytic : " Behold, thou 
art made whole. Sin no more, lest some worse thing 
happen to thee." (John v. 14.) By the confessions 
which you have made your souls are healed, but not as 
yet saved ; for, if you return to sin, you shall be again 
condemned to hell, and the injury caused by the relapse 
shall be far greater than that which you sustained from 
your former sins. " Audis," says St. Bernard, " reci- 
dere quam incidere, esse deterius." If a man recover 
from a mortal disease, and afterwards fall back into it, 
he shall have lost so much of his natural strength, that 
his recovery from the relapse will be impossible. This 
is precisely what will happen to relaxing sinners ; re 
turning to the vomit that is, taking back into tbe soul 
the sins vomited forth in confession they shall be so 
weak, that they will become objects of amusement to 
the devil. St. Anselm says, that the devil acquires a 
certain dominion over them, so that he makes them 
fall, and fall again as he wishes. Hence the miserable 
beings become like birds with which a child amuses 
himself. He allows them, from time to time, to fly 
to a certain height, and then draws them back again 
when he pleases, by means of a cord made fast to them. 
Such is the manner in which the devil treats relapsing 
sinners. "Sed quia ab hoste tenentur, volantes in 
eadem vitia dejiciuntur." 

2. St. Paul tells us, that we have to contend not 
with men like ourselves, made of flesh and blood, but 
with the princes of hell. " Our wrestling is not against 
flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers." 
(Ephes. vii. 12.) By these words he wishes to admonish 
us that we have not strength to resist the powers of 
hell, and that, to resist them, the divine aid is abso 
lutely necessary : without it, we shall be always defeated ; 
but, with the assistance of God s grace, we shall, accord 
ing to the same apostle, be able to do all things and 



154 SERMON XXT. 



shall conquer all enemies. " I can do all things in him 
who strengtheneth me." (Phil. iv. 13.) But this assist 
ance God gives only to those who pray for it. " Ask, 
and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find." 
(Matt. vii. 7.) They who neglect to ask, do not receive. 
Let us, then, be careful not to trust in our resolutions : 
if we place our confidence in them, we shall be lost. 
When we are tempted to relapse into sin, we must put 
our whole trust in the assistance of God, who infallibly 
hears all who invoke his aid. 

i. " He that thinketh himself to stand, let him take 
heed lest he fall." (1 Cor. x. 12.) They who are in the 
state of grace should, according to St. Paul, be careful 
not to fall into sin, particularly if they have been ever 
guilty of mortal sins ; for a relapse into sin brings 
greater evil on the soul. " And the last state of that 
man becomes worse than the first/ 5 (Luke xi. 26.) 

4. We are told in the Holy Scriptures, that the enemy 
" will oiler victims to his drag, and will sacrifice to his 
net ; because through them his meat is made dainty." 
(II abac. i. ]G.) In explaining this passage St. Jerome 
says, that the devil seeks to catch in his nets all men, 
in order to sacrifice them to the divine justice by their 
damnation. Sinners, who are already in the net, he 
endeavours to bind with new chains ; but the friends of 
God are his " dainty meats." To make them his slaves, 
and to rob them of all they have acquired, he prepares 
stronger snares. " The more fervently," says Denis 
the Carthusian, " a soul endeavours to serve God, the 
more fiercely does the adversary rage against her." 
The closer the union of a Christian with God, and the 
greater his efforts to serve God, the more the enemy is 
aimed with rage, and the more strenuously he labours 
to enter into the soul from which he has been expelled. 
" When," says the Redeemer, " the unclean spirit is 
gone out of a man, seeking rest, and not finding, he 
saith : I will return into my house, whence I came out." 
(Luke xi. 24.) Should he succeed in re-entering, he will 
not enter alone, but will bring with him associates to 
fortify himself in the soul of which he has again got 
possession. Thus, the second destruction of that miser 
able soul shall be greater than the first. " And the 



MISERABLE STATE OF RELAPSING SINNERS. 155 

last state of that man becomes worse than the first." 
(Luke xi. 26.) 

o. To God, the relapse of ungrateful Christians is 
very displeasing. Because, after he had called and 
pardoned them with so much love, he sees that, forget 
ful of his mercies to them, they again turn their back 
upon him and renounce his grace. " If my enemy had 
reviled me, I would verily have borne with it. But 
thou, a man of one mind, my guide and familiar, who 
didst take sweet meats together with me/ (Ps. liv. 13, 
etc.) Had my enemy, says the Lord, insulted me, I 
would have felt less pain ; but to see you rebel against 
me, after I had restored my friendship to you, and 
after I had made you sit at my table, to eat my own 
flesh, grieves me to the heart, and impels me to take 
vengeance on you. Miserable the man who, after 
having received so many graces from God, becomes 
the enemy, from being the friend of God. He shall 
find the sword of divine vengeance prepared to chastise 
him. " And he that passes over from justice to sin, 
God hath prepared such an one for the sword." (Eccl. 
xxvi. 27.) 

6. Some of you may say : If I relapse, I will soon 
rise again ; for I will immediately prepare myself for 
confession. To those who speak in this manner shall 
happen what befell Samson. He allowed himself to be 
deluded by Dalila : while he was asleep she cut off his 
hair, and his strength departed from him. Awaking 
from sleep, he said : "I will go out as I did before, and 
shake myself, not knowing that the Lord was departed 
from him/ (Judges xvi. 20.) He expected to deliver 
himself as on former occasions, from the hands of the 
Philistines. But, because his strength had departed 
from him, he was made their slave. They pulled out 
his eyes, and binding him in chains, shut him up in 
prison. After relapsing into sin, a Christian loses the 
strength necessary to resist temptations, because " the 
Lord departs from him." He abandons him by with 
holding the efficacious aid necessary to overcome tempta 
tions ; and the miserable man remains blind and aban 
doned in his sin. 

7. "No man putting his hand to the plough, and 



156 



SERMON XXI. 



looking back is fit for the Kingdom of God." (Luke 
ix. (i2.) Behold a faithful picture of a relapsing sinner. 
Mark the words no man : no one, says Jesus Christ, 
who begins to serve me, and looks back, is fit to enter 
heaven. According to Origen, the addition of a new 
sin to one committed before, is like the addition of a 
new wound to a wound just inflicted. " Cum peccatum 
peccato adjicitur, sicut vulnus vulneri." (Horn. i. in Ps.) 
If a wound be inflicted on any member of the body, 
that member certainly loses its original vigour. But, 
if it receives a second wound, it shall lose all strength 
and motion, without hope of recovery. The great evil 
of a relapse into sin is, that it renders the soul so weak 
that she has but little strength to resist temptation. 
For St. Thomas says, " After a fault has been remitted, 
the dispositions produced by the preceding acts remain." 
(1 p., qu. 86, art. 5.) Every sin, though pardoned, 
always leaves a wound on the soul. When to this 
wound a new one is added, the soul becomes so weak 
that, without a special and extraordinary grace from 
God, it is impossible for her to conquer temptations. 

8. Let us, then, brethren, tremble at the thought of 
relapsing into sin, and let us beware of availing our 
selves of the mercy of God to continue to offend him. 
" He," says St. Augustine, " who has promised pardon 
to penitents, has promised repentance to no one." God 
has indeed promised pardon to all who repent of their 
sins, but he has not promised to any one the grace to 
repent of the faults which he has committed. Sorrow 
for sin is a pure gift of God ; if he withholds it, how 
will you repent ? And without repentance, how can 
you obtain pardon ? Ah ! the Lord will not allow him 
self to be mocked. " Be not deceived," says St. Paul, 
" God is not mocked." (Gal. vi. 7.) St. Isidore tells us, 
that the man who repeats the sin which he before 
detested, is not a penitent, but a scoffer of God s 
majesty. " Irrisor, et non pcenitens est, pui adhuc 
agit, quod pcenitet." (De Sum. Bono.) And Tertullian 
teaches, that where there is no amendment, repentance 
is not sincere. " Ubi emendatio nulla, poeaitentia nulla." 
(De Pamit.) 

9. "Be penitent," said St. Peter in a discourse to the 



MISERABLE STATE OF RELAPSING SINNERS. 157 



Jews, " and be converted, that your sins may be blotted 
out." (Acts iii. 19.) Many repent, but are not con 
verted. They feel a certain sorrow for the irregularities 
of their lives, but do not sincerely return to God. They 
go to confession, strike their breasts, and promise to 
amend ; but they do not make a firm resolution to 
change their lives. They who resolve firmly on a 
change oHife, persevere, or at least preserve themselves 
for a considerable time in the grace of God. But they 
who relapse into sin soon after confession, show, as St. 
Peter says, that they repent, but are not converted ; 
and such persons shall in the end die an unhappy 
death. "Plerumque," says St. Gregory, " mali sic 
compunguntur ad justitiam, sicut plerumque boni ten- 
tantur ad culpam." (Pastor., p. 3, admon. 31.) As 
the just have frequent temptations to sin, but yield not 
to them, because their will abhors them, so sinners feel 
certain impulses to virtue ; but these are not sufficient 
to produce a true conversion. The Wise Man tells us 
that mercy shall be shown to him who confesses his 
sins and abandons them, but not to those who merely 
confess their transgressions. "He that shall confess 
his sins/ and forsake them, shall obtain mercy." (Prov. 
xxviii. 13.) He, then, who does not give up, but returns 
to sin after confession, shall not obtain mercy from God, 
but shall die a victim of divine justice. He may expect 
to die the death of a certain young Englishman, who, 
as is related in the history of England, was in the habit 
of relapsing into sins against purity. He always fell 
back into these sins after confession. At the hour of 
death he confessed his sins, and died in a manner which 
gave reason to hope for his salvation. But, while a 
holy priest was celebrating or preparing to celebrate 
Mass for his departed t soul, the miserable young man 
appeared to him, and said that he was damned. He 
added that, at the point of death, being tempted to in 
dulge a bad thought, he felt himself as it were forced 
to consent, and, as he was accustomed to do in the 
former part of his life, he yielded to the temptation, and 
thus was lost. 

10. Is there then no means of salvation for relapsing 
sinners ? I do not say this ; but I adopt the maxim of 



158 SERMON XXI. 



physicians. " In inagnis morbis a magnis initium me- 
dendi sumere oportet." In malignant diseases, powerful 
remedies are necessary. To return to the way of salva 
tion, the relapsing sinner must do great violence to 
himself. " The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, 
and the violent bear it away." (Matt. xi. 12.) In the 
beginning of a new life, the relapsing sinner must do 
violence to himself in order to root out the bad habits 
which he has contracted, and to acquire habits of virtue ; 
for when he has acquired habits of virtue, the observ 
ance of the divine commands shall become easy and even 
sweet. The Lord once said to St. Bridget, that, to those 
who bear with fortitude the first punctures of the thorns 
which they experience in the attacks of the senses, in 
avoiding occasions of sin, and in withdrawing from 
dangerous conversations, these thorns are by degrees 
changed into roses. 

11. But, to use the necessary violence, and to lead a 
life of regularity, you must adopt the proper means ; 
otherwise you shall do nothing. After rising in the 
morning, you must make acts of thanksgiving, of the 
love of God, and of oblation of the actions of the day. 
You must also renew your resolution never to offend 
God, and beg of Jesus Christ and his holy mother to 
preserve you from sin during the day. Afterwards 
make your meditation and hear Mass. During the day 
make a spiritual lecture and a visit to the most holy 
sacrament. In the evening, say the Rosary and make 
an examination of conscience. Receive the holy com 
munion at least once a week, or more frequently if your 
directors advise you. Be careful to choose a confessor, 
to whom you will regularly go to confession. It is also 
very useful to make a spiritual retreat every year in 
some religious house. Honour the mother of God 
every day by some particular devotion, and by fasting 
on every Saturday. She is the mother of perseverance, 
and promises to obtain it for all who serve her. " They 
that work by me shall not sin." (Eccl. xxiv. 30.) Above 
all, it is necessary to ask of God every morning the gift 
of perseverance, and to beg of the Blessed Virgin to 
obtain it for you, and particularly in the time of temp 
tation, by invoking the name of Jesus and Alary as 






AVOIDING OCCASIONS OF !SIN. 159 

long as the temptation lasts. Happy the man who will 
continue to act in this manner, and shall he found so 
doing when Jesus Christ shall come to judge him. 
" Blessed is that servant, whom, when his Lord shall 
come, he shall find so doing." (Matt. xxiv. 46.) 



SERMON XXII. FIRST SUNDAY AFTER 
EASTER. 

On avoiding the occasions of sin. 

"When the doors were shut, where Hie disciples were gathered 

together for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst." 

JOHN xx. 19. 

WE find in this day s gospel that after his resurrection 
Jesus Christ entered, though the doors were closed, into 
the house in which the apostles were assembled, and 
stood in the midst of them. St. Thomas says, that the 
mystic meaning of this miracle is, that the Lord does 
not enter into our souls unless we keep the door of the 
senses shut. _ " Mistice per hoc datur intelligi, quod 
Christus nobit apparet quando fores, id est sensus sunt 
clausi." If, then, we wish Jesus Christ to dwell within 
us, we must keep the doors of our senses closed against 
dangerous occasions, otherwise the devil will make us 
his slaves. I will show to-day the great danger of per 
dition to which they who do not avoid the occasions of 
sin expose themselves. 

1. We read in the Scriptures that Christ and Lazarus 

arose ^from ^ the dead. Christ rose to die no more 

"Christ rising from the dead, dieth no more " (Rom. vi. 
9) ; but Lazarus arose and died again. The Abbot Guerric 
remarks that Christ arose free and unbound; "but 
Lazarus came forth bound feet and hands." (John xi. 
44.) Miserable the man, adds this author, who rises 
from sin bound by any dangerous occasion : he will die 
again by losing the divine grace. He, then, who wishes 
to save his soul, must not only abandon sin, but also the 
occasions of sin : that is, he must renounce such an inti 
macy, such a house ; he must renounce those wicked com 
panions, and all similar occasions that incite him to sin. 



100 



SKKMOX XXII. 



2. In consequence of original sin, we all have an 
inclination to do what is forbidden. Hence St. Paul 
complained that he experienced in himself a law opposed 
to reason : t( But I see another law in my members, 
fighting against the law ef my mind, and captivating me 
in the law of sin." (Rom. vii. 23.) Now, when a 
dangerous occasion is present, it violently excites our 
corrupt desires, so that it is then very difficult to resist 
them : because God withholds efficacious helps from 
those who voluntarily expose themselves to the occasion 
of sin. "He that loveth danger shall perish in it." 
(Eccl. iii. 27.) " When," says St. Thomas, in his com 
ment on this passage, " we expose ourselves to danger, 
God abandons us in it." St. Bernardine of Sienna 
teaches that the counsel of avoiding the occasions of 
sin is the best of all counsel, and as it were the foun 
dation of religion. " Inter consilia Christi unum cele- 
berrimum, et quasi religiouis fundamentum est, fugere 
peccatorum occasiones." 

3. St. Peter says that " the devil goeth about seek 
ing whom he may devour." (1 Pet. v. 8.) He is con 
stantly going about our souls, endeavouring to enter 
and take possession of them. Hence, he seeks to place 
before us the occasions of sin, by which he enters the 
soul. " Explorat," says St. Cyprian, " an sit pars cujus 
aditu penetret." When the soul yields to the sugges 
tions of the devil, and exposes herself to the occasions 
of sin, he easily enters and devours her. The ruin of 
our first parents arose from their not flying from the 
occasions of sin. God had prohibited them not only to 
eat, but even to touch the forbidden apple. In answer 
to the serpent tempting her, Eve said: "God hath 
commanded us that we should not eat, and that we 
should not touch it." (Gen. iii. 3.) But " she saw, took, 
and eat " the forbidden fruit : she first looked at it, she 
then took it into her hands, and afterwards eat it. This 
is what ordinarily happens to all who expose themselves 
to the occasions of sin. Hence, being once compelled 
by exorcisms to tell the sermon which displeased him 
most, the devil confessed that it was the sermon on 
avoiding the occasions of sin. As long as we expose 
ourselves to the occasions of sin, the devil laughs at all 



AVOIDING OCCASIONS OF SIN. 161 

our good purposes and promises made to God. The 
greatest care of the enemy is to induce us not to avoid 
evil occasions; for these occasions, like a veil placed 
before the eyes, prevent us from seeing either the lights 
received from God, or the eternal truths, or the resolu 
tions we have made : in a word, they make us forget 
all, and as it were force us into sin. 

4. " Know it to be a communication with death ; for 
thou art going in the midst of snares." (Eccl. ix. 20.) 
Everyone born in this world enters into the midst of 
snares. Hence, the Wise Man advises those who wish 
to be secure to guard themselves against the snares of 
the world, and to withdraw from them. "He that is 
aware of the snares shall be secure." (Prov. xi. 15.) But 
if, instead of withdrawing from them, a Christian 
approaches to them, how can he avoid being caught by 
them ? Hence, after having with so much loss learned 
the danger of exposing himself to the danger of sin, 
David said that, to continue faithful to God, he kept at 
a distance from every occasion which could lead him to 
relapse. " I have restrained my feet from every evil 
way, that I may keep thy words." (Ps. cxviii. 101.) He 
does not say from every sin, but from every evil way 
which conducts to sin. The devil is careful to find 
pretexts to make us believe that certain occasions to 
which we expose ourselves are not voluntary, but neces 
sary. When the occasion in which we are placed is 
really necessary, the Lord always helps us to avoid sin ; 
but we sometimes imagine certain necessities which are 
not sufficient to excuse us. " A treasure is never safe/ 
says ^ St. Cyprian, "as long as a robber is harboured 
within ; nor is a lamb secure while it dwells in the same 
den with a wolf." (Lib. de Sing. Cler.) The saint speaks 
against those who do not wish to remove the occasions 
of sin, and still say: "I am not afraid that I shall fall." 
As no one can be secure of his treasure if he keeps a 
thief in his house, and as a lamb cannot be sure of its 
life if it remain in the den of a wolf, so likewise no one 
can be secure of the treasure of divine grace if he is 
resolved to continue in the occasion of sin. St. James 
teaches that every man has within himself a powerful 
enemy, that is, his own evil inclinations, which tempt 



162 SERMON XXTI. 



him to sin. " Every man is tempted by his own concu 
piscence, drawn away, and allured." (St. James i. 14.) 
If, then, we do not fly from the external occasions, how 
can we resist temptation and avoid sin? Let us, therefore, 
place before our eyes the general remedy which Jesus 
has prescribed for conquering temptations and saving 
our souls. " If thy right eye scandalize thee, pluck it 
out and cast it from thce." (Matt. v. 29.) If you find 
that your right eye is to you a cause of damnation, you 
must pull it out and cast it far from you ; that is, when 
there is danger of losing your soul, you must fly from 
all evil occasions. St. Francis of Assisium used to say, 
as I have stated in another sermon, that the devil does 
not seek, in the beginning, to bind timorous souls with 
the chain of mortal sin ; because they would be alarmed 
at the thought of committing mortal sin, and would 
fly from it with horror : he endeavours to bind them by 
a single hair, which does not excite much fear; because 
by this means he will succeed more easily in strengthen 
ing their bonds, till he makes them his slaves. Hence 
he who wishes to be free from the danger of being the 
slave of hell must break all the hairs by which the 
enemy attempts to bind him ; that is, he must avoid all 
occasions of sin, such as certain salutations, billets, little 
presents, and words of affection. With regard to those 
who have had a habit of impurity, it will not be suffi 
cient to avoid proximate occasions ; if they do not fly 
from remote occasions, they will very easily relapse 
into their former sins. 

5. Impurity, says St. Augustine, is a vice which makes 
waronall, and which few conquer. " The fight is common, 
but the victory rare." How many miserable souls have 
entered the contest with this vice, and have been 
defeated ! But to induce you to expose yourselves to 
occasions of this sin, the devil will tell you not to be 
afraid of being overcome by the temptation. " I do not 
wish," says St. Jerome, "to fight with the hope of 
victory, lest I should sometimes lose the victory." I 
will not expose myself to the combat with the hope of 
conquering; because, by voluntarily engaging in the 
fight, I shall lose my soul and my God. To escape 
defeat in this struggle, a great grace of God is necessary ; 



AVOIDING OCCASIONS OF SIN. 163 

and to render ourselves worthy of this grace, we must, 
on our part, avoid the occasions of sin. To practise the 
virtue of chastity, it is necessary to recommend ourselves 
continually to God : we have not strength to preserve 
it ; that strength must be the gift of God. " And as I 
knew," says the Wise Man, " that I could not otherwise 
be continent, except God gave it, ... I went to the Lord, 
and besought him." (Wis. viii. 21.) But if we expose 
ourselves to the occasions of sin, we ourselves shall 
provide our rebellious flesh with arms to make war 
against the soul. " Neither," says the Apostle, " yield 
ye your members as instruments of sin unto iniquity." 
(Rom. vi. 13.) In explaining this passage, St. Cyril of 
Alexandria says : " You stimulate the flesh ; you arm it, 
and make it powerful against the spirit." St. Philip 
Neri used to say, that in the war against the vice of 
impurity, the victory is gained by cowards that is, by 
those who fly from the occasions of this sin. But the 
man who exposes himself to it, arms his flesh, and 
renders it so powerful, that it will be morally impossible 
for him to resist its attacks. 

0. " Cry," says the Lord to Isaias, " all flesh is grass." 
(Isa. xl. 6.) Now, says St. John Chrysostom, if all flesh 
is grass, it is as foolish for a man who exposes himself 
to the occasion of sin to hope to preserve the virtue of 
purity, as to expect that hay, into which a torch has been 
thrown, will not take fire. " Put a torch into hay, and 
then dare to deny that the hay will burn." No, says St. 
Cyprian ; it is impossible to stand in the midst of flames, 
and not to burn. " Impossibile est flammis circumdari 
et non ardere." (De Sing. Cler.) " Can a man," says the 
Holy Ghost, " hide fire in his bosom, and his garments 
not burn ? or can he walk upon hot coals, and his feet 
not be burnt ?" (Prov. vi. 27, 28.) Not to be burnt in 
such circumstances would be a miracle. St. Bernard 
teaches, that to preserve chastity, and, at the same time, 
to expose oneself to the proximate occasion of sin, " is 
a greater miracle than to raise a dead man to life." 

7. In explaining the fifth Psalm, St. Augustine says, 
that " he who is unwilling to fly from danger, wishes to 
perish in it." Hence, in another place, he exhorts those 
who wish to conquer, and not to perish, to avoid 



164 SERMON XXII. 



dangerous occasions. " In the occasion of falling into 
sin, take flight, if you desire to gain the victory." (Serm. 
ccl. de temp.) Some foolishly trust in their own strength, 
and do not see that their strength is like that of tow 
placed in the fire. " And your strength shall be as the 
ashes of tow." (Isa. i. 31 .) Others, trusting in the change 
which has taken place in their life, in their confessions, 
and in the promises they have made to God, say : 
Through the grace of the Lord, I have now no bad 
motive in seeking the company of such a person ; her 
presence is not even an occasion of temptations : Listen, 
all you who speak in this manner. In Mauritania there 
are bears that go in quest of the apes, to feed upon 
them : as soon as a bear appears, the apes run up the 
trees, and thus save themselves. But what does the 
bear do? He stretches himself on the ground as if 
dead, and waits till the apes descend from the trees. 
The moment he sees that they have descended, he springs 
up, seizes on them, and devours them. It is thus the 
devil acts : he makes the temptation appear to be dead ; 
but when a soul descends, and exposes herself to the 
occasion of sin, he stirs up temptation, and devours her. 
Oh ! how many miserable souls, devoted to spiritual 
things, to mental prayer, to frequent communion, and 
to a life of holiness, have, by exposing themselves to the 
occasion of sin, become the slaves of the devil ! We 
find in ecclesiastical history that a holy woman, who 
employed herself in the pious office of burying the 
martyrs, once found among them one who was not as 
yet dead. She brought him into her own house, and 
procured a physician and medicine for him, till he re 
covered. But, what happened? These two saints (as 
they might be called one of them on the point of 
being a martyr, the other devoting her time to works of 
mercy with so much risk of being persecuted by the 
tyrants) first fell into sin and lost the grace of God, and, 
becoming weaker by sin, afterwards denied the faith. 
St. Macarius relates a similar fact regarding an old man 
who suffered to be half- burned in defence of the faith ; 
but, being brought back into prison, he, unfortunately 
for himself, formed an intimacy with a devout woman 
who served the martyrs, and fell into sin. 



AVOIDING OCCASIONS OF SIN. 165 



8. The Holy Ghost tells us, that we must fly from 
sin as from a serpent. " Flee from sin as from, the 
face of a serpent." (Eccl. xxi. 2.) Hence, as we not 
only avoid the bite of a serpent, but are careful neither 
to touch nor approach it, so we must fly not only from 
sin, but also from the occasion of sin that is, from the 
house, the conversation, the person that would lead us 
to sin. St. Isidore says, that he who wishes to remain 
near a serpent, will not remain long unhurt. " Juxta 
serpentem positus non erit din illoesus." (Lib. 2, Solit.) 
Hence, if any person is likely to prove an occasion of 
your ruin, the admonition of the Wise Man is, " Remove 
thy way far from her, and come not nigh the doors of 
her house." (Prov. v. 8.) He not only tells you not to 
enter the house which has been to you a road to hell 
(" Her house is the way to hell." Prov. vii. 27) ; but he 
also cautions you not to approach it, and even to keep 
at a distance from it. " Remove thy way far from her." 
But, you will say, if I abandon that house, my temporal 
affairs shall suffer. It is better that you should suffer 
a temporal loss, than that you should lose your soul and 
your God. You must be persuaded that, in whatever 
regards chastity, there cannot be too great caution. If 
we wish to save our souls from sin and hell, we must 
always fear and tremble. " With fear and trembling 
work out your salvation/ (Phil. ii. 12.) He who is not 
fearful, but exposes himself to occasions of sin, shall 
scarcely be saved. Hence, in our prayers we ought to 
say every day, and several times in the day, that petition 
of the OUR FATHER " and lead us not into temptation." 
Lord, do not permit me to be attacked by those tempta 
tions which would deprive me of your grace. We can 
not merit the grace of perseverance ; but, according to 
St. Augustine, God grants it to every one that asks it, 
because he has promised to hear all who pray to him. 
Hence, the holy doctor says, that the Lord, " by his 
promises has made himself a debtor." 



166 SERMON XXIII. 



SERMON XXIII. SECOND SUNDAY AFTER 
EASTER. 

On scandal. 

" The wolf catchcth and scattereth the sheep. 1 JOHN x. 12. 

THE wolves that catch and scatter the sheep of Jesus 
Christ are the authors of scandal, \vho, not content with 
their own destruction, labour to destroy others. But the 
Lord says : " Woe to that man by whom the scandal 
cometh." (Matt, xviii. 7.) Woe to him who gives scandal, 
and causes others to lose the grace of God. Origen 
says, that u a person who impels another to sin, sins more 
grievously than the other." If, brethren, there be any 
among you who has given scandal, I will endeavour this 
day to convince him of the evil he has done, that he may 
bewail it and guard against it for the future. I will 
show, in the first point, the great displeasure which tho 
sin of scandal gives to God; and, in the second, the great 
punishment which God threatens to inflict on the authors 
of scandal. 

First Point. On the great displeasure which the sin 
of scandal gives to God. 

1. It is, in the first place, necessary to explain what 
is meant by scandal. Behold how St. Thomas defines 
it : " Scandal is a word or act which gives occasion to 
the ruin of one s neighbour." (2 ii., q. 45, art. 1.) 
Scandal, then, is a word or act by which you are to 
your neighbour the cause or occasion of losing his soul. 
It may be direct or indirect. It is direct, when you 
directly tempt or induce another to commit sin. It is 
indirect, when, although you foresee that sinful words 
or actions will be the cause of sin to another, you do 
not abstain from them. But, scandal, whether it be 
direct or indirect, if it be in a matter of great moment, 
is always a mortal sin. 

2. Let us now see the great displeasure which the 
destruction of a neighbour s soul gives to God. To 
understand it, we must consider how dear every soul is 



ON SCANDAL. 167 



to God. Ho has created the souls of all men to his own 
image. " Let us make man to our image and likeness." 
(Gen. i. 26.) Other creatures God has made by a fiat 
by an act of his will ; but the soul of man he has 
created by his own breath. "And the Lord breathed 
into his face the breath of life." (Gen. ii. 7.) The soul 
of your neighbour God has loved for eternity. " I have 
loved thee with an everlasting love." (Jer. xxxi. 3.) 
He has, moreover, created every soul to be a queen in 
Paradise, and to be a partner in his glory. " That by 
these you may be made partakers of the divine nature." 
(2 Peter i. 4.) In heaven he will make the souls of the 
saints partakers of his own joy. " Enter thou into the 
joy of thy Lord." (Matt. xxv. 21. To them he shall 
give himself as their reward. " I am thy reward exceed 
ing great." (Gen. xv. 1.) 

3. But nothing can show the value which God sets 
on the souls of men more clearly than what the Incar 
nate Word has done for their redemption from sin and 
hell. " If," says St. Eucharius, " you do not believe 
your Creator, ask your Redeemer, how precious you 
are." Speaking of the care which we ought to have of 
our brethren, St. Ambrose says : " The great value of 
the salvation of a brother is known from the death of 
Christ." We judge of the value of everything by the 

5 rice paid for it by an intelligent purchaser. Now, 
esus Christ has, according to the Apostle, purchased 
the souls of men with his own blood. " You are bought 
with a great price." (1 Cor. vi. 20.) We can, then, 
say, that the soul is of as much value as the blcod of a 
God. Such, indeed, is the language of St. Hilary. 
" Tarn copioso munere redemptio agitur, ut homo Deum 
valere videatur." Hence, the Saviour tells us, that 
whatsoever good or evil we do to the least of his bre 
thren, we do to himself. " So long as you did it to one 
of these my least brethren, you did it to me." (Matt. 
xxv. 40.) 

4. From all this we may infer how great is the dis 
pleasure given to God by scandalizing a brother, and 
destroying his soul. It is enough to say, that they who 
give scandal rob God of a child, and murder a soul, for 
whose salvation he has spent his blood and his life. 



168 SERMON XXIII. 



Hence, St. Leo calls the authors of scandals murderers. 
" Quisquis scandalizat, mortem infert animao proximi." 
They are the most impious of murderers; because they 
kill not the body, but the soul of a brother, and rob 
Jesus Christ of all his tears, of his sorrows, and of all 
that he has done and suffered to gain that soul. Hence 
the Apostle says : " Now, when you sin thus against 
the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you 
sin against Christ." (1 Cor. viii. 12.) They who scan 
dalize a brother, sin against Christ ; because, as St. 
Ambrose says, they deprive him of a soul for which he 
has spent so many years, and submitted to so many 
toils and labours. It is related, that B. Albertus Magnus 
spent thirty years in making a head, which resembled 
the human head, and uttered words: and that St. 
Thomas, fearing that it was done by the agency of the 
devil, took the head and broke it. B. Albertus com 
plained of the act of St. Thomas, saying: "You have 
broken on me the work of thirty years." I do not 
assert that this is true ; but it is certain that, when 
Jesus Christ sees a soul destroyed by scandal, he can 
reprove the author of it, and say to him : Wicked 
wretch, what have you done ? You have deprived me 
of this soul, for which I have laboured thirty-three 
years. 

5. We read in the Scriptures, that the sons of Jacob, 
after having s )ld their brother Joseph to certain mer 
chants, told his father that wild beasts had devoured 
him. " Fera pessima devoravit eum." (Gen. xxxvii. 20.) 
To convince their father of the truth of what they said, 
they dipped the coat of Joseph in the blood of a goat, 
and presented it to him, saying: "See whether this be 
thy son s coat or not " (v. 32). In reply, the afflicted 
father said with tears : " It is my son s coat : an evil 
wild beast hath eaten him " (v. 33). Thus, we may 
imagine that, when a soul is brought into sin by scandal, 
the devils present to God the garment of that soul 
dipped in the blood of the Immaculate Lamb, Jesus 
Christ that is, the grace lost by that scandalized soul, 
which Jesus Christ had purchased with his blood and 
that they say to the Lord : u See whether this be thy 
son s coat or not." If God were capable of shedding 



ON SCANDAL. 



169 



tears, he would weep more bitterly than Jacob did, at 
the sight of that lost soul his murdered child and 
would say : " It is my son s coat : an evil wild beast 
hath eaten him." The Lord will go in search of this 
wild beast, saying : " Where is the beast ? where is the 
beast that has devoured my child ?" When he finds 
the wild beast, what shall he do with him ? 

6. "I will," says the Lord by his prophet Osee, 
"meet them as a bear that is robbed of her whelps." 
(Osee xiii. 8.) When the bear comes to her den, and 
finds not her whelps, she goes about the wood in search 
of the person who took them away. When she dis 
covers the person, oh ! with what fury does she rush 
upon him ! It is thus the Lord shall rush upon the 
anthors of scandal, who have robbed him of his children. 
Those who have given scandal, will say : My neigh 
bour is already damned ; how can I repair the evil that 
has been done? The Lord shall answer: Since you 
have been the cause of his perdition, you must pay me 
for the loss of his soul. " I will require his blood at 
thy hands." (Ezec. iii. 20.) It is written in Deuter 
onomy, " Thou shalt not pity him, but shalt require life 
for life" (xix. 21). You have destroyed a soul ; you 
must suffer the loss of your own. Let us pass to the 
second point. 

Second Point. The great punishment which God 
threatens to those who give scandal. 

7. " Woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh." 
(Matt, xviii. 7.) If the displeasure given to God by 
scandal be great, the chastisement which awaits the 
authors of it must be frightful. Behold how Jesus Christ 
speaks of this chastisement : " But he that shall scan 
dalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were 
better for him that a mill-stone should be hanged about 
his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth 
of the sea." (Matt, xviii. 6.) If a malefactor dies on the 
scaffold, he excites the compassion of the spectators, 
who, at least, pray for him, if they cannot deliver him 
from death. But, were he cast into the depths of the 
sea, there should be no one present to pity his fate. A 
certain author says, that Jesus Christ threatens the person 



170 SERMON XXIII. 



who scandalizes a brother with this sort of punishment, 
to signify that he is so hateful to the angels and saints, 
that they do not wish to recommend to God the man 
who has brought a soul to perdition. " He is declared 
unworthy not only to be assisted, but even to be seen." 
(Man si. cap. iii. num. 4.) 

8. St. John Chrysostom says, that scandal is so abo 
minable in the eyes of God, that though he overlooks 
very grievous sins, he cannot allow the sin of scandal 
to pass without condign punishment. " Tarn Deo hor- 
ribile est scandalum, ut peccata graviora dissimulet non 
autem peccata ubi frater scandalizatur." God himself 
says the same by the prophet Ezechiel : " Every man 
of the house of Israel, if he ... set up the stumbling 
block of his iniquity ... I will make him an example and 
a proverb, and will cut him off from the midst of my 
people." (Ezec. xiv. 7, 8.) And, in reality, scandal is 
one of the sins which we find in the sacred Scriptures 
punished by God with the greatest rigour. Of Hcli, 
because he did not correct his sons, who gave scandal 
by stealing the flesh offered in sacrifice (for parents give 
scandal, not only by giving bad example, but also by 
not correcting their children as they ought), the Lord 
said : " Behold, I do a thing in Israel : and whosoever 
shall hear it, both his ears shall tingle." (1 Kings, iii. 
11.) And speaking of the scandal given by the sons 
oflFeli, the inspired writer says: "Wherefore the sin 
of the young men was exceeding great before the 
Lord." (Ibid. ii. 17.) What was this sin exceeding great? 
It was, says St. Gregory, in explaining this passage, 
drawing others to sin. " Quia ad pecandum alios per- 
trahcbant." Why was Jeroboam chastised ? Because 
he scandalized the people : he " hath sinned, and made 
Israel sin." (3 Kings, xiv. 16.) In the family of Achab, 
all the members of which were the enemies of God, 
Jezabel was the most severely chastised. She was 
thrown down from a window, and devoured by dogs, 
so that nothing remained but her " skull, and the feet, 
and the extremities of her hands." And why was she 
so severely punished ? Because " she set Achab on to 
every evil." 

9. For the sin of scandal hell was created. " In the 



ON SCANDAL. 



171 



beginning God created heaven and earth." (Gen. i. !.) 
But, when did he create hell ? It was then Lucifer 
began to seduce the angels into rebellion against (rod. 
Lest he should continue to pervert those who remained 
faithful to God, he was banished from heaven imme 
diately after his sin. Hence Jesus Christ said to the 
Pharisees, who, by their bad example, scandalized the 
people, that they were children of the devil, who was 
from the beginning, a murderer of souls. " You are of 
your father, the devil : he was a murderer from the 
beginning." (John viii. 44.) And when St. Peter gave 
scandal to Jesus Christ, by suggesting to him not to 
allow his life to be taken away by the Jews, and thus 
endeavouring to prevent the accomplishment of redemp 
tion, the Redeemer called him a devil. " Go behind 
me, Satan ; thou art a scandal to me." (Matt. xvi. 23.)^ 
And, in reality, what other office do the authors of 
scandal perform, than that of a minister of the devil ? 
If he were not assisted by such impious ministers, he 
certainly would not succeed in gaining so many souls. 
A scandalous companion does more injury than a hun 
dred devils. 

10. On the words of Ezechias, "Behold, in peace is 
my bitterness most bitter" (Isa. xxxviii. 17), St. Ber 
nard, in the name of the Church, says : " Peace from 
pagans, peace from heretics, but no peace from children." 
At present the Church is not persecuted by idolaters, 
or by heretics, but she is persecuted by scandalous 
Christians, who are her own children. In catching 
birds, we employ decoys, that is, certain birds that are 
blinded, and tied in such manner that they cannot fly 
away. It is thus the devil acts. " When," says St. 
Ephrem, " a soul has been taken, she becomes a snare 
to deceive others." After having made a young man 
fall into sin, the enemy first blinds him as his own slave, 
and then makes him his decoy to deceive others; and to 
draw them into the net of sin, he not only impels, but 
even forces him to deceive others. " The enemy," says 
St. Leo, " has many whom he compels to deceive others." 
(Serm. de Nativ.) 

11. Miserable wretches! the authors of scandal must 
suffer in hell the punishment of all the sins they have 



172 SERMON XXI II. 



made others commit. Cesarius relates (1. 2, c. vi.) that, 
after the death of a certain person who had given 
scandal, a holy man witnessed his judgment and con 
demnation, and saw that, at his arrival at the gate of 
hell, all the souls whom he had scandalized came to 
meet him, and said to him : Come, accursed wretch, and 
atone for all the sins which you have made us commit. 
They then rushed in upon him, and like so many wild 
beasts, began to tear him in pieces. St. Bernard says, 
that, in speaking of other sinners, the Scriptures hold 
out hopes of amendment and pardon ; but they speak 
of those who give scandal as persons separated from 
God, of whose salvation there is very little hope. " Lo 
quitur tanquam a Deo separati, unde hisce nulla spes 
vital esse poterit." 

12. Behold, then, the miserable state of those who 
give scandal by their bad example, who utter immodest 
words before their companions, in the presence of young 
females, and even of innocent children, who, in conse 
quence of hearing those words, commit a thousand 
sins. Considering how the angel-guardians of those 
little ones weep at seeing them in the state of sin, and 
how they call for vengeance from God against the sacri 
legious tongues that have scandalized them. A great 
chastisement awaits all who ridicule those who practise 
virtue. For many, through fear of the contempt and 
ridicule of others, abandon virtue, and give themselves 
up to a wicked life. What shall be the punishment of 
those who bring messages to induce others to sin ? or of 
those who boast of their own wicked actions ? God ! 
instead of weeping and repenting for having offended 
the Lord, they rejoice and glory in their iniquities ! 
Some advise others to commit sin ; others induce them 
to it ; and some, worse than the devils, teach others how 
to sin. What shall we say of fathers and mothers, who, 
though it is in their power to prevent the sins of their 
children, allow them to associate with bad companions, 
or to frequent certain dangerous houses, and permit their 
daughters to hold conversations with young men ? Oh! 
with what scourges shall we see such persons chastised 
on the day of judgment! 

13. Perhaps some father of a family among you will 



ON SCANDAL. 173 



say : Then, I am lost because I have given scandal? Is 
there no hope of salvation for me ? No : I will not say 
that you are past hope the mercy of God is great. 
He has promised pardon to all who repent. But, if you 
wish to save your soul, you must repair the scandal you 
have given. " Let him," says Eusebius Emmissenus, 
" who has destroyed himself by the destruction of many, 
redeem himself by the edification of many." (Horn. x. 
ad Mon.) You have lost your soul, and have destroyed 
the souls of many by your scandals. You are now 
bound to repair the evil. As you have hitherto drawn 
others to sin, so you are bound to draw them to virtue 
by words of edification, by good example, by avoiding 
sinful occasions, by frequenting the sacraments, by going 
often to the church to pray, and by attending sermons. 
And from this day forward avoid, as you would death, 
every act and word which could scandalize others. 
" Let their own ruin," says St. Cyprian, " suffice for 
those who have fallen." (Lib. 1, epis. iii.) And St. 
Thomas of Yillanova says: "Let your own sins be 
sufficient for you." What evil has Jesus Christ done to 
you that it is not enough for you to have offended him 
yourselves, but you wish to make others offend him ? 
This is an excess of cruelty. 

14. Be careful, then, never again to give the smallest 
scandal. And if you wish to save your soul, avoid as 
much as possible those who give scandal. These incar 
nate devils shall be damned ; but, if you do not avoid 
them, you will bring yourself to perdition. Woe to 
the world because of scandals," says the Lord (Matt. 
xviii. 7), that is, many are lost because they do not fly 
from occasions of scandal. But you may say : Such a 
person is my friend ; I am under obligations to him ; I 
expect many favours from him. But Jesus Christ says : 
" If thy right eye scandalize thee, pluck it out and cast 
it from thee. It is better for thee, having one eye, to 
enter into life, than, having two eyes, to be cast into 
hell fire." (Matt, xviii. 9.) Although a certain person 
was your right eye, you must withdraw for ever from 
her ; it is better for you to lose an eye and save your 
soul, than to preserve it and be cast into hell. 



174 SKRMON XXIV. 



SERMON XXIV. THIRD SUNDAY AFTER 
EASTER. 

On the value of time,. 

" A little while, and now you shall not see me." JOHN xvi. 16. 

THERE is nothing shorter than time, hut there is nothing 
more valuable. There is nothing shorter than time; 
because the past is no more, the future is uncertain, 
and the present is but a moment. This is what Jesus 
Christ meant when he said: "A little while, and now 
you shall not see me/ We may say the same of our 
life, which, according to St. James is but a vapour, 
which is soon scattered for ever. " For what is your 
life ? It is a vapour which appeareth for a little while." 
(James iv. 14.) But the time of this life is as precious 
as it is short; for, in every moment, if we spend it well, 
we can acquire treasures of merits for heaven ; but, if 
we employ time badly, we may in each moment commit 
sin, and merit hell. I mean this day to show you how 
precious is every moment of the time which God gives 
us, not to lose it, and much less to commit sin, but to 
perform good works and to save our souls. 

1. "Thus saith the Lord: In an acceptable time I 
have heard thee, and in the day of salvation I have 
helped thee." (Isa. xlix. 8.) St. Paul explains this 
passage, and says, that the acceptable time is the time 
in which God has determined to confer his favours upon 
us. He then adds: " Behold, now is the acceptable 
time ; behold, now is the day of salvation." (2 Cor. vi. 
2.) The Apostle exhorts us not to spend unprofitably 
the present time, which he calls the day of salvation ; 
because, perhaps, after this day of salvation, there shall 
be no salvation for us. " The time," says the same 

Apostle, "is short; it remaineth that .they that 

weep be as though they wept not; that they that 
rejoice, as if they rejoiced not ; and they that buy, as 
though they possessed not ; and they that use this 
world, as if they used it not." (1 Cor. vii. 29, 30, 31.) 



VALUE OF TIME. 175 



Since, then, the time which we have to remain on this 
earth is short, the Apostle tells those who weep, that 
they ought not to weep, because their sorrows shall 
soon pass away ; and those who rejoice, not to fix their 
affections on their enjoyments, because they shall soon 
have an end. Hence he concludes, that we should use 
this world, not to enjoy its transitory goods, but to merit 
eternal life. 

2. " Son," says the Holy Ghost, " observe the time." 
(Eccl. iv. 2 3.) Son, learn to preserve time, which is the 
most precious and the greatest gift that God can bestow 
upon you. St. Bernardino of Sienna teaches that time 
is of as much value as God ; because in every moment 
of time well spent the possession of God is merited. He 
adds that in every instant of this life a man may obtain 
the pardon of his sins, the grace of God, and the glory 
of Paradise. " Modico tempore potest homo lucrari 
gratiain et gloriam." Hence St. Bonaventure says that 
" no loss is of greater moment than the loss of time." 
(Ser. xxxvii. in Sept.) 

3. But, in another place, St. Bernardino says that, 
though there is nothing more precious than time, there 
is nothing less valuable in the estimation of men. " Nil 
pretiosius tempore, nil vilius reputatur." (Ser. ii. ad 
Schol.) You will see some persons spending four or five 
hours in play. If you ask them why they lose so much 
time, they answer : To amuse ourselves. Others remain 
half the day standing in the street, or looking out from 
a window. If you ask them what they are doing, they 
shall say in reply, that they are passing the time. And 
why says the same saint, do you lose this time ? Why 
should you lose even a single hour, which the mercy of 
God gives you to weep for your sins, and to acquire 
the divine grace ? "Donee hora pertranseat, quam tibi 
ad agendam poenitentiam, ad acquirendam gratiam, 
miseratio conditoris indulserit." 

4. time, despised by men during life, how much 
shall you be desired at the hour of death, and parti 
cularly in the other world ! Time is a blessing which 
we enjoy only in this life; it is not enjoyed in the next ; 
it is not found in heaven nor in hell. In hell, the 
damned exclaim with tears : " Oh ! that an hour were 



176 



SERMON XXIV. 



given to us." They would pay any price for an hour or 
tor a minute, in which they might repair their eternal 
rum. But this hour or minute they never shall have. 
In heaven there is no weeping; but, were the saints 
capable of sorrow, all their wailing should arise from the 
thought of having lost in this life the time in which 
they could have acquired greater glory, and from the 
conviction that this time shall never more be given to 
them. A deceased Benedictine nun appeared in glory 
to a certain person, and said that she was in heaven, 
and in the enjoyment of perfect happiness ; but that, if 
she could desire anything, it would be to return to life, 
and to suffer affliction, in order to merit an increase of 
glory. And she added that, to acquire the glory which 
corresponded to a single Ave Maria, she would be con 
tent to suffer till the day of judgment the long and 
painful sickness which brought on her death. Ilence, 
St. Francis Borgia was careful to employ every moment 
time for God. When others spoke of useless 
things; he conversed with God by holy affections; and 
so recollected was he that, when asked his opinion 
on the subject of conversation, he knew not what 
answer to make. Being corrected for this, he said : I 
am content to be considered stupid, rather than lose my 
time in vanities. 

5. Some of you will say : What evil am I doing ?" 
s it not, I ask, an evil to spend your time in plays, in 
conversations, and useless occupations, which are unpro 
fitable to the soul ? Does God give you this time to lose 
it ? " Let not," says the Holy Ghost, " the part of a 
good gift overpass thee." (Eccl. xiv. 14.) The work 
men of whom St. Matthew speaks did no evil ; they 
only lost time by remaining idle in the streets. But 
they were rebuked by the father of the family, sayino- 
MVhy stand you here all the day idle ?" (Matt. xx. 6.) 
On the day of judgment Jesus Christ shall demand an 
account, not only of every month and day that has been 
lost, but even of every idle word. " Every idle word 
that men shall speak, they shall render an account for 
it on the day of judgment." (Matt. xii. 36.) He shall 
likewise demand an account of every moment of the 
time which you shall lose. According to St. Bernard, 



VALUE OF TIME. 177 



all time which is not spent for God is lost time. 

"^Omne tempus quo de Deo non cogitasti, cogita te per- 

disse." (Coll. 1, cap. viii.) Hence the Holy Gfhost says: 

Whatsoever thy hand is able to do, do it earnestly : 

for neither work nor reason. . . .shall be in hell, whither 

thou art hastening." (Eccl. ix. 10.) What you can do 

to-day defer not till to-morrow ; for on to-morrow you 

may be dead, and may be gone into another world, 

where you shall have no more time to do good, and 

where you shall only enjoy the reward of your virtues, 

or suffer the punishment due to your sins. " To-day 

if you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts." 

(Ps. xciv. 8.) God calls you to confess your sins, to- 

restore ill-gotten ^ goods, to be reconciled with your 

enemies. Obey his call to-day ; for it may happen that 

on to-morrow time may be no more for you, or that 

God will call you no more. All our salvation depends 

on corresponding with the divine calls, and at the time 

that God calls us. 

6. But some of you will perhaps say : I am young ; 
after some time I will give myself to God. But, 
remember that the gospel tells us, that Jesus Christ 
cursed the fig tree which he found without fruit, 
although the season for figs had not yet arrived. " It 
was^not the time for figs." (Mark xi. 13.) By this the 
Saviour wished to signify, that man at all times, even in 
youth, should produce fruits of good works ; and that 
otherwise, like^the fig tree, he shall be cursed, and shall 
produce no fruit for the future. " May no man here 
after eat any more fruit of thee for ever." (Ibid., v. 1-i.) 
" Delay not to be converted to the Lord, and defer it 
not from day to day; for his wrath shall come on a 
sudden." (Eod. v. 8, 9.) If you find your soul in the 
state of sin, delay not your repentance nor your confes 
sion ; do not put them off even till to-morrow ; for, if 
you do not obey the voice of God calling you to-day 
to confess your sins, death may this day overtake you 
in sin, and to-morrow there may be no hope of salva 
tion for you. The devil regards the whole of our life 
as very short, and therefore he loses not a moment of 
time, but tempts us day and night. " The devil is 
come down unto you having great wrath, knowing that 

M 



178 SERMON XXIV. 



he hath but a short time." (Apoc. xii. 12.) The enemy, 
then, never loses time in seeking to bring us to hell : 
and shall we squander the time which God has given us 
to save our souls ? 

7. You say: "I will hereafter give myself to God." 
But fi why/ answers St. Bernard, " do you, a miserable, 
sinner, presume on the future, as if the Father placed 
time in your power ?" (Serm. xxxviii., de Part., etc.) 
Why do you presume that you will hereafter give your 
self to God, as if he had given to you the time and 
opportunity of returning to him whenever you wish ? 
Job said with trembling, that he knew not whether 
another moment of his life remained : " For I know 
not how long I shall continue, and whether after a 
while my Maker may take me away." (xxxii. 22.) And 
you say : I will not go to confession to-day ; I will think 
of it to-morrow. " Diem tenes," says St. Augustine, 
" qui horam non tenes." How can you promise your 
self another day, when you know not whether you shall 
live another hour ? " If," says St. Teresa, " you are 
not prepared to die to-day, tremble, lest you die an 
unhappy death." 

8. {St. Bernardino weeps over the blindness of those 
negligent Christians who squander the days of salva 
tion, and never consider that a day once lost shall never 
return. _ " Transcunt dies, salutis et nemo recogitat 
sibi perire diem ut nunquam rediturum." (Serm. ad 
Scholar.) At the hour of death they shall wish for 
another year, or for another day ; but they shall not 
have it : they shall then be told that "time shall be no 
more." What price would they not then give for an 
other week, for a day, or even for an hour, to prepare 
the account which they must then render to God ? St. 
Lawrence Justinian says, that for a single hour they 
would give all their property, all their honours, and all 
their delights. " Erogaret opes, honores delicias, pro 
una horula." (Vit. Solit., cap. x.) But this hour shall 
not be granted to them. The priest who attends them 
shall say : Depart, depart immediately from this earth ; 
for your time is no more. " Go forth, Christian soul, 
from this world." 

9. What will it profit the sinner who has led an 



VALUE OF TIME. 179 



irregular life, to exclaim at death : ! that I had led a 
life of sanctity! 0! that I had spent my years in 
loving God ! How great is the anguish of a traveller, 
who, when the night has fallen, perceives that he has 
missed the way, and that there is no more time to 
correct his mistake ! Such shall be the anguish at death 
of those who have lived many years in the world, but 
have not spent them for God. " The night cometh when 
no man can work." (John ix. 4.) Hence the Redeemer 
says to all: (C Walk whilst you have light, that the 
darkness overtake you not." (John xii. 35.) Walk in 
the way of salvation, now that you have the light, before 
you are surprised by the darkness of death, in which you 
can do nothing. You can then only weep over the time 
which you have lost. 

10. He hath called against me the time." (Thren. i. 
15.) At the hour of death, conscience will remind us 
of all the time which we have had to become saints, and 
which we have employed in multiplying our debts to 
God. It will remind us of all the calls and of all the 
graces which he has given us to make us love him, and 
which we have abused. At that awful moment we 
shall also see that the way of salvation is closed for ever. 
In the midst of these remorses, and of the torturing 
darkness of death, the dying sinner shall say : O fool 
that I have been ! life misspent ! lost years, in 
which I could have gained treasures of merits, and have 
become a saint ! but I have neglected both, and now the 
time of saving my soul is gone for ever. But of what 
use shall these wailings and lamentations be, when the 
scene of this world is about to close, the lamp is on the 
point of being extinguished, and when the dying Chris 
tian has arrived at that great moment on which eternity 
depends ? 

11. " Be you then also ready ; for, at what hour you 
think not, the Son of Man will come." (Luke xii. 40.; 
The Lord says : " Be prepared." He does not tell us 
to prepare ourselves when death approaches, but to be 
ready for his coming ; because when we think least of 
death, the Son of Man shall come and demand an ac- 
count of our whole life. In the confusion of death, it will 
be most difficult to adjust our accounts, so as to appear 



180 SERMON XXIV. 



guiltless before the tribunal of Jesus Christ. Perhaps 
death may not come upon us for twenty or thirty years ; 
but it may also come very soon, perhaps in a year or in 
a month. If any one had reason to fear that a trial 
should take place, on which his life depended, he cer 
tainly would not wait for the day of the trial, but would 
as soon as possible employ an advocate to plead his 
cause. And what do we do ? We know for certain 
that we must one day be judged, and that on the result 
of that judgment our eternal, not our temporal, life 
depends. We also know that that day may be very 
near at hand ; and still we lose our time, and, instead 
of adjusting our accounts, we go on daily multiplying 
the crimes which will merit for us the sentence of 
eternal death. 

12. If, then, we have hitherto employed our time in 
offending God, let us henceforth endeavour to bewail 
our misfortune for the remainder of our life, and say 
continually with the penitent King Ezechias : " I will 
recount to thee all my years in the bitterness of my 
soul." (Isn. xxxviii. 15.) The Lord gives us the remain 
ing days of life, that we may compensate the time that 
has been badly spent. " Whilst we have time, let us 
work good." (Gal. vi. 10.) Let us not provoke the Lord 
to punish us by an unhappy death ; and if, during the 
years that are passed, we have been foolish, and have 
offended him, let us now attend to the Apostle exhort 
ing us to be wise for the future, and to redeem the time 
we have lost. " See, therefore, brethren, now you walk 
circumspectly, not as unwise, but as wise, redeeming the 
time, because the days are evil,... understanding what is 
the will of God/ (Eph. v. 15, 16, 17.) " The days are 
evil." According to St. Anselm, the meaning of these 
words is, that the days of this life are evil, because in 
them we are exposed to a thousand temptations and 
dangers of eternal misery ; and therefore, to escape 
perdition, all possible care is necessary. " What," says 
St. Augustine, " is meant by redeeming the time, unless, 
when necessary, to submit to temporal loss in order to 
gain eternal goods ?" (de horn. 50, horn, i.) We should 
live only to fulfil with all diligence the divine will ; and, 
should it be necessary, it is better to suffer in temporal 






VALUE OF TIME. 181 



things, than to neglect our eternal interests. Oh ! how 
well did St. Paul redeem the time which he had lost ! 
St. Jerome says, that though the last of the apostles, he 
was, on account of his great labours, the first in merits. 
" Paul, the last in order, but the first in merits, because 
he laboured more than all." Let us consider that, in 
each moment, we may lay up greater treasures of eternal 
goods. If the possession of all the land round which 
you could walk, or of all the money which you could 
count in a day, were promised you, would you lose time? 
or would you not instantly begin to walk over the 
ground, or to reckon the money ? You now have it in 
your power to acquire, in each moment, eternal trea 
sures ; and will you, notwithstanding, misspend your 
time ? Do not say, that what you can do to-day you 
can also do to-morrow ; because this day shall be then 
lost to you, and shall never return. You have this day; 
but perhaps to-morrow will not be given you. 



SERMON XXV. FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER 
EASTER. 

On obedience to your confessor. 

"Whither goest thou ?" JOHN xiii. I d. 

To gain heaven we must walk in the path that leads to 
Paradise. Many Christians, who have faith, but not 
works, live in sin, intent only on the pleasures and goods 
of this world. If you say to one of them : you are a 
Christian ; you believe that there is an eternity, a 
heaven, and a hell : tell me, do you wish to save your 
soul ? If you do, I will ask you, in the words of this 
day s gospel, " whither goest thou?" He will answer: 
I do not know, but I hope to be saved. You know not 
whither you are going. How can you hope for salva 
tion from God, if you live in a state of perdition ? 
How can you expect heaven, if you walk in the way 
that leads to hell ? It is necessary, then, to change the 
road ; and for this purpose you must put yourself in 
the hands of a good confessor, who will point out to 



182 SERMON XXV. 



you the way to heaven, and you must obey him punc 
tually. " My sheep," said Jesus Christ, " hear my 
voice." (John x. 27.) We have not Jesus Christ on 
earth to make us sensibly hear his voice ; but, in his 
stead, he has left us his priests, and has told us, that he 
who hears them hears him, and he who despises them 
despises him. " He that heareth you hcareth me, and 
he that despiseth you despiseth me." (Luke x. 16.) 
Happy they who are obedient to their spiritual father : 
unhappy they who do not obey him ; for, by their dis 
obedience, they give a proof that they are not among 
the sheep of Jesus Christ. I intend this day to show, 
in the first point, how secure of salvation are all who 
obey their confessor ; and, in the second point, how 
great the danger of perdition to which they who do not 
obey him are exposed. 

First Point. How secure of salvation are they who 
obey their confessor. 

1. In leaving us spiritual fathers to guide us in the 
way of salvation Jesus Christ has bestowed upon us a 
great benefit. To obtain salvation we must follow the 
will of God in all things. What, I ask, is necessary in 
order to save our souls and to become saints ? Some 
imagine that sanctity consists in performing many works 
of penance ; but were a sick man to perform mortifica 
tions which would expose him to the proximate danger 
of death, he would, instead of becoming a saint, be 
guilty of a very grievous sin. Others think that per 
fection consists in long and frequent prayers ; but 
should the father of a family neglect the education 
of his children and go into the desert to pray, he, too, 
would commit sin ; because, although prayer is good, a 
parent is bound to take care of his children, and he 
can fulfil the precept of prayer and attention to their 
instruction without going into the desert. Others 
believe that holiness consists in frequent communion ; 
but if, in spite of a just command of her husband, 
and to the injury of her family, a married woman 
wished to communicate every morning, she would act 
improperly, and would have to render an account of 
her conduct to God. In what, then, does sanctity 






OBEDIENCE TO YOUR CONFESSOR. 183 

consist ? It consists in the perfect fulfilment of the 
will of God. All the sins which brings souls to hell 
proceed from self-will ; let us, then, says St. Bernard, 
cease to do our own will ; let us follow the will of God, 
and for us there shall be no hell. " Cesset propria 
voluntas, et infernus non erit." (St. Bern. serm. iii., de 
Resur.) 

2. But some of you will ask : How shall we know 
what God wills us to do ? This is a matter which, ac 
cording to David, is involved in great doubts and ob 
scurity. " Of the business that walketh about in the 
dark." (Ps. xc. 6.) Many deceive themselves ; for pas 
sion often makes them believe that they do the will of 
God, when, in reality, they do their own will. Let us 
thank without ceasing the goodness of Jesus Christ, 
who has taught us the secure means of ascertaining the 
will of God in our regard, by telling us that, if we 
obey our confessor, we obey himself. <k He that heareth 
you, heareth me." In the book of the foundations, 
chapter x., St. Teresa says: "Let a soul take a confessor 
with a determination to think no more of herself, but to 
trust in the words of our Lord : l He that heareth you, 
heareth me." She adds, that this is the secure way of 
rinding the will of God. Hence the saint acknowledged 
that it was by obedience to the voice of her director that 
she attained to the knowledge and love of God. Hence, 
speaking of obedience to one s confessor, St. Francis de 
Sales adopts the words of Father M. Avila. How much 
soever you seek, you shall never find the will of God so 
securely, as by this way of humble obedience so much 
recommended and practised by the ancient saints. 
(Introd., etc., cap. iv.) 

3. He that acts according to the advice of his con 
fessor, always pleases God when, through obedience, he 
either practises or omits prayer, mortifications, or com 
munions. He even merits a reward before God when, 
to obey his confessor, he takes recreation, when he eats 
or drinks, because he does the will of God. Hence 
the Scripture says that " much better is obedience than 
the victories of fools." (Eccl. iv. 17.) Obedience is more 
pleasing to God than all the sacrifices of penitential 
works, or of alms-deeds, which we can offer to him. 



184 SERMON XXV. 



lie that sacrifices to God his property by alms-deeds, his 
honour by bearing insults, or his body by mortifications, 
by fasts and penitential rigours, offers to him a part of 
himself and of what belongs to him ; but he that sacri 
fices to God his will, by obedience, gives to him all that 
he has, and can say : Lord, having given you my will, I 
have nothing more to give you. 

4. Thus, obedience to a confessor is the most accept 
able offering which we can make to God, and the most 
secure way of doing the divine will. Blessed Henry 
Suson says, that God does not demand an account of 
what we do through obedience. Obey, says the Apostle, 
your spiritual fathers ; and fear not anything which you 
do through obedience ; for they, and not you, shall have 
to render an account of your conduct. " Obey your pre 
lates, and be subject to them ; for they watch, as being 
to render an account of your souls ; that they may do 
this with joy and not with grief." (Ileb. xiii. 17.) Mark 
the last words : they signify, that penitents should obey 
without reply, and without causing pain and sorrow to 
their confessor. Oh ! what grief do confessors feel when 
penitents endeavour, by certain pretexts and unjust com 
plaints, to excuse themselves from obedience ! Let us, 
then, obey our spiritual father without reply, and let us 
fear not that we shall have to account for any act which 
wo do through obedience. " They," says St. Philip 
Neri, " who desire to advance in the way of God, should 
place themselves under a learned confessor, whom they 
will obey in the place of God. They who do so may be 
assured that they shall not have to render to God an 
account of their actions." Hence, if you practice obe 
dience, and if Jesus Christ should ask you on the day of 
judgment why you have chosen such a state of life ? why 
you have communicated so frequently ? why you have 
omitted certain works of penance ? you will answer : 
Lord, I have done all in obedience to my confessor : 
and Jesus Christ cannot but approve of what you have 
done. 

5. Father Marchese relates, that St. Dominic once 
felt a scruple in obeying his confessor, and that our 
Lord said to him : " Why do you hesitate to obey your 
director ? All that he directs will be useful to you." 



OBEDIENCE TO YOUR CONFESSOR. 185 

Hence St. Bernard says, that " whatever a man, hold 
ing the place of God commands, provided it be not cer 
tainly sinful, should be received as if the command 
came from God himself" (de Prsecep. et Discep., cap. xi.). 
Gerson relates, that the same St. Bernard ordered one 
of his disciples, who, through scruples, was afraid to say 
Mass, to go, and trusting in his advice, to offer the holy 
sacrifices. The disciple obeyed, and was cured of scru 
ples. Some, adds Gerson, will say : " Would to God that 
I had a St. Bernard for my director: my confessor is 
not a St. Bernard. " Whosoever you are that speak in 
this manner, you err ; for you have not put yourself 
under the care of man because he is learned, but because 
he is placed over you. Obey him, then, not as a man, 
but as God. (Tract, de Prsop. ad Miss.) You have 
intrusted the care of your soul to a confessor, not because 
he is a man of learning, but because God has given him 
to you as a guide ; and, therefore, you ought to obey 
him, not as a man, but as God. 

6. " An obedient man shall speak of victory." (Prov. 
xxi. 28.) Justly, says St. Gregory, has the Wise Man 
asserted, that they who are obedient shall overcome the 
temptations of hell : because, as by their obedience, 
they subject their own will to men, so they make them 
selves superior to the devils, who fell through disobe 
dience. " The obedient are conquerors ; because, whilst 
they subject their will to others, they rule over the 
angels that have fallen through disobedience" (in lib. 
Beg., cap. x.) Cassian teaches, that he who mortifies 
self-will beats down all vices ; because all vices proceed 
from self-will. " By the mortification of the will all 
vices are dried up." He who obeys his confessor, over 
comes all the illusions of the devil, who sometimes makes 
us expose ourselves to dangerous occasions under pretext 
of doing good, and makes us engage in certain under 
takings which appear holy, but which may prove very 
injurious to us. Thus, for example, the enemy induces 
certain devout persons to practise immoderate austerities, 
which impair their health ; they then give up all morti 
fications, and return to their former irregularities. This 
happens to those who direct themselves ; but they who 
are guided by their confessor are not in danger of fall 
ing into such an illusion. 



186 SERMON XXV. 



7. The devil labours to make scrupulous persons 
afraid that they will commit sin if they follow the advice 
of their confessor. We must be careful to overcome these 
vain fears. All theologians and spiritual writers com 
monly teach, that it is our duty to obey the directions of 
our confessors, and conquer our scruples. Natalis 
Alexander says, that we must act against scruples ; and 
in support of this doctrine, he adduces the doctrine of 
St. Antonine, who, along with Gerson, censures scrupu 
lous persons for refusing, through vain fears, to obey 
their confessor, and to overcome scruples. " Beware, 
lest, while you seek security, you rush into a pit." Be 
careful not, through an excess of fear, to fall into the 
illusions of the devil, by disobeying your director. 
Hence all the spiritual masters exhort us to obey our 
confessors in everything which is not manifestly sinful. 
B. Hubert, of the order of St. Dominic, says that, 
" unless what is commanded is evidently bad, it ought 
to be received as if it were commanded by God" (lib. de 
Erud. llcl., cap. 1). Blessed Denis the Carthusian 
teaches, that " in doubtful matters we must obey the 
precept of a superior ; because, though it may be against 
God, a subject is excused from sin on account of obe 
dience" (in 2, dis. xxxix., qu. 3). According to Gerson 
(tr. de consc. et scrup.), to act against a conscience 
formed with deliberation, and to act against a fear of 
sinning in some doubtful matter, are very different 
things. He adds, that we should banish this fear, and 
obey our confessor. " Iste timor, quam fieri potest 
adjiciendus." In a word, he who obeys his spiritual 
father is always secure. St. Francis de Sales used to 
say, that " a truly obedient soul has never been lost ;" 
and that we should be satisfied to know from our con 
fessor that we are going on well in the way of God, 
without seeking further certainty of it. 

Second Point. How great is the danger of perdition 
to which they who do not obey their confessor are ex 
posed. 

8. Jesus Christ has said, that he who hears his priest, 
hears him; and that he who despises them, despises him. 
" Qui vos spernit, me spernit." (Luc. x. 15.) "When the 



OBEDIENCE TO YOUR CONFESSOR. 187 



Prophet Eliseus complained of the contempt which he 
had received from the people, after God had charged 
him with the direction of them, the Lord said to him : 
" They have not rejected thee, but me, that I should 
not reign over them." (1 Kings viii. 7.) They, then, 
who despise the advice of their confessors, despise God 
himself, who has made confessors his own representa 
tives. 

9. " Obey your prelates," says St. Paul, " and be 
subject to them ; for they watch, as being to render 
an account of your souls: that they may do this with 
joy and not with grief; for, this is not expedient for 
you." (Heb. xiii. 17.) Some penitents contend with 
their confessor, and endeavour to make him adopt their 
own opinion. This is the cause of grief to spiritual 
directors. But the apostle says, " this is not expedient 
for you ;" because, when the confessor finds that you do 
not obey him, and that it is only with difficulty he can 
induce you to walk in the straight path, he will give up 
the direction of your soul. How deplorable the con 
dition of a vessel which a pilot refuses to steer ! How 
miserable the state of a sick man who is abandoned by 
his physician ! When a patient refuses to obey, or to 
take the medicine which has been prescribed when he 
eats and drinks what he pleases the physician abandons 
him, and allows him to follow his own caprice. But, 
what hope can be entertained of the recovery of such a 
patient? "Woe to him that is alone, .. .he hath none 
to lift him up." (Eccl. iv. 10.) Woe to the penitent 
who wishes to direct himself : he shall have no one to 
enlighten or correct him, he will therefore rush into an 
abyss. 

10. To every one that comes into this world the 
Holy Ghost says: "Thou art going in the midst of 
snares." (Eccl. ix. 20.) We all, on this earth, walk in 
the midst of a thousand snares ; that is, in the midst of 
the temptations of the devil, dangerous occasions, bad 
companions, and our own passions, which frequently 
deceive us. Who shall be saved in the midst of so many 
dangers ? The Wise Man says : " He that is aware of 
the snares shall be secure." (Prov. xi. 15.) They only 
who avoid these snares shall be saved. How shall we 



188 



SERMON" XXV. 



avoid them ? If you had to pass by night through a 
wood full of precipices, without a guide to give you 
light, and to point out to you the dangerous passages, 
you would certainly run a great risk of losing your life. 
You wish to direct yourself: "Take heed, therefore, 
that the light which is in thee he not darkness." (Luke 
xi. 45.) The light which you think you possess will be 
your ruin ; it will lead you into a pit. 

11. God wills that, in the way of salvation, we all 
submit to the guidance of our director. Such has been 
the practice of even the most learned among the saints. 
In spiritual things the Lord wishes us to humble our 
selves, and to put ourselves under a confessor, who will 
be our guide. Gerson teaches, that he who neglects 
the advice of his director, and directs himself, does not 
require a devil to tempt him : he becomes a devil to 
himself. " Qui spreto duce, sibi dux esse vult, non in- 
diget dromone tentante, quia factus est sibi ipse daemon." 
(Cons, de Lib. Reg.) And when God sees that he will 
not obey his minister, he allows him to follow his own 
caprice. " So I let them go according to the desires of 
their own hearts." (Ps. Ixxx. 13.) 

12. " It is like the sin of witchcraft to rebel : and 
like the crime of idolatry to refuse to obey." (1 Kings 
xv. 23.) In explaining this text, St. Gregory says, that 
the sin of idolatry consists in abandoning God and 
adoring an idol. This a penitent does when he disobeys 
his confessor to do his own will : he refuses to do the 
will^ of God, who has spoken to him by means of his 
minister ; he adores the idol of self-will, and does what 
he pleases. Hence St. John of the Cross says that, 
" not to follow the advice of our confessor is pride and a 
want of faith." (Tratt. delle spine, torn, iii., col. 4, 2, 
n. 8) ; for it appears to proceed from a want of faith in 
the Gospel, in which Jesus Christ has said: "He that 
heareth you, heareth me." 

13. If, then, you wish to save your souls, obey your 
confessor punctually. Be careful to have a fixed con 
fessor, to whom you will ordinarily make your confes 
sion ; and avoid going about from one confessor to 
another. Make choice of a learned priest ; and, in the 
beginning, make to him a general confession, which, as 



CONDITIONS OF PRAYER. 189 

we know by experience, is a great help to a true change 
of life. After having made choice of a confessor, you 
should not leave him without a just and manifest cause. 
" Every time," says St. Teresa, " That I resolved to 
leave my confessor, I felt within me a reproof more 
painful than that which I received from him." 



* SERMON XXVI. FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER 
EASTER. 

On the conditions of prayer. 

" Ask, and ye shall receive." JOHN xvi. 24. 

IN the thirty-ninth Sermon I shall show the strict 
necessity of prayer, and its infallible efficacy to obtain 
for us all the graces which can be conducive to our 
eternal salvation. " Prayer," says St. Cyprian, " is om 
nipotent ; it is one ; it can do all things." We read in 
Ecclesiasticus that God has never refused to hear any 
one who invoked his aid. " Who hath called upon him, 
and he hath despised him?" (Eccl. ii. 12.) This he 
never can do ; for he has promised to hear all who pray 
to him. " Ask, and ye shall receive." But this promise 
extends only to prayer which has the necessary condi 
tions. Many pray ; but because they pray negligently, 
they do not obtain the graces they deserve. " You ask, 
and receive not, because you ask amiss." (St. James iv. 
3.) To pray as we ought, we must pray, first, with 
humility ; secondly, with confidence ; and thirdly, with 
perseverance. 

First Point. "We must pray with humility. 

1. St. James tells us, that God rejects the prayers of 
the proud: " God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace 
to the humble" (iv. 6). He cannot bear the proud ; he 
rejects their petitions, and refuses to hear them. Let 
those proud Christians who trust in their own strength, 
and think themselves better than others, attend to this, 
and let them remember that their prayers shall be re 
jected by the Lord. 



J90 SERMON XXVI. 



2. But lie always hears the prayers of the humble : 
" The prayer of him that humbleth himself pierceth the 
clouds ; and he will not depart till the Most High behold." 
(Eccl. xxxv. 21.) David says, that "The Lord hath had 
regard to the prayer of the humble." (Ps. ci. 18.) The 
cry of the humble man penetrates the heavens, and he 
will not depart till God hears his prayer. " You humble 
yourself," says St. Augustine, " and God comes to you ; 
you exalt yourself, and he flies from you." If you 
humble yourself, God himself comes, of his own accord, 
to embrace you ; but, if you exalt yourself, and boast of 
your wisdom and of your actions, he withdraws from 
you, and abandons you to your own nothingness. 

3. The Lord cannot despise even the most obdurate 
sinners, when they repent from their hearts, and humble 
themselves before him, acknowledging that they are 
unworthy to receive any favour from him. " A contrite 
and humble heart, God, thou wilt not despise." (Ps. 
1, 19.) Let us pass to the other points, in which there 
is a great deal to be said. 

Second Point. We must pray with confidence. 

4. * No one hath hoped in the Lord, and hath been 
confounded." (Eccl. ii. 11.) Oh! how encouraging to 
sinners are these words ! Though they may have com 
mitted the most enormous crimes, they are told by the 
Holy Ghost, that " no man hath hoped in the Lord, and 
hath been confounded." No man hath ever placed his 
trust in God, and has been abandoned. He that prays 
with confidence obtains whatever he asks. " All things 
whatsoever you ask when you pray, believe that you 
shall receive, and they shall come unto you." (Mark xi. 
24.) When we pray for spiritual favours, let us have a 
secure confidence of receiving them, and we shall in 
fallibly obtain them. Hence the Saviour has taught us 
to call God, in our petitions for his graces, by no other 
name than that of Father ( Our Father), that we may 
have recourse to him with the confidence with which a 
child seeks assistance from an affectionate parent. 

o. Who, says St. Augustine, can fear that Jesus 
Christ, who is truth itself, can violate his promise to all 
who pray to him ? " Who shall fear deception when 



CONDITIONS OF PRAYER. 191 

truth promises ?" Is God like men, who promise, and 
do not afterwards fulfil their promise, either because in 
making it they intend to deceive, or because, after hav 
ing made it, they change their intention ? " God is not 
as a man, that he should lie, nor as the son of man, that 
he should be changed. Hath he told, then, and will he 
not do ?" (Num. xxiii. 19.) Our God cannot tell a lie ; 
because he is truth itself : he is not liable to change ; 
because all his arrangements are just and holy. 

6. And because he ardently desires our welfare, he 
earnestly exhausts and commands us to ask the graces we 
stand in need of. " Ask, and it shall be given you ; 
seek, and you shall find ; knock, and it shall be opened 
to you." (Matt. vii. 7.) Why, says St. Augustine, 
should the Lord exhort us so strongly to ask his graces, 
if he did not wish to give them to us ? " Non nos hor- 
taretur, ut peteremus, nisi dare vellet" (de Yerb. Dom., 
ser. v.) He has even bound himself by his promise to 
hear our prayers, and to bestow upon us all the graces 
which we ask with a confidence of obtaining them. " By 
his promises he has made himself a debtor." (S. Augus., 
ibid., ser. ii.) 

7. But some will say : I have but little confidence in 
God, because I am a sinner. I have been too ungrateful 
to him, and therefore I see that I do not deserve to be 
heard. But St. Thomas tells us, that the efficacy of our 
prayers in obtaining graces from God, does not depend 
on our merits, but on the divine mercy. " ratio in 
impetrando non innititur nostris mentis, sed soli divinao 
misericordieo" (2, 2, qu. 178, a. 2, ad. 1.) As often as 
we ask with confidence favours which are conducive to 
our eternal salvation, God hears our prayer. I have 
said, " favours conducive to our salvation ;" for, if what 
we seek be injurious to the soul, God does not, and 
cannot hear us. For example : if a person asked help 
from God to be revenged of an enemy, or to accomplish 
what would be offensive to God, the Lord will not hear 
his prayers ; because, says St. Chrysostom, such a person 
offends God in the very act of prayer ; he does not pray, 
but, in a certain manner mocks God. " Qui orat et 
peccat, non rogat Deum, sed eludit." (Horn, xi., in 
Matt, vi.) 



102 SERMON XXVI. 



8. Moreover, if you wish to receive from God the aid 
which you ask, you must remove every obstacle which 
may render you unworthy of being heard. For example : 
if you ask of God strength to preserve you from relaps 
ing into a certain sin, but will not avoid the occasions of 
the sin, nor keep at a distance from the house, from the 
object, or the bad company, which led to your fall, God 
will not hear your prayer. And why ? Because " thou 
hast set a cloud before thee, that prayer may not pass 
through/ (Thrcn. iii. 44.) Should you relapse, do not 
complain of God, nor say : I have besought the Lord to 
preserve me from falling into sin, but he has not heard 
me. Do you not see that, by not taking away the occa 
sions of sin, you have interposed a thick cloud, which 
has prevented your prayers from passing to the throne 
of divine mercy. 

9. It is also necessary to remark that the promise of 
Jesus Christ to hear those who pray to him does not 
extend to all the temporal favours which we ask such 
as a plentiful harvest, a victory in a law-suit, or a deli 
verance from sickness, or from certain persecutions. 
These favours God grants to those who pray for them ; 
but only when they are conducive to their spiritual wel 
fare. Otherwise he refuses them ; and he refuses them 
because he loves us, and because he knows that they 
would be injurious to our souls. " A physician," says 
St. Augustine, " knows better than his patient what is 
useful for him" (torn. 3, cap. ccxii). The saint adds 
that God refuses to some, through mercy, what he 
grants to others as a chastisement. " Deus negat pro- 
pitius, quac concedit iratus." Hence St. John Damas 
cene says that sometimes, when we do not obtain the 
graces which we ask, we receive, by not receiving 
them ; because it is better for us not to receive than to 
receive them. " Etiam si non accipias, non accipendo 
accepisti, interdum enim non accipere quam accipendo 
satius est." (ParaL, lib. 3, cap. xv.) We often ask poison 
which would cause our death. How many are there 
who, had they died in the sickness or poverty with 
which they had been afflicted, should be saved ? But 
because they recovered their health, or because they 
were raised to wealth and honours, they became proud 



CONDITIONS OF PRAYER. 193 

and forgot God, and thus have heen damned. Hence 
St. Chrysostom exhorts us to ask in our prayers what 
he knows to be expedient for us. " Orantes in ejus 
potestate ponamus, ut nos illud petentes exaudiat, quod 
ipse nobis expendire cognoscit." (Horn. xv. in Matt.) 
We should, then, always ask from God temporal 
favours on the condition that they will be useful to the 
soul. 

10. But spiritual favours, such as the pardon of our 
sins, perseverance in virtue, the gift of divine love, and 
resignation to the divine will, ought to be asked of 
God absolutely, and with a firm confidence of obtaining 
them. " If you, then, being evil, know how to give 
good gifts to your children, how much more will your 
Father from Heaven give the good Spirit to them that 
ask him ?" (Luke xi. 13.) If you, says Jesus Christ, 
who are so much attached to earthly goods, cannot 
refuse your children the blessings which you have 
received from God, how much more will your Heavenly 
Father (who is in himself infinitely good, and who 
desires to give you his graces more ardently than you 
desire to receive them) give the good spirit that is, a 
sincere contrition for their sins, the gift of divine love, 
and resignation to the will of God to those who ask 
them ? " Quando Deus negabit," says St. Bernard, 
" potentibus qui etiam non potentes hortatur ut pe- 
tant?" (Ser. ii. de S. Andr.) How can God refuse 
graces conducive to salvation to those who seek them, 
when he exhorts even those who do not pray to ask 
them? 

11. Nor does God inquire whether the person who 
prays to him is a just man or a sinner; for he has 
declared that " every one that asketh, receiveth." (Luke 
xi. 10.) " Every one," says the author of the Imperfect 
Work, " whether he be a just man or a sinner." (Horn, 
xviii.) And, to encourage us to pray and to ask with 
confidence for spiritual favours, he has said : " Amen, 
amen, I say to you : If you ask the Father anything in 
my name, he will give it you." (John xvi. 23.) As if 
he said : Sinners, though you do not deserve to receive 
the divine graces, I have merited them for you from 
my Father : ask, then, in my name that is, through 

N 



194 SERMON XXVI. 

my merits and I promise that you shall obtain whatso 
ever you demand. 

Third Point. "We must pray with perseverance. 

12. It is, above all, necessary to persevere in prayer 
till death, and never to cease to pray. This is what is 
inculcated by the following passages of Scripture : 
" "VVe ought always to pray." (Luke xviii. 1.) " Watch 
ye, therefore, praying at all times " (xxi. 36). " Pray 
without ceasing." ( L Thess. v. 17.) Hence the Holy 
Ghost says : " Let nothing hinder thee from praying 
always." (Eccl. xviii. 22.) These words imply, not only 
that we should pray always, but also that we should 
endeavour to remove every occasion which may prevent 
us from praying ; for, if we cease to pray, we shall be 
deprived of the divine aid, and shall be overcome by 
temptations. Perseverance in grace is a gratuitous gift, 
which, as the Council of Trent has declared, we cannot 
merit (Ses. 6, cap. xiii.) ; but St. Augustine says, that 
we may obtain it by prayer. " Hoc donum Dei suppli- 
citer emereri, potest id est supplicando impetrari." (de 
Dono. Per., cap. vi.) Hence Cardinal Eellarmine teaches 
that " we must ask it daily, in order to obtain it every 
day." If we neglect to a^k it on any day, we may fall 
into sin on that day. 

13. If, then, we wish to persevere and to be saved 
for no one can be saved without perseverance we must 
pray continually. Our perseverance depends, not on 
one grace, but on a thousand helps which we hope to 
obtain from God during our whole lives, that we may 
be preserved in his grace. Now, to this chain of graces 
a chain of prayers on our part must correspond ; with 
out these prayers, God ordinarily does not grant his 
graces. If we neglect to pray, and thus break the chain 
of prayers, the chain of graces shall also be broken, and 
we shall lose the grace of perseverance. If, says Jesus 
Christ to his disciples, one of you go during the night 
to a friend, and say to him : Lend me three loaves ; an 
acquaintance has come to my house, and I have no 
refreshment for him. The friend will answer : I am in 
bed ; the door is locked ; I cannot get up. But, if the 
other continue to knock at the door, and will not depart, 



CONDITIONS OF PRAYER. 195 

the friend will rise, and give him as many loaves as he 
wishes, not through friendship, but to be freed from his 
importunity. " Although he will not rise and give him 
because he is his friend ; yet, because of his importunity, 
he will rise, and give him as many as he needeth*" 
(Luke xi. 8.) Now, if a man will give his loaves to a 
friend because of his importunity, " how much more," 
says St. Augustine, te will God give, who exhorts us to 
ask, and is displeased if we do not ask ?" How much 
more will the Lord bestow on us his graces, if we per 
severe in praying for them, when he exhorts us to ask 
them, and is offended if we do not ask them ? 

14. Men feel annoyed at being frequently and impor 
tunately asked for a favour. But God exhorts us to pray 
frequently; and, instead of being dissatisfied, he is pleased 
with those who repeatedly ask his graces. Cornelius a 
Lapide says, that " God wishes us to persevere in prayer, 
even to importunity." (in Luc., cap. xi.) St. Jerome 
says: " This importunity with the Lord is seasonable." 
(in Luc. xi.) That God is pleased with frequent and 
persevering prayer, may be inferred from the words of 
Jesus Christ : " Ask, and it shall be given you ; seek, 
and ^ you shall find ; knock, and it shall be opened to 
you." (Luke xi. 9.) It was not enough to have said 
asky but he added, seek, knock; in order to show, that, 
during our whole Jives, we should be as importunate in 
supplicating the divine graces as beggars are in asking 
alms. Though they should be refused, they do not cease 
to cry out, or to knock at the door; they persist in 
asking relief till they obtain it. 

15. If, then, we wish to obtain from God the gift of 
perseverance, we must ask it from him continually and 
with importunity. We must ask it when we rise in the 
morning, in our meditations, in hearing Mass, in our 
visits to the blessed sacrament, in going to bed at night, 
and particularly when we are tempted by the devil to 
commit any sin. Thus, we must always have our mouths 
open praying to God, and saying: Lord, assist me; give 
me light ; give me strength ; keep thy hand upon me, 
and do not abandon me. We must do violence to the 
Lord. " Such violence," says Tertullian, " is agreeable 
to God." The violence which we offer to God by 



196 SERMON XXVII. 



repeated prayers does not offend him : on the contrary, 
it is pleasing and acceptable in his sight. " Prayer," 
according to St. John Climacus, "piously offers violence 
to God." Our supplications compel him, hut in a man 
ner grateful to him. He takes great complacency in 
seeing his mother honoured, and therefore wishes, as St. 
Bernard says, that all the graces we receive should pass 
through her hands. Hence the holy doctor exhorts us 
" to seek grace, and to seek it through Mary, because 
she is a mother, and her prayer cannot be fruitless." (de 
Aqurcd.) When we ask her to obtain any grace for us, 
she graciously hears our petitions and prays for us : and 
the prayers of Mary are never rejected. 



SERMON XXVII. SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER 
PENTECOST, OR THE SUNDAY WITHIN 
THE OCTAVE OF THE ASCENSION. 

On human respect. 

" Whosoever killeth you, will think that he cloeth a service to God." 
JOHN xvi. 2. 

IN exhorting his disciples to be faithful to him under the 
persecution which they were to endure, the Saviour said : 
* Yea, the hour cometh, that whosoever killeth you, will 
think that he doeth a service to God." Thus, the enemies 
of the faith believed that in putting Christians to death 
they did a service to God. It is thus that many Chris 
tians of the present day act. They kill their own souls 
by losing the grace of God through human respect and 
to please worldly friends. Oh ! how many souls has 
human respect that great enemy of our salvation 
sent to hell ! I shall speak on this subject to-day, that, 
if you wish to serve God and save your souls, you may 
guard as much as possible against human respect. In 
the first point, I will show the importance of not being 
influenced by human respect ; and in the second, I will 
point out the means by which this vice may be over 
come. 

First Point On the importance of not being in 
fluenced by human respect. 



HUMAN RESPECT. 197 



1. "Woe to the world because of scandals." (Matt, 
xviii. 7.) Jesus Christ has said, that through the scan 
dals of the wicked, many souls fall into hell. But how 
is it possible to live in the midst of the world, and not 
to take scandal ? This is impossible. To avoid taking 
scandal, St. Paul says, we should leave this world. 
" Otherwise you must needs go out of this world." 
( I Cor. v. 10.) But it is in our power to avoid fami 
liarity with scandalous sinners. Hence the Apostle 
adds : " But now I have written to you not to keep 
company .... with such an one, not as much as to eat." 
(Ibid. v. 11.) We should beware of contracting intimacy 
with such sinners ; for, should we be united with them 
in the bonds of friendship, we shall feel an unwillingness 
to oppose their bad practices and bad counsels. Thus, 
through human respect and the fear of contradicting 
them, we will imitate their example, and lose the friend 
ship of God. 

2. Such lovers of the world not only glory in their 
own iniquities ("They rejoice in most wicked things." 
Prov. ii. 14) ; but, what is worse, they wish to have 
companions, and ridicule all who endeavour to live like 
true Christians and to avoid the dangers of offending 
God. This is a sin which is very displeasing to God, 
and which he forbids in a particular manner. " Despise 
not a man that turneth away from sin, nor reproach 
him therewith." (Eccl. viii. 6.) Despise not those 
who keep at a distance from sin, and seek not to 
draw them to evil by your reproaches and irregulari 
ties. The Lord declares, that, for those who throw 
ridicule on the virtuous, chastisements are prepared in 
this and in the next life. " Judgments are prepared for 
scorners, and striking hammers for the bodies of fools." 
(Prov. xix. 29.) They mock the servants of God, and 
he shall mock them for all eternity. "But the Lord 
shall laugh them to scorn. And they shall fall after 
this without honour, and be a reproach among the dead 
for ever." (Wis. iv. 18.) They endeavour to make the 
saints contemptible in the eyes of the world, and God 
shall make them die without honour, and shall send 
them to hell to suffer eternal ignominy among the 
damned. 



198 SERMON XXVII. 



3. Not only to offend God, but also to endeavour to 
make others offend him, is truly an enormous excess of 
wickedness. This execrable intention arises from a con 
viction that there are many weak and pusillanimous 
souls, who, to escape derision and contempt, abandon 
the practice of virtue, and give themselves up to a life 
of sin. After his conversion to God, St. Augustine wept 
for having associated with those ministers of Lucifer, 
and confessed, that he felt ashamed not to be as wicked 
and as shameless as they were. " Pudebat me/ says 
the saint, "esse pudentem." How many, to avoid the 
scoffs of wicked friends, have been induced to imitate 
their wickedness ! " Behold the saint/ these impious 
scoffers will say ; " get me a piece of his garment ; I will 
preserve it as a relic. Why does he not become a 
monk ?" How many also when they receive an insult, 
resolve to take revenge, not so much through passion, 
as to escape the reputation of being cowards ! How 
many are there who, after having inadvertently given 
expression to a scandalous maxim, neglect to retract it 
(as they are bound to do), through fear of losing the 
esteem of others ! How many, because they are afraid 
of forfeiting the favour of a friend, sell their souls to the 
devil ! They imitate the conduct of Pilate, who, through 
the apprehension of losing the friendship of Caesar, con 
demned Jesus Christ to death. 

4. Be attentive. Brethren, if we wish to save our 
souls, we must overcome human respect, and bear the 
little confusion which may arise from the scoffs of the 
enemies of the cross of Jesus Christ. "For there is a 
shame that bringeth sin, and there is a shame that 
bringeth glory and grace." (Eccl. iv. 25.) If we do not 
suffer this confusion with patience, it will lead us into 
the pit of si a ; but if we submit to it for God s sake, it 
will obtain for us the divine grace here, and great glory 
hereafter. "As," says St. Gregory, " bashfulness is 
laudable in evil, so it is reprehensible in good." (Horn. 
x. in Ezech.) 

5. But some of you will say : I attend to my own 
affairs ; I wish to save my soul ; why then should I be 
persecuted ? But there is no remedy ; it is impossible 
to serve God, and not be persecuted. " The wicked 



HUMAN HESPECT. 199 



loathe them that are in the right way." (Prov. xxix. 27.) 
Sinners cannot bear the sight of the man who lives ac 
cording to the Gospel, because his life is a continual 
censure on their disorderly conduct; and therefore they 
say: "Let us lie in wait for the just; because he is 
not for our turn, and he is contrary to our doings, and 
upbraideth us with transgressions of the law/ (Wis. ii. 
12.) The proud man, who seeks revenge for every insult 
which he receives, would wish that all should avenge 
the offences that may be offered to him. The avaricious, 
who grow rich by injustice, wish that all should imitate 
their fraudulent practices. The drunkard wishes to see 
others indulge like himself in intoxication. The im 
moral, who boast of their impurities, and can scarcely 
utter a word which does not savour of obscenity, desire 
that all should act and speak as they do ; and those 
who do not imitate their conduct, they regard as mean, 
clownish, and intractable as men without honour and 
education. " They are of the world, therefore of the 
world they speak/ (1 John iv. 5.) Worldlings can 
speak no other language than that of the world. Oh ! 
how great is their poverty and blindness ! She has 
blinded them, and therefore they speak so profanely. 
" These things they thought, and were deceived ; for 
their own malice blinded them." (Wis. ii. 21.) 

6. But I say again, that there is no remedy. All, as 
St. Paul says, who wish to live in union with Jesus Christ 
must be persecuted by the world. "And all that will 
live godly in Christ, shall suffer persecution." (2 Tim. iii. 
12.) All the saints have been persecuted. You say: I 
do not injure any one ; why then am I not left in 
peace ? What evil have the saints, and particularly the 
martyrs, done ? They were full of charity ; they loved 
all, and laboured to do good to all ; and how have they 
been treated by the world ? They have been flayed 
alive ; they have been tortured with red-hot plates of 
iron; and have been put to death in the most cruel 
manner. And whom has Jesus Christ the saint of saints 
injured ? He consoled all ; he healed all. " Virtue 
went out from him, and healed all." (Luke vi. 19.) 
And how has the world treated him ? It has persecuted 
him, so as to make him die through pain on the infamous 
gibbet of the cross. 



200 



SERMON XXVII. 



^ 7. This happens because the maxims of the world are 
diametrically opposed to the maxims of Jesus Christ. 
What the world esteems, Jesus Christ regards as folly. 
"For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God." 
(1 Cor. iii. 19.) And what is foolish in the eyes of the 
world that is, crosses, sickness, contempt, and ignomi 
niesJesus Christ holds in great estimation. " For the 
word^of the cross, to them indeed that perish, is foolish 
ness." (1 Cor. i. IS.) How, says St. Cyprian, can a man 
think himself to be a Christian, when he is afraid to be 
a Christian ? " Christianum se putat si Christianurn 
esse veretur p" (Ser. v. de Lapsis.) If we are Christians, 
let us show that we are Christians in name and in truth; 
for, if we are ashamed of Jesus Christ, he will be ashamed 
of us, and cannot give us a place on his right hand on 
the last day. " For he that shall be ashamed of me and 
my words, of him the Son of Man shall be ashamed 
when he shall come in his majesty." (Luke ix. 2G.) On 
the day of judgment he shall say: You have been 
ashamed of me on earth : I am now ashamed to see you 
with me in Paradise. Begone, accursed souls; go into 
hell to meet your companions, who have been ashamed 
of me. But mark the words " he that shall be ashamed 
of me and of my words." St. Augustine says, that some 
are ashamed to deny Jesus Christ, but do not blush to 
deny the maxims of Jesus Christ. " Erubescunt negare 
Christum, et non erubescunt negare verba Christi." 
(Serm. xlviii.) But you may tell me, that, if you say 
you cannot do such an act, because it is contrary to the 
Gospel, your friends will turn you into ridicule, and 
will call you a hypocrite. Then, says St. John Chry- 
sostom, you will not suffer to be treated with derision 
by a companion, and you are content to be hated by 
God ! JX"on vis a conserve derideri, sed odio haberi a 
Deo tuo ?" (Horn. xci. in Act. xix.) 

8. The Apostle, who gloried in being a follower of 
Christ, said : " The world is crucified to me, and I to 
the world." (Gal. vi. 14.) As I am a person crucified to 
the world an object of its scoffs and injustice, so the 
world is to me an object of contempt and abomination. 
It is necessary to be convinced, that if we do not trample 
on the world, the world will trample on our souls. But 



HUMAN RESPECT. 201 



what is the world and all its goods ? " All that is in 
the world is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the con 
cupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life." (1 John 
ii. 16.) To what are all the goods of this earth reduced? 
To riches, which are hut dung ; to honours, which are 
only smoke ; and to carnal pleasures. But what shall 
all these profit us, if we lose our souls ? " "What doth 
it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer 
the loss of his soul ?" (Matt. xvi. 26.) 

9. He that loves God and wishes to save his soul 
must despise the world and all human respect ; and to 
do this, everyone must offer violence to himself. St. 
Mary Magdalene had to do great violence to herself, in 
order to overcome human respect and the murmurings 
and scoffs of the world, when, in the presence of so 
many persons, she cast herself at the feet of Jesus 
Christ, to wash them with her tears, and dry them with 
her hair. But she thus became a saint, and merited 
from Jesus Christ pardon of her sins, and praise for her 
great love. " Many sins are forgiven her because she 
hath loved much." (Luke vii. 47.) One day, as St. 
Francis Borgia carried to certain prisoners a vessel of 
broth under his cloak, he met his son mounted on a fine 
horse, and accompanied by certain noblemen. The saint 
felt ashamed to show what he carried under his cloak. 
But what did he do in order to conquer human respect ? 
He took the vessel of broth, placed it on his head, and 
thus showed his contempt for the world. Jesus Christ, 
our Head and Master, when nailed to the cross, was 
mocked by the soldiers. " If thou be the Son of God, 
come down from the cross." (Matt, xxvii. 40.) He was 
mocked by the priests, saying : " He saved others; him 
self he cannot save." (Ibid., v. 42.) But he remained 
firm on the cross ; he cheerfully died upon it, and thus 
conquered the world. 

10. " I give thanks to God," says St. Jerome, " that I 
am worthy to be hated by the world." (Epis. ad Asellam.) 
The saint returns thanks to God for having made him 
worthy of the hatred of the world. Jesus Christ pro 
nounced his disciples blessed when they should be hated 
by men. " Blessed shall you be when men shall hate 
you." (Luke vi. 22.) Christians, let us rejoice ; for, if 



202 



SERMON XXVII. 



worldlings curse and upbraid us, God at the same time 
praises and blesses us. "They will curse, and thou 
wilt bless." (Ps. cviii. 28.) Is it not enough for us to be 
praised by God, to be praised by the queen of heaven, 
by all the angels, by all the saints, and by all just men ? 
Let worldlings say what they wish ; but let us continue 
to please God, who will give us, in the next life, a 
reward proportioned to the violence we shall have done 
to ourselves in despising the contradictions of men. 
Each of you should figure to himself, that there is no 
one in the world but himself and God. When the 
wicked treat us with contempt, let us recommend to 
God these blind and miserable men, who run in the 
road to perdition ; and let us thank the Lord for giving 
to us the light which he refuses to them. Let us con 
tinue in our own way : to obtain all, it is necessary to 
conquer all. 

Second Point. On the means of overcoming human 
respect. 

11. To overcome human respect, it is necessary to fix 
in our hearts the holy resolution of preferring the grace 
of God to all the goods and favours of this world, and 
to say with St. Paul: "Neither death, nor life, nor 
angels, nor principalities, nor powers, . . . .nor any other 
creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of 
God." (Rom. viii. 38, 39.) Jesus Christ exhorts us not 
to be afraid of those who can take away the life of the 
body ; but to fear him only who can condemn the soul 
and body to hell. " And fear you not them that kill the 
body ; but rather fear him that can destroy both soul 
and body into hell." (Matt, x. 28.) We wish either to 
follow God or the world ; if we wish to follow God we 
must give up the world. " now long do you halt 
between two sides ?" said Elias to the people. " If the 
Lord be God, follow him." (3 Kings xviii. 21.) You 
cannot serve God and the world. He that seeks to 
please men cannot please God. " If," says the Apostle, 
"I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of 
Christ/ (Gal. i. 10.) 

12. The true servants of God rejoice to see them 
selves despised and maltreated for the sake of Jesus 



HUMAN RESPECT. 203 



Christ. The holy apostles " went from the presence of 
the council, rejoicing that they were accounted worthy 
to suffer reproach for the name of Jesus." (Acts v. 41.) 
Moses could have prevented the anger of Pharaoh by not 
contradicting the current report that he was the son of 
Pharaoh s daughter. But he denied that he was her 
son, preferring, as St. Paul says, the opprobrium of 
Christ to all the riches of the world. * Choosing rather 
to be afflicted with the people of God;. .. .esteeming 
the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasure 
of the Egyptians." (Heb. xi. 25, 26.) 

13. Wicked friends come to you and say : What ex 
travagances are those in which you indulge ? Why do 
you not act like others ? Say to them in answer : My 
conduct is not opposed to that of all men ; there are 
others who lead a holy life. They are indeed few ; but 
I will follow their example; for the Gospel says: "Many 
are called, but few are chosen." (Matt. xx. 16.) "If," 
says St. John Climacus, " you wish to be saved with the 
few, live like the few." But, they will add, do you not 
see that all murmur against you, and condemn your 
manner of living ? Let your answer be : It is enough 
for me that God does not censure my conduct. Is it 
not better to obey God than to obey men ? Such was 
the answer of St. Peter and St. John to the Jewish 
priests : " If it be just in the sight of God to hear you 
rather than God, judge ye." (Acts iv. 19.) If they ask 
you how can you bear an insult ? or how, after submit 
ting to it, can you appear among your equals ? answer 
them by saying that you are a Christian, and that it is 
enough for you to appear well in the eyes of God. Such 
should be your answer to all those satellites of Satan : 
you must despise all their maxims and reproaches. And 
when it is necessary to reprove those who make little of 
God s law, you must take courage and correct them 
publicly. " Them that sin, reprove before all." (1 Tim. 
v. 20.) And when there is question of the divine 
honour, we should not be frightened by the dignity of 
the man who offends God ; let us say to him openly : 
This is sinful ; it cannot be done. Let us imitate the 
Baptist, who reproved King Herod for living with his 
brother s wife, and said to him: "It is not lawful for 



204 



SERMON XXV II I. 



thee to have her." (Matt. xiv. 4.) Men indeed shall 
regard us as fools, and turn us into derision ; but, on the 
day of judgment they shall acknowledge that they have 
been foolish, and we shall have the glory of being num 
bered among the saints. They shall say : " These are 
they whom we had sometime in derision. .. .We fools 
esteemed their life madness, and their end without 
honour. Behold how they are numbered among the 
children of God, and their lot is among the saints." 
(Wis. v. 3, 4, 5.) 



SERMON XXVIII. PENTECOST SUNDAY. 

On conformity to the will of God. 

"As the Father hath given me commandment, so do I." JOHN 

xiv. 31. 

JESUS CHRIST was given to us, by God, as a saviour and 
as a master. Hence he came on earth principally to 
teach us, not only by his words but also by his own ex 
ample, how we are to love God our supreme good : 
hence, as we read in this day s Gospel, he said to his 
disciples : " That the world may know that I love the 
Father, and as the Father hath given me command 
ment, so do I." To show the world the love I bear to 
the Father, I will execute all his commands. In an 
other place he said : " I came down from heaven not to 
do my own will, but the will of him that sent me." 
(John vi. 38.) Devout souls, if you love God and desire 
to become saints, you must seek his will, and wish what 
he wishes. St. Paul tells us, that the divine love is 
poured into our souls by means of the Holy Ghost. 
" The charity of God is poured into our hearts by the 
Holy Ghost, who is given to us." (Horn. v. 5.) If, then, 
we wish for the gift of divine love, we must constantly 
beseech the Holy Ghost to make us know and do the 
will of God. Let us continually implore his light to 
know, and his strength to fulfil the divine will. Many 
wish to love God, but they, at the same time, wish to 
follow their own, and not his will. Hence I shall show 
to-day, in the first point, that uur sanctification consists 



CONFORMITY TO THE WILL OF GOD. 205 

entirely in conformity to the will of God ; and in the 
second, I shall show how, and in what, we should in 
practice conform ourselves to the divine will. 

First Point Our sanctification consists entirely in 
conformity to the will of God. 

1. It is certain that our salvation consists in loving 
God. A soul that does not love God is not living, but 
dead. "He that loveth not, abideth in death." (1 
John iii. 14.) The perfection of love consists in con 
forming our will to the will of God. " And life in his 
good will." (Ps. xxix. 6.) " Have charity, which is the 
bond of perfection." (Col. iii. 14.) According to the 
Areopagite, the principal effect of love is to unite the 
wills of lovers, so that they may have but one heart and 
one will. Hence all our works, communions, prayers, 
penances, and alms, please God in proportion to their 
conformity to the divine will ; and if they be contrary 
to the will of God, they are no longer acts of virtue, but 
defects deserving chastisement. 

2. Whilst preaching one day, Jesus Christ was told 
that his mother and brethren were waiting for him ; in 
answer he said : " Whosoever shall do the will of my 
Father that is in heaven, he is my brother and sister 
and mother." (Matt. xii. 50.) By these words he gave 
us to understand that he acknowledged as friends and 
relatives those only who fulfil the will of his Father. 

3. The saints in heaven love God perfectly. In what, 
I ask, does the perfection of their love consist ? It con 
sists in an entire conformity to the divine will. Hence 
Jesus Christ has taught us to pray for grace to do the 
will of God on earth, as the saints do it in heaven. 
" Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven." (Matt. 
vi. 10.) Hence St. Teresa says, that " they who practise 
prayer, should seek in all things to conform their will 
to the will of God." In this, she adds, consists the 
highest perfection. He that practises it in the most 
perfect manner, shall receive from God the greatest 
gifts, and shall make the greatest progress in interior 
life. The accomplishment of the divine will has been 
the sole end of the saints in the practice of all virtues. 
Blessed Henry Suson used to say : "I would rather be 



206 SERMOX XXVIII. 



the vilest man on earth with the will of God, than be a 
seraph with my own will." 

4. A perfect act of conformity is sufficient to make a 
person a saint. Behold, Jesus Christ appeared to St. 
Paul while he was persecuting the Church, and con 
verted him. What did the saint do ? He did nothing 
more than offer to God his will, that he might dispose 
of it as he pleased. " Lord," he exclaimed, " what 
wilt thou have me to do ? (Acts ix. 6.) And instantly 
the Lord declared to Ananias, that Saul was a vessel of 
election, and apostle of the Gentiles. " This man is a 
vessel of election to carry my name before the Gentiles." 
(Acts ix. 15.) He that gives his will to God, gives him 
all he has. He that mortifies himself by fasts and peni 
tential austerities, or that gives alms to the poor for 
God s sake, gives to God a part of himself and of his 
goods ; but he that gives his will to God, gives him all, 
and can say : Lord, having given thee my will, I have 
nothing more to give thee I have given thee all. It 
is our heart that is, our will that God asks of us. 
* My son, give me thy heart." (Prov. xxiii. 26.) Since, 
then, says the holy Abbot Nilus, our will is so accept 
able to God, we ought, in our prayers, to ask of him 
the grace, not that we may do what he will, but that we 
may do all that he wishes us to do. Every one knows 
this truth, that our sanctification consists in doing the 
will of God ; but there is some difficulty in reducing it 
to practice. Let us, then, come to the second point, 
in which I have to say many things of great practical 
utility. 

Second Point How, and in what, we ought to prac 
tise conformity to the will of God. 

5. That we may feel a facility of doing on all occa 
sions the divine will, we must beforehand offer ourselves 
continually to embrace in peace whatever God ordains 
or wills. Such was the practice of holy David. " My 
heart," he used to say, " is ready ; God ! my heart 
is ready." (Ps. cvii. 2.) And he continually besought 
the Lord to teach him to do his divine will. " Teach 
me to do thy will." (Ps. cxlii. 1 0.) He thus deserved 
to be called a man according to God s own heart. " I 



CONFORMITY TO THE WILL OF GOD. 207 

have found David, the son of Jesse, a man according to 
my own heart, who shall do all my wills." (Acts xiii. 
2 2.) And why? Because the holy king was always 
ready to do whatever God wished him to do. 

6. St. Teresa offered herself to God fifty times in the 
day, that he might dispose of her as he pleased, and 
declared her readiness to emhrace either prosperity or 
adversity. The perfection of our oblation consists in our 
offering ourselves to God without reserve. All are pre 
pared to unite themselves to the divine will in prosperity ; 
but perfection consists in conforming to it, even in adver 
sity. To thank God in all things that are agreeable to 
us, is acceptable to him ; but to accept with cheerfulness 
what is repugnant to our inclinations, is still more pleas 
ing to him. Father M. Avila used to say, that "a single 
blessed be God, in adversity, is better than six thousand 
thanksgivings in prosperity." 

7. We should conform to the divine will, not only in 
misfortunes which come directly from God such as 
sickness, loss of property, privation of friends and rela 
tives but also in crosses which come to us from men, 
but indirectly from God such as acts of injustice, defa 
mations, calumnies, injuries, and all other sorts of perse 
cutions. But, you may ask, does God will that others 
commit sin, by injuring us in our property or in our 
reputation ? No ; God wills not their sin ; but he wishes 
us to bear with such a loss and with such a humiliation ; 
and he wishes us to conform, on all such occasions, to his 
divine will. 

8. "Good things and evil... are from God." (Eccl. 
xi. 14.) All blessings such as riches and honours and 
all misfortunes such as sickness and persecutions 
come from God. But mark that the Scripture calls 
them evils, only because we, through the want of con 
formity to the will of God, regard them as evils and 
misfortunes. But, in reality, if we accepted them from 
the hands of God with Christian resignation, they 
should be blessings and not evils. The jewels which 
give the greatest splendour to the crown of the saints 
in heaven, are the tribulations which they bore with 
patience, as coming from the hands of the Lord. On 
hearing that the Sabeans had taken away all his oxen 



208 SERMON XX VI II. 



and asses, holy Job said : " The Lord gave, and the 
Lord hath taken away." (Job i. 21.) He did not say 
that the Lord gave, and that the Sabeans had taken 
away ; but that the Lord gave, and that the Lord had 
taken away : and therefore he blessed the Lord, believing 
that all had happened through the divine will." As it 
has pleased the Lord, so it is done : blessed be the name 
of the Lord." (Ibid.) Being tormented with iron hooks 
and burning torches, the holy martyrs Epictetus and 
Atone said: " Lord, thy will be done in us." And their 
last words were : " Be blessed, eternal God, for having 
given us the grace to accomplish thy will." 

9. " Whatsoever shall befall the just man, it shall not 
make him sad." (Prov. xii. 21.) A soul that loves God 
is not disturbed by any misfortune that may happen to 
her. Cesarius relates (lib. x., c. vi.), that a certain monk 
who did not perform greater austerities than his com 
panions, wrought many miracles. Being astonished at 
this, the abbot asked him one day what were the works 
of piety which he practised. He answered, that he was 
more imperfect than the other monks ; but that his sole 
concern was to conform himself to the divine will. Were 
you displeased, said the abbot, with the person who in 
jured us so grievously a few days ago ? No, father, 
replied the monk ; I, on the contrary, thanked God for 
it ; because I know that he does or permits all things 
for our good. From this answer the abbot perceived the 
sanctity of the good religious. We should act in a 
similar manner under all the crosses that come upon us. 
Let us always say : " Yea, Father ; for so hath it seemed 
good in thy sight." (Matt. xi. 26.) Lord, this is pleas 
ing to thee, let it be done. 

10. He that acts in this manner enjoys that peace 
which the angels announced at the birth of Jesus Christ 
to men of good will that is, to those whose wills are 
united to the will of God. These, as the Apostle says, 
enjoy that peace which exceeds all sensual delights. 
u The peace of God, which surpasseth all understand 
ing." (Phil. iv. 7.) A great and solid peace, which is 
not liable to change. "A holy man continueth in 
wisdom like the su*i ; but a fool is changing like the 
moon." (Eccl. xxvii 12.) Fools that is, sinners are 



CONFORMITY TO THE WILL OF GOD. 



changed like the moon, which increases to-day, and 
grows less on to-morrow ; to-day they are seen to laugh 
through folly, and to-morrow, to weep through despair ; 
to-day they are humhle and meek, to-morrow, proud 
and furious. In a word, sinners change with prosperity 
and adversity ; hut the just are like the sun, always the 
same, always serene in whatever happens to them. In 
the inferior part of the soul they cannot but feel some 
pain at the misfortunes which befall them ; but, as long 
as the will remains united to the will of God, nothing- 
can deprive them of that spiritual joy which is not sub 
ject to the vicissitudes of this life. " Your joy no mail 
shall take from you." (John xvi. 22.) 

11. He that reposes in the divine will, is like a man 
placed above the clouds : he sees the lightning, and 
hears the claps of thunder, and the raging of the tem 
pest below, but he is not injured or disturbed by them. 
And how can he be ever disturbed, when whatever he 
desires always happens ? He that desires only what 
pleases God, always obtains whatsoever he wishes, 
because all that happens to him, happens through the 
will of God. Salvian says, that Christians who are 
resigned, if they be in a low condition of life, wish to be 
in that state ; if they be poor, they desire poverty ; be 
cause they wish whatever God wills, and therefore they 
are always content. " Humiles sunt, hoc volunt, pau- 
peres sunt, paupertate delectantur : itaque beati dicendi 
sunt." If cold, or heat, or rain, or wind come on, he 
that is united to the will of God says : I wish for this 
cold, this heat, this rain, and this wind, because God 
wills them. If loss of property, persecution, sickness, 
or even death come upon him, he says : I wish for this 
loss, this persecution, this sickness ; I even wish for 
death, when it comes, because God wills it. And how 
can a person who seeks to please God, enjoy greater 
happiness than that which arises from cheerfully em 
bracing the cross which God sends him, and from the 
conviction that, in embracing it, he pleases God in the 
highest degree ? So great was the joy which St. Mary 
Magdalene de Pazzi used to feel at the bare mention of 
the will of God, that she would fall into an ecstacy. 

12. But, how great is the folly of those who resist 

o 



210 SERMON XXVIII. 



the divine will, and, instead of receiving tribulations 
with patience, get into a rage, and accuse God of treat 
ing them with injustice and cruelty ! Perhaps they 
expect that, in consequence of their opposition, what 
God wills shall not happen ? " Who resisteth his will ?" 
(Rom. ix. 19.) Miserable men ! instead of lightening 
the cross which God sends them, they make it more 
heavy and painful. " Who hath resisted him, and hath 
peace ?" (Job ix. 4.) Let us be resigned to the divine 
will, and we shall thus render our crosses light, and 
shall gain great treasures of merits for eternal life. In 
sending us tribulations, God intends to make us saints. 
" This is the will of God, your sanctification." (1 Thess. 
iv. 3.) He sends us crosses, not because he wishes evil 
to us, but because he desires our welfare, and because 
he knows that they are conducive to our salvation. 
" All things work together unto good." (Rom. viii. 28.) 
Even the chastisements which come from the Lord are 
not for our destruction, but for our good and for the 
correction of our faults. " Let us believe that these 
scourges of the Lord....have happened for our amend 
ment, and not for our destruction." (Jud. viii. 27.) God 
loves us so tenderly, that he not only desires, but is 
solicitous about our welfare. " The Lord," says David, 
" is careful for me." (Ps. xxxix. 18.) 

13. Let us, then, always throw ourselves into the 
hands of God, who so ardently desires and so anxiously 
watches over our eternal salvation. " Casting all your 
care upon him ; for he hath care of you." (1 Peter v. 7.) 
He who, during life, casts himself into the hands of 
God, shall lead a happy life and shall die a holy death. 
He who dies resigned to the divine will, dies a saint ; 
but they who shall not have been united to the divine 
will during life, shall not conform to it at death, and 
shall not be saved. The accomplishment of the divine 
will should be the sole object of all our thoughts during 
the remainder of our days. To this end we should 
direct all our devotions, our meditations, communions, 
visits to the blessed sacrament, and all our prayers. We 
should constantly beg of God to teach and help us to do 
his will. "Teach me to do thy will." (Ps. cxlii. 10.) 
Let us, at the same time, offer ourselves to accept with- 



LOVE OF THE THREE DIVINE PERSONS FOR MAN. 211 

out reserve whatever he ordains, saying, with the 
Apostle : " Lord, what wilt thou have me to do ?" (Acts 
ix. 6.) Lord, tell me what thou dost wish me to do I 
desire to do thy will. And in all things, whether they 
be pleasing or painful, let us always have in our mouths 
that petition of the PATER NOSTER- " Thy will be done " 
Let us frequently repeat it in the day, with all the 
affection of our hearts. Happy we, if we lire and die 
saying : " Thy will be done Tthy will be done !" 

SEEMON XXIX. TRINITY SUNDAY. 

On the love of the Three Divine Persons for man. 

S ie r. efore \ e&ch .V e a11 nations, baptizing them in the name 
e lather, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." MATT. 






ST. LEO has said, that the nature of God is by its 
essence, goodness itself. " Deus cujus natura bonitas " 
Now, goodness naturally diffuses itself. " Bonum est 
sui diffusivum." And by experience we know that 
men of a good heart are full of love for all, and desire 
to share with all the goods which they enjoy God 
being infinite goodness, is all love towards us his crea 
tures. Hence St. John calls him pure love _ pure 
charity. "God is charity." (1 John iv. 8.) And there- 
lore he ardently desires to make us partakers of his 
own happiness. Faith teaches us how much the Three 
Divine Persons have done through love to man, and to 
enrich him with heavenly gifts. In saying to his 
apostles " Teach ye all nations, baptizing them in the 
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy 
jnost, Jesus Christ wished that they should not only 
instruct the Gentiles in the mystery of the Most Holy 
Irmity but that they should also teach them the love 
which the adorable Trinity bears to man. I intend to 
propose this day for your consideration the love shown 
to us by the Father in our creation ; secondly, the love 
ol the hon m our redemption; and thirdly, the love of 
tne Holy Ghost, in our sanctification. 

First Point The love shown to us by the Father in 
our creation. 



212 SERMON XXIX. 



1. " I have loved thee with an everlasting love, there 
fore have I drawn thee, taking pity on thee." (Jer. xxxi. 
3.) My son, says the Lord, I have loved you for eter 
nity, and, through love for you, I have shown mercy to 
you by drawing you out of nothing. Hence, beloved 
Christians, of all those who love you, God has been 
your first lover. Your parents have been the first to 
love you on this earth ; but they have loved you only 
after they had known you. But, before you had a being, 
God loved you. Before your father or mother was 
born, God loved you; yes, even before the creation of 
the world, he loved you. And how long before creation 
has God loved you? Perhaps for a thousand years, or 
for a thousand ages. It is needless to count years or 
ages; God loved you from eternity. "I have loved 
thee with an evei lasting love." As long as he has been 
God, he has luved you : as long as he has loved himself, 
he has loved you. The thought of this love made St. 
Agnes the Virgin exclaim : " I am prevented by another 
lover." When creatures asked her heart, she answered: 
Ko: I cannot prefer you to my God. He has been 
the first to love me; it is then but just that he should 
hold the first place in my affections. 

2. Thus, brethren, God has loved you from eternity, 
and through pure love, he has selected you from among 
so many men whom he could have created in place of 
you; but he has left them in their nothingness, and has 
brought you into existence, and placed you in the world. 
For the love of you he has made so many other beauti 
ful creatures, that they might serve you, and that they 
might remind you of the love which he has borne to 
you, and of the gratitude which you ^owe to him. 
" Heaven and Earth," says St. Augustine, " and all 
things tell me to love thee/ When the saint beheld the 
sun, the stars, the mountains, the sea, the rains, they all 
appeared to him to speak, and to say : Augustine, love 
God ; for he has created us that you might love him. 
When the Abbe de Ranee, the founder of La Trappe, 
looked at the hills, the fountains, or flowers, he said that 
all these creatures reminded him of the love which God 
had borne him. St. Teresa used to say, that these crea 
tures reproached her with her ingratitude to God. 



LOVE OF THE THREE DIVINE PERSONS FOR MAN. 213 

Whilst she held a flower or fruit in her hand, St. Mary 
Magdalene de Pazzi used to feel her heart wounded 
with divine love, and would say within herself: Then, 
my God has thought from eternity of creating this flower 
and this fruit that I might love him. 

3. Moreover, seeing us condemned to hell, in punish 
ment of our sins, the Eternal Father, through love for 
us, has sent his Son on the earth to die on the cross, in 
order to redeem us from hell, and to bring us with him 
self into Paradise. " God so loved the world, as to give 
his only begotten Son " (John iii. 16), love, which the 
apostle calls an excess of love. " For his exceeding 
charity wherewith he loved us, even when we were 
dead in sin, has quickened us together in Christ." (Eph. 
ii. 4, 5.) 

4. See also the special love which God has shown you 
in bringing you into life in a Christian country, and in 
the bosom of the Catholic or true Church. How many 
are born among the pagans, among the Jews, among 
the Mahometans and heretics, and all are lost. Con 
sider that, compared with these, only a few not even 
the tenth part of the human race have the happiness 
of being born in a country where the true faith reigns ; 
and, amon^ that small number, he has chosen you. Oh ! 
what an invaluable benefit is the gift of faith ! How 
many millions of souls, among infidels and heretics, are 
deprived of the sacraments, of sermons, of good example, 
and of the other helps to salvation which we possess in 
the true Church. And the Lord resolved to bestow on 
us all these great graces, without any merit on our part, 
and even with the foreknowledge of our demerits. For 
when he thought of creating us and of conferring these 
favours upon us, he foresaw our sins, and the injuries 
we would commit against him. 

Second Point. The love which the Son of God has 
shown to us in our redemption. 

5. Adam, our first father, sins by eating the for 
bidden apple, and is condemned to eternal death, along 
with all his posterity. Seeing the whole human race 
doomed to perdition, God resolved to send a redeemer 
to save mankind. Who shall come to accomplish their 



214 SERMON XXIX. 



redemption ? Perhaps an angel or a seraph. No ; the 
Son of God, the supreme and true God, equal to the 
Father, offers himself to come on earth, and there to 
take human fle^h, and to die for the salvation of men. 
prodigy of Divine love ! Man, says St. Fulgen- 
tius, despises God, and separates himself from God, 
and through love for him, God comes on earth to 
seek after rebellious man. " Homo Deum contem- 
nens, a Deo disce-ssit : Deus hominem diligens, ad 
homines venit." (Serm. in Xativ. Christ.) Since, says 
St. Augustine, we could not go to the Redeemer, he 
has deigned to come to us. " Quia ad mediatorem 
venire non poteramus, ipse ad nos venire dignatus est." 
And why has Jesus Christ resolved to come to us ? Ac 
cording to the same holy doctor, it is to convince us of 
his great love for us. " Christ came, that man might 
know how much God loves him." 

G. Hence the Apostle writes : " The goodness and 
kindness of God our Saviour appeared." (Tit. iii. 5.) 
In the Greek text, the words are : " Singularis Dei 
erga homines apparuit amor :" " The singular love 
of God towards men appeared." In explaining this 
passage, St. Bernard says, that before God appeared on 
earth in human flesh, men could not arrive at a know 
ledge of the divine goodness ; therefore the Eternal 
"Word took human nature, that, appearing in the form 
of man, men might know the goodness of God. " Pri- 
usquam apparet humanitas, latebat beniguitas, sed undo 
tanta agnosci poterat ? Venit in came ut, apparante 
humanitate, cognosceretur benignitas." (Serm. i., in 
Eph.) And w r hat greater love and goodness could the 
Son of God show to us, than to become man and to 
become a worm like us, in order to save us from, perdi 
tion ? What astonishment would we not feel, if we saw 
a prince become a worm to save the worms of his king 
dom ! And what shall we say at the sight of a God 
made man like us, to deliver us from eternal death ? 
"The word was made flesh." (John i. 14.) A God 
made flesh ! if faith did not assure us of it, who could 
ever believe it? Behold then, as St. Paul says, a Gud 
as it were annihilated. " He emptied himself, taking 
the form of a servant and in habit found as a man/ 



LOVE OF THE THREE DIVINE PERSONS FOR MAN. 215 

(Phil. ii. 7.) By these words the Apostle gives us to 
understand, that the Son of God, who was filled with 
the divine majesty and power, humbled himself so as 
to assume the lowly and impotent condition of human 
nature, taking the form or nature of a servant, and he- 
coming like men in his external appearance, although, 
as St. Chrysostom observes, he was not a mere man, but 
man and God. Hearing a deacon singing the words of 
St. John, " and the Word was made flesh," St. Peter of 
Alcantara fell into ecstasy, and flew through the air to 
the altar of the most holy sacrament. 

7. But this God of love, the Incarnate Word, was not 
content with becoming flesh for the love of man ; but, 
according to Isaias, he wished to live among us, as the 
last and lowest, and most afflicted of men. " There 
is no beauty in him, nor comeliness : and we have seen 

him despised, and the most abject of men, a man of 

sorrows." (Isa. iii. 2, 3.) He was a man of sorrows. 
Yes ; for the life of Jesus Christ was full of sorrows. 
Virum dolorum. He was a man made on purpose to 
be tormented with sorrows. From his birth till his 
death, the life of our Redeemer was all full of sorrows. 

8. And because he came on earth to gain our love, 
as he declared when he said " I am come to cast fire 
on the earth ; and what will I but that it be kindled ?" 
(Luke xii. 49), he wished at the close of his life to give 
us the strongest marks and proofs of the love which he 
bears to us. " Having loved his own who were in the 
world, he loved them unto the end." (John xiii. 1.) 
Hence he not only humbled himself to death for us, but 
he also chose to die the most painful and opprobrious 
of all deaths. " He humbled himself, becoming obedient 
unto death, even unto the death of the cross." (Phil. ii. 8.) 
They who were crucified among the Jews, were objects 
of malediction and reproach to all. * He is accursed 
of God that hangeth on a tree." (Deut. xxi. 23.) Our 
Redeemer wished to die the shameful death of the cross, 
in the midst of a tempest of ignominies and sorrows. 
" I am come into the depths of the sea, and a tempest 
hath overwhelmed me." (Ps. Ixviii. 3.) 

9. " In this/ says St. John, " we have known the 
charity of God, because he hath laid down his life for 



216 SERMON XXIX. 



us." (1 John iii. 16.) And how could God give us a 
greater proof of his love than hy laying down his life 
for us ? Or, how is it possible for us to behold a God 
dead on the cross for our sake, and not love him? 
" For the charity of Christ presseth us." (2 Cor. v. 14.) 
By these words St. Paul tells us, that it is not so much 
what Jesus Christ has done and suffered for our salva 
tion, as the love which he has shown in suffering and 
dying for us, that obliges and compels us to love him. 
He has, as the same Apostle adds, died for all, that 
each of us may live no longer for himself, but only 
for that God who has given his life for the love of us. 
" Christ died for all, that they also who live, may not 
live to themselves, but unto him who died for them, 
and rose again." (2 Cor. v. 15.) And, to captivate our 
love, he has, after having given his life for us, left 
himself for the food of our souls. " Take ye and eat : 
this is my body." (Matt. xxvi. 26.) Had not faith taught 
that he left himself for our food, who could ever believe 
it ? But of the prodigy of divine love manifested in 
the holy sacrament, I shall speak on the second Sunday 
after Pentecost Let us pass to a brief consideration of 
the third point. 

Third Point. On the love shown to us by the Holy 
Ghost in our sanctification. 

.10. The Eternal Father was not content with giving 
us his Son Jesus Christ, that he might save us by his 
death ; he has also given us the Holy Ghost, that he 
may dwell in our souls, and that he may keep them 
always inflamed with holy love. In spite of all the in 
juries which he received on earth from men, Jesus 
Christ, forgetful of their ingratitude, after having 
ascended into heaven, sent us the Holy Ghost, that, 
by his holy flames, this di vine spirit might kindle in our 
hearts the fire of divine charity, and sanctify our souls. 
Hence, when he descended on the apostles, he appeared 
in the form of tongues of fire. " And there appeared 
to them parted tongues, as it were of fire." (Acts ii. 3.) 
Hence the Church prescribes the following prayer : 
" We beseech thee, O Lord, that the Spirit may inflame 
us with that fire which the Lord Jesus Christ sent on 



LOVE OF THE THREE DIVINE PERSONS FOR MAN. 217 

the earth, and vehemently wished to be enkindled." 
This is the holy fire which inflamed the saints with the 
desire of doing great things for God, which enabled 
them to love their most cruel enemies, to seek after con 
tempt, to renounce all the riches and honours of the 
world, and even to embrace with joy torments and 
death. 

11. The Holy Ghost is that divine bond which unites 
the Father with the Son ; it is he that unites our souls, 
through love, with God. For, as St. Augustine says, 
an union with God is the effect of love. " Charity is a 
virtue which unites us with God." The chains of the 
world are chains of death, but the bonds of the Holy 
Ghost are bonds of eternal life, because they bind us to 
God, who is our true and only life. 

12. Let us also remember that all the lights, inspira 
tions, divine calls, all the good acts which we have per 
formed during our life, all our acts of contrition, of 
confidence in the divine mercy, of love, of resignation, 
have been the gifts of the Holy Ghost. " Likewise the 
Spirit also helpeth our infirmity ; for we know not what 
we should pray for as we ought ; but the Spirit himself 
asketh for us with unspeakable groanings." (Rom. viii. 
26.) Thus, it is the Holy Ghost that prays for us ; for 
we know not what we ought to ask, but the Holy Spirit 
teaches us what we should pray for. 

13. In a word, the Three Persons of the Most Holy 
Trinity have endeavoured to show the love which God 
has borne us, that we may love him through gratitude. 
" When," says St. Bernard, " God loves, he wishes only 
to be loved/ It is, then, but just that we love that 
God who has been the first to love us, and to put us 
under so many obligations by so many proofs of tender 
love. " Let us, therefore, love God, because God first 
hath loved us." (1 John iv. 19.) Oh ! what a treasure 
is charity ! it is an infinite treasure, because it makes us 
partakers of the friendship of God. " She is an infinite 
treasure to men, which they that use become the friends 
of God." (Wis. vii. 14.) But, to acquire this treasure, 
it is necessary to detach the heart from earthly things. 
" Detach the heart from creatures," says St. Teresa, 
"and you shall find God." In a heart filled with 



218 



SERMON XXX. 



earthly affections, there is no room for divine love. Let 
us therefore continually implore the Lord in our prayers, 
communions, and visits to the blessed sacrament, to give 
us his holy love ; for this love will expel from our souls 
all affections for the things of this earth. " When," 
says St. Francis de Sales, " a house is on fire, all that is 
within is thrown out through the windows." By these 
words the saint meant, that when a soul is inflamed with 
divine love, she easily detaches herself from creatures : 
and Father Paul Segneri, the younger, used to say, that 
divine love is a thief that robs us of all earthly affections, 
and makes us exclaim : " What, O my Lord, but thee 
alone, do I desire ?" 

14. " Love is strong ns death." (Cant. viii. 6.) As no 
creature can resist death when the hour of dissolution 
arrives, so there is no difficulty which love, in a soul 
that loves God, does not overcome. When there is 
question of pleasing her beloved, love conquers all 
things : it conquers pains, losses, ignominies. " Nihil 
tarn durum quod non amoris igne vincatur." This love 
made the martyrs, in the midst of torments, racks, and 
burning gridirons, rejoice, and thank God for enabling 
them to suffer for him : it made the other saints, when 
there was no tyrant to torment them, become, as it 
were, their own executioners, by fasts, disciplines, and 
penitential austerities. St. Augustine says, that in doing 
what one loves there is no labour, and if there be, the 
labour itself is loved. " In eo quod amatur aut non 
laboratur, aut ipse labor amatur." 



SERMON XXX. FIRST SUNDAY AFTER 
PENTECOST. 

On charity to our neighbour. 

"For with the same measure that you shall mete withal, it shall be 
measured to you again." LUKE vi. 38. 

IN this day s gospel we find that Jesus Christ once said 
to his disciples : " Be ye merciful, as your Father also 
is merciful." (Luke vi. 36.) As your heavenly Father 
is merciful towards you, so must you be merciful to 
others. He then proceeds to explain how, and in what, 



CHARITY TO OUR NEIGHBOUR. 219 

we should practise holy charity to our neighbour. 
"Judge not," he adds, " and you shall not be judged" 
(v. 37). Here he speaks against those who do not 
abstain from judging rashly of their neighbours. " For 
give, and you shall be forgiven" (ibid). He tells us 
that we cannot obtain pardon of the offences we have 
offered to God, unless we pardon those who have 
offended us. " Give, and it shall be given to you" 
(v. 38). By these words he condemns those who wish 
that God should grant whatsoever they desire, and are 
at the same time niggardly and avaricious towards the 
poor. In conclusion he declares, that the measure of 
charity which we use to our neighbour shall be the 
same that God will use towards us. Let us, then, see 
how we should practise charity to our neighbour : we 
ought to practise it, first, in our thoughts ; secondly, in 
words ; thirdly, by works. 

First Point. How we should practise charity to our 
neighbour in our thoughts. 

1. "And this commandment we have from God, that 
he who loveth God, love also his brother." (1 John iv. 
21.) The same precept, then, which obliges us to love 
God, commands us to love our neighbour. St. Catherine 
of Genoa said one day to the Lord : " My God, thou dost 
wish me to love my neighbour ; but I can love no one 
but thee." The Lord said to her in answer : " My child, 
he that loves me loves whatsoever I love." Hence St. 
John says : " If any man say : I love God, and hateth 
his brother, he is a liar." (1 John iv. 20.) And Jesus 
Christ has declared that he will receive, as done to him 
self, the charity which we practise towards the least of 
his brethren. 

2. Hence we must, in the first place, practise fraternal 
charity in our thoughts, by never judging evil of any 
one without certain foundation. " Judge not, and you 
shall not be judged." He who judges without certain 
grounds that another has committed a mortal sin, is 
guilty of a grievous fault ; if he only rashly suspects 
another of a mortal sin, he commits at least a venial 
offence. But, to judge or suspect evil of another is not 
sinful when we have certain grounds for the judgment 



220 



SERMON XXX. 



or suspicion. However, he that has true charity thinks 
well of all, and banishes from his mind both judgments 
and suspicions. " Charity thinketh no evil." (1 Cor. 
xiii. 5.) The heads of families are obliged to suspect 
the evil which may be done by those who are under 
their care. Certain fathers and foolish mothers know 
ingly allow their sons to frequent bad company and 
houses in which there are young females, and permit 
their daughters to be alone with men. They endeavour 
to justify the neglect of their children by saying: " I do 
not wish to entertain bad thoughts of others." O folly 
of parents ! They are in such cases bound to suspect 
the evil which may happen ; and, in order to prevent it, 
they should correct their children. But they that are 
not entrusted with the care of others, ought to abstain 
carefully from inquiring after the defects and conduct of 
others. 

3. When sickness, loss of property, or any misfortune 
happens to a neighbour, charity requires that we regret, 
at least with the superior part of the soul, the evil that 
has befallen him. I say, " with the superior part of the 
soul ;" for, when we hear of the misfortunes of an enemy, 
our inferior appetite appears to feel delight ; but, as long 
as we do not consent to that delight, we are not guilty 
of sin. However, it is sometimes lawful to desire, or to 
be pleased at, the temporal evil of another, when we 
expect that it will be productive of spiritual good to 
himself or to others. For example : it is lawful, accord 
ing to St. Gregory, to rejoice at the sickness or misfor 
tune of an obstinate and scandalous sinner, and even to 
desire that he may fall into sickness or poverty, in order 
that he may cease to lead a wicked life, or at least to 
scandalize others. Behold the words of St. Gregory: 
" E venire plerumque potest, ut non amissa charitate, et 
inimici nostri ruina Iffitificet, et ejus gloria sine invidiae 
culpa contristet ; cum et, ruente eo, quosdam bene erigi 
credimus, et proficiente illo plerosque injuste opprimi 
formidamus." (Lib. xxii., Moral., cap. ii.) But, except 
in such cases, it is unlawful to rejoice at the loss of a 
neighbour. It is also contrary to charity to feel regret 
at a neighbour s prosperity merely because it is useful 
to him. This is precisely the sin of envy. The envious 



CHARITY TO OtJR NEIGHBOUR. 221 

are, according to the Wise Man, on the side of the 
devil, who, because he could not bear to see men in 
heaven, from which he had been banished, tempted 
Adam to rebel against God. " But by the envy of the 
devil death came into the world ; and they follow him 
that are of his side." (Wis. ii. 25.) Let us pass to the 
next point. 

Second Point. On the charity which we ought to 
practise towards our neighbour in words. 

4. With regard to the practice of fraternal charity 
in words, we ought, in the first place, and above all, to 
abstain from all detraction. " The tale-bearer shall 
defile his own soul, and shall be hated by all." (Eccl. 
xxi. 31.) As they who always speak well of others are 
loved by all, so he who detracts his neighbour is hateful 
to all to God and to men, who, although they take 
delight in listening to detraction, hate the detractor, and 
are on their guard against him. St. Bernard says that 
the tongue of a detractor is a three-edged sword. 
" Gladius equidem anceps, immo triplex est lingua de- 
tractoris" (in Ps. Ivi). With one of these edges it 
destroys the reputation of a neighbour ; ^ with the 
second it wounds the souls of those who listen to the 
detraction ; and with the third it kills the soul of the 
detractor by depriving him of the divine grace. You 
will say : " I have spoken of my neighbour only in secret 
to my friends, and have made them promise not to men 
tion to others what I told them." This excuse will not 
stand : no ; you are, as the Lord says, the serpent that 
bites in silence. " If a serpent bite in silence, he is 
nothing better that backbiteth secretly." (Eccl. x. 11.) 
Your secret defamation bites and destroys the character 
of a neighbour. They who indulge in the vice of de 
traction are chastised not only in the next, but also in. 
this life, because their uncharitable tongues are the 
cause of a thousand sins, by creating discord in whole 
families and entire villages. Thomas Cantaprensis 
(Apum, etc., cap. xxxvii.) relates, that he knew a certain 
detractor, who at the end of life became raging mad, 
and died lacerating his tongue with his teeth. The 
tongue of another detractor, who was going to speak 



222 



SERMON XXX. 



ill of St. Malachy, instantly swelled and was filled with 
worms. And, after seven days, the unhappy man died 
miserably. 

5. Detraction is committed not only when we take 
away a neighbour s character, by imputing to him a sin 
which he has not committed, or exaggerating his guilt, 
but also when we make known to others any of his 
secret sins. Some persons, when they know anythin" 
injurious to a neighbour, appear to suffer, as it were, the 
pams^of childbirth, until they tell it toothers. Wlien 
the sin ^of a neighbour is secret and grievous, it is a 
mortal sin to mention it to others without a just cause. 
I say, "without a just cause ;" for, to make known to a 
parent the fault of a child, that he may correct him and 
prevent a repetition of the fault, is not sinful, but is an 
act of virtue ; for according to St. Thomas (2, 2, qu. 2, 
art. 73), to let others know the sins of a neighbour is 
unlawful, when it is done to destroy his reputation, but 
not when it is done for his good, or for the good of 
others. 

6. They who listen to detraction, and afterwards go 
and tell what was said to the person whose character 
had been injured, have to render a great account to 

These are called talebearers. Oh! how great 
is the evil produced by these talebearing tongues that 
are thus employed in sowing discord. They are objects 

of God s ^ hatred. "The Lord hateth him that 

soweth discord among brethren." (Prov. vi. 16, 19.) 
Should the person who has been defamed speak of his 
defamer, the injury which he has received may, perhaps, 
give him some claim to compassion. But why should 
you relate what you have heard ? Is it to create ill-will 
and hatred that shall be the cause of a thousand sins ? 
If, from this day forward, you ever hear anything in 
jurious to a neighbour, follow the advice of the Holy 
Ghost. " Hast thou heard a word against thy neigh 
bour ? let it die with thee." (Eccl. xix. 10.) You should 
not only keep it shut up in your heart, but you must let 
it die within you. He that is only shut up may escape 
and be seen; but he that is dead cannot leave the 
grave. When, then, you know anything injurious to 
your neighbour, you ought to be careful not to give 



CHARITY TO OUR NEIGHBOUR. 223 

any intimation of it to others by words, by motions of 
the head, or by any other sign. Sometimes greater in 
jury is done to others by certain singular signs and 
broken words than by a full statement of their guilt ; 
because these hints make persons suspect that the evil is 
greater than it really is. 

7. In your conversations be careful not to give pain to 
any companion, either present or absent, by turning him 
into ridicule. You may say: "I do it through jest;" 
but such jests are contrary to charity. " All things, 
therefore," says Jesus Christ, " that you will that men 
should do to you, do you also unto them." (Matt. vii. 12.) 
W ould you like to be treated with derision before others ? 
Give up, then, the practice of ridiculing your neighbours. 
Abstain also from contending about useless trifles. Some 
times, certain contests about mere trifles grow so warm 
that they end in quarrels and injurious words. Some 
persons are so full of the spirit of contradiction, that 
they controvert what others say, without any necessity, 
and solely for the sake of contention, and thus violate 
charity. " Strive not," says the Holy Ghost, " in 
matters which do not concern thee." (Eccl. xi. 9.) But 
they will say : " I only defend reason ; I cannot bear 
these assertions which are contrary to reason." In 
answer to these defenders of reason, Cardinal Bellar- 
mine says, that an ounce of charity is better than an 
hundred loads of reason. In conversation, particularly 
when the subject of it is unimportant, state your opinion, 
if you wish to take part in the discourse, and then keep 
yourself in peace, and be on your guard against obsti 
nacy in defending your own opinion. In such contests 
it is always better to yield. B. Egidius used to say, 
that he who gives up conquers ; because he is superior 
in virtue, and preserves peace, which is far more valu 
able than a victory in such contests. St. Joseph Cala- 
sanctius was accustomed to say, that "he who loves 
peace never contradicts any one." 

8. Thus, dearly beloved brethren, if you wish to be 
loved by God and by men, endeavour always to speak 
well of all. And, should you happen to hear a person 
speak ill of a neighbour, be careful not to encourage 
his uncharitableness, nor to show any curiosity to hear 



224 SERMON XXX. 



the faults of others. If you do, you will be guilty of 
the same sin which the detractor commits. " Hedge in 
thy ears with thorns," says Ecclesiasticus, " and hear 
not a wicked tongue." (Eccl. xxviii. 28.) When you hear 
any one taking away the character of another, place 
around your ears a hedge of thorns, that detraction may 
not enter. For this purpose it is necessary, at least, to 
show that the discourse is not pleasing to you. This 
may be done by remaining silent, by putting on a 
sorrowful countenance, by casting down the eyes, or 
turning your face in another direction. In a word, act, 
says St. Jerome, in such a way that the detractor, seeing 
your unwillingness to listen to him, may learn to be 
more guarded for the future against the sin of detraction. 
" Discat detractor, dum te videt non libenter audire, 
non facile detrahere." (S. Hier. ep. ad Nepot.) And 
when it is in your power to do it, it will be a great act 
of charity to defend the character of the persons who 
have been defamed. The Divine Spouse wishes that the 
words of his beloved be a veil of scarlet. " Thy lips are 
as a scarlet lace." (Cant. iv. 3.) That is, as Theodoret 
explains this passage, her words should be dictated by 
charity (a scarlet lace), that they may cover, as much 
as possible, the defects of others, at least by excusing 
their intentions, when their acts cannot be excused. 
" If," says St. Bernard, " you cannot excuse the act, 
excuse the intention/ (Scrm. xl. in Cant.) It was a 
proverb among the nuns of the convent of St. Teresa, 
that, in the presence of their holy mother, their reputa 
tion was secure, because they knew she would take the 
part of those of whom any fault might be mentioned. 

9. Charity also requires that we be meek to all, and 
particularly to those who are opposed to us. When a 
person is angry with you, and uses injurious language, 
remember that a " mild answer breaketh wrath." (Prov. 
xv. 1.) Reply to him with meekness, and you shall find 
that his anger will be instantly appeased. But, if you 
resent the injury, and use harsh language, you will 
increase the name ; the feeling of revenge will grow 
more violent, and you will expose yourself to the 
danger of losing your soul by yielding to an act of 
hatred, or by breaking out into expressions grievously 



CHARITY TO OUR NEIGHBOUR. 225 

injurious to your neighbour. Whenever you feel the 
soul agitated by passion, it is better to force yourself to 
remain silent, and to make no reply ; for, as St. Bernard 
says, an eye clouded with anger cannot distinguish 
between right and wrong. " Turbatus praD ira oculus 
rectum non videt." (Lib. 2 de Consid., cap. xi.) Should 
it happen that in a fit of passion you have insulted a 
neighbour, charity requires that you use every means to 
allay his wounded feelings, and to remove from his heart 
all sentiments of rancour towards you. The best means 
of making reparation for the violation of charity is to 
humble yourself to the person whom you have offended. 
With regard to the meekness which we should practise 
towards others, I shall speak on that subject in the 
thirty-fourth Sermon, or the Sermon for the fifth Sunday 
after Pentecost. 

10. It is also an act of charity to correct sinners. 
Do not say that you are not a superior. Were you a 
superior, you should be obliged by your office to correct 
all those who might be under your care ; but, although 
you are not placed over others, you are, as a Christian, 
obliged to fulfil the duty of fraternal correction. " lie 
gave to every one of them commandment concerning his 
neighbour." (Eccl. xvii. 12.) Would it not be great 
cruelty to see a blind man walking on the brink of a 
precipice, and not admonish him of his danger, in order 
to preserve him from temporal death ? It would be far 
greater cruelty to neglect, for the sake of avoiding a 
little trouble, to deliver a brother from eternal death. 

Third Point. On the charity we ought to practise 
towards our neighbour by works. 

11. Some say that they love all, but will not put 
themselves to any inconvenience in order to relieve the 
wants of a neighbour. " My little children," says Sfc. 
John, " let us not love in word, nor in tongue, but in 
deed and truth." (1 John iii. 18 ) The Scripture tells 
us that alms deliver men from death, cleanse them from 
sin, and obtain for them the divine mercy and eternal 
life. " Alms delivereth from death, and the same is that 
which purgeth away sins, and maketh to find mercy and 
life everlasting." (Job xii. 9.) God will relieve you in 

p 



226 SERMON xxx. 



the same manner in which, you give relief to your neigh 
bour. " With what measure you shall mete, it shall be 
measured to you again. * (Matt. vii. 2.) Hence St. Chry- 
sostom says, that the exercise of charity to others is the 
means of acquiring great gain with God. " Alms is, of 
all acts, the most lucrative." And St. Mary Magdalene 
do Pazzi used to say, that she felt more happy in reliev 
ing her neighbour than when she was wrapt up in 
contemplation. "Because/ she would add^ whcn I 
am in contemplation God assists me ; but in giving relief 
to a neighbour I assist God ;" for, every act of charity 
which we exercise towards our neighbour, God accepts 
as if it were done to himself. But, on the other hand, 
how, as St. John says, can he who does not assist a 
brother in want, be said to love God ? " He that hath 
the substance of this world, and shall see his brother in 
need, and shall shut up his bowels from him, how doth 
the charity of God abide in him ?" (1 John iii. 17.) By 
alms is understood, not only the distribution of money 
or other goods, but every succour that is given to a neigh 
bour in order to relieve his wants. 

12. If charity obliges us to assist all, it commands us 
still more strictly to relieve those who are in tbe greatest 
need ; such as the souls in Purgatory. St. Thomas 
teaches, that charity extends not only to the living, but 
also to the dead. Hence, as we ought to assist our 
neighbours who are in this life, so we are bound to give 
relief to those holy prisoners who are so severely tor 
mented by fire, and who are incapable of ^relieving 
themselves. A deceased monk of the Cistercian order 
appeared to the sacristan of his monastery, and said to 
him : " Brother, assist me by your prayers ; for I can do 
nothing for myself." (Cron. Cist.) Let us, then, assist, 
to the utmost of our power, these beloved spouses of 
Jesus Christ, by recommending them every day to God, 
and by sometimes getting Mass offered for their repose. 
There is nothing which gives so much relief to those 
holy souls as the sacrifice of the altar. They certainly 
will not be ungrateful ; they will in return pray for you, 
and will obtain for you still greater graces, when they 
shall have entered into the kingdom of God. 

13. To exercise a special charity towards the sick, is 



CHARITY TO OUR NEIGHBOUR. 227 

also very pleasing to God. They are afflicted by pains, 
by melancholy, by the fear of death, and are sometimes 
abandoned by others. Be careful to relieve them by 
alms, or by little presents, and to serve them as well as 
you can, at least by endeavouring to console them by 
your words, and by exhortations to practise resignation 
to the will of God, and to offer to him all their suffer 
ings. 

14. Above all, be careful to practise charity to those 
who are opposed to you. Some say : I am grateful to 
all who treat me with kindness ; but I cannot exercise 
charity towards those who persecute me. Jesus Christ 
says that even pagans know how to be grateful to those 
who do them a service. " Do not also the heathens 
this ?" (Matt. v. 47.) Christian charity consists in wish 
ing well, and in doing good to those who hate and injure 
us. " But I say to you : Love your enemies ; do good 
to them that hate you ; and pray for them that persecute 
and calumniate you." (Matt. v. 44.) Some seek to 
injure you, but you must love them. Some have done 
-evil to you, but you must return good for evil. Such the 
vengeance of the saints. This is the heavenly revenge 
which St. Paulinus exhorts us to inflict on our enemies. 
:< To repay good for evil is heavenly revenge/ (Epis. 
xvi.) St. Chrysostom teaches, that there is nothing 
which assimilates us so much to God as the granting of 
pardon to enemies. " Nothing makes men so like to 
God as to spare enemies." (Horn, xxvii. in Gen.) Such 
has been the practice of the saints. St. Catherine of 
Genoa continued for a long time to relieve a woman who 
had endeavoured to destroy the saint s reputation. On. 
an assassin, who had made an attempt on his life, St. 
Ambrose settled a sum for his support. Yenustanus, 
governor of Tuscany, ordered the hands of St. Sabinus 
to be cut off, because the holy bishop confessed the true 
faith. The tyrant, feeling a violent pain in his eyes, 
entreated the saint to assist him. The saint prayed for 
him, and raised his arm, from which the blood still con 
tinued to flow, blessed him, and obtained for him the 
cure of his eyes and of his soul ; for the tyrant became a 
convert to the faith. Father Segneri relates, that the 
son of a certain lady in Bologna was murdered by aa 



228 SERMON XXXI. 



assassin, who by accident took refuge in her house. 
(Christ. Instr., part 1, disc. 20, n. 20.) What did she 
do ? She first concealed him from the ministers of jus 
tice, and afterwards said to him : Since I have lost my 
son, you shall henceforth be my son and my heir. Take, 
for the present, this sum of money, and provide for your 
safety elsewhere, for here you are not secure. It is thus 
the saints resent injuries. With what face, says St. 
Cyril of Jerusalem, can he that does not pardon the 
affronts which he receives from his enemies, say to God : 
Lord, pardon me the many insults which I have offered 
to thee ? " Qua fronte dices Domino : remitte mihi 
multa peccata mea, si tu pauca conserve tuo non 
remiseris?" (Catech. ii.) But he that forgives his 
enemies is sure of the pardon of the Lord, who says : 
" Forgive, and you shall be forgiven." (Luke vi. 37.) 
And when you cannot serve them in any other way, 
recommend to God those who persecute and calumniate 
you. " Pray for them that persecute and calumniate 
you." This is the admonition of Jesus Christ, who is 
able to reward those who treat their enemies in this 
manner. 



SERMON XXXI. SECOND SUNDAY AFTER 
PENTECOST. 

On holy communion. 

" A certain man made a great supper." LUKE xiv. 16. 

IN the gospel of this day we read that a rich man pre 
pared a great supper. He then ordered one of his 
servants to invite to it all those whom he should find in 
the highways, even though they were poor, blind, and 
lame, and to compel those who should refuse, to come 
to the supper. " Go out into the highways and hedges, 
and compel them to come in, that my house may bo 
filled" (v. 2o). And he added, that of all those who 
had been invited and had not come, not one should 
ever partake of his supper. " But I say unto you, that 
none of those men that were invited shall taste of my 



HOLY COMMUNION. 229 

supper" (v. 24). This supper is the holy communion ; 
it is a great supper, at which all the faithful are invited 
to eat the sacred flesh of Jesus Christ in the most holy 
sacrament of the altar. " Take ye and eat : this is my 
body." (Matt. xxiv. 26.) Let us then consider to-day, 
in the first point, the great love which Jesus Christ has 
shown us in giving us himself in this sacrament ; and, 
in the second point, how we ought to receive him in 
order to draw great fruit from the holy communion. 

First Point. On the great love which Jesus Christ 
has shown us in giving us himself in this sacrament. 

1. " Jesus, knowing that his hour was come that he 
should pass out of this world to the Father, having 
loved his own that were in the world, he loved them 
unto the end/ (John xiii. 1.) Knowing that the hour 
of his death had arrived, Jesus Christ wished, before his 
departure from this world, to leave us the greatest proof 
which he could give of his love, by leaving us himself 
in the holy eucharist. " He loved them to the end." 
That is, according to St. Chrysostom, " with an extreme 
love." St. Bernardino of Sienna says that the tokens of 
love which are given at death make a more lasting 
impression on the mind, and are more highly esteemed. 
" Quai in fine in signum amicitia) celebrantur, firmius 
memoria3 imprimuntur et cariora tenentur." But, whilst 
others leave a ring, or a piece of money, as a mark of 
their affection, Jesus has left us himself entirely in this 
sacrament of love. 

2. And when did Jesus Christ institute this sacra 
ment ? He instituted it, as the Apostle has remarked, 
on the night before his passion . " The Lord Jesus, the 
same night on which he was betrayed, took bread, and 
giving thanks, broke and said : " Take ye and eat : this 
is my body." (1 Cor. xi. 23, 24.) Thus, at the very 
time that men were preparing to put him to death, our 
loving Redeemer resolved to bestow upon us this gift. 
Jesus Christ, then, was not content with giving his life 
for us on a cross : he wished also, before his death, to 
pour out, as the Council of Trent says, all the riches of 
his love, by leaving himself for our food in the holy 
communion. " He, as it were, poured out the riches of 



230 



SERMON XXXI. 



his love towards man." (Sess. 13, cap. ii.) If faith had 
not taught it, who could ever imagine that a God would 
become man, and afterwards become the food of his own 
creatures ? When Jesus Christ revealed to his followers 
this sacrament which he intended to leave us, St. John 
says, that they could not bring themselves to believe it, 
and departed from him saying: " How can this man give 
us his flesh to eat ?...This saying is hard, and who can 
hear it? (St. John vi. 53, 61.) But what men could 
not imagine, the reat love of Jesus Christ has invented 
and effected. " Take ye and eat : this is my body." 
These words he addressed to his apostles on the night 
before he suffered, and he now, after his death, addresses 
them to us. 

3. How highly honoured, says St. Francis de Sales, 
would that man fed to whom the king sent from his 
table a portion of what he had on his own plate ? But 
how should he feel if that portion were a part of the 
king s arm ? In the holy communion Jesus gives us, 
not a part of his arm, but his entire body in the sacra 
ment of the altar. " lie gave you all," says St. Chry- 
sostom, reproving our ingratitude, " he left nothing for 
himself/ And St. Thomas teaches, that in the cucha- 
rist God has given us all that he is and all that he has. 
"Deus in eucharistia totum quod est et habet, dedit 
nobis." (Opusc. 63, c. ii.) Justly then has the same 
saint called the eucharist " a sacrament of love ; a pledge 
of love/ " Sacramentum charitatis pignus charitatis." 
It is a sacrament of love, because it was pure love that 
induced Jesus Christ to give us this gift and pledge of 
love : for he wished that, should a doubt of his having 
loved us ever enter into our minds, we should have in 
this sacrament a pledge of his love. St. Bernard calls 
this sacrament " love of loves." " Amor amorum." By 
his incarnation, the Lord has given himself to all 
men in general ; but, in this sacrament, he has given, 
himself to each of us in particular, to make us under 
stand the special love which he entertains for each 
of us. 

4. Oh! how ardently does Jesus Christ desire to 
come to our souls in the holy communion ! This vehe 
ment desire he expressed at the time of the institution 



HOLY COMMUNION. 231 

of this sacrament, when he said to the apostles : " With 
desire I have desired to eat this Pasch with you." (Luke 
xxii. 15.) St. Laurence Justinian says that these words 
proceeded from the enamoured heart of Jesus Christ, 
who, by such tender expressions, wished to show us the 
ardent love with which he loved us. " This is the voice 
of the most burning charity. " Flagrantissimoo charitatis 
est vox hcec." And, to induce us to receive him fre 
quently in the holy communion, he promises eternal life 
that is, the kingdom of heaven to those who eat his 
flesh. " He that eateth this bread shall live for ever." 
(John vi. 59.) On the other hand, it threatens to 
deprive us of his grace and of Paradise, if we neglect 
communion. " Except you eat the flesh of the Son of 
Man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in 
you." (John vi. 54.) These promises and these threats 
all sprung from a burning desire to come to us in this 
sacrament. 

5. And why does Jesus Christ so vehemently desire 
that we receive him in the holy communion ? It is 
because he takes delight in being united with each of 
us. By the communion, Jesus is really united to our 
soul and to our body, and we are united to Jesus. " He 
that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, abideth in 
me and I in him." (John vi. 57.) Thus, after com 
munion, we are, says St. Chrysostom, one body and one 
flesh with Jesus Christ. " Huic nos unimur, et facti 
summus unum corpus ut una caro." (Horn. Ixviii. ad 
Pop. Ant.) Hence St. Laurence Justinian exclaims : 
" Oh ! how wonderful is thy love, O Lord Jesus, who 
hast wished to incorporate us in such a manner with thy 
body, that we should have one heart and one soul 
inseparably united with thee." Thus, to every soul that 
receives the eucharist, the Lord says what he once said 
to his beloved servant Margaret of Ipres " Behold, my 
daughter, the close union made between me and thee ; 
love me, then, and let us remain for ever united in love: 
let us never more be separated." This union between 
us and Jesus Christ is, according to St. Chrysostom, the 
effect of the love which Jesus Christ bears us. " Seme- 

tipsum nobis immiscuit, ut unum quid simus arden- 

tur enim amantium hoc est. )? (Horn. Ixi.) But, Lord,. 



232 



SERMON XXXI. 



such intimate union with man is not suited to thy divine 
majesty. But love seeks not reason ; it goes not where 
it ought to go, but where it is drawn. " Amor ratione 
caret, et vadit quo dicitur, non quo debeat." (Serm. cxliii.) 
St. Bernardino of Sienna says that, in giving himself 
for our food, Jesus Christ loved us to the last degree ; 
because he united himself entirely to us, as food is united 
to those who eat it. " ITltimus gradus amoris est, cum. 
se dedit nobis in cibum quia dedit se nobis ad omnimodam 
unionem, sicut cibus et cibans, invicem uniuntur." (Tom. 
2, Serm. Hv.) The same doctrine has been beautifully 
expressed by St. Francis de Sales. " No action of the 
Saviour can be more loving or more tender than the 
institution of the holy cucharist, in which he, as it were, 
annihilates himself, and takes the form of food, to 
unite himself to the souls and bodies of his faithful 
servants." 

G. Hence, there is nothing from which we can draw 
so much fruit as from the holy communion. St. Denis 
teaches, that the most holy sacrament has greater effi 
cacy to sanctify souls than all other spiritual means. 
" Eucharistia maxim am vim habet perficiendrc sancti- 
tatis." St. Vincent Ferrer says, that a soul derives 
more profit from one communion than from fasting a 
week on bread and water. The eucharist is, according 
to the holy Council of Trent, a medicine which delivers 
us from venial, and preserves us from mortal sins. 
* Antidotum quo a culpis quotidianis liberemur, et a 
rnortalibus prrcservcmur." Jesus himself has said, that 
they who eat him, who is the fountain of life, shall 
receive permanently the life of grace. " lie that eateth 
me, the same shall also live by me." (John vi. 58.) 
Innocent the Third teaches, that by the passion Jesus 
Christ delivers us from the sins we have committed, 
and by the eucharist from the sins we may commit. 
According to St. Chrysostom, the holy communion 
inflames us with the fire of divine love, and makes us 
objects of terror to the devil. " The eucharist is a fire 
which inflames us, that, like lions breathing fire, we may 
retire from the altar, being made terrible to the devil." 
(Horn. Ixi. ad Pop. Ant.) In explaining the words of 
the Spouse of the Canticles, " He brought me into the 



HOLY COMMUNION. 233 



cellar of wine; lie set in order charity in me" (ii. 4.) 
St. Gregory says, that the communion is this cellar of 
wine, in which the soul is so inebriated with divine love, 
that she forgets and loses sight of all earthly things. 

7. Some will say : " I do not communicate often ; because 
I am cold in divine love." In answer to them Gerson 
asks, Will you then, because you feel cold, remove from 
the fire ? When you are tepid you should more fre 
quently approach this sacrament. St. Bonaventure says : 
" Trusting in the mercy of God, though you feel tepid, 
approach : let him who thinks himself unworthy reflect, 
that the more infirm he feels himself the more he requires 
a physician" (de Prof. Eel., cap. Ixxviii). And, in 
" The Devout Life," chapter xx., St. Francis de Sales 
writes : " Two sorts of persons ought to communicate 
often : the perfect, to preserve perfection ; and the im 
perfect, to arrive at perfection." It cannot be doubted, 
that he who wishes to communicate should prepare 
himself with great diligence, that he may communicate 
well. Let us pass to the second point. 

Second Point. On the preparation we ought to make 
in order to derive great fruit from the holy communion. 

8. Two things are necessary in order to draw great 
fruit from communion preparation for, and thanks 
giving after communion. As to the preparation, it is 
certain that the saints derived great profit from their 
communions, only because they were careful to prepare 
themselves well for receiving the holy eucharist. It is 
easy then to understand why so many souls remain 
subject to the same imperfections, after all their com 
munions. Cardinal Bona says, that the defect is not in 
the food, but in the want of preparation for it. " Defec- 
tus non in bibo est, sed in edentis dispositione." For 
frequent communion two principal dispositions are neces 
sary. The first is detachment from creatures, and dis 
engagement of the heart from everything that is not 
God. The more the heart is occupied with earthly 
concerns, the less room there is in it for divine love. 
Hence, to give full possession of the whole heart to 
God, it is necessary to purify it from worldly attach 
ments. This is the preparation which Jesus himself 



234 SERMON XXXI. 



recommends to St. Gertrude. " I ask nothing more of 
thee," said he to her, " than that thou come to receive 
me with a heart divested of thyself." Let us, then, 
withdraw our affections from creatures, and our hearts 
shall belong entirely to the Creator. 

9. The second disposition necessary to draw great 
fruit from communion, is a desire of receiving Jesus 
Christ in order to advance in his love. " He," says St. 
Francis de Sales, " who gives himself through pure 
love, ought to be received only through love." Thus, 
the principal end of our communions must be to advance 
in the love of Jesus Christ. He once said to St. Matilda: 
* When you communicate, desire all the love that any 
soul has ever had for me, and I will accept your love 
in proportion to the fervour with which you wished for 
it." 

10. Thanksgiving after communion is also necessary. 
The prayer we make after communion is the most 
acceptable to God, and the most profitable to us. After 
communion the soul should be employed in affections 
and petitions. The affections ought to consist not only 
in acts of thanksgiving, but also in acts of humility, of 
love, and of oblation of ourselves to God. Let us then 
humble ourselves as much as possible at the sight of a 
God made our food after we had offended him. A 
learned author says that, for a soul after communion, 
the most appropriate sentiment is one of astonishment 
at the thought of receiving a God. She should ex 
claim : " What ! a God to me ! a God to me !" Let us 
also make many acts of the love of Jesus Christ. lie 
has come into our souls in order to be loved. Hence,, 
he is greatly pleased with those who, after communion, 
say to him: "My Jesus, I love thee ; I desire nothing 
but thee." Let us also offer ourselves and all that we 
have to Jesus Christ, that he may dispose of all as he 
pleases: and let us frequently say: " My Jesus, thou art 
all mine ; thou hast given thyself entirely to me ; I give 
myself entirely to thee. 

11. After communion ; we should not only make these 
affections, but we ought also to present to God with 
great confidence many petitions for his graces. The 
time after communion is a time in which we can gain 






MEECY OF GOD TOWARDS SINNERS. 235 

treasures of divine graces. St. Teresa says, that at 
that time Jesus Christ remains in the soul as on a throne, 
saying to her what he said to the blind man : " What 
wilt thou that I should do to thee ?" (Mark x. 51.) As 
if he said: " But me you have not always." (John xii. 
8.) Now that you possess me within you, ask me for 
graces : I have come down from heaven on purpose to 
dispense them to you ; ask whatever you wish, and you 
shall obtain it. Oh ! what great graces are lost by those 
who spend but little time in prayer after communion. 
Let us also turn to the Eternal Father, and, bearing in 
mind the promise of Jesus Christ " Amen, amen, I say 
to you, if you ask the Father anything in my name, he 
will give it you" (John xvi. 23) let us say to him : 
My God, for the love of this thy Son, whom I have 
within my heart, give me thy love ; make me all thine. 
And if we offer this prayer with confidence, the Lord 
will certainly hear us. He who acts thus may become 
a saint by a single communion. 



SERMON XXXII. THIRD SUNDAY AFTER 
PENTECOST. 

On the mercy of God towards sinners. 

" There shall be joy in heaven upon one sinner that doth penance, 
more than ninety -nine just, who need not penance." LUKE xv. 7- 

In this day s gospel it is related that the Pharisees 
murmured against Jesus Christ, because he received 
sinners and eat with them. " This man receiveth sin 
ners and eateth with them" (v. 2). In answer to their 
murmurings our Lord said : If any of you had a hun 
dred sheep, and lost one of them, would he not leave 
the ninety-nine in the desert, and go in search of the 
lost sheep ? would he not continue his search until he 
found it ? and having found it, would he not carry it 
on his shoulders, and, rejoicing, say to his friends and 
neighbours : " Rejoice with me, because I have found 
my sheep that was lost ?" (v. 6.) In conclusion, the 
Son of God said : " I say to you, there shall be joy in 



236 SERMON XXXII. 



heaven upon one sinner that doth penance, more than, 
upon ninety-nine just, that need not penance." There 
is more joy in heaven upon one sinner who returns to 
God, than upon many just who preserve the grace of 
God. Let us, then, speak to-day on the mercy which 
God shows to sinners, first, in calling them to repent 
ance ; secondly, in receiving them when they return. 

First Point, Mercy of God in calling sinners to 
repentance. 

1. After having sinned hy eating the forbidden apple, 
Adam fled from the face of the Lord through shame of 
the sin he had committed. What must have been the 
astonishment of the angels when they saw God seeking 
after him, and calling him as it were with tears, saying : 
" Adam, where art thou ?" (Gen. iii. 9.) My beloved 
Adam, where art thou? These words, says Father 
Pereyra, in his commentary on this passage, " are the 
words of a father in search of his lost sou." Towards 
you, brethren, the Lord acts in a similar manner. You 
fled from him and he has so often invited you to repent 
ance by means of confessors and preachers. Who was 
it that spoke to you when they exhorted you to penance ? 
It was the Lord. Preachers are, as St. Paul says, his 
ambassadors. " For Christ, therefore, we are ambassa 
dors ; God, as it were, exhorting by us." (2 Cor. v. 20.) 
Hence he writes to the sinners of Corinth : " For Christ, 
we beseech you, be reconciled to God." (Ibid.) In 
explaining these words St. Chrysostom says : " Ipse 
Chris tus vos obsecrat : quid autem obsecrat ? Recon- 
ciliamini Deo." Then, says the holy doctor, Jesus 
Christ himself entreats you, sinners : and what does 
he entreat you to do ? To make peace with God. The 
saint adds : " Non enim ipse inimicus gerit, sed vos." 
It is not God that acts like an enemy, but you ; that is, 
God does not refuse to make peace with sinners, but 
they are unwilling to be reconciled with him." 

I. But notwithstanding the refusal of sinners to 
return to God, he does not cease to continue to call 
them by so many interior inspirations, remorses of con 
science, and terrors of chastisements. Thus, beloved 
Christians, God has spoken to you, and, seeing that you 



I 



MERCY OF GOD TOWARDS SINNERS. 237 

disregarded his words, he has had recourse to scourges ; 
he has called you to repentance by such a persecution, 
by temporal losses, by the death of a relative, by sick 
ness which has brought you to the brink of the grave. 
He has, according to holy David, placed before your eyes 
the bow of your damnation, not that you might be con 
demned to eternal misery, but that you might be deli 
vered from hell, which you deserved. " Thou hast given 
a warning to them that fear thee, that they may flee 
from before the bow, that thy beloved may be delivered." 
(Ps. lix. 6). You regarded certain afflictions as misfor 
tunes ; but they were mercies from God ; they were the 
voices of God calling on you to renounce sin, that you 
might escape perdition. " My jaws are become hoarse." 
(Ps. Ixviii. 4.) My son, says the Lord, I have almost 
lost my voice in calling you to repentance. " I am 
weary of entreating thee." ( Jer. xv. (5.) I have become 
weary in imploring you to offend me no more. 

3. By your ingratitude you deserved that he should 
call you no more ; but he has continued to invite you 
to return to him. And who is it that has called you ? 
It is a God of infinite majesty, who is to be one day your 
jud^e, and on whom your eternal happiness or misery 
depends. And what are you but miserable worms de 
serving hell ? Why has he called you ? To restore to 
you the life of grace which you have lost. " Return ye 
and live." (Ezec. xviii. 32.) To acquire the grace of 
God, it would be but little to spend a hundred years in 
a desert in fasting and penitential austerities. But God 
offered it to you for a single act of sorrow ; you refused 
that act, and after your refusal he has not abandoned 
you, but has sought after you, saying : "^And why will 
you die, house of Israel?" (Ez. xviii. 31.) Like a 
father weeping and following his son, who has voluntarily 
thrown himself into the sea, God has sought after you, 
saying, through compassion to each of you : My son, why 
dost thou bring thyself to eternal misery ? " Why will 
you die, house of Israel ?" 

4. As a pigeon that seeks to take shelter in a tower, 
seeing the entrance closed on every side, continues to 
fly round till she finds an opening through which she 
enters, so, says St. Augustine, did the divine mercy act 



238 SERMON XXXIT. 



towards me when I was in enmity with God. Cir- 
cuibat super me fidelis a longe misericordia tua." The 
Lord treated you, brethren, in a similar manner. As 
often as you sinned you banished him from your souls. 
The wicked have said to God : " Depart from us." 
(Job xxi. 14.) And, instead of abandoning you, what 
has the Lord done ? He has placed himself at the door 
of your ungrateful hearts, and, by his knocking, has 
made you feel that he was outside, and seeking for ad 
mission. " Behold I stand at the gate and knock." 
(Apoc. iii. 20.) lie, as it were, entreated you to have 
compassion on him, and to allow him to enter. " Open 
to me, my sister." (Cant. v. 2.) Open to me ; I will de 
liver you from perdition ; I will forget all the insults 
you have offered to me if you give up sin. Perhaps 
you are unwilling to open to me through fear of becom 
ing poor by restoring ill-gotten goods, or by separating 
from a person who provided for you ? Am not I, says 
the Lord, able to provide for you ? Perhaps you think 
that, if you renounce a certain friendship which sepa 
rates you from me, you shall lead a life of misery ? 
Am I not able to content your soul and to make your 
life happy ? Ask those who love me with their whole 
hearts, and they will tell you that my grace makes them 
content, and that they would not exchange their condi 
tion, though poor and humble, for all the delights and 
riches of the monarchs of the earth. 

Second Point. Mercy of God in waiting for sinners to 
return to him. 

5. We have considered the divine mercy in calling 
sinners to repentance : let us now consider his patience 
in waiting for their return. That great servant of God, 
D. Sancia Carillo, a penitent of Father John Avila, 
used to say, that the consideration of God s patience 
with sinners made her desire to build a church, and 
entitle it " The Patience of God." Ah, sinners ! who 
could ever bear with what God has borne from you ? If 
the offences which you have committed against God had 
been offered to your best friends, or even to your parents, 
they surely would have sought revenge. When 
you insulted the Lord he was able to chastise you ; 



MERCY OF GOD TOWARDS SINNERS. 239 

you repeated the insult, and he did not punish your 
guilt, but preserved your life, and provided you with 
sustenance. lie, as it were, pretended not to see the 
injuries you offered to him, that you might enter into 
yourselves, and cease to offend him. " Thou over- 
lookest the sins of men for the sake of repentance." 
(Wis. xi. 24.) But how, Lord, does it happen, that 
thou canst not behold a single sin, and that thou dost 
bear in silence with so many ? " Thy eyes are too pure to 
behold evil, and thou canst not look on iniquity. Why 
lookest thou upon them that do unjust things, and 
boldest thy peace ?" (Hab. i. 13.) Thou seest the vin 
dictive prefer their own before thy honour ; thou 
beholdest the unjust, instead of restoring what they 
have stolen, continuing to commit theft; the unchaste, 
instead of being ashamed of their impurities, boasting 
of them before others ; the scandalous, not content with 
the sins which they themselves commit, but seeking 
to draw others into rebellion against thee ; thou seest 
all this, and holdest thy peace, and dost not inflict ven 
geance. 

6. " Omnis creatura," says St. Thomas, "tibi factor! 
deserviens excandescit adversus injustos." All creatures 
the earth, fire, air, water because they all obey God, 
would, by a natural instinct, wish to punish the sin 
ner, and to avenge the injuries which he does to the 
Creator ; but God, through his mercy, restrains them. 
But, Lord, thou waitest for the wicked that they 
may enter into themselves ; and dost thou not see that 
they abuse thy mercy to offer new insults to thy 
majesty ? " Thou hast been favourable to the nation, 
O Lord, thou hast been favourable to the nation : art 
thou glorified ?" (Tsa. xxvi. 15.) Thou hast waited so 
long for sinners ; thou hast abstained from inflicting 
punishment ; but what glory have you reaped from thy 
forbearance ? They have become more wicked. Why so 
much patience with such ungrateful souls ? Why dost 
thou continue to wait for their repentance ? Why dost 
thou not chastise their wickedness ? The same Prophet 
answers : " The Lord waiteth that he may have mercy 
on you." (Isa. xxx. 18.) God waits for sinners that 
they may one day repent, and that after their repent- 



240 SERMON XXXII. 



ance, he may pardon and save them. "As I live, saith 
the Lord, I desire not the death of the wicked, but that 
the wicked turn from his way and live." (Ezech. xxxiii. 
11.) St. Augustine goes so far as to say that the Lord, 
if he were not God, should he unjust on account of his 
excessive patience towards sinners. " Deus, Deus incus, 
pace tua dicam, nisi quia Deus esses, injustus esses." 
By waiting for those who abuse his patience to multiply 
their sins, God appears to do an injustice to the divine 
honour. " We," continues the saint, "sin; we adhere 
to sin (some of us become familiar and intimate with 
sin, and sleep for months and years in this miserable 
state) ; we rejoice at sin (some of us go so far as to boast 
of our wickedness) ; and thou art appeased ! "Wo pro 
voke thce to anger thou dost invite us to mercy." We 
and God appear to be, as it were, engaged in a contest, 
in which we labour to provoke him to chastise our guilt, 
and he invites us to pardon. 

7. Lord, exclaimed holy Job, what is man, that thou 
dost entertain so great an esteem for him ? Why dost 
thou love him so tenderly ? " What is man that thou 
shouldst magnify him ? or why dost thou >et thy heart 
upon him ?" (Job. vii. ] 7.) St. Denis the Areopagite says, 
that God seeks after sinners like a despised lover, en 
treating them not to destroy themselves. " Deus etiani 
a so aversos amatorie scquitur, et deprecatur ne pereant." 
Why, ungrateful souls, do you fly from me ? I love 
you and desire nothing but your welfare. Ah, sinners ! 
says St. Teresa, remember that he who now calls and 
seeks after you, is that God who shall one day be your 
judge. If you are lost, the great mercies which he 
now shows you, shall be the greatest torments which, 
you shall suffer in hell. 

Third Point. Mercy of God in receiving penitent 
sinners. 

8. Should a subject who has rebelled against an 
earthly monarch go into the presence of his sovereign 
to ask pardon, the prince instantly banishes the rebel 
from his sight, and does not condescend even to look at 
him. But God does not treat us in this manner, when 
we go with humility before him to implore mercy and 



MERCY OF GOD TOWARDS SINNERS. 241 



forgiveness. "The Lord your God is merciful, and 
will not turn away his face from you if you return to 
him." (2 Par. xxx. 9.) God cannot turn away his face 
from those who cast themselves at his feet with an 
humble and contrite heart. Jesus himself has protested 
that he will not reject any one who returns to him. 
" And him that cometh to me, I will not cast out." 

(John vi. h7.) But how can he reject those whom he 
himself invites to return, and promises to embrace ? 
" Return to me, saith the Lord, and I will receive thee." 
(Jer. iii. 1.) In another place he says: Sinners, I ought 
to turn my back on you, because you first turned your 
back on me ; but be converted to me, and I will be con 
verted to you. " Turn to me, saith the Lord of hosts, 
and I will turn to you, saith the Lord of hosts." 
(Zach. i. 3.) 

^ 9. Oh ! with what tenderness does God embrace a 
sinner that returns to him ! This tenderness Jesus 
Christ wished to declare to us when he said that he is 
the good pastor, who, as soon as he finds the lost sheep, 
embraces it and places it on his own shoulders. " And 
when he hath found it, doth he not lay it upon his 
shoulders rejoicing?" (Luke xv. 5.) This tenderness 
also appears in the parable of the prodigal son, in which 
Jesus Christ tells us that he is the good father, who, 
when his lost son returns, goes to meet him, embraces 
and ^ kisses him, and, as it were, swoons away through 
joy in receiving him. " And running to him, he fell 
upon his neck and kissed him." (Luke xv. 20.) 

10. God protests that when sinners repent of their 
iniquities, he will forget all their sins, as if they had 
never offended him. "But, if the wicked do penance 
for all the sins which he hath committed. .. .living, he 
shall live, and shall not die. I will not remember all 
his iniquities that he hath done." (Ezech. xviii. 21,22.) 
By the Prophet Isaias, the Lord goes so far as to say : 
" Come and accuse me, saith the Lord. If your sins be 
as scarlet, they shall be made white as snow." (Isa. i. 
18.) Mark the words, Come and accuse me. As if the 
Lord said : Sinners, come to me, and if I do not pardon 
and embrace you, reprove me, upbraid me with violating 
my promise. But no ! God cannot despise an humble 

Q 



242 SERMON XXXII. 



and contrite heart. " A contrite and humble heart, O 
God, thou wilt not despise." (Fs. 1. 19.) 

11. To show mercy and grant pardon to sinners, God 
regards as redounding to his own glory. " And there 
fore shall he be exalted sparing you." (Isa. xxx. 18.) 
The holy Church says, that God displays his omnipo 
tence in granting pardon and mercy to sinners. " O 
God, who manifested thy omnipotence in sparing and 
showing mercy." Do not imagine, dearly beloved sin 
ners, that God requires of you to labour for a long time 
before he grants you pardon : as soon as you wish for 
forgiveness, he is ready to give it. Behold what the 
Scripture says : " Weeping, thou shalt uot weep, he will 
surely have pity on thee." (Isa. xxx. 19.) You shall 
not have to weep for a long time : as soon as you shall 
have shed the tirst tear through sorrow for your sins, 
God will have mercy on you. " At the voice of thy cry, 
as soon as he shall hear, he will answer thee." (Ibid.) 
The moment he shall hear you say : Forgive me, my 
God, forgive me, he will instantly answer and grant 
your pardon. 



SEE3IOX XXXIII. FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER 
PENTECOST. 

Death is certain and uncertain. 

Let down your nets for a draught." LUKE v. 4. 

IN this day s gospel we find that, having gone up into 
one of the ships, and having heard from St. Peter, that 
he and his companions had laboured all the night and 
bad taken nothing, Jesus Christ said: " Launch out into 
the deep, and let down your nets for a draught." They 
obeyed ; and having cast out their nets into the sea, they 
took such a multitude of fishes, that the nets were nearly 
broken. Brethren, God has placed us in the midst of 
the sea of this life, and has commanded us to cast out 
our nets, that we may catch fishes ; that is, that we may 
perform good works, by which we can acquire merits 
for eternal life. Happy wo, if we attain this end and 



DEATH IS CERTAIN AND UNCERTAIN. 243 



save our souls ! Unhappy we, if, instead of laying up 
treasures for heaven, we by our sins merit hell, and 
bring our souls to damnation ! Our happiness or misery 
for eternity depends on the moment of our death, which 
is certain and uncertain. The Lord assures us that death 
is certain, that we may prepare for it ; but, on the other 
hand, he leaves us uncertain as to the time of our death, 
that we may be always prepared for it two points of 
the utmost importance. 

First Point. It is certain that we shall die. 
Second Point. It is uncertain when we shall die. 

First Point. It is certain that we shall die. 
^1. " It is appointed unto men once to die." (Heb. ix. 
27.) ^ The decree has been passed for each of us : wo must 
all die. St. Cyprian says, that we are all born with the 
halter on the neck : hence, every step we make brings 
us nearer to _ the gibbet. For each of us the gibbet shall 
be the last sickness, which will end in death. As then, 
brethren, your^name has been inserted in the registry 
of baptism, so it shall be one day written in the record 
of the dead. As, in speaking of your ancestors, you 
say : God be merciful to my father, to my uncle, or to 
my brother ; so others shall say the same of you when 
you shall be in the other world ; and as you have often 
heard the death-bell toll for many, so others shall hear 
it toll for you. 

2. All things future, which regard men now living, 
are uncertain, but death is certain. " All other goods 
and evils," says St. Augustine, " are uncertain ; death 
only is certain." It is uncertain whether such an infant 
shall be rich or poor, whether he shall enjoy good or 
ill health, whether he shall die at an early or at an ad 
vanced age. But it is certain that he shall die, though 
he be son of a peer or of a monarch. And, when the 
hour arrives, no one can resist the stroke of death. 
The same St. Augustine says : " Fires, waters, and the 
sword are resisted; kings are resisted: death comes; 
who resists it ?" (in Ps. xii.) We may resist conflagra 
tions, inundations, the sword of enemies, and the power 
of princes ; but who can resist death ? A certain king 



244 SETIMON xxxin. 



of France, as Belluacensis relates, said in his last mo 
ments : " Behold, with all my power, I cannot make 
death wait for a single hour." No ; when the term of 
life has arrived, death does not wait even a moment 
" Thou hast appointed his bounds, which cannot be 
passed." (Job. xiv. 5.) 

3. We must all die. This truth we not only believe, 
but see with our eyes. In every age houses, streets, 
and cities are filled with new inhabitants : their former 
possessors are shut up in the grave. And, as for them 
the days of life are over, so a time shall come when not 
one ot all who are now alive shall be among the living. 
"Days shall be formed, and no one in them." (Ps. 
cxxxviii. 10.) "Who is the man that shall live, and 
shall not see death ?" (Ps. Ixxxviii. 49 ) Should any 
one flatter himself that he will not die, he would not 
only be a disbeliever for it is of faith that we shall all 
die but he would be regarded as a madman. We know 
that all men, even potentates and princes and emperors, 
have, utter a certain time, fallen victims to death. And 
where are they now ? " Tell me," says St. Bernard, 
"where are the lovers of the world? Nothing has 
remained of them but ashes and worms." Of so many 
great men of the world, though buried in marble mau 
soleums, nothing has remained but a little dust and a 
few withered bones. We know that our ancestors are 
no longer among the living : of their death we are con 
stantly reminded by their pictures, their memorandum 
books, their beds, and by the clothes which they have 
left us. And can we entertain a hope or a doubt that 
we shall not die ? Of all who lived in this town a hun 
dred years ago how many are now alive ? They are 
all in eternity in an eternal day of delights, or in an 
eternal night of torments. Either the one or the other 
shall be our lot also. 

4. But, God! we all know that we shall die: the 
misfortune is, that we imagine death as distant as if it 
were never to come, and therefore we lose sight of it. 
But, sooner or later, whether we think or think not of 
death, it is certain, and of faith that we shall die, and 
that we are drawing nearer to it every day. " For we 
have not here a lasting city, but we seek one that is to 



DEATH IS CERTAIN AND UNCERTAIN. 245 

come." (Heb. xiii. 14.) This is not our country : here 
we are pilgrims on a journey. " While we are in the 
body we^are absent from the Lord." (2 Cor. v. 6.) Our 
country is Paradise, if we know how to acquire it by the 
grace of God and by our own good works. Our house 
is not that in which we live ; we dwell in it only in 
passing ; our dwelling is in eternity. u Man shall go 
into the house of his eternity." (Eccl. xii. 5.) How- 
great would be the folly of the man, who, in passing 
through a strange country, should lay out all his property 
in the purchase of houses and possessions in a foreign 
land, and reduce himself to the necessity of living miser 
ably for the remainder of his days in his own country ! 
And is not he, too, a fool, who seeks after happiness in 
this world, from which he must soon depart ; and, by his 
sins, exposes himself to the danger of misery in the next, 
where he must live for eternity ? 

5. Tell me, beloved brethren, if, instead of preparing 
for his approaching death, a person condemned to dio 
were, on his way to the place of execution, to employ 
the few remaining moments of his life in admiring the 
beauty of the houses as he passed along, in thinking of 
balls and comedies, in uttering immodest words, and 
detracting his neighbours, would you not say that the 
unhappy man had either lost his reason, or that he was 
abandoned by God ? And are not you on the way to 
death ? Why then do you seek only the gratification 
of the senses ? Why do you not think of preparing the 
accounts which you shall one day, and perhaps very 
soon, have to render at the tribunal of Jesus Christ ? 
Souls that have faith, leave to the fools of this world the 
care of realizing a fortune on this earth ; seek you to 
make a fortune for the next life, which shall be eternal. 
The present life must end, and end very soon. 

6. Go to the grave in which your relatives and friends 
are buried. Look at their dead bodies : each of them 
says to you : " Yesterday for me ; to-day for thee." 
(Eccl. xxxviii. 23.) What has happened to me must 
one day happen to thee. Thou shalt .become dust and 
ashes, as I am. And where shall thy soul be found, if, 
before death, thou hast not settled thy accounts with 
God ? Ah, brethren ! if you wish to live well, and to 



24G 



SKUMOX XXX III. 



to have you accounts ready for that great day, on which 
your doom to eternal life or to eternal death must be 
decided, endeavour, during the remaining days of life, 
to live with death before your eyes. " death, thy 
sentence is welcome." (Eccl. xli. 3.) Oh ! how correct 
are the judgments, how well directed the actions, of those 
who form their judgments, and perform their actions, 
with death before their view ! The remembrance of 
death destroys all attachment to the goods of this earth. 
" Let the end of life be considered/ says St. Lawrence 
Justinian, " and there will be nothing in this world to 
be loved." (de Ligno Vitac, cap. v.) Yes ; all the riches, 
honours, and pleasures of this world are easily despised 
by him who considers that he must soon leave them for 
ever, and that he shall be thrown into the grave to be 
the food of worms. 

7. {Some banish the thought of death, as if, by avoid 
ing to think of death, they could escape it. But death 
cannot be avoided ; and they who banish the thought of 
it, expose themselves to great danger of an unhappy 
death. By keeping death before their eyes, the saints 
have despised all the goods of this earth. Hence St. 
Charles Borromeo kept on his table a death s head, that 
he might have it continually in view. Cardinal Baronius 
had the words, Memento mori " Remember death" 
inscribed on his ring. The venerable P. Juvenal Anzia, 
Bishop of Salu/zo, had before him a skull, on which 
was written, "As I am, so thou shalt be." In retiring 
to deserts and caves the holy solitaries brought with 
them the head of a dead man ; and for what purpose ? 
To prepare themselves for death. Thus a certain hermit 
being asked at death, why he was so cheerful, answered: 
I have kept death always before my eyes ; and therefore, 
now that it has arrived, I feel no terror. But, oh ! how 
full of terror is death, when it comes to those who have 
thought of it but seldom. 

Second Point. It is uncertain when we shall die. 

8. " Nothing," says the Idiota, " is more certain than 
death, but nothing is more uncertain than the hour of 
death." It is certain that we shall die. God has 
already determined the year, the month, the day, the 



DEATH IS CERTAIN AND UNCERTAIN. 247 

Lour, the moment, in which each of us shall leave this 
earth, and enter into eternity ; but this moment he has 
resolved not to make known to us. And justly, says St. 
Augustine, has the Lord concealed it ; for, had he mani 
fested to all the day fixed for their death, many should 
le induced to continue in the habit of sin by the certainty 
of not dying before the appointed day. " Si statuisset 
viam omnibus, faceret abundare peccata de securitate " 
(in Ps. cxliv). Hence the holy doctor teaches that God 
ias concealed from us the day of our death, that we 
may spend all our days well. " Latet ultimus dies, ut 
observentur omnes dies/ (Horn. xii. inter 50.) Hence 
Jesus Christ says: Be you also ready; for at what 
hour you think not the Son of Man will come." (Luke 
xii. 40.) That we may be always prepared to die, he 
wishes us to be persuaded that death will come when we 
least expect it. " Of death," says St. Gregory, " we are 
uncertain, that we may be found always prepared for 
death." St. Paul likewise admonishes us that the day 
of the Lord that is, the day on which the Lord shall 
judge us shall come unexpectedly, like a thief in the 
night, " The day of the Lord shall so come as a thief 
in the night." (1 Thess. v. 2.) Since, then, says St. 
Bernard, death may assail you and take away your life 
in every place and at every time, you should, if you 
wish to die well and to save your soul, be at all times 
and places in expectation of death : " Mors ubique te 
expectat tu ubique earn expectabis :" and St. Augustine 
says : " Latet ultimus dies, ut observentur omnes dies/ 
(Horn, xii.) The Lord conceals from us the last day of 
our life, that we may always have ready the account 
which we must render to God after death. 

9. Many Christians are lost, because many, even 
among the old, who feel the approach of death, flatter 
themselves that it is at a distance, and that it will not 
come without giving them time to prepare for it. " Dura 
mente," says St. Gregory, " abesse longe mors creditur 
etiam cum sentitur." (Moral, lib. 8.) Death, even when 
it is felt, is believed to be far off. O brethren, are these 
your sentiments ? How do you know that your death 
is near or distant ? What reason have you to suppose 
that death will give you time to prepare for it ? How 



248 SERMOX XXXIII. 



many do we know who have died suddenly ? Some have 
died walking; some sitting; and some during sleep. 
Did any one of these ever imagine that he should die in 
such a manner? But they have died in this way; and 
if they were in enmity with God, what has been the lot 
of their unhappy souls ? Miserable the man who meets 
with an unprovided death ! And I assert, that all who 
ordinarily neglect to unburthen their conscience, die 
without preparation, even though they should have 
seven or eight days to prepare for a good death ; for as 
I shall show in the forty-fourth sermon, it is very difficult, 
during these days of confusion and terror, to settle ac 
counts with God, and to return to him with sincerity. 
But I repeat that death may come upon you in such a 
manner, that you shall not have time even to receive 
the sacraments. And who knows whether, in another 
hour, you shall be among the living or the dead ? The 
uncertainty of the time of his death made Job tremble. 
"For I knew not how long I shall continue, or whether, 
after a while, my Maker may take me away." (Job xxxii. 
22.) Hence St. Basil exhorts us in going to bed at 
night, not to trust that we shall see the next day. " Cum 
in lectulum ad quicsccndum membra tua posueris, noli 
confidere de lucis adventu." (Inst. ad fil. spirit.) 

10. Whenever, then, the devil tempts you to sin, by 
holding out the hope that you will go to confession and 
repair the evil you have done, say to him in answer : 
How do I know that this shall not be the last day of my 
life ? And should death overtake me in sin, and not 
give ine time to make ray confession, what shall become 
of me for all eternity ? Alas ! how many poor sinners 
have been struck dead in the very act of indulging in 
some sinl ul pleasure, and have been sent to hell ! " As 
fishes are taken by the hook, and as birds are caught 
with the snare, so men are taken in the evil time." 
(Eccl. ix. 12.) Fishes are taken with the hook while 
they eat the bait that conceals the hook, which is the 
instrument of their death. The evil time is precisely 
that in which sinners are actually offending God. In 
the act of sin, they calm their conscience by a security 
of afterwards making a good confession, and reversing 
the sentence of their damnation. But death comes 



DEATH IS CERTAIN AND UNCERTAIN. 249 

suddenly upon them, and does not leave them time for 
repentance. "For, when they shall say peace and 
security, then shall sudden destruction come upon them." 
(1 Thess. v. 3.) 

11. If a person lend a sum of money he is careful 
instantly to get a written acknowledgment, and to take 
all the other means necessary to secure the repayment 
of it. Who, he says, can know what shall happen? 
Death may come, and I may lose my money. And how 
does it happen that there are so many who neglect to 
use the same caution for the salvation of their souls, 
which is of far greater importance than all temporal 
interests ? "Why do they not also say : Who knows 
what may happen ? death may come, and I may lose my 
soul ? If you lose a sum of money, all is not lost ; if 
you lose it one way you may recover the loss in another ; 
but he that dies and loses his soul, loses all, and has no 
hope of ever recovering it. If we could die twice, we 
might, if we lost our soul the first time, save it the 
second. But we cannot die twice. " It is appointed 
unto men once to die," (Heb. ix. 27-) Mark the word 
once : death happens to each of us but once : he who has 
erred the first time has erred for ever. Hence, to bring 
the soul to hell is an irreparable error. " Periisse setnel 
seternum est." 

12. The venerable Father John Avila was a man of 
great sanctity, and apostle of Spain. What was the 
answer of this great servant of God, who had led a holy 
life from his childhood, when he was told that his death 
was at hand, and that he had but a short time to live ? 
" Oh !" replied the holy man with trembling, " that I 
had a little more time to prepare for death ! " St. Agatho, 
abbot, after spending so many years in penance, trembled 
at the hour of death, and said : " What shall become of 
me ? who can know the judgments of God ?" And, O 
brethren, what will you say when the approach of death 
shall be announced to you, and when, from the priest 
who attends you, you shall hear these words: " Go forth, 
Christian soul, from this world ?" You will, perhaps, 
say : Wait a little ; allow me to prepare better. No ; 
depart immediately ; death does not wait. You should 
therefore prepare yourselves now. " With fear and 



250 SERMON XXXIV. 



trembling work out your salvation." (Phil. ii. 12.) St. 
Paul admonishes us that, if we wish to save our souls, 
we must live in fear and trembling, lest death ma) find 
us in sin. Be attentive, brethren : there is question of 
eternity. " If a tree fall to the south or to the north, 
in what place soever it shall fall there shall it be." 
(Eccl. xi. 3.) If, when the tree of your life is cut down, 
you fall to the south that is, if you obtain eternal life 
how great shall be your joy at being able to say : I 
shall be saved ; I have secured all ; I can never lose 
God ; I shall be happy for ever. But, if you fall to the 
north that is, into eternal damnation how great shall 
be your despair ! Alas ! you shall say, I have erred, 
and my error is irremediable ! Arise, then, from your 
tepidity, and, after this sermon, make a resolution to 
give yourselves sincerely to God. This resolution will 
insure you a good death, and will make you happy for 
eternity. 



SERMON XXXIV. FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER 
PENTECOST. 

On the sin of anger. 

" Whosoever is angiy with his brother shall be in danger of the 
judgment." MATT. v. 2. 

ANGER resembles fire ; hence, as fire is vehement in its 
action, and, by the smoke which it produces, obstructs 
the view, so anger makes men rush into a thousand ex 
cesses, and prevents them from seeing the sinfulness of 
their conduct, and thus exposes them to the danger of 
the judgment of eternal death. " "Whosoever is angry 
with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment." 
Anger is so pernicious to man that it even disfigures 
his countenance. No matter how comely and gentle 
he may be, he shall, as often as he yields to the passion 
of anger, appear to be a monster and a wild beast full of 
terror. " Iracundus," says St. Basil, " humanam quasi 
liguram amittit, ferae specimen indutus." Horn, xxi.) 
But, if anger disfigures us before men, how much more 



SIN OF ANGER. "251 



deformed will it render us in the eyes of God ! In this 
discourse I will show, in the first point, the destruction 
which anger unrestrained brings on the soul ; and, in the 
second, how we ought to restrain anger in all occasions 
of provocation which may occur to us. 

First Point. The ruin which anger unrestrained 
brings on the soul. 

L. St. Jerome says that anger is the door by which 
all vices enter the soul. " Omnium vitiorum jantia est 
iracundia." (Inc. xxix. Prov.) Anger precipitates men 
into resentments, blasphemies, acts of injustice, detrac 
tions, scandals, and other iniquities ; for the passion of 
anger darkens the understanding, and makes a man act 
like a beast and a madman. " Caligavit ab indigna- 
tione oculus meus." (Job xvii. 7.) My eye has lost its 
sight through indignation. David said : " My eye is 
troubled with wrath." (Ps. xxx. 10.) Hence, according 
to St. Bonaventure, an angry man is incapable of dis 
tinguishing between what is just and unjust. " Iratus 
non potest videre quod justum est vel injustum." In a 
word, St. Jerome says that anger deprives a man of 
prudence, reason, and understanding. " Ab omni con- 
cilio deturpat, ut donee irascitur, insanire credatur." 
Hence St. James says : " The anger of man worketh 
not the justice of God." (St. James i. 20.) The acts of 
u man under the influence of anger cannot be conform 
able to the divine justice, and consequently cannot be 
faultless. 

2. A man who does not restrain the impulse of anger, 
easily falls into hatred towards the person who has been 
the occasion of his passion. According to St. Augus 
tine, hatred is nothing else than persevering anger. 
* Odium est ira diuturno tempore perseverans." Hence 
St. Thomas says that " anger is sudden, but hatred is 
lasting. Opusc. v.) It appears, then, that in him in 
whom anger perseveres hatred also reigns. But some 
will say : I am the head of the house ; I must correct 
my children and servants, and, when necessary, I must 
raise my voice against the disorders which I witness. 
I say in answer : It is one thing to be angry against a 
^brother, and another to be displeased at the sin of a 



252 SERMON XXXIV. 



brother. To be angry against sin is not anger, but 
zeal ; and therefore it is not only lawful, but is some 
times a duty. But our anger must be accompanied 
with prudence, and must appear to be directed against 
sin, but not against the sinner ; for, if the person whom 
we correct perceive that we speak through passion and 
hatred towards him, the correction will be unprofitable 
and even mischievous. To be angry, then, against a 
brother s sin is certainly lawful. " He," says St. 
Augustine, " is not angry with a brother who is angry 
against a brother s sin." It is thus, as David said, we 
may be angry without sin. " Be ye angry, and sin 
not." (Ps. iv. 5.) But, to be angry against a brother on 
account of the sin which he has committed is not lawful ; 
because, according to St. Augustine, we are not allowed 
to hate others for their vices. " Nee propter vitia (licet) 
homines odisse" (in Ps. xcviii). 

3. Hatred brings with it a desire of revenge ; for, 
according to St. Thomas, anger, when fully voluntary, 
is accompanied with a desire of revenge. " Ira est appe- 
titus vindicteo." But you will perhaps say : If I resent 
such an injury, God will have pity on me, because I 
have just grounds of resentment Who, I ask, has told 
you that you have just grounds for seeking revenge ? 
It is you, whose understanding is clouded by passions, 
that say ?o. I have already said that anger obscures 
the mind, and takes away our reason and under 
standing. As long as the passion of auger lasts, you 
will consider your neighbour s conduct very unjust and 
intolerable ; but, when your anger shall have passed 
away, you shall see that his act was not so bad as it 
appeared to you. But, though the injury be grievous, 
or even more grievous, God will not have compassion, 
on you if you seek revenge. No, he says : vengeance 
for sins belongs not to you, but to me ; and when the 
time shall come I will chastise them as they deserve. 
" Revenge is mine, and I will repay them in due time." 
(Deut. xxxii. 35.) If you resent an injury done to you 
by a neighbour, God will justly inflict vengeance oa 
you for all the injuries you have offered to him, and 
particularly for taking revenge on a brother whom he- 
commands you to pardon. " He that secketh to revenge 



SIN OF ANGER. 253 



himself, shall find vengeance from the Lord .... Man to 
man reserveth anger, and doth he seek remedy of God ? 
.... He that is but flesh nourisheth anger ; and doth he 
ask forgiveness of God ? Who shall obtain pardon for 
his sins ?" (Eccl. xxviii. 1, 3, 5.) Man, a worm of flesh, 
reserves anger, and takes revenge on a brother : does he 
afterwards dare to ask mercy of God ? And who, adds 
the sacred writer, can obtain pardon for the iniquities of 
so daring a sinner ? tf Qua ironte," says St. Augustine, 
" indulgentiam peccatorem obtinere poterit, qui prse- 
cipienti dare veniam non acquiescit." How can he who 
will not obey the command of God to pardon his neigh 
bour, expect to obtain from God the forgiveness of his 
own sins ? 

4, Let us implore the Lord to preserve us from yield 
ing to any strong passion, and particularly to anger. 
" Give me not over to a shameful and foolish mind." 
(Eccl. xxiii. 6.) For, he that submits to such a passion 
is exposed to great danger of falling into a grievous sin 
against God or his neighbour. How many, in conse 
quence of not restraining anger, break out into horrible 
blasphemies against God or his saints ! But, at the very 
time we are in a flame of indignation, God is armed with 
scourges. The Lord said one day to the Prophet Jeremias : 
" What seest thou, Jeremias ? And I said : I sec a rod 
watching/ (Jer. i. 11.) Lord, I behold a rod watching 
to inflict punishment. " The Lord asked him again : 
" What seest thou ? And I said : I see a boiling 
caldron." (Ibid., v. 13.). The boiling chaldron is the 
figure of a man inflamed with wrath, and threatened 
with a rod, that is, with the vengeance of God. Behold, 
then, the ruin which anger unrestrained brings on man. 
It deprives him, first, of the grace of God, and afterwards 
of corporal life. " Envy and anger shortens a man s 
days." (Eccl. xxx. 26.) Job says : " Anger indeed 
killeth the foolish." (Job v. 2.) All the days of their 
life, persons addicted to anger are unbappy, because they 
are always in a tempest. But let us pass to the second 
point, in which I have to say many things which will 
assist you to overcome this vice. 

Second Point. How we ought to restrain anger in 
the occasions of provocation which occur to us. 



254 SERMOX xxxiv. 



5. In the first place it is necessary to know that it is 
not possible for human weakness, in the midst of so many 
occasions,^ to be altogether free from every motion of 
anger. ^ jN"o one, as Seneca says, can be entirely exempt 
from this passion. ^ " Iracundia nullum genus hominum 
excipit" (I. 3, c. xii). All our efforts must be directed 
to the moderation of the feelings of anger which spring 
up in the soul. How are they to be moderated ? By 
meekness. This is called the virtue of the lamb that 
is, the beloved virtue of Jesus Christ. Because, like a 
lamb, without anger or even complaint, he bore the 
sorrows of his passion and crucifixion. " He shall be led 
as a sheep to the slaughter, and dumb as a lamb before 
his shearer, and he shall not open his mouth." (Isa. liii. 
7.) Hence he has taught us to learn of him meekness 
and humility of heart. " Learn of me, because I am 
meek and humble of heart." (Matt. xi. 2<J.) 

6. Oh ! how pleasing in the sight of God are the meek, 
who submit in peace to all crosses, misfortunes, persecu 
tions, and injuries ! To the meek is promised the king 
dom of heaven. " Blessed are the meek, for they shall 
possess the land." (Matt. v. 4.) They are called the 
children of God. " Blessed are the peacemakers ; for 
they shall be called the children of God. (Ibid., v. 9.) 
Some boast of their meekness, but without any grounds; 
for they arc meek only towards those who praise and 
confer favours upon them: but to those who injure or 
censure them they are all fury and vengeance. The 
virtue of meekness consists in being meek and peaceful 
towards those who hate and maltreat us. " With them, 
that hated peace I was peaceful." (Ps. cxix. 7.) 

7. We must, as St. Paul says, put on the bowels of 
mercy towards all men, and bear one with another. 
"Put on ye the bowels of mercy, humility, modesty, 
patience, bearing with one another, and forgiving one 
another, if any have a complaint against another." (Col 
iii. 12, 13.) You wish others to bear with your defects, 
and to pardon your faults ; you should act in the same 
manner towards them. Whenever, then, you receive 
an insult from a person enraged against you , remember 
that a "mild answer breaketh wrath," (Prov. xv. 1.) A 
certain monk once passed through a cornfield: the owner 



SIX OF ANGER. 255 



of the field ran out, and spoke to him in very offensive 
and injurious language. The monk humbly replied : 
Brother, you are right; I have done wrong; pardon me. 
By this answer the husbandman was so much appeased 
that he instantly became calm, and even wished to follow 
the monk, and to enter into religion. The proud make 
use of the humiliations they receive to increase their 
pride ; but the humble and the meek turn the contempt 
and insults offered to them into an occasion of advancing 
in humility. " He," says St. Bernard, " is humble who 
converts humiliation into humility." (Ser. xxiv. in Can.) 
8. " A man of meekness," says St. Chrysostom, " is 
useful to himself and to others." The meek are useful 
to themselves, because, according to F. Alvares, the 
time of humiliation and contempt is for them the time 
of merit. Hence, Jesus Christ calls his disciples happy 
when they shall be reviled and persecuted. " Blessed 
are ye when they shall revile you and persecute you." 
(Matt. v. 11.) Hence, the saints have always desired to 
be despised as Jesus Christ has been despised. The 
meek are useful to others ; because, as the same 
St. Chrysostom says, there is nothing better calcu 
lated to draw others to God, than to see a Christian 
meek and cheerful when he receives an injury or an, 
insult. " Nihil ita conciliat Domino f amiliares ut quod 
ilium vident mansuetudine jucundum." The reason is, 
because virtue is known by being tried ; and, as gold is 
tried by fire, so the meekness of men is proved by humi 
liation. " Gold and silver are tried in the fire, but 
acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation. (Eccl. ii. 
5.) " My spikenard, " says the spouse in the Canticles, 
<( sent forth the odour thereof" (i. 11.) The spikenard 
is an odoriferous plant, but diffuses its odours only when, 
it is torn and bruised. In this passage the inspired 
writer gives us to understand, that a man cannot be said 
to be meek unless he is known to send forth the odour 
of his meekness by bearing injuries and insults in peace 
and without anger. God wishes us to be meek evea 
towards ourselves. When a person commits a fault, 
God certainly wishes him to humble himself, to be sorry 
for his sin, and to purpose never to fall into it again ^ 
but he does not wish him to be indignant with himself, 



256 SEKMON XXXIV. 



and give way to trouble and agitation of mind ; for, 
while the soul is agitated, a man is incapable of doing 
good. " My heart is troubled ; my strength hath left 
me." (Ps. xxx vii. 11.) 

9. Thus, when we receive an insult, we must do vio 
lence to ourselves in order to restrain anger. Let us 
either answer with meekness, as recommended above, or 
let us remain silent ; and thus, as St. Isidore says, we 
shall conquer. " Quamvis quis irritct, tu dissimula, quia 
taccndo vinces." But, if you answer through passion, 
you shall do harm to yourselves and others. It would 
be still worse to give an angry answer to a person who 
corrects you. " Medicanti irascitur," says St. Bernard, 
" qui non irascitur sagittanti." (Ser. vi. de Nativ.) Some 
are not angry, though they ought to be indignant with 
those who wound their souls by flattery ; and are filled 
with indignation against the person who censures them 
in order to heal their irregularities. Against the man 
who abhors correction, the sentence of perdition has, 
according to the Wise Man, been pronounced. "Because 
they have despised all my reproofs,. . . .the prosperity of 
fools shall destroy them." (Prov. i. 30, etc.) Fools 
regard as prosperity to be free from correction, or to 
despise the admonitions which they receive ; but such 
prosperity is the cause of their ruin. When you meet 
with an occasion of anger, you must, in the first place, 
be on your guard not to allow anger to enter your heart. 
* Be not quickly angry/ (Eccles. vii. 10.) Some per 
sons change colour, and get into a passion, at every con 
tradiction : and when anger has got admission, God 
knows to what it shall lead them. Hence, it is necessary 
to foresee these occasions in our meditations and prayers; 
for, unless we are prepared for them, it will be as diffi 
cult to restrain anger as to put a bridle on a horse while 
running away. 

10. Whenever we have the misfortune to permit 
anger to enter the soul, let us be careful not to allow it 
to remain. Jesus Christ tells all who remember that a 
brother is offended with them, not to offer the gift which 
they bring to the altar without being first reconciled to 
their neighbour. " Go first to be reconciled to thy 
brother, and then coming thou shalt offer thy gift." 



SIX OF ANGER. 



(Matt. v. 24.) And he who has received any offence, 
should endeavour to root out of his heart not only all 
anger, but also every feeling of bitterness towards the 
persons who have offended him. " Let all bitterness," 

says St. Paul, "and anger and indignation be put 

away from you." (Eph. iv. 31.) As long as anger con 
tinues, follow the advice of Seneca " When you shall 
be angry do nothing, say nothing, which may be dic 
tated by anger." Like David, be silent, and do not 
speak, when you feel that you are disturbed. " I was 
troubled, and I spoke not." (Ps. Ixxvi. 5.) How many 
when inflamed with anger, say and do what they after 
wards, in their cooler moments, regret, and excuse them 
selves by saying that they were in a passion ? As long, 
then, as anger lasts we must be silent, and abstain from 
doing or resolving to do anything ; for, what is done in 
the heat of passion will, according to the maxim of St. 
James, be unjust. " The anger of man worketh not the 
justice of God." (i. 20.) It is also necessary to abstain 
altogether from consulting those who might foment our 
indignation. "Blessed," says David, "is the man who 
hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly." (Ps. i. 
1.) To him who is asked for advice, Ecclesiasticus says. 
" If thou blow the spark, it shall burn as a fire ; and if 
thou spit upon it, it shall be quenched." (Eccl. xxviii. 
14.) When a person is indignant at some injury which 
he has received, you may, by exhorting him to patience, 
extinguish the fire ; but, if you encourage revenge, you 
may kindle a great flame. Let him, then, who feels 
himself in any way inflamed with anger, be on his guard 
against false friends, who, by an imprudent word, may 
be the cause of his perdition. 

11. Let us follow the advice of the apostle : " Be not 
overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good." (Horn, 
xii. 21.) "Be not overcome by evil:" do not allow your 
self to be conquered by sin. If, through anger, you seek 
revenge or utter blasphemies, you are overcome by sin. 
But you will say: "I am naturally of a warm temper." 
By the grace of God, and by doing violence to yourself, 
you will be able to conquer your natural disposition. 
Do not consent to anger, and you shall subdue the 
warmth of your temper. But you say : " I cannot bear 

R 



258 SERMON XXX IV. 

with unjust treatment." In answer I tell you, first, to 
remember that anger obscures reason, and prevents us 
from seeing things as they are. "Fire hath fallen on 
them, and they shall not see the sun." (Ps. Ivii. 9.) 
Secondly, if you return evil for evil, your enemy shall 
gain a victory over you. " If," said David, " I have 
rendered to them that repaid me evils, let me deservedly 
fall empty before my enemies." (Ps. vii. 5.) If I render 
evil for evil, I shall be defeated by my enemies. " Over 
come evil by good. " Render every foe good for evil. 
" Do good," says Jesus Christ, "to them that hate you." 
(Matt. v. 44.) This is the revenge of the saints, and is 
called by St. Paulinus, Heavenly revenge. It is by such 
revenge that you shall gain the victory. And should 
any of those, of whom the Prophet says, " The venom, 
of asps is under their lips" (Ps. cxxxix. 4), ask how you 
can submit to such an injury, let your answer be: " The 
chalice which my Father hath given me, shall I riot 
drink it?" (John xviii. 11.) And then turning to God 
you shall say : " I q ened not my mouth, because thou 
hast done it" (Ps. xxxviii. 10), for it is certain that 
every cross which befalls you comes from the Lord. 
* Good things and evil are from God." (Eccl xi. 14.) 
Should any one take away your property, recover it if 
you can ; but if you cannot, say with Job : " The Lord 
gave, and the Lord hath taken away" (i. 21.) A cer 
tain philosopher, who lost some of his goods in a storm, 
said : " If 1 have lost my goods I will not lose my peace." 
And, do you say : If I have lost my property, I will not 
lose my soul. 

12. In tine, when \ve meet with crosses, persecutions, 
and injuiies, let us turn to God, who commands us to 
bear them with patience; and thus we shall always avoid 
anger. "Eemember the fear of God, and be not angry 
with thy neighbour." (Eccl. xxviii. 8.) Let us give a 
look at the will of God, which disposes things in this 
manner for our merit, and anger shall cease. Let us 
give a look at Jesus crucified, and we shall not have 
courage to complain. St. Eleazar being asked by his 
spouse how he bore so many injuries without yielding 
to anger, answered : I turn to Jesus Christ, and thus I 
preserve my peace. Finally, let us give a glance at our 



VANITY OF THE WORLD. 259 

sins, for which we have deserved far greater contempt and 
chastisement, and we shall calmly submit to all evils. St. 
Augustine says, that though we are sometimes innocent 
of the crime for which we are persecuted, we are, never 
theless, guilty of other sins which merit greater punish 
ment than that which we endure. " Esto non habemus 
peccatum, quod objicitur: habemus tamen, quod digne in 
nobis flagelletur." (in Ps. Ixviii.) 



SERMON XXXV. SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER 
PENTECOST. 

On the vanity of the world. 

"And have nothing to eat." MARK viii. 2. 

1. SUCH were the attractions of our Divine Saviour, and 
such the sweetness with which he received all, that he 
drew after him thousands of the people. Ho one day saw 
himself surrounded by a great multitude of men, who 
followed him and remained with him three days, with 
out eating anything. Touched with pity for them, 
Jesus Christ said to his disciples: " I have compassion 
on the multitude ; for behold they have now been with 
me three days, and have nothing to eat." (Mark viii. 2.) 
He, on this occasion, wrought the miracle of the multi 
plication of the seven loaves and a few fishes, so as to 
satisfy the whole multitude. This is the literal sense ; 
but the mystic sense is, that in this world there is no 
food which can fill the desire of our souls. All the 
goods of this earth riches, honours, and pleasures 
delight the sense of the body, but cannot satiate the 
soul, which has been created" for God, and which God 
alone can content. I will, therefore speak to-day on 
the vanity of the world, and will show how great is the 
illusion of the lovers of the world, who lead an un 
happy life on this earth, and expose themselves to the 
imminent danger of a still more unhappy life in 
eternity. 

2. u ye sons of men," exclaims the Royal Prophet, 
against worldlings, "how long will you be dull at 
heart ? Why do you love vanity and seek after 



260 SERMON XXXV. 



lying ?" (Ps. iv. 3.) O men, fools, how long will 
you fix the affections of your hearts on this earth ? why 
do you love the goods of this world, which are all vanity 
and lies ? Do you imagine that you shall find peace by 
the acquisition of these goods? But how can you expect 
to find reace, while you walk in the ways of affliction, 
and misery ? Behold how David describes the condition 
of worldlings. " Destruction and unhappiness in their 
ways; and the way of peace they have not known." (Ps. 
xiii. 3.) You hope to obtain peace from the world ; but 
how can the world give you that peace which you seek, 
when St. John says, " that the whole world is seated in 
wickedness ?" (1 John v. 19.) The world is full of ini 
quities ; hence worldlings live under the despotism of the 
wicked one that is, the Devil. The Lord has declared 
that there is no peace for the wicked who live without 
his grace. " There is no peace to the wicked." (Isa. 
xlviii. l >2.) 

3. The goods of the world are but apparent goods, 
which cannot satisfy the heart of man. " You have 
eater.," says the Prophet Aggeus, " and have not had 
enough." "(Ag- i. (>.) Instead of satisfying our hunger 
they increase it. " These," says St. Bernard, " provoke 
rather than extinguish hunger." If the goods of this 
work! made men content, the rich and powerful should 
enjoy complete happiness ; but experience shows the 
contrary. We see every day that they are the most 
unhiippV of men ; they appear always oppressed by 
fears, by jealousies and sadness. Listen to King Solo 
mon, who abounded in these goods : " And behold all 
is vanity and vexation of spirit." (Eccl. i. 14.) He 
tells us," that all things in this world are vanity, lies, 
and illusion. They are not only vanity, but also affliction 
of spirit. They torture the poor soul, which finds in 
them a continual source, not of happiness, but of afflic 
tion and bitterness. This is a just punishment on those 
who instead of serving their God with joy, wish to 
serve their enemy the world which makes them 
endure the want of every good. " Because thou didst 
not serve the Lord thy God with joy and gladness of 

heart thou shaft serve thy enemy in hunger, 

and thirst, and nakedness, and in want of all things/* 



VANITY OF THE WORLD. 261 

(Deut. xxviii. 47, 48.) Man expects to content his heart 
with the goods of this earth ; but, howsoever abundantly 
he may possess them, he is never satisfied. Hence, he 
always seeks after more of them, and is always unhappy. 
Oh ! happy he who wishes for nothing but God ; for 
God will satisfy all the desires of his heart. " Delight 
in the Lord, and he will give thee the requests of thy 
heart." (Ps. xxxvi. 4.) Hence St. Augustine asks: 
- What, miserable man, dost thou seek in seeking 
after goods ? Seek one good, in which are all goods." 
And, having dearly learned that the goods of this world 
do not content, but rather afflict the heart of man, the 
saint, turning to the Lord, said : " All things are hard, 
and thou alone repose." Hence in saying, " My God 
and my all," the seraphic St. Francis, though divested 
of all worldly goods, enjoyed greater riches and happi 
ness than an the worldlings on this earth. Yes ; for 
the peace which fills the soul that desires nothing but 
God, surpasses all the delights which creatures can give. 
They can only delight the senses, but cannot content 
the heart of man. " The peace of God which sur- 
passeth all understanding." (Phil. iy. 7.) According to 
St. Thomas, the difference between God, the sovereign 
good, and the goods of the earth, consists in this, that 
the more perfectly we possess God, the more ardently 
we love him, because the more perfectly we possess 
him, the better we comprehend his infinite greatness, 
and therefore the more we despise other things ; but, 
when we possess temporal goods, we despise them, be 
cause we see their emptiness, and desire other things, 
which may make us content. " Summum bonum quanto 
perfectius possidetur, tanto magis amatur, et alia con- 
temnuntur. Sed in appetitu temporalium bonorum, 
quando habentur, contemnentur, et alia appetuntur." 
(S. Thorn, i. 2, qu. 2, art. 1, ad. 3.) 

4. The Prophet Osee tells us that the world holds 
in its hand a deceitful balance. " He is like Chanaan" 
(that is the world) ; " there is a deceitful balance in his 
hand." (Osee xii. 7.) We must, then, weigh things in 
the balance of God, and not in that of the world, which 
makes them appear different i rom what they are. 
What are the goods of this life ? " My days, " said 



262 SERMON XXXV. 



Job, " have been swifter than a post : they have passed 
by as ships carrying fruits." (Job ix. 25, 26.) The ships 
signify the lives of men, which soon pass away, and run 
speedily to death ; and if men have laboured only to 
provide themselves with earthly goods, these fruits decay 
at the hour of death : we can bring none of them with 
us to the other world. We, says St. Ambrose, falsely 
call these things our property, which we cannot bring 
witli us to eternity, where we must live for ever, and 
where virtue alone will accompany us. "Non nostra 
sunt, quae non possumus auferre nobiscum : sola virtus 
nos comitatur." You, says St. Augustine, attend only 
to what a rich man possessed ; but tell me, which of his 
possessions shall he, now that he is on the point of 
death, be able to take with him ? " Quid hie habebat 
attendis, quid secum fert, atteudo ?" (Serm. xiii. de Adv. 
Dom.) The rich bring with them a miserable garment, 
which shall rot with them in the grave. And should 
they, during life, have acquired a great name, they shall 
be soon forgotten. " Their memory hath perished with 
a noise." (Ps. ix. 7.) 

5. Oh ! that men would keep before their eyes that 
great maxim of Jesus Christ " What doth it profit a 
man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of 
his own soul ?" (Matt. xvi. 26.) If they did, they should 
certainly cease to love the world. What shall it profit 
them at the hour of death to have acquired all the goods 
of this world, if their souls must go into hell to be in 
torments for all eternity ? How many has this maxim, 
sent into the cloister and into the desert ? How 
many martyrs has it encouraged to embrace torments 
and death ! In the history of England, we read of 
thirty kings and queens, who left the world and becatne 
religious, in order to secure a happy death. The con 
sideration of the vanity of earthly goods made St. 
Francis Borgia retire from the world. At the sight of 
the Empress Isabella, who had died in the flower of 
youth, he came to the resolution of serving God alone* 
" Is such, then," he said, " the end of all the grandeur 
and crowns of this world ? Henceforth I will serve a 
master who can never die." The day of death is called 
" the day of destruction" ("The day of destruction is at 






VANITY OF THE WORLD. 263 

hand/ Dout. xxxii. 35), because on that day we shall 
lose and give up all the goods of the world all its 
riches, honours, and pleasures. The shade of death 
obscures all the treasures and grandeurs of this earth ; 
it obscures even the purple and the crown. Sister 
Margaret of St. Anne, a Discalced Carmelite, and 
daughter of the Emperor Rodolph the Second, used to 
say : " What do kingdoms profit us at the hour of death ?" 
" The affliction of an hour maketh one forget great 
delights." (Eccl. xi. 29.) The melancholy hour of death 
puts an end to all the delights and pomps of this life. 
St. Gregory says, that all goods which cannot remain 
with us, or which are incapable of taking away our 
miseries, are deceitful. " Fallaces sunt que nobiscuui 
permanere non possunt : fallaces sunt que mentis nostra3 
inopiam non expelluut." (Horn. xv. ? in Luc.) Behold a 
sinner whom the riches and honours which he had 
acquired made an object of envy to others. Death 
came upon him when he was at the summit of his glory, 
and he is no longer what he was. " I have seen the 
wicked highly exalted, and lifted up like the cedars of 
Libanus ; and I passed by, and lo ! he was not ; and I 
sought him, and his place was not found." (Ps. xxxvi. 
35, 38.) 

6. These truths the unhappy damned fruitlessly con 
fess in hell, where they exclaim with tears : " What 
hath pride profited us ? or what advantage hath the 
boasting of riches brought us ? All those things are 
passed away like a shadow." (Wis. v. 8, 9.) What, 
they say, have our pomps and riches profited us, now 
that they are all passed away like a shadow, and for us 
nothing remains but eternal torments and despair ? 
Dearly beloved Christians, let us open our eyes, and 
now that we have it in our power, let us attend to the 
salvation of our souls ; for, if we lose them, we shall 
not be able to save them in the next life. Aristippus, 
the philosopher, was once shipwrecked, and lost all his 
goods ; but such was the esteem which the people enter 
tained for him on account of his learning, that, as soon 
as he reached the shore, they presented him with an 
equivalent for all that he had lost. He then wrote to 
his friends, and exhorted them to attend to the acquisi- 



201 *FRMO:N xxxv. 



tion of goods which cannot be lost by shipwreck. Our 
relatives and friends who have passed into eternity 
exhort us, from the other world, to labour in this life 
for the attainment of goods which are not lost at death. 
If at that awful moment we shall be found to have 
attended only to the accumulation of earthly goods, 
\ve shall be called fools, and shall receive the reproach 
nddressed to the rich man in the gospel, who, after 
having reaped an abundant crop from his fields, said to 
himself: " Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for 
many years ; take thy rest, eat, drink, make good cheer. 
But* God said to him: Thou fool, this night do they 
require thy soul of thee : and whose shall those things 
be which thou hast provided ?" (Luke xii. 1 ( J, -0.) He 
said, " they require thy soul of thee," because to every 
man his soul is given, not with full power to dispose of 
it as he pleases, but it is given to him in trust, that he 
may preserve and return it to God in a state of inno 
cence, when it shall be presented at the tribunal of the 
Sovereign Judge. The Redeemer concludes this parable 
by saying : " So is he that layeth up treasure for him 
self, and is not rich towards God" (v. 21). This is 
what happens to those who seek to CD rich themselves 
with the goods of this life, and not with the love of 
God. Hence St. Augustine asks : " What has the rich 
man if he has not charity? If the poor man has 
charity, what is there that he has not ?" He that 
possesses all the treasures of this world, and has not 
charity, is the poorest of men ; but the poor who have 
God possess all things, though they should be bereft of 
all earthly goods. 

7. " The children of this world, * says Jesus Christ, 
" are wiser in their generation than the children of 
light." (Luke xvi. 8.) how wise in earthly affairs are 
worldlings, who live in the midst of the darkness of the 
world ! " Behold," says St. Augustine, " how much 
men suffer for things for which they entertain a vicious 
love." "What fatigue do they endure for the acquisition 
of property, or of a situation of emolument ! With what 
care do they endeavour to preserve their bodily health ! 
They consult the best physician, and procure the best 
medicine. And Christians, who are the children of 



VANITY OF THE WORLD. 265 

light, will take no pains, will suffer nothing, to _ secure 
the salvation of their souls ! God ! at the light of 
the candle which lights them to death, at that hour, at 
that time, which is called the time of truth, worldlings 
shall see and confess their folly. Then each ^of ^them 
shall exclaim : that I had led the life of a saint ! At 
the hour of death, Philip the Second, King of Spain, 
called in his son, and having shown him his breast de 
voured with worms, said to him : Son, behold how we 
die ; behold the end of all worldly greatness. He then 
ordered a wooden cross to be fastened to his neck ; and, 
having made arrangements for his death, he turned 
again to his son, and said : My son, I wished you to be 
present at this scene, that you might understand how 
the world in the end treats even monarchs. He died 
saying : Oh, that I had been a lay brother in some reli 
gious order, and that I had not been a king ! Such is 
the language at the hour of death, even of the princes 
of the earth, whom worldlings regard as the most 
fortunate of men. But these desires and sights of regret 
serve only to increase the anguish and remorse of the 
lovers of the world at the hour of death, when the scene 
is about to close. 

8. And what is the present life but a scene, which 
soon passes away for ever? It may end when we least 
expect it. Cassimir, King of Poland, while he sat at 
table with his grandees, died in the act of raising a cup 
to take a draught ; thus the scene ended for him. The 
Emperor Celsus was put to death in seven days after 
his election ; and the scene closed for him. Ladislaus, 
King of Bohemia, in his eighteenth year, while he was 
preparing for the reception of his spouse, the daughter 
of the King of France, was suddenly seized with a 
violent pain, which took away his life. Couriers were 
instantly despatched to announce to her that the scene 
was over for Ladislaus, that she might return to France. 
u The world," says Cornelius a Lapide, in his comment 
upon this passage, " is like a stage. One generation 
passes away, and a new generation comes. The king 
does not take wiih him the purple. Tell me, villa, O 
house, how many masters had you ?" In every age the 
inhabitants of this earth are changed. Cities and king- 



2G6 



SERMON XXXVI. 



doms are filled with new people. The first generation 
passes to the other world, a second comes on, and this 
is followed by another. He who, in the scene of this 
world, has acted the part of a king is no longer a king. 
The master of such a villa or palace is no longer its 
master. Hence the Apostle gives us the following ad 
vice : " The time is short ; it remaineth that... they that 
use this world be as if they used it not ; for the fashion 
of this world passeth away." (I Cor. vii. 29, 30.) Since 
the time of our dwelling on this earth is short, and since 
all must end with our death, let us make use of this 
world to despise it, as if it did not exist for us ; and let 
us labour to acquire the eternal treasures of Paradise, 
where, as the Gospel says, there are no moths to con 
sume, nor thieves to steal them. " But lay up to your 
selves treasures in heaven, where neither the rust nor 
the moth doth consume, and where thieves do not break 
through nor steal." (Matt. vi. 20.) St. Teresa used to 
say : " We should not set value on what ends with life ; 
the true life consists in living in such a manner as not 
to be afraid of death." Death shall have no terror for 
him who, during life, is detached from the vanities of 
this world, and is careful to provide himself only with 
goods which shall accompany him to eternity, and make 
him happy for ever. 



SEEMON XXXVI. SEVENTH SUXDAY AFTER 
PENTECOST. 

On the education of children. 

"A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree 
bring forth good fruit." MATT. vii. 18. 

THEN the gospel of this day tells us, that a good plant 
cannot produce bad fruit, and that a bad one cannot 
produce good fruit. Learn from this, brethren, that a 
good father brings up good children. But, if parents 
be wicked, how can the children be virtuous? Have 
you ever, says the Redeemer, in the same gospel, seen 
grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles ? 



EDUCATION OF CHILDREN. 267 

Do men gather grapes from thorns, or figs from 
thistles ?" (v. 16.) And, in like manner, it is impossible, 
or rather very difficult, to find children virtuous, who 
are brought up by immoral parents. Fathers and 
mothers, be attentive to this sermon, which is of great 
importance to the eternal salvation of yourselves and of 
your children. Be attentive, young men and young 
women, who have not as yet chosen a state of life. If 
you wish to marry, learn this day the obligations which 
you can contract with regard to the education of your 
children ; and learn also that, if you do not fulfil them, 
you shall bring yourselves and all your children to dam 
nation. I shall divide this sermon into two points. In 
the first, I shall show how important it is to bring up 
children in habits of virtue ; and in the second, I shall 
show with what care and diligence a parent ought to 
labour to bring them up well. 

First Point. How very important it is to bring up 
children in habits of virtue. 

1. A father owes two obligations to his children ; he 
is bound to provide for their corporal wants, and to 
educate them in habits of virtue. It is not necessary at 
present to say more on the first obligation, than that 
there are some fathers more cruel than the most ferocious 
of wild beasts ; for these do not forget to nourish their 
offspring ; _ but certain parents squander away in eating 
and drinking, and gaming, all their property, or all the 
fruits of their industry, and allow their children to die 
of hunger. But let us come to the education, which is 
the subject of my discourse. 

2. It is certain that a child s future good or ill con 
duct depends on his being brought up well or ill. 
Nature itself teaches every parent to attend to the edu 
cation of his offspring. He who has given them being 
ought to endeavour to make life useful to them. God 
gives children to parents, not that they may assist the 
family, but that they may be brought up in the fear of 
God, and be directed in the way of eternal salvation. 
" We have," says St. Chrysostom, " a great deposit in 
children; let us attend to them with great care." (Horn, 
ix., in 1 ad Tit.) Children have not been given to 



268 SERMON XXXVT. 



parents as a present, which they may dispose of as they 
please, but as a trust, for which, if lost through their 
negligence, they must render an account to God. The 
Scripture tells us, that when a father observes the 
divine law, both he and his children shall prosper. 
" That it may be well with thee and thy children after 
thee, when thou shalt do that which is pleasing in the 
sight of God." (Deut. xii. 25.) The good or ill conduct 
of a parent may be known, by those who have not 
witnessed it, from the life which his children lead. 
" For by the fruit the tree is known/ (Matt. xii. 33.) 
" A father/ says Ecclcsiasticus, " who leaves a family, 
when he departs this life, is as if he had not died ; 
because his sons remain, and exhibit his habits and 
character. His father is dead, and he is as if he were 
not dead ; for he hath left one behind him that is like 
himself." (Eccl. xxx. 4.) When we find a son addicted 
to blasphemies, to obscenities, and to theft, we have 
reason to suspect that such too was the character of the 
father. " Fur a man is known by his children." (Eccl. 
xi. 30.) 

3. Hence Origen says, that on the day of judgment 
parents shall have to render an account for all the sins 
<jf their children. * Omnia quaocumque delinquerint 
filii, a parentibus requiruntur. 1 (Grig., Lib. 2, in Job.) 
Hence, he who teaches his son to live well, shall die a 
happy and tranquil death. " He that teacheth his son 
...when he died he was not sorrowful, neither was he 
confounded." (Eccl. xxx. 3, 5.) And he shall save his 
soul by means of his children ; that is, by the virtuous 
education which he has given them. " She shall be 
.saved through child-bearing." (1 Tim. ii. 15.) But, on 
the other hand, a very uneasy and unhappy death shall 
be the lot of those who have laboured only to increase 
the possessions, or to multiply the honours of their family ; 
or who have sought only to lead a life of ease and plea 
sure, but have not watched over the morals of their 
children. St. Paul says, that such parents are worse 
than infidels. * But if any man have not care of his 
own, and especially of those of his house, he hath denied 
the faith, and is worse than an infidel." (1 Tim. v. 8.) 
"Were fathers or mothers to lead a life of piety and con- 



EDUCATION OF CHILDREN. 269 

tinual prayer, and to communicate every day, they 
should be damned if they neglected the care of their 
children. "Would to God that certain parents paid as 
much attention to their children as they do to their 
horses ! How careful are they to see that their horses 
are fed and well trained ! And they take no pains to 
make their children attend at catechism, hear mass, or 
go to confession. " We take more care/ says St. Chry- 
sostom, " of our asses and horses, than of the children/ 
(Horn, x., in Matt.) 

4. If all fathers fulfilled their duty of watching over 
the education of their children, we should have but few 
crimes and few executions. By the bad education 
which parents give to their offspring, they cause their 
children, says St. Chrysostom, to rush into many grie 
vous vices ; and thus they deliver them up to the hands 
of the executioner. " Majoribus illos malis involvimus, 
et carnih cum manibus damns." (Serin, xx., de divers.) 
Hence, in Lacedemon, a parent, as being the cause of 
all the irregularities of his children, was justly punished 
for their crimes with greater severity than the children 
themselves. Great indeed is the misfortune of the 
child that has vicious parents, who are incapable of 
bringing up their children in the fear of God, and who, 
when they see their children engaged in dangerous 
friendships and in quarrels, instead of correcting and 
chastising them, rather take compassion on them, and 
say : " What can be done ? They are young ; they must 
take their course." Oh ! what wicked maxims ! what 
a cruel education ! Do you hope that when your chil 
dren grow up they shall become saints ? Listen to 
what Solomon says : " A young man, according to his 
way, even when he is old, he will not depart from it." 
(Prov. xxii. 6.) A young man who has contracted a 
habit of sin will not abandon it even in his old age. 
" His bones," says Job, " shall be filled with the vices 
of his youth, and they shall sleep with him in the dust." 
(Job xx. 11.) When a young person has lived in evil 
habits, his bones shall be filled with the vices of his 
youth, so that he will carry them with him to death ; 
and the impurities, blasphemies, and hatred to which he 
was accustomed in his youth, shall accompany him to 



270 SERMON XXXVI. 



the grave, and shall sleep -with him after his bones shall 
be reduced to dust and ashes. It is very easy, when 
they are small, to train up children to habits of virtue ; 
but, when they have come to manhood, it is equally 
difficult to correct them, if they have learned habits of 
vice. JBut, let us^come to the second point that is, to 
the means of bringing up children in the practice of 
virtue. I entreat you, fathers and mothers, to remem 
ber what I now say to you ; for on it depends the eternal 
salvation of your own souls, and of the souls of your 
children. 

Second Point. On the care and diligence with which 
parents ought to endeavour to bring up their children in 
habits of virtue. 

5. St. Paul teaches sufficiently, in a few words, in 
what the proper education of children consists. lie sa) r s 
that it consists in discipline and correction. " And you, 
fathers, provoke not your children to anger ; but bring 
them up in the discipline and correction of the Lord." 
(Ephes. vi. 4 )^ Discipline, which is the same as the re 
ligious regulation of the morals of children, implies an 
obligation of educating them in habits of virtue by word 
and example. First, by words : a good father should 
often assemble his children, and instil into them the holy 
fear of God. It was in this manner that Tobias brought 
up his little son. The father taught him from his child 
hood to fear the Lord and to % from sin. " And from 
his infancy he taught him to fear God and to abstain 
from sin/ (Tob. i. 10.) The Wise Man says that a well 
educated son is the support and consolation of his father. 
" Instruct thy son, and he shall refresh thee, and shall 
give delight to thy soul." (Prov. xxix. J7.) But, as a 
weU instructed son is the delight of his father s soul, so 
an ignorant child is a source of sorrow to a father s 
heart ; for the ignorance of his obligations as a Christian 
is always accompanied with a bad life. Cantipratensis 
relates (lib. 1, cap. 20) that, in the year 1248, an igno 
rant priest was commanded, in a certain synod, to make 
a discourse. But while he was greatly agitated by the 
command, the devil appeared to him, and instructed 
him to say : " The rectors of infernal darkness salute 
the rectors of parishes, and thank them for their negli- 



EDUCATION OF CHILDREN. 271 



gence in instructing the people ; because from ignorance 
proceed the misconduct and the damnation of many." 
The same is true of negligent parents. In the first 
place, a parent ought to instruct his children in the 
truths of faith, and particularly in the four principal 
mysteries. First, that there is hut one God, the Creator, 
and Lord of all things ; secondly, that this God is a remu- 
nerator, who, in the next life, shall reward the good with 
the eternal glory of Paradise, and shall punish the wicked 
with the everlasting torments of hell; thirdly, the 
mystery of the holy Trinity that is, that in God there 
are Three Persons, who are only one God, because they 
have but one essence ; fourthly, the mystery of the 
incarnation of the Divine Word the Son of God, and 
true God, who became man in the womb of Mary, 
and suffered and died for our salvation. Should a father 
or a mother say : I myself do not know these mysteries, 
can such an excuse be admitted ? that is, can one sin 
excuse another ? If you are ignorant of these mysteries 
you are obliged to learn them, and afterwards teach them 
to your children. At least, send your children to the 
catechism. Oh ! what a misery to see so many fathers 
and mothers who are unable to instruct their children in 
the most necessary truths of faith, and who, instead of 
sending their sons and daughters to the Christian doctrine 
on festivals, employ them in messages, or other occupa 
tions of little moment ; and when grown up they know 
not what is meant by mortal sin, by hell, or eternity. 
They do not even know the Creed, the Pater Noster, or 
the Hail Mary, which every Christian is bound to learn 
under pain of mortal sin. 

6. Religious parents not only instruct their children 
in these things, which are the most important, but they 
also teach them the acts which ought to be made every 
morning after rising. They teach them, first, to thank 
God for having preserved their life during the night ; 
secondly, to offer to God all the good actions which they 
will pertorm, and all the pains which they shall suffer 
during the day ; thirdly, to implore of Jesus Christ and 
most holy Mary to preserve them from all sin during 
the day. They teach them to make every evening an 
examen of conscience and an act of contrition. They 



272 SERMON XXXVI. 



also teach them to make every day the acts of Faith, 
Hope, and Charity, to recite the Rosary, and to visit the 
hlessed Sacrament. Some good fathers of families are 
careful to get a hook of meditations read, and to have 
mental prayer in common for half an hour every day. 
This is what the Holy Ghost exhorts you to practise. 
" Hast thou children ? Instruct them and bow down 
their neck from their childhood." (Eccl. vii. 25.) En 
deavour to train them from their infancy to these reli 
gious hahits, and when they grow up they shall persevere 
in them. Accustom them also to go to confession and 
communion every week. Be careful to make them go to 
confession when they arrive at the age of seven, and to- 
communion at the age of ten. This is the advice of St. 
Charles Borromeo. As soon as they attain the use of 
reason make them receive the sacrament of confir 
mation. 

7. It is also very useful to infuse good maxims into 
the infant minds of children. Oh ! what ruin is brought 
upon his children by the father who teaches them worldly 
maxims ! " You must," some people say to their chil 
dren, " seek the esteem and applause of the world. God 
is merciful ; he takes compassion on certain sins." 
Miserable the young man who sins in obedience to such 
maxims. Good parents teach very different maxims to 
their children. Queen Blanche, the mother of St. Louis, 
King of France, used to say to him: b< My son, I would 
rather see you dead in my arms than in the state of sin." 
Oh ! brethren, let it be your practice also to infuse into 
your children certain maxims of salvation, such as, 
* What will it profit us to gain the whole world, if we 
lose our own souls ? Every thing on this earth has an 
end ; but eternity never ends. Let all be lost, provided 
God is not lost." One of these maxims well impressed 
on the mind of a young person will preserve him always 
in the grace of God. 

8. But parents are obliged to instruct their children 
in the practice of virtue, not only by words, but still 
more by example. If you give your children bad ex 
ample, how can you expect that they will lead a good 
life ? When a dissolute young man is corrected for a 
fault, he answers : Why do you censure me, when my 



EDUCATION OF CHILDREN. 273 

father does worse. " The children will complain of an 
ungodly father, because for his sake they are in re 
proach/ (Eccl. xli. 10.) How is it possible for a son 
to be moral and religious, when he has had the example 
of a father who was accustomed to utter blasphemies and 
obscenities ; who spent the entire day in the tavern, ia 
gaming and drunkenness ; who was in the habit of fre 
quenting houses of bad fame, and of defrauding his 
neighbour ? Do you expect that your son will go fre 
quently to confession, when you yourself approach the 
tribunal of penance scarcely once a year ? Children are 
like apes ; they do what they see .their parents do. It is 
related in the fables, that a crab-fish one day rebuked its 
young for walking crookedly. They replied : Father, let 
us see you walk. The father walked before them more 
crookedly than they did. This is what happens to the 
parent who gives bad example. Hence, he has not even 
courage to correct his children for the sins which he 
himself commits. 

9. But though he should correct them, by words, of 
what use is his correction when he sets them a bad ex 
ample by his acts ? It has been said in the council of 
Bishops, that " men believe the eyes rather than the 
ears." And St. Ambrose says : " The eyes convince me 
of what they see more quickly than the ear can in 
sinuate what is past." (Serm. xxiii., de S. S.) According 
to St. Thomas, scandalous parents compel, in a certain 
manner, their children to lead a bad life. " Eos ad 
peccatum, quantum in eis fuit obligaverunt" (in Ps. 
STL). They are not, says St. Bernard, fatheis, but 
murderers ; they kill, not the bodies, but the souls of 
their children. " Non parentes, sed peremptores." It 
is useless for them to say : " My children have been bora 
with bad dispositions." This is not true ; for, as Seneca 
says, " you err, if you think that vices are born with 
us ; they have been engrafted." (Ep. xciv.) Vices are 
not born with your children, but have been communi 
cated to them by the bad example of the parents. If 
you had given good example to your sons, they should 
not be so vicious as they are. O brethren, frequent the 
sacraments, assist at sermons, recite the Rosary every 
day, abstain from all obscene language, from, detraction, 



274 SERMON xxxvi. 



and from quarrels ; and you shall see that your sons 
will go often to confession, will assist at sermons, will 
say the Rosary, will speak modestly, and will fly from 
detraction and disputes. It is particularly necessary to 
train up children to virtue in their infancy : " Bow down 
their neck from their childhood ;" for when ^they have 
grown up and contracted bad hahits, it will be very 
difficult lor you to produce, by words, any amendment 
in their lives. 

10. To bring up children in the discipline of the 
Lord, it is also necessary to take away from them the 
occasion of doing evil. Hence a father must, in the 
first place, forbid his children to go out at night, or to 
go to a house in which their virtue might be exposed to 
danger, or to keep bad company. " Cast out," said 
Sarah to Abraham, " this bondwoman and her son." 
(Gen. xxi. 10.) She wished to have Ishmael, the son of 
Agar the bondwoman, banished from her hou^e, that her 
son Isaac might not learn his vicious habits. Bad com 
panions are the ruin of young persons. A father should 
not only remove the evil which he witnesses, but he is 
also bound to inquire after the conduct of his children, 
and to seek information from domestics and from cxterns 
regarding the places which his sons frequent when they 
leave home, regarding their occupations and companions. 
Secondly, he should take from them every musical 
instrument which is to them an occasion of going out at 
night, and all forbidden weapons which may lead them 
into quarrels or disputes. Thirdly, he should dismiss 
all immoral servants ; and, if his sons be grown up, he 
should not keep in his house any young female servant. 
Some parents pay little attention to this ; and when the 
evil happens they complain of their children, as if they 
expected that tow thrown into the fire should not burn. 
Fourthly, a father ought to forbid his children ever to 
bring into his house stolen goods such as fowl, fruit, 
and the like. When Tobias heard the bleating of a goat 
in his house, he said : " Take heed, lest perhaps it be 
stolen ; restore ye it to its owners." (Tob. li. 21.) How 
often does it happen that, when a child steals something, 
the mother says to him : " Bring it to me, my sou." 
Parents should prohibit to their children all games which 



EDUCATION OF CHILDREN. 275 

bring destruction on their families and on their own 
souls, and also masks, scandalous comedies, and certain, 
dangerous conversations and parties of pleasure. Fifthly, 
a father should remove from his house romances, which 
pervert young persons, and all bad books which contain 
pernicious maxims, tales of obscenity, or of profane love. 
Sixthly, he ought not to allow his children to sleep in 
his own bed, nor the males and females to sleep toge 
ther. Seventhly, he should not permit his daughters to 
be alone with men, whether young or old. But some 
will say : " Such a man teaches my daughters to read 
and write, etc. ; he is a saint." The saints are in 
heaven ; but the saints that are on earth are flesh, and 
by proximate occasions they may become devils. 
Eighthly, if he has daughters, he should not permit 
young men to frequent his house. To get their daugh 
ters married, some mothers invite young men to their 
houses. They are anxious to see their daughters mar 
ried ; but they do not care to see them in sin. These 
are the mothers who, as David says, immolate their 
daughters to the devil. " They sacrifice their sons and 
their daughters to devils." (Ps. cv. 37.) And to excuse 
themselves they will say: " Father, there is no harm in 
what I do." There is no harm ! Oh ! how many mothers 
shall we see condemned on the day of judgment on 
account of their daughters ! The conduct of such mothers 
is at least a subject of conversation among their neigh 
bours and equals ; and, for all, the parents must render 
an account to God. O fathers and mothers ! confess all 
the sins you have committed in this respect, before the 
day on which you shall be judged arrives. 

11. Another obligation of parents is, to correct the 
faults of the family. " Bring them up in the discipline 
and correction of the Lord/ There are fathers and 
mothers who witness faults in the family, and remain 
silent. A certain mother was in the habit of acting in 
this manner. Her husband one day took a stick and 
began to beat her severely. She cried out, and said: "I 
am doing nothing. Why do you beat me ?" "I beat you/ 
replied the husband, " because you see, and do not cor 
rect, the faults of the children because you do nothing." 
Through fear of displeasing their children some fathers 



276 SERMON xxxvii. 



neglect to correct them ; but, if you saw your son falling 
into a pool of water, and in danger of being drowned, 
would it not be savage cruelty not to catch him by the 
hair and save his life ? " He that spareth the rod hateth 
his son." (Prov. xiii. 24.) If you love your sons correct 
them, and, while they are growing up chastise them, 
even with the rod, as often as it may be necessary. I 
say, " with the rod," but not with the stick ; for you 
must correct them like a father, and not like a galley 
sergeant. You must be careful not to beat them when 
you are in a passion ; for, you shall then be in danger 
of beating them with too much severity, and the correc 
tion will be without fruit ; for they then believe that the 
chastisement is the effect of anger, and not of a desire 
on your part to see them amend their lives. I have 
also said that you should correct them u while they are 
growing up ;" for, when they arrive at manhood, your 
correction will be of little use. You must then abstain 
from correcting them with the hand; otherwise, they 
shall hecome more perverse, and shall lose their respect 
for you. But of what use is it to correct children by so 
many injurious words and by so many imprecations? 
Deprive them of some part of their meals, of certain 
articles of dress, or shut them up in a room. But I 
have said enough. Dearly beloved brethren, draw from 
the discourse which you have heard the conclusion, that 
he who has brought up his children badly shall be 
severely punished ; and that he who has trained them 
to habits of virtue shall receive a great reward. 



SERMON XXXVIL-EIGHTH SUNDAY AFTER 
PENTECOST. 

On the particular judgment. 

11 Give an account of thy stewardship." LUKE xvi. 2. 

BELOVED Christians, of all the goods of nature, of fortune, 
and of grace, which we have received from God, we 
are not the masters, neither can we dispose of them as 



PARTICULAR JUDGMENT. 277 

we please ; we are but the administrators of them ; and 
therefore we should employ them according to the will 
of God, who is our Lord. Hence, at the hour of death, 
we must render a strict account of them to Jesus Christ, 
our Judge. " For we must all be manifested before the 
judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the 
proper things of the body as he hath done, whether it 
be good or evil." (2 Cor. v. 10.) This is the precise 
meaning of that " give an account of thy stewardship," 
in the gospel of this day. " You are not," says St. 
Bonaventure, in his comment on these words, " a master, 
but a steward over the things committed to you ; and 
therefore you are to render an account of them." I will 
place before your eyes to-day the rigour of this judg 
ment, which shall be passed on each of us on the last day 
of our life. Let us consider the terror of the soul, first, 
when we shall be presented to the Judge ; secondly, 
when she shall be examined ; and thirdly, when she 
shall be condemned. 

First Point. Terror of the soul when she shall be 
presented to the Judge. 

] . "It is appointed unto men once to die, and after 
this the judgment." (Heb. ix. 27.) It is of faith that 
we shall die, and that after death a judgment shall be 
passed on all the actions of our life. JSTow, what shall 
be the terror of each of us when we shall be at the 
point of death, and shall have before our eyes the judg 
ment which must take place the very moment the soul 
departs from the body? Then shall be decided our 
doom to eternal life, or to eternal death. At the time 
of the passage of their souls from this life to eternity, 
the sight of their past sins, the rigour of God s judg 
ment, and the uncertainty of their eternal salvation, 
have made the saints tremble. St. Mary Magdalene de 
Pazzia trembled in her sickness, through the fear of 
judgment ; and to her confessor, when he endeavoured 
to give her courage, she said : "Ah! father, it is a terrible 
thing to appear before Christ in judgment." After spend 
ing so many years in penance in the desert, St. Agatho 
trembled at the hour of death, and said : " What shall 
become of me when I shall be judged ?" The venerable 



278 SERMON XXXVII. 



Father Louis da Ponte was seized with such a fit of 
trembling at the thought of the account which he should 
render to God, that he shook the room in which he lay. 
The thought of judgment inspired the venerable Juvenal 
Ancina, Priest of the Oratory, and afterwards Bishop 
of Saluzzo, with the determination to leave the world. 
Hearing the Dies Ircc sung, and considering the terror 
of the soul when presented before Jesus Christ, the 
Judge, he took, and afterwards executed, the resolution 
of giving himself entirely to God. 

2. It is the common opinion of theologians, that at 
the very moment and in the very place in which the 
soul departs from the body, the divine tribunal is 
erected, the accusation is read, and the sentence is 
passed by Jesus Christ, the Judge. At this terrible 
tribunal each of us shall be presented to give an account 
of all our thoughts, of all our words, and of all our 
actions. " For we must all be manifested before the 
judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the 
proper things of the body, according as he hath done, 
whether it be good or evil." ( 2 Cor. v. 10.) When pre 
sented before an earthly judge criminals have been seen 
to fall into a cold sweat through fear. It is related of 
Piso, that so great and insufferable was the confusion, 
which he felt at the thought of appearing as a criminal 
before the senate that he killed himself. How great is 
the pain of a vassal, or of a son, in appearing before an 
angry prince or an enraged father, to account for some 
crime which he has committed ! Oh ! how much greater 
shall be the pain and confusion of the soul in standing, 
before Jesus Christ enraged against her for having de 
spised him during her life! Speaking of judgment, St. 
Luke says: "Then you shall see the Son of Man." 
(Luke xxi. 27.) They shall see Jesus Christ as man,, 
with the same wounds with which he ascended into 
heaven. " Great joy of the beholders !" says llobert the 
Abbot, " a great terror of those who are in expectation !" 
These wounds shall console the just, and shall terrify the 
wicked. In them sinners shall see the Redeemer s love 
for themselves, and their ingratitude to him. 

o. " Who," says the Prophet Nahum, " can stand 
before the face of his indignation ?" (i. 6.) How great,. 



PARTICULAR JUDGMENT. 279 

then, shall be the terror of a soul that finds herself in 
sin before this Judge, the first time she shall see him, and 
see him full of wrath ! St. Basil says that she shall be 
tortured more by her shame and confusion than by the 
very fire of hell. " Horridior quam ignis, erit pudor." 
Philip the Second rebuked one of his domestics for 
having told him a lie. " Is it thus," said the king to 
him, " you deceive me ?" The domestic, after having 
returned home, died of grief. The Scripture tells us, 
that when Joseph reproved his brethren, saying: " I am. 
Joseph, whom you sold," they were unable to answer 
through fear, and remained silent. " His brethren could 
not answer him, being struck with exceeding great 
fear." (Gen. xlv. 3.) Now what answer shall sinners 
make to Jesus Christ when he shall say to them : I am 
your Redeemer and your Judge, whom you have so 
much despised. Where shall the miserable beings fly, 
says St. Augustine, when they shall see an angry Judge 
above, hell open below, on one side their own sins accus 
ing them, and on the other the devils dragging them to 
punishment, and their conscience burning them within^? 
" Above shall be an enraged Judge below, a horrid 
chaos on the right, sins accusing him on the left, 
demons dragging him to punishment within, a burning 
conscience ! Whither shall a sinner, beset in this 
manner, fly ?" Perhaps he will cry for mercy ? But 
how, asks Eusebius Emissenus, can he dare to implore 
mercy, when he must first render an account of his 
contempt for the mercy which Jesus Christ has shown 
to him ? " With what face will you, who are to be 
first judged for contempt of mercy, ask for mercy?" 
But let us come to the rendering of the accounts. 

Second Point. Terror of the soul when she shall be 
examined. 

4. As soon as the soul shall be presented before the 
tribunal of Jesus Christ, he will say to her : " Give an 
account of thy stewardship:" render instantly an account 
of thy entire life. The Apostle tells us, that to be 
worthy of eternal glory our lives must be found con 
formable to the life of Jesus Christ. " For whom he 
foreknew, he also predestinated to be made conformable 



280 SERMON XXXVII. 



to the image of his son ;...them he also glorified." (Rom. 
viii. 29, 30.) Hence St. Peter has said, that in the 
judgment of Jesus Christ, the just man who has observed 
the divine law, has pardoned enemies, has respected the 
saints, has practised chastity, meekness, and other 
virtues, shall scarcely be saved. " The just man shall 
scarcely be saved." The Apostle adds: "Where shall 
the ungodly and the sinner appear ?" (1 Pet. iv. 18.) 
What shall become of the vindictive and the unchaste, 
of blasphemers and slanderers ? What shall become of 
those whose entire life is opposed to the lite of Jesus 
Christ ? 

5. In the first place, the Judge shall demand of sin 
ners an account of all the blessings and graces which he 
bestowed on thorn in order to bring them to salvation, 
and which they have rendered fruitless. He will demand 
r.n account of the years granted to them that they might 
serve God, and which they have spent in offending him. 
" He hath called against me the time." (Lam. i. 15.) He 
will then demand an account of their sins. Sinners 
commit sins, and afterwards forget them ; but Jesus 
Christ does not forget them : he keeps, as Job says, all 
our iniquities numbered, as it were in a bag. * Thou 
hast sealed up my iniquities, as it were in a bag." (Job 
xiv. 17.) And he tells us that, on the day of accounts, 
he will take a lamp to scrutinize all the actions of our 
life. " And it shall come to pass at that time, that I 
will search Jerusalem with lamps." (Soph. i. 12.) The 
lamp, says Mendoza on this passage, penetrates all the 
corners of the house that is, God will discover all the 
defects of our conscience, great and small. According to 
St. Anselm, an account shall be demanded of every glance 
ofthee^es. " Exigitur usque ad ictum oculi." And, 
according to St. Matthew, of every idle word. " Every 
idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an 
account for it on the day of judgment." (Matt. xii. 36.) 

6. The Prophet Malachy says, that as gold is refined 
by taking away the dross, so on the day of judgment 
all our actions shall be examined, and every defect 
which may be discovered shall be punished. " He shall 
purify the sons of Levi, and shall refine them as gold." 
(Mai. iii. 3.) Even our justices that is, our good works, 



PARTICULAR JUDGMENT. 281 

confessions, communions, and prayers shall be exa 
mined. " When I shall take a time, I will judge 
justices." (Ps. Ixxiv. 3.) But if every glance, every idle 
word, and even good works, shall be judged, with what 
rigour shall immodest expressions, blasphemies, grievous 
detractions, thefts, and sacrileges be judged ? Alas ! on 
that day every soul shall, as St. Jerome says, see, to her 
own confusion, all the evils which she has done. 
" Yidebit unusquisque quod fecit." 

7. " Weight and balance are judgments of the Lord/ 
(Prov. xvi. 11.) In the balance of the Lord a holy life 
and good works make the scale descend ; but nobility, 
wealth, and science have no weight. Hence, if found 
innocent, the peasant, the poor, and the ignorant shall 
be rewarded. But the man of rank, of wealth, or of 
learning, if found guilty, shall be condemned. " Thou 
art weighed in the balance," said Daniel to Belthassar, 
" and art found wanting." (Dan. v. 27.) " Neither his 
gold nor his wealth," says Father Alvares, " but the 
king alone was weighed." 

8. At the divine tribunal the poor sinner shall see 
himself accused by the devil, who, according to St. 
Augustine, " will recite the words of our profession, and 
will charge us before our face with all that we have 
done, will state the day and hour in which we sinned." 
(Con. Jud., torn. 6.) " He will recite the words of our 
profession" that is, he will enumerate the promises which 
we have made to God, and which we afterwards violated. 
" He will charge us before our face ;" he will upbraid us 
with all our wicked deeds, pointing to the day and hour 
in which they were committed. And he will, as the 
same saint says, conclude his accusation by saying: 
" I have suffered neither stripes nor scourges for this 
man." Lord, I have suffered nothing for this ungrateful 
sinner, and to make himself my slave he has turned his 
back on thee who has endured so much for his salva 
tion. He, therefore, justly belongs to me. Even his 
angel-guardian will, according to Origen, come forward 
to accuse him, and will say : " I have laboured so many 
years for his salvation ; bat he has despised all my ad 
monitions." " Unusquisque angelorum perhibet testi- 
monium, quot annis circa eum laboraverit, sed ille 



282 SERMON XXXVII. 



monita sprevit." (Horn. Ixvi.) Thus, even friends shall 
treat with contempt the guilty soul. " All her friends 
have despised her." (Lamen. i. 2.) Her very sins shall, 
says St. Bernard, accuse her. u And they shall say : 
You have made us ; we are your work ; we shall not 
desert you." (Lib. Medit, cap. ii.) AVe are your off 
spring ; we shall not leave you : we shall be your com 
panions in hell for all eternity. 

9. Let us now examine the excuses which the sinner 
will be able to advance. He will say, that the evil in 
clinations of nature had drawn him into sin. But he 
shall be told that, if concupiscence impelled him to sins, 
it did not oblige him to commit them ; and that, if he 
had recourse to God, he should have received from him 
grace to resist every temptation. For this purpose 
Jesus Christ has left us the sacraments : but when we 
do not make use of them, we can complain only of our 
selves. " But/ says the Redeemer, " now they have 
no excuse for their sin." (John xv. 22.) To excuse 
himself, the sinner shall also say that the devil tempted 
him to sin. But, as St. Augustine says, " The enemy is 
bound like a dog in chains, and can bite only him who 
has united himself to him with a deadly security." The 
devil can bark, but cannot bite unless you adhere and 
listen to him. Hence the saint adds: " See how foolish 
is the man whom a dog, loaded with chains, bites." 
Perhaps he will advance his bad habits as an excuse ; 
but this shall not stand ; for the same St. Augustine 
says, that though it is difficult to resist the force of an 
evil habit, " if any one does not desert himself, he will 
conquer it with the divine assistance." If a man does 
not abandon himself to sin, and invokes God s aid, he 
will overcome evil habits. The Apostle tells us, that 
the Lord does not permit us to be tempted above our 
strength. " God is faithful, who will not suffer you to 
be tempted above that which you are able." ( I Cor. x. 
13.) 

10. " For what shall I do," said Job, " when God 
shall rise to judge me ? and when he shall examine, 
what shall 1 answer him t" (Job xxxi. 14.) What 
answer shall the sinner give to Jesus Christ ? How 
can he, who sees himself so clearly convicted, give an 



PARTICULAR JUDGMENT. 283 

answer ? He shall be covered with confusion, and shall 
remain silent, like the man found without the nuptial 
garment. " But he was silent." (Matt. xxii. 12.) His 
very sins shall shut the sinner s mouth. " And all 
iniquity shall stop her mouth." (Ps. cvi. 42.) There,, 
says St. Thomas of Villanova, there shall be no inter 
cessor to whom the sinner can have recourse. " There, 
there is no opportunity of sinning ; there, no intercessor, 
no friend, no father shall assist." Who shall then save 
you ? Is it God ? 13ut how, asks St. Basil, can you 
expect salvation from him whom you have despised ? 
" Who shall deliver you ? Is it God, whom you have 
insulted ?" (S. Bas., Or. 4, de Fen.) Alas ! the guilty 
soul that leaves this world in sin, is condemned by her 
self before the Judge pronounces sentence. Let us come 
to the sentence of the Judge. 

Third Point. Terror of the soul when she shall be 
condemned. 

11. How great shall be the joy of a soul when, at 
death, she hears from Jesus Christ these sweet words : 
" Well done, good and faithful servant ; because thou 
hast been faithful over a few things, I will place thee 
over many things. Enter thou into the joy of thy 
Lord." (Matt. xxv. 21.) Equally great shall be the 
anguish and despair of a guilty soul, that shall see her 
self driven away by the Judge with the following words : 
" Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire" 
(verse 41). Oh ! what a terrible thunderclap shall that 
sentence be to her ! " Oh ! how frightfully," says tho 
Carthusian, "shall that thunder resound!" Eusebius 
writes, that the terror of sinners at hearing their con 
demnation shall be so great that, if they could, they 
would die again. " The wicked shall be seized with 
such terror at the sight of the Judge pronouncing sen 
tence that, if they were not immortal, they should die a 
second time." But, brethren, let us, before the termi 
nation of this sermon, make some reflections which will 
be profitable to us. St. Thomas of Yillanova says, that 
some listen to discourses on the judgment and condem 
nation of the wicked with as little concern as if they 
they themselves were secure against these things, or as 



284 SERMON XXXVII. 



if the day of judgment were never to arive for them. 
" lieu quam sccuri hrcc dicimus et audimus, quasi nos 
non tangeret hoDC sententia, aut quasi dies haec nunquam 
esset venturus !" (Cone, i., de Jud.) The saint then 
asks : Is it not great folly to entertain security in so 
perilous an affair ? " Qua3 est ista stulta securitas in 
discrimine tanto ?" There are some, says St. Augustine, 
who, though they live in sin, cannot imagine that God 
will send them to hell. " Will God," they say, " really 
condemn us ?" Brethren, adds the saint, do not speak 
thus. So, many of the damned did not believe that 
they should be sent to hell ; but the end came, and, 
according to the threat of Ezechiel, they have been cast 
into that place of darkness. "The end is come, the 
end is come... and I will send my wrath upon thee, and 
I will judge thee." (Ezec. vii. 2, 3.) Sinners, perhaps 
vengeance is at hand for you, and still you laugh and 
sleep in sin. Who will not tremble at the words of the 
Baptist : " For now the axe is laid to the root of the 
trees. Every tree, therefore, that doth not yield good 
fruit shall be cut down and cast into the fire." (Matt, 
iii. 10.) He says, that every tree that does not bring 
forth good fruit shall be cut down and cast into the fire ; 
and he promises that, with regard to the trees, which 
represent sinners, the axe is already laid to the roots 
that is, chastisement is at hand. Dearly beloved 
brethren, let us follow the counsel of the Holy Ghost 
"Before judgment, prepare thee justice." (Eccl. xviii. 
19.) Let us adjust our accounts before the day of 
accounts. Let us seek God, now that we can find him ; 
for the time shall come when we will wish, but shall 
not be able to find him. " You shall seek me, and shall 
not find me." (John vii. 3G.) " Before judgment," says 
St. Augustine, " the Judge can be appeased, but not in 
judgment." By a change of life we can now appease 
the anger of Jesus Christ, and recover his grace ; but 
when he shall judge, and find us in sin, he must execute 
justice, and we shall be lost. 



DEATH OF THE SINNER. 285 



SERMON XXXVIII. NINTH SUNDAY AFTER 
PENTECOST. 

On the death of the sinner. 

"Thy enemies shall cast a trench about thee." LUKE xix. 43. 

SEEING from a distance the city of Jerusalem, in which 
the Jews were soon to put him to death, Jesus Christ 
wept over it. " Videns civitatern flevit super illam." 
Our merciful Redeemer wept at the consideration of the 
chastisement which was soon to be inflicted on the city, 
and which he foretold to her inhabitants. " Thy enemies 
shall cast a trench about thee/ Unhappy city ! thou 
shalt one day see thyself encompassed by enemies, who 
shall beat thee flat to the ground, and thy children in 
thee, and shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone. 
Most beloved brethren, this unhappy city is a figure of 
the soul of a sinner, who, at the hour of death, shall find 
himself surrounded by his enemies first, by remorse of 
conscience ; secondly, by the assaults of the devils ; and 
thirdly, by the fears of eternal death. 

First Point. The sinner at death shall be tortured 
by remorses of conscience. 

1. " Their soul shall die in a storm." (Job xxxvi. 14.) 
The unhappy sinners who remain in sin die in a tempest, 
with which God has beforehand threatened them. " A 
tempest shall break out and come upon the head of the 
wicked." (Jer. xxiii. 19.) At the commencement of his 
illness the sinner is not troubled by remorse or fear ; 
because his relatives, friends, physicians, and all tell him 
that his sickness is not dangerous ; thus he is deceived 
and hopes to recover. But when his illness increases, 
and malignant symptoms, the harbingers of approaching 
death, begin to appear, then the storm with which the 
Lord has threatened the wicked shall commence. "When 
sudden calamity shall fall on you, and destruction as a 
tempest shall be at hand." (Prov. i. 27.) This tempest 
shall be formed as well by the pains of sickness as by the 
fear of being obliged to depart from this earth, and to 



286 



SEEMON XXXVITT. 



leave all things ; but still more by the remorses of con 
science, which shall place before his eyes all the irregu 
larities of his past life. " They shall come with fear at 
the thought of their sins, and their iniquities shall stand 
against them to convict them." (Wis. iv. 20.) Then 
shall his sins rush upon his mind, and fill him with 
terror. His iniquities shall stand against him to convict 
him, and, without the aid of other testimony, shall assail 
him, and prove that he deserves hell. 

2. The dying sinner will confess his sins ; but, accord 
ing to St. Augustine, " The repentance which is sought 
from a sick man is infirm." (Serin, xxxvii., de Temp.) 
And St. Jerome says, that of a hundred thousand sinners 
who continue till death in the state of sin, scarcely one 
shall be saved. " Yix de centum milibus, quorum mala 
vita fuit, meretur in morte a Deo indulgentiam, unus." 
(Epis. de Mort. Eus.) St. Vincent Ferrer writes, that it 
is a greater miracle to save such sinners, than to raise 
the dead to life. " Majus miraculum est, quod male 
viventes faciant bonum finem, quam suscitare mortuos." 
(Serm. i., de Nativ. Yirgin.) They shall feel convinced 
of the evil they have done ; they will wish, but shall not 
be able, to detest it. Antiochus understood the malice 
of his sins when he said : " Now I remember the evils 
that I have done in Jerusalem." (1 Mach. vi. 12.) He 
remembered his sins, but did not detest them. He died 
in despair and oppressed with great sadness, saying: 
" Behold, I perish with great grief in a strange land" 
(v. 13). According to St. Fulgentius, the same happened 
to Saul at the hour of death : he remembered his sins ; 
he dreaded the punishment which they deserved ; but he 
did not detest them. " JN T on odit quid fecerat, sed timuit 
quod nolebat." 

3. Oh ! how difficult is it for a sinner, who has slept 
many years in sin, to repent sincerely at the hour of 
death, when his mind is darkened, and his heart 
hardened ! " His heart shall be as hard as a stone, and 
as firm as a smith s anvil." (Job xli. 15.) During life, 
instead of yielding to the graces and calls of God, he 
became more obdurate, as the anvil is hardened by 
repeated strokes of the hammer. " A hard heart shall 
fare evil at the last." (Eccl. iii. 27.) By loving sin till 



DEATH OF THE SINNER. 287 

death, he has loved the danger of his damnation, and 
therefore God will justly permit him to perish in the 
danger in which he wished to live till death. 

4. St. Augustine says, that he who is abandoned by 
sin before he abandons it, will scarcely detest it as he 
ought at the hour of death ; for he will then detest it, 
not through a hatred of sin, but through necessity. 
" Qui prius a peccato relinquitur, quam ipse relinquat, 
non libere, sed quasi ex necessitate condemnat." But 
how shall he be able to hate from his heart the sins which 
he has loved till death ? He must love the enemy whom 
till then he has hated, and he must hate the person whom 
he has till that moment loved. Oh ! what mountains 
must he pass ! He shall probably meet with a fate similar 
to that of a certain person, who kept in confinement a 
great number of wild beasts in order to let them loose on 
the enemies who might assail him. But the wild beasts, 
as soon as he unchained them, instead of attacking his 
enemies, devoured himself. When the sinner will wish to 
drive away his iniquities, they shall cause his destruction, 
either by complacency in objects till then loved, or by 
despair of pardon at the sight of their numbers and 
enormity. "Evils shall catch the unjust man unto 
destruction." (Ps. cxxxix. 12.) St. Bernard says, that 
at death the sinner shall see himself chained and bound 
by his sins. " We are your works ; we will not desert 
you." We will not leave you ; we will accompany you 
to judgment, and will be your companions for all eternity 
in hell. 

Second Point. The dying sinner shall be tortured by 
the assaults of the devils. 

5. " The devil is come down unto you, having great 
wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time." (Apoc. 
xii. 12.) At death the devil exerts all his powers to 
secure the soul that is about to leave this world ; for he 
knows, from the symptoms of the disease, that he has 
but little time to gain her for eternity. The Council 
of Trent teaches that Jesus Christ has left us the sacra 
ment of Extreme Unction as a most powerful defence 
against the temptations of the devil at the hour of death. 
41 Extreme Unctionis sacramento finem vitas tanquam 



288 SERMON XXXVIII. 



firmissimo quodam prscsidio munivit." And the holy 
council adds, that there is no time in which the enemy 
combats against us with so much violence in order to 
effect our damnation, and to make us despair of the 
divine mercy, as at the end of life. " N ullum tempus 
est, quo vehementius ille omnes sua3 versutise nervos 
intendat at perendos, nos penitus, et a fiducia, etiam, si 
possit, divinrc misericordirc deturbandos, quam cum im- 
pendere nobis exitum vita) perspicet." (Sess. 14, cap. ix. 
Doctr. de Sacr. Extr. Unct.) 

6. Oh ! how terrible are the assaults and snares of the 
devil against the souls of dyiug persons, even though 
they have led a holy life ! After his recovery from a 
most severe illness, the holy king Eleazar said, that the 
temptations by which the devil assails men at death, 
can be conceived only by him who has felt them. We 
read in the life of St. Andrew Avelliuo, that in his 
agony he had so fierce a combat with hell, that all the 
religious present were seized with trembling. They 
perceived that, in consequence of the agitation, his face 
swelled, and became black, all his members trembled, 
and a flood of tears gushed from his eyes. All began 
to weep through compassion, and were rilled with terror 
at the sight of a saint dying in such a manner. But they 
were afterwards consoled, \\hoii they saw that as soon as 
an image of most holy Mary was held before him, he 
became perfectly calm, and breathed forth his blessed 
soul with great joy. 

7. Now, if this happens to the saints, what shall 
become of poor sinners, who have lived in sin till 
death ? At that awful moment the devil does not 
come alone to tempt them in a thousand ways, in order 
to bring them to eternal perdition, but he calls com 
panions to his assistance. " Their house shall be filled 
with serpents." (Isa. xiii. 21.) When a Christian is 
about to leave this world, his house is filled with devils, 
who unite together in order to effect his ruin. " All 
her persecutors have taken her in the midst of straits." 
(Larnen. i. 3.) All his enemies will encompass him in 
the straits of death. One shall say : 13e not afraid ; 
you shall not die of this sickness ! Another will say : 
You have been for so many years deaf to the calls of 



DEATH OF THE SINNER. 289 

God, and can you now expect that he will save you ? 
AD other will ask: How can you repair the frauds of 
your past life, and the injuries you have done to your 
neighbour in his property and character ? Another shall 
ask : What hope can there be for you ? Do you not 
see that all your confessions have been null that they 
have been made without true sorrow, and without a firm 
purpose of amendment ? How can you repair them with 
this heart, which you feel so hard ? Do you not see 
that you are lost ? And in the midst of these straits 
and attacks of despair, the dying sinner, full of agita 
tion and confusion, must pass into eternity. " The people 
shall be troubled and they shall pass." (Job xxxiv 
20.) 

Third Point. The dying sinner shall be tortured by 
the fears of eternal death. 

8. Miserable the sick man who takes to his bed in the 
state of mortal sin! He that lives in sin till death 
shall die in sin. "You shall die in your sin." (John 
viii. 21.) It is true that, in whatsoever hour the sinner 
is converted, God promises to pardon him ; but to no 
sinner has God promised the grace of conversion at the 
hour of death. " Seek the Lord while he may be 
found." (Isa. Iv. 6.) Then, there is for some sinners a 
time when they shall seek God and shall not find him. 
You shall seek me, and shall not find me." (John vii. 
34.) The unhappy beings will go to confession at the 
hour of death ; they will promise and weep, and ask 
mercy of God, but without knowing what they do. A 
man who sees himself under the feet of a foe pointing 
a dagger to his throat, will shed tears, ask pardon, and 
promise to serve his enemy as a slave during the remain 
der of his life. But, will the enemy believe him ? No ; 
lie will feel convinced that his words are not sincere 
that his object is to escape from his hands, and that, 
should he be pardoned, he will become more hostile 
than ever. In like manner, how can God pardon 
the dying sinner, when he sees that all his acts of 
sorrow, and all his promises, proceed not from the 
heart, but from a dread of death and of approaching 
damnation. 



290 SERMOX XXXYIII. 



9. In the recommendation of the departing soul, the 
assisting priest prays to the Lord, saying : " Recognize, O 
Lord, thy creature." But God answers: I know that he 
is my creature; but, instead of regarding me as his 
Creator, he has treated me as an enemy. The priest 
continues his prayer, and says : " Remember not his past 
iniquities. 5 1 would, replies the Lord, pardon all the 
past sins of his youth ; but he has continued to despise 
me till this moment the very hour of his death. 
" They have turned their back upon me, and not their 
face: and, in the time of affliction, they will say: 
Arise, and deliver us. Where are the gods which thou 
hast made thee ? let them rise and deliver thee." (Jer. 
ii. 27, 28.) You, says the Lord, have turned your back 
upon me till death ; "and do you now want me to deliver 
you from vengeance ? Invoke your own gods the 
creatures, the riches, the friends you loved more than 
you loved me. Call them now to come to your assist 
ance, and to save you from hell, which is open to 
receive you. It now justly belongs to me to take 
vengeance on the insults you have offered me. You 
have despised my threats against obstinate sinners, and 
have paid no regard to them. " Revenge is mine, and 
I will repay them in due time, that their foot may 
slide." (Deut. xxxii. 35.) The time of my vengeance 
is now arrived ; it is but just to execute it. This is pre 
cisely what happened to a certain person in Madrid, 
who led a wicked life, but, at the sight of the unhappy 
death of a companion, went to confession, and resolved 
to enter a strict religious order. But, in consequence 
of having neglected to put his resolution into immediate 
execution, he relapsed into his former irregularities. 
Being reduced to great want, he wandered about the 
world, and fell sick at Lima. From the hospital in 
which he took refuge he sent for a confessor, and pro 
mised again to change his life, and to enter religion. 
But, having recovered from his illness, he returned to 
his wickedness ; and, behold ! the vengeance of God 
fell upon him. One day, his confessor, who was a 
missionary, in passing over a mountain, heard a noise, 
which appeared to be the howling of a wild beast. He 
drew near the place from which the noise proceeded, 



DEATH OF THE SINNER. 291 

and saw a dying man, half rotten, and howling through 
despair. He addressed to him some words of consola 
tion. The sick man, opening his eyes, recognized the 
missionary, and said : Have you, too, come to he a wit 
ness of the justice of God ? I am the man who made 
my confession in the hospital of Lima. I then promised 
to change my life, but have not done so ; and now I die 
in despair. And thus the miserable man, amid these 
acts of despair, breathed forth his unhappy soul. These 
facts are related by Father Charles Eovio (part iii., 
example 9). 

10. Let us conclude the discourse. Tell me, bre 
thren, were a person in sin seized with apoplexy, and 
instantly deprived of his senses, what sentiments of 
pity would you feel at seeing him die in this state ; 
without the sacraments, and without signs of repent 
ance ! Is not he a fool, who, when he has time to be 
reconciled with God, continues in sin, or returns to his 
sins, and thus exposes himself to the danger of dying 
suddenly, and of dying in sin ? " At what hour you 
think not," says Jesus Christ, " the Son of Man will 
come," (Luke xiii. 40.) An unprovided death, which 
has happened to so many, may also happen to each of 
us. And it is necessary to understand, that all who 
lead a bad life, meet with an unprovided death, though 
their last illness may allow them some time to prepare 
for eternity ; for the days of that mortal illness are 
days of darkness days of confusion, in which it is 
difficult, and even morally impossible, to adjust a con 
science burdened with many sins. Tell me, brethren, 
if you^were now at the point of death, given over by 
physicians, and in the last agony, how ardently would 
you desire another month, or another week, to settle 
the accounts you must render to God I And God gives 
you this time. He calls you, and warns you of the 
danger of damnation to which you are exposed. Give 
yourself, then, instantly to God. What do you wait 
for ? Will you wait till he sends you to hell ? " Walk 
whilst you have light." (John xii. 35.) Avail yourselves 
of this time and this light, which God gives you at this 
moment, and now, while it is in your power, repent of 
all your past sins ; for, a time shall come when you will 



292 SERMON XXXIX. 

"be no longer able to avert the punishment which they 
deserve. 

[I entreat my reader to read Sermon xliv., or the 
Sermon for the Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost, on the 
practical death, or that which practically happens at the 
death of men of the world. I know by experience that 
though it does notcontain Latin texts, whenever I preached 
that sermon, it produced a great impression, and left the 
audience full of terror. A greater impression is made by 
practical than by speculative truths.] 



SERMON XXXIX. TENTH SUNDAY AFTER 
PENTECOST. 

On the efficacy and necessity of prayer. 

" God, be merciful to me a sinner." LUKE xviii. 13. 

IN this day s gospel we read, that two men, one a Pharisee 
and the other a Publican, went to the temple. ^ Instead 
of bowing down to beg of God to assist him by his graces, 
the Pharisee said : I thank thee, O Lord, that I atn not 
as the rest of men, who are sinners. ^ " Deus gratias ago 
tibi, quia non sum sicut cocteri homines." But the Pub 
lican, tilled with sentiments of humility, cried out : " O 
God, be merciful to me, a sinner." St. Luke tells us, 
that this Publican returned to his house justified ; and 
that the Pharisee went home as guilty and as proud as 
when he entered the temple. From this, most beloved 
brethren, you may infer how pleasing to God, and how- 
necessary for us, are our humble petitions to obtain from 
the Lord all the graces which are indispensable for sal 
vation. In this sermon I will show, in the first point, 
the efficacy of prayer : and in the second, the necessity 
of prayer. 

Firxt Point. On the efficacy of prayer. 

1. To understand the efficacy and value of our 
prayers, we need only consider the great promises which. 
God has made to every one who prays. "Call upon 



EFFICACY AND NECESSITY OF PRAYER. 293 

me, and I will deliver thee." (Ps. xlix. 15.) Call upon 
me, and I will save you from every danger. " He shall 
cry to me, I will hear him." (Ps. xc. 15.) "Cry to me, 
and I will hear thee." (Jer. xxxiii. 3.) "You shall 
ask whatever you will, and it shall be done unto you." 
(John xv. 7.) Ask whatsoever you wish and it shall 
le given to you. There are a thousand similar passages 
in the Old and New Testaments. By his nature God 
is, as St.^ Leo says, goodness itself. " Deus cujus natura 
bonitas." Hence he desires, with a great desire, to 
make us partakers of his own good. St. Mary Magda 
lene de Pazzi used to say, that when a soul prays to God 
for ^ any grace, he feels in a certain manner under an 
obligation to her, and thanks her ; because by prayer 
the soul opens to him a way of satisfying his desire to 
dispense his graces to us. Hence, in the holy Scriptures, 
the Lord appears to recommend and inculcate to us 
nothing more forcibly than to ask and pray. To show 
this, the words which we read in the seventh chapter of 
St. Matthew are sufficient. " Ask, and it shall be given 
you ; seek, and you shall find ; knock, and it shall be 
opened to you" (vii. 7). St. Augustine teaches, that 
by these promises God has bound himself to grant all 
that we ask in prayer. " By his promises he has made 
himself a debtor." (De Verb. Dom. Serm. ii.) And, in 
the fifth sermon, the saint says, that if the Lord did not 
wish to bestow his graces upon us, he would not exhort 
us so strenuously to ask them. "He would not exhort 
us to ask, unless he wished to give." Hence we see that 
the Psalms of David and the Books of Solomon and of 
the Prophets are full of prayers. 

2. Theodoret has written, that prayer is so efficacious 
before God, that, " though it be one, it can do all things." 
" Oratio cum sit una, omnia potest." St. Bernard 
teaches, that when we pray, the Lord, if he does not 
give the grace we ask, will grant a more useful gift. 
" He will give either what we ask, or what he knows to 
be more profitable to us." (Serm. v. in Fer. 4 cm.) And 
whom has God, when asked for aid, ever despised by 
not listening to his petition ? " Who hath called upon 
him, and he despised him ?" (Eccl. ii. 12.) The Scripture 
says, that among the nations there is none that has gods 



294: SERMON XXXIX. 



so willing to hear our prayers, as our true God. 
" Neither is there any other nation so great, that hath 
gods so nigh to them, as our God is present to all our 
petitions." (Deut. iv. 7.) The princes of the earth, 
says St. Chrysostom, give audience only to a few ; but 
God grants it to every one that wishes for it. " Aures 
principis paucis patent, Die vero omnibus volentibus." 
(Lib. 2, de Orat.) David tells us that this goodness of 
God in hearing us at whatever time we pray to him, 
shows us that he is our true God, whose love for us 
surpasses the love of all others. " In what day soever 
I shall call upon thee, behold I know thou art my God." 
(Ps. Iv. 10.) He wishes and ardently desires to confer 
favours upon us ; but he requires us to pray for them. 
Jesus Christ said one day to his disciples : " Hitherto 
you have not asked anything in my name ; ask, and you 
shall receive, that your joy may be full." (John xvi. 
24.) As if he said : You complain of me for not making 
you perfectly content ; but you ought to complain of 
yourselves for not having asked of me all the gifts you 
stood in need of ; ask, henceforth, whatsoever you want, 
and your prayer shall be heard. Many, says St. 
Bernard complain that the Lord is wanting to them. 
But he complains with more justice that they are 
wanting to him, by neglecting to ask him for his graces. 
" Omnes nobis causamur deesse gratiam, sed justius 
forsitan ista sibi queritur deesse nonnullos." (S. Bern, 
de Trip]. Cust.) 

3. The ancient fathers, after having consulted to 
gether about the exercise most conducive to salvation, 
came to the conclusion, that the best means of securing 
eternal life is, to pray continually, saying : Lord, assist 
me ; Lord, hasten to my assistance. " Incline unto my 
aid, God ; Lord, make haste to help me." Hence 
the holy Church commands these two petitions to be 
often repeated in the canonical hours by all the clergy 
and by all religious, who pray not only for themselves, 
but also for the whole Christian world. St. John 
Climacus says, that our prayers as it were compel God 
by a holy violence to hear us. " Prayer piously does 
violence to God." Hence, when we pray to the Lord, 
lie instantly answers by bestowing upon us the grace 



EFFICACY AND NECESSITY OF PRAYER. 295 



we ask. " At the voice of thy cry, as soon as he shall 
hear, he will answer thee." (Isa. xxx. 19.) Hence St. 
Ambrose says, that " he who asks of God, receives while 
he asks." (Ep. Ixxxiv., ad Demetr.) And he not only 
grants his grace instantly, but also abundantly, giving 
us more than we pray for. St. Paul tells us that God is 
rich that is, liberal of his graces to every one that prays 
to him. Rich unto all that call upon him." (Rom. x. 
12.) And St. James says : " If any of you want wisdom 
let him ask of God, who giveth to all men abundantly 
and upbraideth not/ (St. James i. 5.) " He upbraideth 
not;" when we pray to him he does not reproach us with 
the insults we have offered to him, but he appears then 
to forget all the injuries we have done him, and to delight 
in enriching us with his graces. 

Second Point On the necessity of prayer. 

4. " God," as St. Paul has written, " will have all 
men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the 
truth." (1 Tim. ii. 4.) According to St. Peter, he does 
not wish any one to be lost. " The Lord dealeth pa 
tiently for your sake, not willing that any soul should 
perish, but that all should return to penance." (1 Pet. 
iii. D.) Hence St. Leo teaches, that as God wishes us to 
observe his commands, so he prevents us by his assist 
ance, that we may fulfil them. " Juste instat praccepto 
qui pra3currit auxilio." (Serm. xvi. de Pass.) And St. 
Thomas, in explaining the words of the Apostle, " God, 
who will have all men to be saved," says : * k Therefore, 
grace is wanting to no one ; but he, on his part, commu 
nicates it to all." (In Epist, ad Hebr., cap. xii., lect. 3.) 
And in another place the holy doctor writes: " To pro 
vide every man with the means necessary for his salva 
tion, provided on his part he puts no obstacle to it, 
belongs to Divine Providence." But, according to 
Gennadius, the assistance of his grace the Lord grants 
only to those who pray for it. " We believe. . . .that no 
one works out his salvation but by God s assistance ; and 
that he only who prays merits aid from God." (de Eccle^. 
Uogm.) And St. Augustine teaches, that, except the 
first graces of vocation to the faith and to repentance, 
all other graces, and particularly the grace of perseve- 



290 SERMON XXXIX. 



ranee, are granted to those only who ask them. " It is 
evident that God gives some graces, such as the begin 
ning of faith, without prayer and that he has prepared 
other graces, such as perseverance to the end only for 
those who pray." (Dc dono persev., c.xvi.) And in another 
place he writes, that " God wishes to bestow his favours ; 
but he gives them only to those who ask." (In Ps. c.) 

5. Hence theologians commonly teach, after St. Basil, 
St. John Chrysostom, St. Augustine, Clement of Alex 
andria, and others, that, for adults prayer is necessary 
as a means of salvation ; that is, that without prayer it 
is impossible for them to be saved. This doctrine may 
be inferred from the following passages of Scripture : 
"We ought always to pray." (Luke xviii. 1.) "Ask, 
and you shall receive." (John xvi. 24.) " Pray without 
ceasing." (1 Thess. v. 17.) The words ^cc ought, ask, 
pray, according to St. Thomas (3 part, qu. xxxix. art. 5) 
and the generality of theologians, imply a precept which 
obliges, under grievous sin, particularly in three cases: 
First, when a man is in the state of sin ; secondly, when 
he is in great danger of falling into sin ; and, thirdly, 
when he is in danger of death. Theologians teach, that 
he who, at other times, neglects prayer for a month, or 
at most for two months, cannot be excused from mortal 
sin ; because, without prayer we cannot procure the 
helps necessary for the observance of the law of God. 
St. Chrysostom teaches that as water is necessary to pre 
vent trees from withering, so prayer is necessary to save 
us from perdition. " -Non ninus quam arbores aquis, 
precibus indigcmus." (Tom. l,hom. Ixxvii.) 

6. Most groundless was the assertion of Jansenius, 
that there are some commands, the fulfilment of which 
is impossible to us, and that we have not even grace to 
render their observance possible. For, the Council of 
Trent teaches, in the words of St. Augustine, that, 
though man is not able, with the aid of the grace ordi 
narily given, to fulfil all the commandments, still he 
can, by prayer, obtain the additional helps necessary for 
their observance. " God does not command impossibi 
lities ; but, by his precepts, he admonishes you to do 
what you can, and to ask what you cannot do ; and he 
assists you, that you may be able to do it." (Sess. 6, cap. 



EFFICACY AND NECESSITY OF PRAYER. 297 

xi.) To this may be added another celebrated passage 
of St. Augustine : " By our faith, which teaches that 
God does not command impossibilities, we are admon 
ished what to do in things that are easy, and what to 
ask in things that are difficult." (Lib. de Nat. et Grat., 
cap. Ixix., n. 83.) 

7. But why does God, who knows our weakness, per 
mit us to be assailed by enemies which we are not able 
to resist ? The Lord, answers the holy doctor, seeing 
the great advantages which we derive from the necessity 
of prayer, permits us to be attacked by enemies more 
powerful than we are, that we may ask his assistance. 
Hence they who are conquered cannot excuse themselves 
toy saying that they had not strength to resist the assault 
of the enemy ; for had they asked aid from God, he 
should have given it ; and had they prayed, they should 
have been victorious. Therefore, if they are defeated, 
God will punish them. St. Bonaventure says, that if a 
general lose a fortress in consequence of not having 
sought timely succour from his sovereign, he shall be 
branded as a traitor. " Reputaretur infidelis, nisi ex- 
pectaret a rege auxilium." (S. Bon. Difet. tit, c. v.) 
Thus God regards as a traitor the Christian who, when 
lie finds himself assailed by temptations, neglects to seek 
the divine aid. " Ask," says Jesus Christ, " and you 
shall receive." Then, concludes St. Teresa, he that does 
not ask does not receive. This is conformable to the 
doctrine of St. James: " You have not, because you do 
not ask." (St. James iv. 2.) St. Chrysostom says, that 
prayer is a powerful weapon of defence against all 
enemies. " Truly prayer is a great armour." (Horn, 
xli., ad Pop.) St. Ephrem writes, that he who fortifies 
himself beforehand by prayer, prevents the entrance of 
sin into the soul. " If you pray before you work, the 
passage into the soul will not be open to sin." (Serm. de 
Orat.) David said the same : " Praising I will call upon 
the Lord, and I shall be saved from my enemies." (Ps. 
xvii. 4.) 

8. If we wish to lead a good life, and to save our 
souls, we must learn to pray. " He," says St. Augus 
tine, " knows how to live well who knows how to pray 
well." (Horn, xliii.) In order to obtain God s graces by 



298 SERMON XXXIX. 



prayer, it is necessary, first, to take away sin ; for God 
does not hear obstinate sinners. For example : if a 
person entertains hatred towards another, and wishes to 
take revenge, God does not hear his prayer. " When 
you multiply prayer, I will not hear ; for your hands are 
full of blood." (Isa. i. 15.) St. Chrysostom says, that 
he who prays while he cherishes a sinful affection, does 
not pray, but mocks God. " Qui orat et peccat, non. 
rogat Deum sed illudit." (Ilom. xi., in Matt, vi.) But 
if he ask the Lord to take away hatred from his heart, 
the Lord will hear him. Secondly, it is necessary to 
pray with attention. Some imagine that they pray by 
repeating many Our Fathers, with such distraction that 
they do not know what they say. These speak, but do 
not pray. Of them the Lord says, by the Prophet 
Isaias : " With their lips they glorify me, but their 
hearts are far from me." (Isa. xxix. 13.) Thirdly, it is 
necessary, as the Holy Ghost exhorts us, to take away 
the occasions which hinder us to pray. " Let nothing 
hinder thee from praying always." (Eccl. xviii. 22.) He 
who is occupied in a thousand affairs unprofitable to the 
soul, places a cloud before his prayers, which prevents 
their passing to the throne of grace. " Thou hast set a 
cloud before thee, that our prayer may not pass 
through." (Lamen. iii. 44.) I will not omit here the 
exhortation of St. Bernard, to ask graces of God through 
the intercession of his divine mother. " Let us ask 
grace, and ask it through Mary ; for she is a mother, 
and her prayer cannot be fruitless." (Serm. de Aqscd.) 
St. Anselm says: "Many things are asked of God and 
are not obtained : what is asked of Mary is obtained, not 
because she is more powerful, but because God decreed 
thus to honour her, that men may know that she caa 
obtain all things from God." 



VICE OF SPEAKING IMMODESTLY. 299 



SEEMON XL. ELEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER 
PENTECOST. 

On the vice of speaking immodestly. 

"He touched his tongue, .... and the string of his tongue was 
loosed." MARK vii. 33, 35. 

IN this day s gospel St. Mark relates tlie miracle which 
our Saviour wrought in healing the man that was dumb 
by barely touching his tongue. " He touched his tongue 

and the string of his tongue was loosed." From. 

the last words we may infer that the man was not 
entirely dumb, but that his tongue was not free, or that 
his articulation was not distinct. Hence St. Mark tells 
us, that after the miracle he spoke right. Let us make 
the application to ourselves. The dumb man stood in 
need of a miracle to loose his tongue, and to take away 
the impediment under which he laboured. But how 
many are there on whom God would confer a great 
grace, if he bound their tongues, that they might cease 
to speak immodestly ! This vice does great injury to 
others. Secondly, it does great injury to themselves. 
These shall be the two points of this sermon. 

First Point. The man who speaks immodestly does 
great injury to others who listen to him. 

1. In explaining the 140th Psalm, St. Augustine calls 
those who speak obscenely " the mediators of Satan," 
the ministers of Lucifer ; because, by their obscene 
language, the demon of impurity gets access to souls, 
which by his own suggestions he could not enter. Of 
their accursed tongues St. James says: "And the tongue 
is a fire,... being set on fire by hell." (James iii. 6.) He 
says that the tongue is a fire kindled by hell, with 
which they who speak obscenely burn themselves and 
others. The obscene tongue may be said to be the 
tongue of the third person, of which Ecclesiasticus 
says : " The tongue of a third person hath disquieted 
many, and scattered them from nation to nation." (Eccl, 



300 SKRMOX XL. 



xxviii. 16.) The spiritual tongue speaks of God, the 
worldly tongue talks of worldly affairs ; but tlie tongue 
of a third person is a tongue of hell, which speaks of the 
impurities of the flesh ; and this is the tongue that per 
verts many, and brings them to perdition. 

2. Speaking of the life of men on this earth, the 
Royal Prophet says: "Let their way become dark and 
slippery." (Ps. xxxiv. 0.) In this life men walk in the 
midist of darkness and in a slippery way. Hence they 
are in danger of falling at every step, unless they cau 
tiously examine the road on which they walk, and care 
fully avoid dangerous steps that is, the occasions of 
sin. Now, if in treading this slippery way, frequent 
efforts were made to throw them down, would it not be 
a miracle if they did not fall ? " The Mediators of 
Satan," who speak obscenely, impel others to sin, who, 
as long as they live on this earth, walk in the midst of 
darkness, and as long as they remain in the flesh, are in 
danger of falling into the vice of impurity. Now, of 
those who indulge in obscene language, it has been well 
snid : " Their throat is an open sepulchre." (Ps. v. 11.) 
The mouths of those who can utter nothing but filthy 
obscenities are, according to St. Chrysostom, so many 
open sepulchres of putrified carcasses. " Talia sunt ora 
hominum qui turpia proferunt." (Horn, ii., de Proph. Obs.) 
The exhalation which arises from the rottenness of a 
multitude of dead bodies thrown together into a pit, 
communicates infection and disease to all who feel the 
stench. 

3. " The stroke of a whip," says Ecclesiasticus, 
" maketh a blue mark ; but the stroke of a tongue will 
break the bones." (Eccl. xxviii. 21.) The wounds of 
the lash are wounds of the flesh, but the wounds of the 
obscene tongue are wounds which infect the bones of 
those who listen to its language. St. Bernardino of 
Sienna relates, that a virgin who led a holy life, at hear 
ing an obscene word from a young man, fell into a bad 
thought, and afterwards abandoned herself to the vice of 
impurity to such a degree that, the saint says, if the 
devil had taken human flesh, he could not have com 
mitted so many sins of that kind as she committed. 

4. The misfortune is, that the mouths of hell that 



VICE OF SPEAKING IMMODESTLY. 301 



frequently utter immodest words, regard them, as trifles, 
and are careless about confessing them : and when 
rebuked for them they answer : " I say these words in 
jest, and without malice." In jest ! Unhappy man, 
these jests make the devil laugh, and shall make you 
weep for eternity in hell. la the first place, it is useless 
to say that you utter such words without malice ; for, 
when you use such expressions, it is very difficult for 
you to abstain from acts against purity. According to 
St. Jerome, " He that delights in words is not far from 
the act/ Besides, immodest words spoken before 
persons of a different sex, are always accompanied with 
sinful complacency. And is not the scandal you give 
to others criminal? Utter a single obscene word, and 
you shall bring into sin all who listen to you. Such is 
the doctrine of St. Bernard. " One speaks, and he 
Titters only one word ; but he kills the souls of a multi 
tude of hearers." (Serm. xxiv., in Cant.) A greater sin 
than if, by one discharge of a blunderbuss, you mur 
dered many persons ; because you would then only kill 
their bodies : but, by speaking obscenely, you have 
killed their souls. 

5. In a word, obscene tongues are the ruin of the 
world. One of them does more mischief than a hun 
dred devils ; because it is the cause of the perdition of 
many souls. This is not my language ; it is the lan 
guage of the Holy Ghost. " A slippery mouth worketh 
ruin." (Prov. xxvi. 28.) And when is it that this havoc 
of souls is effected, and that such grievous insults arc 
offered to God ? It is in the summer, at the time when 
God bestows upon you the greatest temporal blessings. 
It is then that he supplies you for the entire year with 
corn, wine, oil, and other fruits of the earth. It is then 
that there are as many sins committed by obscene words, 
as there are grains of corn or bunches of grapes. O 
ingratitude ! How does God bear with us ? And who 
is the cause of these sins ? They who speak immodestly 
are the cause of them. Hence they must render an 
account to God, and shall be punished for all the sins 
committed by those who hear them. "But I will 
require his blood at thy hand." (Ezec. iii. 11.) But let 
us pass to the second point. 



302 



SKRMOX XL. 



Second Point. He who speaks immodestly does great 
ID jury to himself. 

6. Some young men say : " I speak without malice." 
In answer to this excuse, I have already said, in the first 
point, that it is very difficult to use immodest language 
without taking delight in it ; and that speaking ob 
scenely hefore young females, married or unmarried, is 
always accompanied with a secret complacency in what 
is said. Besides, by using immodest language, you 
expose yourself to the proximate danger of falling into 
unchaste actions : for, according to St. Jerome, as we 
have already said, " he who delights in words is not far 
from the act." All men are inclined to evil. "The 
imagination and thought of man s heart are prone to 
evil." (Gen. viii. 21.) But, above all, men are prone to 
the sin of impurity, to which nature itself inclines them. 
Hence St. Augustine has said, that in struggling against 
that vice " the victory is rare," at least for those who 
do not use great caution. " Communis pugna et rara 
victoria." Now, the impure objects of which they speak 
are always presented to the mind of those who freely 
utter obscene words. These objects excite pleasure, and 
bring them into sinful desires and morose delectations, 
and afterwards into criminal acts. Behold the conse 
quence of the immodest words which young men say 
they speak without malice. 

7. "Be not taken in thy tongue," says the Holy 
Ghost. (Eccl. v. 1C.) Beware lest by your tongue you 
forge a chain which will drag you to hell. " The 
tongue," says St. James, " defileth the whole body, and 
inflameth the wheel of our nativity." (St. James iii. 6.) 
The tongue is one of the members of the body, but 
when it utters bad words it infects the whole body, and 
" inflames the wheels of our nativity ;" it inflames and 
corrupts our entire life from our birth to old age. 
Hence we see that men who indulge in obscenity, 
cannot, even in old age, abstain from immodest lan 
guage^ In the life of St. Valerius, Surius relates that 
the saint, in travelling, went one day into a house to 
warm himself. He heard the master of the house and 
a judge of the district, though both were advanced in 
years, speaking on obscene subjects. The saint re- 



VICE OF SPEAKING IMMODESTLY. 303 

proved them severely ; but they paid no attention to his 
rebuke. However, God punished both of them : one 
became blind, and a sore broke out on the other, which 
produced deadly spasms. Henry Gragerman relates (in 
Magn. Spec., dist. 9, ex. 58), that one of those obscene 
talkers died suddenly and without repentance, and that 
he was afterwards seen in hell tearing his tongue in 
pieces ; and when it was restored he began again to 
lacerate it. 

8. But how can God have mercy on him who has no 
pity on the souls of his neighbours ? " Judgment 
without mercy to him that hath not done mercy." (St. 
James ii. 13.) Oh ! what a pity to see one of those 
obscene wretches pouring out his filthy expressions 
before girls and young married females ! The greater 
the number of such persons present, the more abomin 
able is his language. It often happens that little boys 
and girls are present, and he has no horror of scandaliz 
ing these innocent souls ! Cantipratano relates that the 
son of a certain nobleman in Burgundy was sent to be 
educated by the monks of Cluni. He was an angel of 
purity ; but the unhappy boy having one day entered 
into a carpenter s shop, heard some obscene words spoken 
by the carpenter s wile, fell into sin, and lost the divine 
grace. Father Sabitano, in his work entitled " Evan 
gelical Light," relates that another boy, fifteen years old, 
having heard an immodest word, began to think of it 
the following night, consented to a bad thought, and 
died suddenly the same night. His confessor having 
heard of his death, intended to say Mass for him. But 
the soul of the unfortunate boy appeared to him, and 
told the confessor not to celebrate Mass for him that, 
by means of the word he had heard, he was damned 
and that the celebration of Mass would add to his pains. 
O God ! how great, were it in their power to weep, 
would be the wailing of the angel-guardians of these 
poor children that are scandalized and brought to hell 
by the language of obscene tongues! "With what 
earnestness shall the angels demand vengeance from 
God against the author of such scandals ! That the 
angels shall cry for vengeance against them, appears 
from the words of Jesus Christ : " See that you despise 



304 SERMON XL. 



not one of these little ones ; for I say to you, that their 
angels in heaven always see the face of my Father." 
(Matt, xviii. 10.) 

9. Be attentive, then, my "brethren, and guard your 
selves against speaking immodestly, more than you would 
against death. Listen to the advice of the Holy Ghost : 
" Make a balance for thy words, and a just bridle for thy 
mouth ; and take heed lest thou slip with thy tongue 
and thy fall be incurable unto death." (Eccl. xxvhi. 29, 
30.) " Make a balance" you must weigh your words 
before you utter them and " a bridle for thy mouth" 
when immodest words come to the tongue, you must 
suppress them ; otherwise, by uttering them, you shall 
inflict on your own soul, and on the souls of others, a 
mortal and incurable wound. God has given you the 
tongue, not to offend him, but to praise and bless him. 
" But/ says St. Paul, " fornication and all uncleanness, 
let it not so much as be named among you, as becometh 
saints." (Ephes. v. 3.) Mark the words " all unclean- 
ness." We must not only abstain from obscene language 
and from every word of double meaning spoken in jest, 
but also from every improper word unbecoming a 
saint that is, a Christian. It is necessary to 
remark, that words of double meaning sometimes do 
greater evil than open obscenity, because the art with 
which they are spoken makes a deeper impression on, 
the mind. 

] 0. Keflcct, says St. Augustine, that your mouths are 
the mouths of Christians, which Jesus Christ has so 
often entered in the holy communion. Hence, you 
ought to have a horror of uttering all unchaste words, 
which are a diabolical poison. " See, brethren, if it be 
just that, from the mouths of Christians, which the 
body of Christ enters, an immodest song, like diabolical 
poison, should proceed." (Serm. xv., de Temp.) St. Paul 
says, that the language of a Christian should be always 
seasoned with salt. " Let your speech be always in 
grace, seasoned with salt. (Col. iv. 6.) Our conversa 
tion should be seasoned with words calculated to excite 
others not to offend, but to love God. " Happy the 
tongue," says St. Bernard, " that knows only how to 
speak of holy things !" Happy the tongue that knows 






VICE OF SPEAKING IMMODESTLY. 305 

only how to speak of God ! brethren, be careful not 
only to abstain from all obscene language, but to avoid, 
as you would a plague, those who speak immodestly. 
When you hear any one begin to utter obscene words, 
follow the advice of the Holy Ghost : " Hedge in thy 
ears with thorns: hear not a wicked tongue." (Eccl. 
xxviii. 28.) "Hedge in thy ears with thorns" that is, 
reprove with zeal the man who speaks obscenely ; at least 
turn away your face, and show that you hate such language. 
Let us not be ashamed to appear to be followers of Jesus 
Christ, unless we wish Jesus Christ to be ashamed to 
bring us with him into Paradise. 

SERMON XLL TWELFTH SUNDAY AFTER 
PENTECOST. 

On the abuse of divine mercy. 

" Take care of him." LUKE x. 35. 

IN this day s gospel we read, that a certain man fell into 
the hands of robbers, who, after having taken his 
money, wounded him, and left him half dead. A 
Samaritan who passed by, saw him, and taking pity on 
him, bound up his wounds, brought him to an inn, and 
left him to the care of the host, saying : " Take care of 
him." These words I this day address to those, if there 
be any such among you, who, though their souls are 
wounded by sin, instead of attending to the care of 
them, continually aggravate the wounds by new sins, 
and thus abuse the mercy of God, who preserves their 
lives, that they may repent, and not be lost for ever. I 
say to you : Brethren, take care of your souls, which are 
in a very bad state ; have compassion on them. " Have 
pity on thy own soul." (Eccl. xxx. 24.) Your souls are 
sick, and what is worse they are near the eternal 
death of hell ; for he who abuses to excess the divine 
mercy, is on the point of being abandoned by the 
mercy of God. This shall be the subject of the present 
discourse. 

^ 1. St. Augustine says that the devil deludes Chris 
tians in two ways" by despair and hope." After a 



306 SKKMON XLI. 



person has committed sin, the enemy, by placing before 
his eyes the rigour of divine justice, tempts him to despair 
of the mercy of God. But, before he sins, the devil by 
representing to him the divine mercy, labours to make 
him fearless of the chastisement due to sin. Hence the 
saint gives the following advice : " After sin, hope for 
mercy ; before sin, fear justice." If, after sin, you 
despair of God s pardon, you offend him by a new and 
more grievous sin. Have recourse to his mercy, and he 
\vill pardon you. But, before sin, fear God s justice, and 
trust not to his mercy ; for, they who abuse the mercy 
of God to offend him, do not deserve to be treated with 
mercy. Abulensis says, that the man who offends justice 
may have recourse to mercy; but to whom can they have 
recourse, who offend and provoke mercy against them 
selves ? 

2. When you intend to commit sin, who, I ask, pro 
mises you mercy from God ? Certainly God does not 
promise it. It is the devil that promises it, that you may 
lose God and be damned. " Beware," says St. John 
Chrysostom, never to attend to that dog that promises 
thee mercy from God." (Horn. 50, ad Pop.) If, beloved 
sinners, you have hitherto offended God, hope and 
tremble : if you desire to give up sin, and if you detest 
it, hope ; because God promises pardon to all who repent 
of the evil they have done. But if you intend to continue 
in your sinful course, tremble lest God should wait no 
longer for you, but cast you into hell. Why does God 
wait for sinners ? Is it that they may continue to insult 
him ? No ; he waits for them that they may renounce 
sin, and that thus he may have pity on them, and forgive 
them. " Therefore the Lord waiteth, that he may have 
mercy on you." (Isa. xxx. 1, 8.) But when he sees that 
the time which he gave them to weep over their past ini 
quities is spent in multiplying their sins, he begins to 
inflict chastisement, and he cuts them off in the state of 
sin, that, by dying, they may cease to offend him. Then 
he calls against them the very time he had given them 
for repentance. " He hath called against me the time." 
(Lam. i. 15.) " The very time/ says St. Gregory, 
" comes to judge." 

3. common illusion of so many damned Christians ! 



ABUSE OF DIVINE MERCY. 307 

We seldom find a sinner so abandoned to despair as to 
say : I will damn myself. Christians sin, and endeavour 
to save their souls. They say: " God is merciful : I will 
commit this sin, and will afterwards confess it." Behold 
the illusion, or rather the snare, by which Satan draws 
so many souls to hell. " Commit sin," he says, " and 
confess it afterwards." But listen to what the Lord says : 
" And say not, the mercy of the Lord is great ; he will 
have mercy on the multitude of my sins." (Eccl. v. 6.) 
"YY hy does he tell you not to say, that the mercy of God 
is great ? Attend to the words contained in the follow 
ing verse : "For mercy and wrath come quickly from 
him, and his wrath looketh upon sinners." (Ibid., ver. 7.) 
The mercy of God is different from the acts of his mercy; 
the former is infinite, the latter are finite. God is mer 
ciful, but he is also just. St. Basil says, that sinners 
only consider God as merciful and ready to pardon, but 
not as just and prepared to inflict punishment. Of this 
the Lord complained one day to St. Bridget: "I am just 
and merciful: sinners regard me only as merciful." St. 
Basil s words are : tf Bonus est Dominus sed etiam Justus, 
nolimus Deum ex dimidia parte cogitare." God is just, 
and, being just, he must punish the ungrateful. Father 
John Avila used to say, that to bear with those who avail 
themselves of the mercy of God to offend him, would not 
be mercy, but a want of justice. Mercy, as the divine 
mother said, is promised to those who fear, and not to 
those who insult the Lord. fi And his mercy to them that 
fear him." (Luke i. .50.) 

4. Some rash sinners will say : God has hitherto 
shown me so many mercies ; why should he not here 
after treat me with the same mercy ? I answer : he will 
show you mercy, if you wish to change your life ; but 
if you intend to continue to offend him, he tells you 
that he will take vengeance on your sins by casting you 
into hell. "Revenge is mine, and I will repay them in 
due time, that their foot may slide." (Deut. xxxii. 35.) 
David says, that " except you be converted, he will 
"brandish his sword." (Ps. vii. 13.) The Lord has bent 
his bow, and waits for your conversion; but if you 
resolve not to return to him, he will in the end cast the 
arrow against you, and you shall be damned. God I 



308 SERMON XLI. 



there are some who will not believe that there is a hell 
until they fall into it. Can you, beloved Christians, 
complain of the mercies of God, after he has shown you 
so many mercies by waiting for you so long ? You 
ought to remain always prostrate on the earth to thank 
him for his mercies, saying : " The mercies of the Lord 
that we are not consumed." (Lamen. iii. 32.) Were the 
injuries which you offered to God committed against a 
brother, he would not have borne with you. God has 
had so much patience with you ; and he now calls you 
again. If, after all this, he shall send you to hell, will 
he do you any wrong ? " What is there," he will say, 
" that I ought to do more for my vineyard, that I have 
not done to it ?" (Isa. v. 4.) Impious wreich ! what 
more ought I to do for you that I have not done ? 

5. St. Bernard says, that the confidence which sinners 
have in God s goodness when they commit sin, procures 
for them, not a blessing, but a malediction from the 
Lord. " Est infidelis fiducia solius ubique maledictionis 
capax, cum videlicet in spe peccamus." (Serin, iii., de 
Ammnc.) O deceitful hope, which sends so many 
Christians to hell! St. Augustine says: "Sperant, ut 
pcccent ! Vrc a perversa spe." (In Ps. cxliv.) They do 
not hope for the pardon of the sins of which they 
repent; but they hope that, though they continue to 
commit sin, God will have mercy upon them ; and thus 
they make the mercy of God serve as a motive for con 
tinuing to offend him. accursed hope ! hope which 
is an abomination to the Lord ! " And their hope the 
abomination/ (Job xi. 20.) This hope will make God 
hasten the execution of his vengeance; for surely a 
master will not defer the punishment of servants who 
offend him because he is good. Sinners, as St. Augus 
tine observes, trusting in God s goodness, insult him, 
and say: "God is good; I will do what I please. 
(Tract, xxxiii. in Joan.) But, alas ! how many, exclaims 
the same St. Augustine, has this vain hope deluded ! 
" They who have been deceived by this shadow of vain 
hope cannot be numbered." St. Bernard writes, that 
Lucifer s chastisement was accelerated, because, in 
rebellion against God, he hoped that he should not be 
punished lor his rebellion. Ainmoii, the son of king. 



ABUSE OF DIVINE MERCY. 309 

IVIanasses, seeing that God had pardoned the sins of his 
father, gave himself up to a wicked life with the hope 
of pardon ; but, for Ammon there was no mercy. St. 
John Chrysostom says, that Judas was lost because, 
trusting in the goodness of Jesus Christ, he betrayed 
him. " Fidit in lenitate Magistri." 

6. He that sins with, the hope of pardon, saying : " I 
will afterwards repent, and God will pardon me :" is, 
according to St. Augustine, " not a penitent, but a 
scoffer." The Apostle tells us that "God is not 
mocked." (Gal. vi. 7.) It would be a mockery of God 
to offend him as often and as long as you please, and 
always to receive the pardon of your offences. " For 
what things a man shall sow," says St. Paul, "those also 
shall he reap." (Ibid., ver. 8.) They who sow sins, can 
hope for nothing but the hatred of God and hell. 
" Despisest thou the riches of his goodness, and patience, 
and long-suffering." (Rom. ii. 4.) Do you, O sinner, 
despise the riches of the goodness, of the patience, and 
long-suffering of God towards you ? He uses the word 
riches, because the mercies which God shows us, in not 
punishing our sins, are riches more valuable to us than 
all treasures. " Knowest thou not/ continues the 
Apostle, "that the benignity of God leadeth thee to 
penance ?" (Ibid.) Do you not know that the Lord 
waits for you, and treats you with so much benignity, 
not that you may continue to sin, but that you may 
weep over the offences you have offered to him ? For, 
says St. Paul, if you persevere in sin and do not repent, 
your obstinacy and impenitence shall accumulate a trea 
sure of wrath against the day of wrath, that is, the day 
on which God shall judge you. "According to thy 
hardness and impenitent heart, thou treasurest up wrath, 
against the day of wrath, and revelation of the just 
judgment of God." (Ibid., verse 5.) 

7. To the hardness of the sinner shall succeed his 
abandonment by God, who shall say of the soul that is 
obstinate in sin, what he said of Babylon : " We would 
have cured Babylon ; but she is not healed ; let us 
forsake her." (Jer. li. 9.) And how does God abandon 
the sinner? He either sends him a sudden death, and 
cuts him off in sin, or he deprives him of the graces 



310 SERMON XLI. 



which would be necessary to bring him to true repent 
ance ; he leaves him with the sufficient graces with 
which he can, but will not, save his soul. The darkness 
of his understanding, the hardness of his heart, and the 
bad habits which he has contracted, will render his 
conversion morally impossible. Thus, he shall not be 
absolutely but morally abandoned. " I will take away 
the hedge thereof, and it shall be wasted." (Isa. v. 5.) 
When the master of the vineyard destroys its hedges, 
does he not show that he abandons it ? It is thus that 
God acts when he abandons a soul. He takes away 
the hedge of holy fear and remorse of conscience, and 
leaves the soul in darkness, and then vices crowd into 
the heart. " Thou hast appointed darkness, and it is 
night: in it shall all the beasts of the wood go about. * 
(Ps. ciii. 20.) And the sinner, abandoned in an abyss of 
sins, will despise admonitions, excommunications, divine 
grace, chastisement, and hell : he will make a jest of his 
own damnation. " The wicked man, when he is come 
into the depth of sin, contemneth." (Prov. xviii. 3.) 

8. " Why," asks the Prophet Jeremias, " doth the 
way of the wicked prosper?" (Jer. xii. 1.) He answers : 
" Gather them together as sheep for a sacrifice." (v. 3.) 
Miserable the sinner who is prosperous in this life! 
The prosperity of sinners is a sign that God wishes to 
give them a temporal reward for some works which are 
morally good, but that he reserves them as victims of 
his justice for hell, where, like the accursed cockle, they 
shall be cast to burn for all eternity. "In the time of 
the harvest, I will say to the reapers: Gather up the first 
cockle, and bind it in bundles to burn." (Matt. xiii. DO.) 

9. Thus, not to be punished in this life is the greatest 
of God s chastisements on the wicked, and has been 
threatened against the obstinate sinner by the Prophet 
Isaias. " Let us have pity on the wicked, but he will 
not learn justice." (Isa. xxvi. 10.) On this passage St. 
Bernard says: This mercy I do not wish for: it is above 
all wrath. " Misericordiam hanc nolo; super oimiem 
iram misericordia ista." (Serin, xlii., in Cant.) And 
what greater chastisement than to be abandoned into the 
Lands of sin, so that, being permitted by God to fall 
from sin to sin, the sinner must in the end go to suffer 



ABUSE OF DIVINK MERCY. 311 

as many hells as he has committed sins ? " Add thou 
iniquity upon their iniquity. .. .let them he "blotted out 
of the book of the living." (Ps. Ixviii. 28, 29.) On these 
words Bellarmine writes : " There is no punishment 
greater than when sin is the punishment of sin." It 
would be better for such a sinner to die after the first 
sin ; because by dying under the load of so many addi 
tional iniquities, he shall suffer as many hells as he has 
committed sins. This is what happened to a certain 
comedian in Palermo, whose name was Ca3sar. He one 
day told a friend that Father La JSTusa, a missionary, 
foretold him that God should give him twelve years to 
live, and that if within that time he did not change his 
life, he should die a bad death. Now, said he to his 
friend, I have travelled through so many parts of the 
world : I have had many attacks of sickness, one of 
which nearly brought me to the grave ; but in this 
month the twelve years shall be completed, and I feel 
myself in better health than in any of the past years. 
He then invited his friend to listen to a new comedy 
which he had composed. But, what happened ? On 
the 24th November, 1688, the day fixed for the comedy, 
as he was going on the stage, he was seized with apo 
plexy, and died suddenly. He expired in the arms of a 
female comedian. Thus the scene of this world ended 
miserably for him. 

10. Let us make the application to ourselves, and 
conclude the discourse. Brethren, I entreat you to give 
a glance at all the bygone years of your life : look at 
the grievous offences you have committed against God, 
and at the great mercies which he has shown to you, 
the many lights he has bestowed upon you, and the 
many times he has called you to a change of life. By 
this sermon he has to-day given you a new call. He 
appears to me to say to you : * What is there that I 
ought to do to my vineyard, that I have not done to 
it ?" (Isa. v. 4.) What more ought I to do for you that 
I have not done? What do you say ? What answer 
have you to make ? Will you give yourselves to God, 
or will you continue to offend him ? Consider, says St. 
Augustine, that the punishment of your sins has been 
deferred, not remitted. " unfruitful tree ! the axe 



312 SEKMON XL1. 



has been deferred. Be not secure : you shall be cut 
off." If you abuse the divine mercy, you shall be cut 
off ; vengeance shall soon fall upon you. What do you 
wait for ? Do you wait till God sends you to hell ? 
The Lord has been hitherto silent ; but he is not silent 
for ever. When the time of vengeance shall arrive he 
will say : " These things hast thou done, and I was 
silent. Thou thoughtest unjustly that I should be like 
to thee : but I will reprove thee, and set before thy 
face. (Ps. xlix. 21.) He will set before your eyes the 
graces which he bestowed upon you, and which you 
have despised : these very graces shall judge and con 
demn you. brethren, resist no longer the calls of 
God ; tremble lest the call which he gives you to-day 
may be the last call for you. Go to confession as soon 
as possible, and make a firm resolution to change your 
lives. It is useless to confess your sins, if you after 
wards return to your former vices. But you will per 
haps say, that you have not strength to resist the 
temptations by which you are assailed. Listen to the 
words of the Apostle: " God is faithful, who will not 
permit you to be tempted above that which you are 
able." (1 Cor. x. 13.) God is faithful: he will not per 
mit you to be tempted above your strength. And if of 
yourself you have not strength to overcome the devil, 
ask it from God, and he will give it to you. " Ask, 
and you shall receive." (John xvi. 24.) "Praising," 
said David, " I will call on the Lord, and I shall be 
saved from my enemies." (Ps. xvii. 4.) And St. Paul 
said : " I can do all things in him who strengthened 
me." (Phil. iv. 13.) Of myself I can do nothing ; but 
with the divine assistance I can do all things. Recom 
mend yourselves to God in all temptations, and God will 
enable you to resist them, and you shall not fall. 



AVOIDING BAD COMPANY. 313 



SEEMON LXIL THIRTEENTH SUNDAY 
AFTER PENTECOST. 

On avoiding bad company. 

" There met him ten men that were lepers... As they went, they 
were made clean." LUKE xvii. 12, 14. 

IN this day s gospel it is related, that ten lepers of a 
certain town met Jesus Christ, and entreated him to 
heal the leprosy under which they laboured. The Lord 
bid them go and present themselves to the priests of the 
temple ; but before they reached the temple they were 
cured. Now it may be asked why our Saviour, who 
could heal them in an instant, wished them to go to the 
priests, and healed them on the way. A certain author 
(Anthony of Lisbon) says that Jesus Christ foresaw 
that, had he cured them on the spot, they, by remaining 
in the place and conversing with the other lepers, from 
whom they took the leprosy, should easily relapse into 
the same disease. Therefore, he first wished them to 
depart from the place and then healed them. What 
ever may be thought of this reason, let us come to the 
moral sense which may be deduced from it. The leprosy 
resembles sin. As the leprosy is a contagious disease, 
so the bad habits of the wicked infect others who asso 
ciate with them. Hence, the leper who wishes to be 
cured shall never be healed unless he separates from 
bad companions. He that keeps company with robbers 
soon becomes a thief. In this discourse I shall show, 
that, to lead a good life, it is necessary to avoid bad 
companions. 

1. "A friend of fools," says the Holy Ghost, "shall 
become like them." (Prov. xiii. 20.) Christians who 
live in enmity with God are, Father M. Avila used to 
say, all fools, who deserve to be shut up in a mad-house. 
For, what greater madness can be conceived than to 
believe in hell and to live in sin ? But the man who 
contracts an intimacy with these fools shall soon be 
come like them. Although he should hear all the 



314 SERMOX LXII. 



sermons of the sacred orators, lie will continue in vice, 
according to the celebrated maxim: " Examples make 
greater impressions than words." Hence the Royal 
Prophet has said : " With the elect thou wilt be elect, 
and with the perverse thou wilt be perverted." (Ps. 
xvii. 27.) St. Augustine says, that familiarity with 
sinners is as it were a hook which draws us to commu 
nicate in their vices. Let us, said the saint, avoid 
wicked friends, " lest by their company we may be 
drawn to a communion of vice." St. Thomas teaches, 
that to know whom we should avoid is a great means of 
saving our souls. Firma tutela salutis est, sciro quern 
fugiamus." 

2. " Let their way become dark and slippery, and let 
the angel of the Lord pursue them." (Ps. xxxiv. 6.) 
All men in this life walk in the midst of darkness and 
in a slippery way. If, then, a bad angel that is, a 
wicked companion, who is worse than any devil 
pursue them, and endeavour to drive them into an 
abyss, who shall be able to escape death ? " Talis eris," 
says Plato, " qualis conversatio quam sequeris ?" And 
St. John Chrysostom said, that if we wish to know a 
man s moral habits, we have only to observe the charac 
ter of the friends with whom he associates ; because 
friendship finds or makes him like his friends. " Vis 
nosse hominem, attende quorum familiaritate assuescat : 
amicitia aut pares invenit, aut pares fecit." First, 
because, to please his friends, a man will endeavour to 
imitate them ; secondly, because, as Seneca says, nature 
inclines men to do what they see others do. And the 
Scripture says : * They were mingled among the heathens, 
and learned their works." (Ps. cv. 35.) According to 
St. Basil, as air which comes from pestilential places 
causes infection, so, by conversation with bad com 
panions, we almost imperceptibly contract their vices. 
" Quemadmodum in pestilentibus locis sensim attractus 
aer latentem corporibus morbuin injicit sic itidem in 
prava couversatione maxima a nobis mala hauriuntur, 
etiamsi statim incommodum non sentiatur." (St. Bas., 
horn, ix., ex var. quod Deus, etc.) And St. Bernard 
says that St. Peter, in consequence of associating with 
the enemies of Jesus Christ, denied his Master. 






AVOIDING BAD COMPANY. 315 

" Existens cum passionis dominicso ministris, Doininum, 
negavit." 

3. But how, asks St. Ambrose, can bad companions 
give you the odour of chastity, when they exhale the 
stench of impurity ? How can they infuse into you 
sentiments of devotion when they themselves fly from 
it ? How can they impart to you a shame of offending 
God, when they cast it away ? " Quid tibi demonstrant 
castitatem, quern non habent ? Devotionem quam non 
sequuntur ? Verecundiam quam projiciunt?" St. Augus 
tine writes of himself, that when he associated with 
bad companions, who boasted of their wickedness, he 
felt himself impelled to sin without shame ; and to 
appear like them, he gloried in his evil actions. " Pu- 
debat," he says, " me esse pudentem." (Lib. 2, de Conf., 
c. ix.) Hence Isaias admonishes you to " touch no un 
clean thing." (Isa. lii. 11.) Touch not what is unclean: 
if you do, you too shall be polluted. He that handles 
pitch, says Ecclesiasticus, shall certainly be denied with 
it ; and they who keep company with the proud shall 
be clothed with pride. The same holds for other vices : 
" He that toucheth pitch shall be denied with it ; and 
he that hath fellowship with the proud shall put on 
pride." (Eccl. xiii. 1.) 

4. What then must we do ? The Wise Man tells us 
that we ought not only to avoid the vices of the wicked, 
but also to beware of treading in the ways in which 
they walk. " Restrain thy foot from their paths." 
(Prov. i. 15.) That is, we should avoid their conversa 
tions, their discourses, their feasts, and all the allure 
ments and presents with which they will seek to entice 
us into their net. " My son," says Solomon, "if sinners 
shall entice thee, consent not to them." (Prov. i. 10.) 
Without the decoy, birds are not enticed into the 
fowler s net. " Will the bird fall into the snare upon 
the earth if there be no fowler ?" (Amos iii. 5.) The 
devil employs vicious friends as decoys, to draw so many 
souls into the snare of sin. " My enemies," says Jere- 
mias, " have chased me, and have caught me like a 
bird without cause." (Lamen. iii. 52.) He says, without 
cause. Ask the wicked why they have made a certain 
innocent young man fall into sin, and they will answer : 



316 SERMON XIYII. 



We have done it without cause ; we only wish to see 
him do what we ourselves do. This, says St. Ephrem, 
is one of the artifices of the devil : when he has caught 
a soul in his net, he makes him a snare, or a decoy, to 
deceive others. " Cum primum capta fuerit, anima, ad 
alias decipiendas fit quasi laqueus." 

5. Hence, it is necessary to avoid, as you would a 
plague, all familiarity with those scorpions of hell. I 
have said that you must avoid familiarity with them 
that is, all fellowship in their banquets or conversation ; 
for never to meet them is, as the Apostle says, impos 
sible. " Otherwise you must needs go out of this world." 
(1 Cor. v. 10.) But, it is in our power to abstain from 
familiar intercourse with them. " But now I have 
written to you not to keep company, etc. with such a 
one, not so much as to eat." (Ibid. v. 11.) I have 
called them scorpions : so they have been called by the 
Prophet Ezechiel. " Thou art among unbelievers and 
destroyers, and thou dwellest among scorpions." (Ezec. 
ii. 6 ) Would you live in the midst of scorpions ? You 
must, then, fly from scandalous friends, who, by their 
bad examples and words, poison your soul. " A man s 
enemies shall be they of his own household." (Matt. x. 
36.) Wicked friends, that are very familiar and intimate 
with us, become the most pernicious enemies of our 
souls. " Who," says Ecclesiasticus, " will pity an 
enchanter struck by a serpent, or any that come near 
wild beasts ? So it is with him that keepeth company 
with a wicked man." (Eccl. xii. 13.) If the man that 
makes free with serpents, or with ferocious wild beasts, 
be bitten or devoured by them, who will take pity on 
him ? And so it is with him who associates with scan 
dalous companions ; if, by their bad example he be 
contaminated and lost, neither God nor man will have 
compassion on him ; because he was cautioned to fly 
from their society. 

6. One scandalous companion is enough to corrupt 
all who treat him as a friend. " Know you not," says 
St. Paul, " that a little leaven corrupts the whole lump ?" 
(1 Cor. v. 7.) One of these scandalous sinners is able, 
by a perverse maxim, to infect all his companions. 
They are the false prophets whom Jesus Christ warns 



AVOIDING BAD COMPANY. 317 

us to avoid. "Beware of false prophets." (Matt. vii. 15 ) 
False prophets deceive, not only by false predictions, 
but also by false maxims or doctrines, which are pro- 
ductive of the greatest mischief. For, as Seneca says, 
they leave in the soul certain seeds of iniquity which 
lead to evil. " Semina in animo relinqueunt, quse in- 
ducunt ad malum." It is too true that scandalous lan 
guage, as experience proves, corrupts the morals of 
those who hear it. "Evil communications," says the 
Apostle, corrupt good manners/ (1 Cor xv 63.) A 
young man refuses, through the fear of God, to commit 
a certain sin : an incarnate devil, a bad companion 
comes and says to him what the serpent said to Eve: 
No ; you shall not die the death." (Gen. iii. 4.) What 
are you afraid of ? How many others commit this sin ? 
You are young; God will have pity on your youth. 
They will as is written in the book of Wisdom, say 
Come, therefore, let us enjoy the good things that are 
presentlet us everywhere leave tokens of joy (li 6 9) 
Come with us ; let us spend our time in amusement and 
in joy. " mmis imqua amicitia," says St. Augustine, 
cum dicitur, eamus, facimus : pudet non esse irnpul 
oentum O cruel friendship of those who say let us 
go and do etc. : it is a shame not to be shameless. Ho 
who hears such language is ashamed not to yield to it 
and not be as shameless as they who utter it 

7. When any passion is kindled within us, we must 

be particularly careful in selecting the persons whom we 

will consult. .For, then the passion itself will incline us 

to seek counsel from those who will probably give the 

advice which is most agreeable to the passion. But 

from such evil counsellors, who do not speak according 

to God, we should fly with greater horror than from an 

enemy; for their evil counsel, along with the passion 

which is excited, may precipitate us into horrible 

excesses. As soon as the passion shall subside we shall 

see the error committed, and the delusion into which we 

have been led by false friends. But the good advice of 

a friend, who speaks according to Christian truth and 

meekness preserves us from every disorder, and restores 

calm to the soul. 

8. " Depart from the unjust," says the Lord, and 



318 SERMON XL1I. 



evils shall depart from thee." (Eccl. vii. 2.) Fly, 
separate from wicked companions, and you shall cease 
to commit sin. " Neither let the way of evil men please 
thee. Flee from it: pass not by it: go aside and forsake 
it." (Prov. iv. 14, 15.) Avoid the ways in which these 
vicious friends walk, that you may not even meet them. 
" Forsake not an old friend ; for the new will not be like 
to him." (Eccl. ix. 14.) Do not leave your first friend, 
who loved you before you came into the world. " I 
have loved thee with an everlasting love." (Jer. xxxi. 3.) 
Your new friends do not love you ; they hate you more 
than your greatest enemy : they seek not your welfare, 
as God, does, but their own pleasures, and the satisfac 
tion of having companions of their wickedness and 
perdition. You will, perhaps, say : I feel a repugnance 
to separate from such a friend, who has been solicitous 
for my welfare ; to break off from him would appear to 
be an act of ingratitude. What welfare ? What 
ingratitude ? God alone wishes your welfare, because 
he desires your eternal salvation. Your friend wishes 
your eternal ruin ; he wishes you to follow him, but 
cares not if you be damned. It is not ingratitude to 
abandon a friend who leads you to hell ; but it is ingra 
titude to forsake God, who has created you, who has died 
for you on the cross, and who desires your salvation. 

9. Fly then from the conversation of these wicked 
friends. " Hedge in thy ears with thorns, hear not a 
wicked tongue." (Eccl. xxviii. 28.) Beware of listening 
to the language of such friends ; their words may bring 
you to perdition. And when you hear them speak 
improperly arm yourself with thorns, and reprove them, 
not only for the purpose of rebuking, but also of con 
verting them. " Ut non solum," says St. Augustine, 
" repellantur sed etiam compungantur." Listen to a 
frightful example, and learn the evil which a wicked 
friend does. Father Sabatino relates in his "Evangelical 
Light/ that two friends of that kind were one day 
together. One of them, to please the other, committed 
a sin ; but after they had separated he died suddenly. 
The other, who knew nothing of his death, saw, in his 
sleep, his friend, and, according to his custom, ran to 
embrace him. But the deceased appeared to be sur- 



ALL ENDS, AND SOON ENDS. 319 

rounded with, fire, and began to blaspheme the other, and 
to upbraid him for being the cause of his damnation. 
The other awoke and changed his life. But his unhappy 
friend was damned ; and for his damnation there is not, 
and shall not be, any remedy for all eternity. 



SERMON XLIIL FOURTEENTH SUNDAY 
AFTER PENTECOST. 

All ends, and soon ends. 

" The grass of the field, which is to-day, and to-morrow is cast into 
the oven." MATT. vii. 30. 

BEHOLD ! all the goods of the earth are like the grass of 
the field, which to-day is blooming and beautiful, but in 
the evening it withers and loses its flowers, and the next 
day is cast into the fire. This is what God commanded 
the Prophet Isaias to preach, when he said to him : 
" Cry. And I said : What shall I cry ? All flesh is 
grass, and all the glory thereof as the flower of the field." 
(Isa. xl. 6.) Hence St. James compares the rich of this 
world to the flower of grass : at the end of their journey 
through life they rot, along with all their riches and 
pomps. " The rich. . . .because as the flower of the 
grass shall he pass away. For the sun rose with a 
burning heat, and parched the grass, and the flower 
thereof fell off, and the beauty of the shape thereof 
perished : so also shall the rich man fade away in his 
ways." (St. James i. 10, 11.) They fade away and are 
cast into the fire, like the rich glutton, who made a 
splendid appearance in this life, but afterwards " was 
buried in hell." (Luke xvi. 22.) Let us, then, dearly 
beloved Christians, attend to the salvation of our souls, 
and to the acquisition of riches for eternity, which 
never ends ; for everything in this world ends, and ends 
very soon. 

First Point. Everything ends. 

1. When one of the great of this world is in the full 



320 SERMON XLIII. 



enjoyment of the riches and honours which he has 
acquired, death shall come, and he shall he told: "Take 
order with thy house ; for thou shalt die, and not live." 
(Isa. xxxviii. 1.) Oh! what doleful tidings! The un 
happy man must then say: Farewell, world! farewell, 
O villa ! farewell, grotto ! farewell, relatives ! fare 
well, friends ! farewell, sports ! farewell, balls ! farewell, 
comedies ! farewell, banquets ! farewell, honours ! all is 
over for me. There is no remedy : whether he will or 
not, he must leave all. " For when he shall die, he 
shall take nothing away ; nor shall his glory descend 
with him." (Ps. xlviii. 18.) St. Bernard says, that 
death produces a horrible separation of the soul from the 
body, and from all the things of this earth. ^ " Opus 
mortis horrendum divortium." (Serm. xxvi., in Cant.) 
To the great of this world, whom worldlings regard as 
the most fortunate of mortals, the bare name of death is 
so full of bitterness, that they are unwilling even to hear 
it mentioned ; for their entire concern is to find peace in 
their earthly goods. " O death !" says Ecclesiasticus, 
" how bitter is the remembrance of thee to a man that 
hath peace in his possessions/ (Eccl. xli. 1.) But how 
much greater bitterness shall death itself cause when 
it actually comes miserable the man who is attached to 
the goods of this world ! Every separation produces 
pain. Hence, when the soul shall be separated by the 
stroke of death from the goods on which she had fixed 
all her affections, the pain must be excruciating. It 
was this that made king Agag exclaim, when the 
news of approaching death was announced to him : 
"Doth bitter death separate me in this manner?" (I 
Kings xv. 32.) The great misfortune of worldlings is, 
that when they are on the point of being summoned to 
judgment, instead of endeavouring to adjust the 
accounts of their souls, they direct all their attention to 
earthly things. But, says St. John Chrysostom, the 
punishment which awaits sinners, on account of having 
forgotten God during life, is that they forget themselves 
at the hour of death. " Hac animadversione percutitur 
impius, ut moriens obliviscatur sui, qui vivens oblitus 
est Dei." 

2. But how great soever a man s attachment to the 



ALL ENDS, AND SOON ENDS. 321 

things of this world may be, he must take leave of them 
at death. Naked he has entered into this world, and 
naked he shall depart from it. " Naked," says Job, " I 
came out of my mother s womb, and naked shall I 
return thither." (Job i. 21.) In a word, they who have 
spent their whole life, have lost their sleep, their health, 
and their soul, in accumulating riches and possessions 
shall take nothing with them at the hour of death : their 
eyes shall then be opened ; and of all they had so dearly 
acquired, they shall find nothing in their hands. Hence, 
on that night of confusion, they shall be overwhelmed 
in a tempest of pains and sadness. " The rich man, 
when he shall sleep, shall take away nothing with him! 
He shall open his eyes and find nothing... a tempest 
shall oppress him in the night." (Job xxvii. 19, 20.) 
St. Antonine relates that Saladin, king of the Saracens, 
gave orders at the hour of death, that the winding 
sheet in which he was to bo buried should be carried 
before him to the grave, and that a person should cry 
out : " Of all his possessions, this only shall Saladin 
bring with him." The saint also relates that a certain 
philosopher, speaking of Alexander the Great after his 
death, said: Behold the man that made the earth 
tremble. " The earth," as the Scripture says, "was 
quiet before him." (1 Mach. i. 3.) He is now under 
the earth. Behold the man whom the dominion of the 
whole world could not satisfy : now four palms of 
ground are sufficient for him. " Qui terram heri con- 
culcubat, hodie ab ea conculcatur ; et cui heri non 
sufficiebat mundus hodie sufficiunt quatuor ulna? terra)." 
St. Augustine, or some other ancient writer, says, that 
having gone to see the tomb of Caesar, he exclaimed : 
" Princes feared thee ; cities worshipped thee ; all 
trembled before thee ; where is thy magnificence 
gone ?" (Serm. xxxviii. ad Fratr.) Listen to what David 
says : " I have seen the wicked highly exalted and lifted 
up like the cedars of Libanus. And I passed by, and 
lo ! he was not." (Ps. xxxvi. 35, 36.) Oh ! how many 
such spectacles are seen every day in the world ! A 
sinner who had been born in lowliness and poverty, 
afterwards acquires wealth and honours, so as to excite 
the envy of all. When he dies, every one says : He 

x 



322 SERMON XLIII. 



made a fortune in the world ; but now he is dead, and 
with death all is over for him. 

3. " Why is earth and ashes proud ?" (Eccl. x. 9.) 
Such the language which the Lord addresses to the man 
who is puffed up by earthly honours and earthly riches. 
Miserable creature, he says, whence comes such pride ? 
If you enjoy honours and riches, remember that you are 
dust. " For dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt 
return." (Gen. iii. 19.) You must die, and after death 
what advantage shall you derive from the honours and 
possessions which now inflate you with pride ? Go, says 
St. Ambrose, to a cemetery, in which are buried the 
rich and poor, and see if you can discern among them who 
has been rich and who has been poor ; all are naked, 
and nothing remains of the richest among them but a 
few withered bones. " Respice sepulchra, die mihi, quis 
ibi dives, quis pauper sit " (lib. vi. exam., cap. viii). 
How profitable would the remembrance of death be to 
the man who lives in the world ! " He shall be brought 
to the grave, and shall watch in the heap of the dead." 
(Job xxi. 32.) At the sight of these dead bodies he 
would remember death, and that he shall one day be 
like them. Thus, he should be awakened from the 
deadly sleep in which perhaps he lives in a state of per 
dition. But the misfortune is, that worldlings are un 
willing to think of death until the hour comes when they 
must depart from this earth to go into eternity ; and 
therefore they live as attached to the world, as if they 
were never to be separated from it. 13ut our life is short, 
and shall soon end : thus all things must end, and must 
soon end. 

Second Point. All soon ends. 

4. Men know well, and believe firmly, that they shall 
die ; but they imagine death is far off as if it were never 
to arrive. 13ut Job tells us that the life of man is short. 
" Man born of a woman, living for a short time, is filled 
with many miseries. Who cometh forth like a flower 
and is destroyed." (Job xiv. 2.) At present the health 
of men is so much impaired, that, as we see by 
experience, the greater number of them die before they 
attain the age of seventy. And what, says St. James, 



ALL ENDS, AND SOON ENDS. 323 

is our life but a vapour, which a blast of wind, a fever, 
a stroke of apoplexy, a puncture, an attack of the chest, 
causes to disappear, and which is seen no more ? " For 
what is your life ? It is a vapour which appeareth for 
a little while." (St. James iv. 15.) " We all die," said 
the woman of Thecua to David, " and like waters that 
return no more, we fall down into the earth." (2 Kings 
xiv. 14.) She spoke the truth ; as all rivers and 
streams run to the sea, and as the gliding waters return 
no more, so our days pass away, and we approach to 
death. 

5. They pass ; they pass quickly. " My days/ says 
Job, "have been swifter than a post." (Job ix. 25.) 
Death comes to meet us, and runs more swiftly than a 
post ; so that every step we make, every breath we draw, 
we approach to death. St. Jerome felt that even while 
he was writing he was drawing nearer to death. Hence 
he said: " What I write is taken away from my life." 
" Quad scribo de mea vita tollitur." Let us, then, say 
with Job : Years passed by, and with them pleasures, 
honours, pomps, and all things in this world pass away, 
" and only the grave remaineth for me." (Job xviii. 1.) 
In a word, all the glory of the labours we have undergone 
in this world, in order to acquire a large income, a high 
character for valour, for learning and genius, shall end 
in our being thrown into a pit to become the food of 
worms. The miserable worldling then shall say at 
death : My house, my garden, my fashionable furniture, 
my pictures and rich apparel, shall, in a short time, 
belong no more to me ; " and only the grave remaineth 
for me." 

6. But how much soever the worldling may be dis 
tracted by his worldly affairs and by his pleasures- 
how much soever he may be entangled in them, St. 
Chrysostom says, that when the fear of death, which 
sets fire to all things of the present life, begins to enter 
the soul, it will compel him to think and to be solicitous 
about his lot after death. "Cum pulsare animam 
incipit metus mortis (ignis instar prasentis vita3 omnia 
succendens) philosophari earn cogit, et futura solicita 
mente versari." (Serm. in 2 Tim.) Alas! at the hour 
of death "the eyes of the blind shall be opened." (Is* 



324 SERMON XLIII. 



xxxv. 5.) Then indeed shall he opened the eyes of 
those hlind worldlings who have employed their whole 
life in acquiring earthly goods, and have paid hut little 
attention to the interests of the soul. In all these shall 
he verified what Jesus Christ has told them that death 
shall come when they least expect it. " At what hour 
you think not the Son of Man will come." (Luke xii. 
40.) Thus, on these unhappy men death comes unex 
pectedly. Hence, because the lovers of the world are 
not usually warned of their approaching dissolution till 
it is very near, they must, in the last lew days of life, 
adjust the accounts of their soul for the fifty or sixty 
years which they lived on this earth. They will then 
desire another month, or another week, to settle their 
accounts or to tranquillize their conscience. But " they 
will seek for peace, and there shall he none." (Ezec. vii. 
25.) The time which they desire is refused. The assis 
tant priest reads the divine command to depart instantly 
from this world. " Proficiscere, anima Christian! de hoc 
mundo/ " Depart, Christian soul, from this world." 
Oh ! how dangerous the entrance of worldlings into eter 
nity, dying, as they do, amid so much darkness and con 
fusion, in consequence of the disorderly state of the 
accounts of their souls. 

7. " Weight and balance are the judgments of the 
Lord." (Piov. xvi. 11.) At the tribunal of God, nobility, 
dignities, and riches have no weight ; two things only 
our bins, and the graces bestowed on us by God make 
the scales ascend or descend. They who shall be found 
faithful in corresponding with the lights and calls 
which they have received, shall be rewarded ; and they 
who shall be found unfaithful, shall be condemned. 
We do not keep an account of God s graces ; but the 
Lord keeps an account of them ; he measures them ; 
and when he sees them despised to a certain degree, he 
leaves the soul in her sins, and takes her out of life in 
that miserable state. " For what things a man shall 
sow those also shall he reap." (Gal. vi. 8.) From 
labours undertaken for the attainment of posts of 
honour and emolument, for the acquisition of property 
and of worldly applause, we reap nothing at the hour 
of death : all are then lost. We gather fruits of eternal 



ALL ENDS, AND SOON ENDS. 325 

life only from works performed, and tribulations suffered 
for God. 

8. Hence, St. Paul exhorts us to attend to our own 
business. "But we must entreat you, brethren.... 
that you do your own business." (1 Thess. iv. 10, 11.) 
Of what business, I ask, does the Apostle speak ? Is it 
of acquiring riches, or a great name in the world? 
No ; he speaks of the business of the soul, of which 
Jesus Christ spoke, when he said: "Trade till I come." 
(Luke xix. 13.) The business for which the Lord has 
placed, and for which he keeps us on this earth, is to 
save our souls, and by good works to gain eternal life. 
This is the end for which we have been created. " And 
the end eternal life." (Rom. vi. 22.) The business of 
the soul is for us not only the most important, but also 
the principal and only affair; for, if the soul be saved, 
all is safe ; but if the soul be lost, all is lost. Hence, we 
ought, as the Scripture says, to strive for the salvation of 
our souls, and to combat to death for justice that is, for 
the observance of the divine law. " Strive for justice 
for thy soul, and even unto death fight for justice." 
(Eccl. iv. 33.) The business which our Saviour recom 
mends to us, saying: Trade till I come, is, to have always 
before our eyes the day on which he shall come to de 
mand an account of our whole life. 

9. All things in this world acquisitions, applause, 
grandeur must, as we have said, all end, and end very 
soon. " The fashion of this world passeth away." (1 
Cor. vii. 31.) The scene of this life passes away; 
happy they who, in this scene, act their part well, and 
save their souls, preferring the eternal interests of tie 
soul to all the temporal interests of the body. " He 
that hateth his life in this world, keepeth it unto life 
eternal." (John xii. 26.) Worldlings say : Happy the 
man who hoards up money ! happy they who acquire 
the esteem of the world, and enjoy the pleasures of this 
life! folly! Happy he who" loves God and saves 
his^soul ! The salvation of his soul was the only favour 
which king David asked of God. " One thing have I 
asked of the Lord, this will I seek after." (Ps. xxvi. 4.) 
And St. Paul said, that to acquire the grace of Jesus 
Christ which contains eternal life, he despised as dung 



326 



SERMON XLIII. 



all worldly goods. " I count all things as loss and I 
count them as dung, that I may gain Christ." (Phil, 
iii. 8.) 

1 0. But certain fathers of families will say : I do not 
labour so much for myself as for my children, whom I 
wish to leave in comfortable circumstances. But I 
answer : If you dissipate the goods which you possess, 
and leave your children in poverty, you do wrong, and 
are guilty of sin. ^ But will you lose your soul in order 
to leave your children comfortable ? If you fall into 
hell, perhaps they will come and release you from it ? 
folly ! Listen to what David said : " I have not 
seen the just man forsaken, nor his seed seeking bread." 
(Ps. xxxvi. 25.) Attend to the service of God; act 
according to justice ; the Lord will provide for the 
wants of your children ; and you shall save your souls, 
and shall lay up that eternal treasure of happiness 
which can never be taken from you a treasure not like 
earthly possessions, of which you may be deprived by 
robbers, and which you shall certainly lose at death. 
This is the advice which the Lord gives you : " But 
lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither 
the rust nor the moth doth consume, and where thieves 
do not ^ break through nor steal." (Matt. vi. 20.) In 
conclusion, attend to the beautiful admonition which 
St. Gregory gives to all who wish to live well and to 
gain eternal life. " Sit nobis in intentione aeternitas, in 
usu temporalitas." Let the end of all our actions in 
this life be, the acquisition of eternal goods ; and let us 
use temporal things only to preserve life for the little 
time we have to remain on this earth. The saint con 
tinues : " Sicut nulla est proportio inter aeternitatem et 
nostiac vitae tempus, ita nulla debet esse proportio inter 
acternitatis, et hujus, vitae curas." As there is an in 
finite distance between eternity and the time of our 
life, so there ought to be, according to our mode of 
understanding, an infinite distance between the attention 
which we should pay to the goods of eternity, which 
shall be enjoyed for ever, and the care we take of the 
goods of this life, which death shall soon take away 
from us. 



DEATH OF MEN OF THE WORLD. 327 



SERMON XLIY. FIFTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER 
PENTECOST. 

On the practical death, or on what ordinarily happens 
at the death of men of the world. 

" Behold, a dead man was carried out, the only son of his mother." 
LUKE vii. 12. 

IT is related in this day s gospel that, going to the city 
of Nairn, Jesus Christ met a dead man, the only son of 
his mother, who was carried out to be buried. " Behold, 
a dead man was carried out." Before we proceed 
further, let us stop at these words and remember death. 
The holy Church directs her ministers to say to Chris 
tians every year, on Ash Wednesday : " Memento homo 
quia pulvis es, et in pulverum reverteris." Remember 
man, thou art but dust, and into dust thou shalt return. 
Oh ! would to God that men had death always before 
their eyes ; if they had, they certainly should not lead 
such bad lives. Now, beloved brethren, that the remem 
brance of death may be impressed upon you, I will this 
day place before your eyes the practical death, or a 
description of what ordinarily happens at the death of 
men of the world, and of all the circumstances attend 
ing it. Hence we shall consider, in the first point, 
what happens at the time of the last illness : in the 
second point, what happens when the last sacraments 
are received; and, in the third, what happens at the 
time of death. 

First Point. What happens at the time of the last 
illness. 

1. I do not intend in this discourse to speak of a sin 
ner who had always lived in habitual sin ; but of a world 
ling, who is careless about his salvation, and always 
entangled in the affairs of the world, in contracts, enmities, 
courtships, and gaming. He has frequently fallen into 
mortal sins, and after a considerable time has confessed 
them. In a word, he has been a relapsing sinner, and 



328 SKHMON XL1V. 



has generally lived in enmity with God, or, at least, has 
been generally perplexed with grievous doubts of con 
science. Let us consider the death of such persons, and 
what ordinarily happens at their death. 

2. Let us commence at the time at which his last 
illness appears. He rises in the morning, he goes out 
to look after his temporal affairs ; but while he is 
engaged in business, he is assailed by a violent pain 
in the head, his legs totter, he feels a cold shivering, 
which runs through every member, a sickness of the 
stomach, and great debility over the whole body. He 
immediately returns home and throws himself on the 
bed. His relatives, his wife and sisters, run to him, 
and say : " Why have yon retired so early ? Are you un 
well ?" He answers : " I feel sick. I am scarcely able 
to stand ; I have a great head-ache." " Perhaps/ they 
say, " you have got a fever." " It must be so," he replies, 
"send for a physician. The physician is immediately 
sent for. In the meantime the sick man is put to bed, 
and there he is seized with a cold fit, which makes him 
shiver from head to foot. He is loaded with covering, 
but the cold continues for an hour or two, and is suc 
ceeded by a burning heat. The physician arrives, asks 
the sick man how he feels ; he examines the pulse, and 
find he has a severe attack of fever. But, not to alarm 
him, the physician says : You have fever : but it is 
trifling. Have you given any occasion to it ? The sick 
man replies : I went out by night a few days ago, and 
caught cold ; or, I dined with a friend, and indulged 
my appetite to excess. It is worth nothing, the physi 
cian says : it is a fulness of stomach, or more probably 
one of these attacks which occur at the change of season. 
Eat nothing to-day : take a cup of tea ; be not uneasy ; 
be cheerful ; there is no danger. I will see you to 
morrow. Oh ! that there was an angel, who, on the 
part of God, would say to the physician : What do you 
say ? Do you tell me that there is no danger in this 
disease ? Ah ! the trumpet of the divine justice has, by 
the first symptoms of his illness, given the signal of the 
death of this man : for him the time of God s vengeance 
has already arrived. 

3. The night comes, and the poor invalid gets no 



DEATH OF MEN OF THE WORLD. 329 

rest. The difficulty of breathing and headache increase. 
The night appears to him a thousand years. The light 
scarcely dawns when he calls for some of the family. 
His relatives come, and say to him : Have you rested 
well ? Ah ! I have not been able to close my eyes 
during the entire night. O God ! how much do I feel 
oppressed ! Oh ! how violent are the spasms in my 
head! I feel my temples pierced by two nails. Send 
immediately for the physician ; tell him to come as soon 
as possible. The physician comes, and finds the fever 
increased ; but still he continues to say: " Have courage ; 
there is no danger. The disease must take its course. 
The fever which accompanies it will make it disappear." 
He comes the third day, and finds the sick man worse. 
He comes on the fourth day, and symptoms of malignant 
fever appear. The taste on the mouth is disagreeable ; 
the tongue is black ; every part of the body is restless ; 
and delirium has commenced. The physician, finding 
that the fever is acute, prescribes purging, bloodletting, 
and iced water. He says to the relatives : Ah ! the 
sickness is most severe ; I do not wish to be alone. Let 
other physicians be called in, that we may have a 
consultation. This he says in secret to the relatives, 
but not to the sick man on the contrary, not to 
frighten him, he continues to say : " Be cheerful ; there 
is no danger." 

4. Thus, they speak of remedies, of more physicians, 
and of a consultation ; but not a word about confession 
or the last sacraments. I know not how such physicians 
can be saved. Where the Bull of Pope Pius the Fifth 
is in force, they expressly swear, when they receive the 
diploma, that, after the third day of his illness, they 
will pay^no more visits to any sick man until he has 
made his confession. But some physicians do not 
observe this oath, and thus so many poor souls are 
damned. For, when a sick man has lost his reason, of 
what use is confession to him ? He is lost. Brethren, 
when you fall sick, do not wait till the physician tells 
you to send for a confessor ; send for him of your own 
accord ; for physicians, through fear of displeasing a 
patient, do not warn him of his danger until they 
despair, or nearly despair of his recovery. Thus, 



330 



SERMON XL1V. 



brethren, send first for your confessor call first for the 
physician of the soul, and afterwards for the physician 
of the body. Your soul is at stake, eternity is at stake ; 
if you err then you have erred for ever ; your mistake 
shall be for ever irreparable. 

5. The physician, then, conceals from the sick man 
his danger ; his relatives do what is still worse they 
deceive him by lies. They tell him that he is better, 
and that the physicians give strong hopes of his re 
covery. treacherous relatives! barbarous rela 
tives, who are the worst of enemies ! Instead of warning 
the sick man of his danger (as is their duty, particularly 
if they are parents, children, or brothers), that he may 
settle the accounts of his soul, they flatter him, they 
deceive him, and cause him to die in the state of damna 
tion. But, from the pains, oppression, and restlessness 
which he feels, from the studied silence of friends who 
visit him, and from the tears which he sees in the eyes 
of his relatives, the poor invalid perceives that his 
disease is mortal. Alas ! he says, the hour of death is 
come ; but, through fear of giving me annoyance, they 
do not warn me of it. 

6. No ; his relatives do not let him know that he is 
in danger of death ; but because they attend to their 
own interest, about which they are more solicitous than 
they are about anything else, they bring in a scrivener, 
in the hope that the dying man will leave them a large 
portion of his property. The scrivener arrives. Who 
is this ? asks the sick man. The relatives answer : He 
is a scrivener. Perhaps, for your own satisfaction, you 
would like to make your will. Then is my sickness 
mortal ? Ami near my end ? JS T o, father, or brother, 
they say : we know that there is no necessity for making 
a will ; but you must one day make it, and it would be 
better to do it now, while you have the full use of all 
your faculties. Very well, he replies ; since the scrivener 
is come, and since you wish me to do it, I will make 
my last will. The scrivener first asks the sick man 
in what church he wishes to be buried, in case he 
should die. Oh ! what a painful question ! After 
choosing the place of his interment, he begins to dis 
pose of all his goods. I bequeath such an estate or 



DEATH OF MEN OF THE WORLD. 331 

farm to my children ; such a house to my brother ; such 
a sum of money to a friend ; and such an article of furni 
ture to an acquaintance. miserable man, what have 
you done ? You have submitted to so much fatigue, 
you have burthened your conscience with so many sins, 
in order to acquire these goods ; and now you leave them 
for ever, and bequeath them to such and such persons. 
But there is no remedy ; when death comes we must 
leave all things. This separation from all worldly 
possessions is very painful to the sick man, whose heart 
was attached to his property, his house, his garden, his 
money, and his amusements. Death comes, gives the 
stroke, and separates the heart from all the objects of its 
love. This stroke tortures the sick man with excruciat 
ing pain. Ah, brethren ! let us detach our hearts from 
the things of this world before death separates us from 
them with so much pain, and with such great danger to 
our salvation. 

Second Point. "What happens at the time in which 
the sacraments are received. 

7. Behold ! the dying man has made his will. After 
the eighth or tenth day of his illness, seeing that he is 
daily growing worse, and that he is near his end, one of 
his relatives asks : " When shall we send for his confessor? 
He has been a man of the world. We know that he has 
not been a saint." They all agree that the confessor 
should be sent for ; but all refuse to speak to the sick 
man on the subject. Hence they send for the parish 
priest, or for some other confessor, to make known to 
the dying man his danger, and the necessity of receiving 
the last sacraments. But this is done only when he 
has nearly lost the use of his faculties. The confessor 
comes ; he inquires from the family about the state of 
the sick man, and the sort of life which he led. He 
finds that he has been careless about the duties of reli 
gion, and, from the circumstances which he hears, he 
trembles for the salvation of the poor soul. Under 
standing that the dying man has but a short time to 
live, the confessor, first of all, orders the relatives to 
leave the room, and to return to it no more. He then 
approaches and salutes the sick man. The latter asks : 



332 



SERMON XLIV. 



"Who are you ? I am, replies the confessor, the parish 
priest, Father Such-a-one. Do you wish me to do any 
thing for you ? Having heard that you had a severe 
attack of illness, I have come to reconcile you with your 
Creator. Father, I am obliged to you ; but I beg of 
you for the present to let me take a little rest ; for I 
have got no sleep for several nights, and I am scarcely 
able to speak. Recommend me to God. 

8. Knowing the dangerous state of the soul and 
body of the sick man, the confessor says : We hope 
that the Lord and the most holy Virgin will deliver 
you from this illness ; but, sooner or later, you must 
die. Your illness is very severe. You would do well 
to make your confession, and to adjust the affairs of 
your soul. Perhaps you have scruples of conscience. 
I have come on purpose to calm the troubles of your 
mind. Father, I should have to make a long confes 
sion ; for my conscience is perplexed and burdened 
with sin. At present I am not able to do it. I feel a 
lightness in my head, and I can scarcely breathe. 
Father, we will see about it to-morrow, at present I am 
not able. But who knows what may happen ? Some 
attack may come on, which will not leave you time to 
make your confession. Father, do not torment me any 
longer. I have said that I am not able ; it is impossible 
for me to do it. But the confessor, who knows that 
there is no hope of recovery, feels himself obliged to 
speak more plainly, and says: I think it is my duty to 
inform you that your life is about to close. I entreat 
you to make your confession : for, perhaps, to-morrow 
you shall be dead. Why, father, do you say so ? 
Because, replies the confessor, so the physicians have 
said. The poor dying man then begins to rage against 
the physicians, and against his friends. Ah ! the traitors 
have deceived me. They knew my danger, and have 
not informed me of it. Ah ! unhappy me ! The con 
fessor rejoins, and says : Be not alarmed at the diffi 
culties of making your confession : it is enough to 
mention the most grievous sins which you remember. 
I will assist you. Be not afraid. Begin at once to tell 
your sins. The dying man forces himself to commence 
his confession ; but his mind is all confusion ; he knows 



DEATH OF MEN OF THE WORLD. 333 



not where to begin ; he tries to tell his sins, but is not 
able to explain himself. He feels but little, and under 
stands still less, what the confessor says to him. O 
God ! At such a time, and in such a state, worldlings 
are obliged to attend to the most important of all 
affairs the affair of eternal salvation ! The confessor 
hears, perhaps, many sins, bad habits, injuries done to 
the property and character of others, confessions made 
with little sorrow and with little purpose of amend 
ment. He assists the dying man as well as he can, and, 
after a short exhortation, tells him to make an act of 
contrition. But, God grant that he may not be as 
insensible to sorrow as the sick man who was attended 
by Cardinal Bellarmine. When the Cardinal exhorted 
him to make an act of contrition, he said : Father, do 
not trouble yourself ; these things are too high for me ; 
I do not understand them. In the end, the confessor 
absolves the dying man; but who knows if God ab 
solves him ? 

9. After giving him absolution, the confessor says : 
Prepare yourself, now, to receive Jesus Christ for your 
viaticum. It is now, replies the sick man, four or five 
hours after night ; I will communicate in the morning. 
No : perhaps in the morning time shall be no more for 
you ; you must at present receive the viaticum and 
extreme unction. Ah, unhappy me ! the dying man 
says ; am I then at the point of death ? He has reason 
to say so ; for the practice of some physicians is, to put 
off the viaticum till the patient is near his last, and till 
he has lost, or nearly lost, his senses. This is a common 
delusion. According to the common opinion of theolo 
gians, the viaticum ought always to be administered 
when there is danger of death. It would be useful here 
to observe, that Benedict the Fourteenth, in his fifty- 
third Bull (in Euchol. Grace., . 46, ap. Bullar, torn. 4), 
says, that extreme unction may be given whenever the 
sick man " labours under a grievous illness." Hence, 
whenever the sick can receive the viaticum, they can 
also receive the sacrament of extreme unction. It is 
not necessary to wait, as some physicians recommend, 
till they are near the agony, or till they lose their 
senses. 



331 SERMON XLIV. 

10. Behold ! the viaticum arrives, the sick man hears 
the bell. Oh ! how he trembles ! The trembling and 
terror increase when he sees the priest coming into the 
room with the holy sacrament, a,nd when he beholds 
around his bed the torches of those who assisted at the 
procession. The priest recites the words of the ritual : 
" Accipe frater viaticum corporis Domini nostri Jesu 
Christi qui te custodiat ab hoste maligno, et perducat in 
vitam rcternum. Amen." Brother, receive the viaticum 
of the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, that he may pre 
serve you from the wicked enemy, and that he may 
bring you to eternal life. He receives the consecrated 
host upon his tongue : the priest then gives him a little 
water to enable him to swallow it ; for his throat is dry 
and parched. 

11. The priest afterwards gives the extreme unction ; 
and begins by anointing the eyes while he says the 
following words : " Per istam sanctam unctionem, et 
suam piissimam misericordiam, indulgeat tibi Deus, 
quidquid per visum deliquisti." He then anoints the 
other senses the ears, the nostrils, the mouth, the 
hands, the feet, and the loins, saying : " Quidquid per 
aditum deliquisti per odoratum, per gustum et locuti- 
onem, per tactum, per gressum, ct lumborum delectati- 
onem." And, during the administration of the extreme 
unction, the devil is employed in reminding the sick 
man of all the sins he committed by the senses by the 
eyes, the ears, the tongue, the hands ; and says to him : 
After so many sins can you expect to be saved ? Oh ! 
vyhat terror is then caused by every one of those mortal 
sins, which are now called human frailties, and which, 
worldlings say, God will not punish ! Now they are 
disregarded ; but then every mortal sin shall be a sword 
that will pierce the soul with terror. But let us come 
to what happens at death. 

Third Point. What happens at the time of death. 

12. After having administered the sacraments the 
priest departs, and leaves the dying man alone. He 
feels more terror and alarm after the sacraments than 
before he received them ; for he knows that his entire 
preparation for them was made in the midst of great 



DEATH OF MEN OF THE WORLD. 335 

confusion of mind and great uneasiness of conscience. 
But the signs of approaching death appear : the sick 
man falls into a cold sweat ; the sight grows dim, and 
he no longer knows the persons that attend him : he 
has lost his speech, and can scarcely breathe. In the 
midst of this darkness of death he continues to say : 
" Oh ! that I had time, that I had another day, with the 
use of my faculties, to make a good confession !" For, 
the unhappy man has great doubts about the confession 
which he has made: he feels that he was not able to 
excite himself to make a true act of sorrow. But, what 
time ? what day ? " Time shall be no longer." (Apoc. 
x. 6.) ^ The confessor has the book open to announce to 
him his departure from this world. "Profiscere, anima 
Christiana, de hoc mundo." Depart, Christian soul, 
from this world. The dying man continues to say 
within himself: " O lost years of my life ! fool that 
I have been !" But when does he say this ? When the 
scene is about to close for him ; when the oil in the lamp 
is just consumed; and when the great moment has 
arrived on which his eternal happiness or misery 
depends. 

13. But behold ! his eyes are petrified ; his body takes 
the posture of a corpse ; the extremities, the hands and 
feet, have become cold. The agony commences; the 
priest begins to recite the prayers for the recommenda 
tion of a departing soul. After having read the recom 
mendation, he feels the pulse of the dying man, and 
feels that it has ceased to beat. Light, he says, imme 
diately the blessed candle. O candle ! O candle ! show us 
light, now that we have health; for, at the hour of 
death, thy light shall serve only to terrify us the more. 
But already the breathing of the sick man is not so 
frequent; it has begun to fail This is a sign that 
death is very near. The assisting priest raises his 
voice, and says to the poor man in his agony : Say after 
me .^ O God, come to my aid ; have mercy on me. My 
crucified Jesus, save me through thy passion. Mother 
of God, intercede for me. St. Joseph, St. Michael, the 
archangel, my holy angel-guardian, and all ye saints 
in Paradise, pray to God for me. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus 
and Mary, I give you my heart and my soul. But 



336 SERMON XLIV. 



behold the last signs of death ; the phlegm is confined 
in the throat ; the dying man sends forth feeble moans ; 
the tears rush from his eyes ; finally he twists the 
mouth, he distorts the eyes, he makes a few pauses, 
and at the last opening of the mouth, he expires and 
dies. 

14. The priest then brings a candle to the mouth of 
the dead man, to try if he be still alive : he sees that 
the flame is not moved, and thence infers that life is 
extinct. He says : Requiescat in pace. May he rest in 
peace. And turning to the bystanders, announces that 
he is dead. " I hope," he adds, " he is gone to heaven." 
He is dead, and how has he died ? No one knows 
whether he is saved or damned ; but he has died in a 
great tempest. Such is the death of those unfortunate 
men who, during life, have cared little about God. 
" Their souls shall die in a storm." (Job xxxvi. 14.) Of 
every one that dies it is usual to say that " he is gone to 
heaven." He is gone to heaven if he deserved heaven ; 
but, if he merited hell, he has gone to hell. Do all 
go to heaven ? Oh ! how few enter into that abode of 
bliss ! 

15. Before the body is cold he is covered with a worn- 
out garment ; because it must soon rot with him in the 
grave. Two lighted candles are placed in the chamber ; 
the curtain of the bed on which the dead man lies is let 
down, and he is left alone. The parish priest is sent for, 
and requested to come in the morning and take away the 
corpse. The priest comes ; the deceased is carried to 
the church ; and this is his last journey on this earth. 
The priests begin to sing the " De proiundis clamavi ad 
te Domine," etc. The spectators, who look at the 
funeral as it passes, speak of the deceased. One says : 
" He was a proud man." Another : " Oh ! that he 
had died ten years ago !" A third : " He was fortu 
nate in the world ; he made a great deal of money ! he 
had a fine house, but now he takes nothing with him/ 
And while they speak of him in this manner he is 
burning in hell. He arrives at the church, and is 
placed in the middle, surrounded by six candles. Tho 
bystanders look at him, but suddenly turn away their 
eyes, because his appearance excites horror. The Mass 



IMPURITY. 337 



is sung for his repose, and after Mass, the " Libera ;" 
and the function is concluded with these words : Requi- 
esQat in pace May he rest in peace. May he rest in 
peace, if he died in peace with God ; but, if he has died 
in enmity with God, what peace what peace can he 
enjoy ? He shall have no peace as long as God shall be 
God. The sepulchre is then opened, the corpse is thrown 
into it ; the grave is covered with a tombstone ; and he 
is left there to rot and to be the food of worms. It is thus 
that the scene of this world ends for each of us. His re 
latives put on mourning ; but they first divide among 
themselves the property which he has left. They shed 
an occasional tear for two or three days, and afterwards 
forget him. And what shall become of him ? If he be 
saved, he shall be happy for ever ; if damned, he must 
be miserable for eternity. 



SERMON XLY. SIXTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER 
PENTECOST. 

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 



338 SERMON XLV. 



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 

Eurity itself, behold the filthy impurities by which his 
iw 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.), 



IMPURITY. 339 



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, 



340 SERA10N XLV. 



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 



IMPURITY. 341 



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, 



342 SERMON XLV. 



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 : / ahcays 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 ain damned. 



IMPURITY. 



343 



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 



344 SERMON XLV. 



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 



IMPURITY. 345 



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 



346 SERMON XI, V. 



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. 



LOVE OF GOD. 347 



SERMON XLVL SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY 
AFTER PENTECOST. 

On the love of God. 

"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart." MATT. 
xxii. 37. 

" BUT one thing is necessary." (Luke x. 42.) What is 
this one thing necessary ? It is not necessary to acquire 
riches, nor to ohtain dignities, nor to gain a great name. 
The only thing necessary is to love God. Whatever is 
not done for the love of God is lost. This is the greatest 
and the first commandment of the divine law. To the 
Pharisee who asked what is the greatest commandment 
of the law, Jesus Christ answered : " Thou shalt love 
the Lord thy God with thy whole heart .... This is the 
greatest and first commandment." (Matt. xxii. 37, 38.) 
But this, which is the greatest of the commandments, is 
the most despised by men : there are few who fulfil it. 
The greater part of men love their relatives, their friends, 
and even brute animals, but do not love God. Of these 
St. John says that they have not life that they are 
dead. " He that loveth not, abideth in death." (L John 
iii. 14.) St. Bernard writes, that the reward of a soul 
is estimated by the measure of her love for God. " Quan- 
titas anima3 aistimatur de mensura charitatis quani 
habet." (Serm. xxvii., in Cant.) Let us consider to-day, 
in the first point, how dear this command of loving God 
with our whole heart ought to be to us ; and, in the 
second, what we ought to do in order to love God with 
our whole heart. 



First Point. How dear this command of loving God 
with our whole heart ought to be to us. 

1. What object more noble, more magnificent, more 
powerful, more rich, more beautiful, more bountiful, 
more merciful, more grateful, more amiable, or more 
loving, than himself, could God give us to love ? Who 
more noble than God ? Some boast of the nobility of 
their family for five hundred or a thousand years ; but 
the nobility of God is eternal. He is the Lord of all. 



348 SERMON XL VI. 



Before God all the angels in heaven or all the nobles 
on earth are but as a drop of water or a grain of dust. 
" Behold the Gentiles are as a drop of a bucket behold 
the islands are as a little dust/ (Isa. xl. 15.) Who more 
powerful than God ? He can do whatsoever he wills. 
By an act of his will he has created this world, and by 
another act he can destroy it when he pleases. Who 
more wealthy ? He possesses all the riches of heaven 
and earth. Who more beautiful ? Before the beauty 
of God all the beauties of creatures disappear. Who 
more bountiful ? St. Augustine says, that God has a 
greater desire to do good to us than we have to receive 
it. Who more merciful ? If the most impious sinner 
on earth humble himself before God, and repent of his 
sins, God instantly pardons and embraces him. Who 
more grateful ? He does not leave unrewarded the 
smallest act we perform for his sake. Who more 
amiable ? God is so amiable that, by barely seeing 
and loving him in heaven, the saints feel a joy which 
makes them perfectly happy and content for all eternity. 
The greatest of the torments of the damned arise from 
knowing that this God is so amiable, and that they 
cannot love him. 

2. Finally, who more loving than God ? In the Old 
Law, men might doubt whether God loved them with a 
tender love ; but, after seeing him die on a cross for us, 
how can we doubt of the tenderness and the ardent 
affection with which he loves us ? Let us raise our eyes 
and look at Jesus, the true Son of God, fastened with 
nails to a gibbet, and let us consider the intensity of the 
love which he bears us. The cross, the wounds, says 
St. Bernard, cry out, and proclaim to us that he truly 
loves us. " Clamat crux, clamat vulnus, quod ipse vere 
dilexit." And what more could he do to convince us of 
his great love than to lead a life of sorrow for thirty- 
three years, and afterwards die in torments on the infa 
mous tree of the cross, in order to wash away our sins 
with his own blood? " Christ also hath loved us, and 
hath delivered himself up for us." (Eph. v. 2.) " Who 
hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own 
blood." (Apoc. i. 5.) " How," says St. Philip Neri, " is 
it possible for him who believes in God to love anything 



LOVE OF GOD. 349 



but God ?" Contemplating God s love towards men, St. 
Mary Magdalene de Pazzi began one day to ring the 
bell, saying that she wished to invite all the nations of 
the earth to love so loving a God. St. Francis de Sales 
used to say with tears : "To love our God it would be 
necessary to have an infinite love ; and we throw away 
our love on vain, contemptible things." 

3. ! inestimable value of divine love, which makes 
us rich before God ! It is the treasure by which we gain 
his friendship. " She is an infinite treasure to men, 
which they that use become the friends of God." (Wis. 
vii. 14.) The only thing we ought to fear, says St. 
Gregory of Nyssa (de Vita Moysis), is the loss of God s 
friendship ; and the only object of our desires should be 
its attainment. " Unum terribile, arbitror, ab amicitia 
Dei repelli : unum solum expectibile, amicitia Dei." It 
is love that obtains the friendship of God. Hence, 
according to St. Lawrence Justinian, by love the poor 
become rich, and without love the rich are poor. " No 
greater riches than to have charity. In charity the poor 
man is rich, and without charity the rich man is poor." 
(S. Laur. Just, in Matt. xiii. 44.) How great is the joy 
which a person feels in thinking that he is loved by a 
man of exalted rank ! But how much greater must be 
the consolation which a soul derives from the conviction 
that God loves her ! " I love them that love me." 
(Prov. viii. 17.) In a soul that loves God the Three 
Persons of the Adorable Trinity dwell. " 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.) St. Bernard writes, 
that among all the virtues charity is the one that unites 
us to God. Charitas est virtus conjungens nos Deo." 
St. Catherine of Bologna used to say, that love is the 
golden chain that binds the soul to God. St. Augustine 
says, that " love is a joint connecting the lover with the 
beloved." Hence, were God not immense, where should 
he be found ? Find a soul that loves God, and there 
God is certainly found. Of this St. John assures us. 
(i He that abideth in charity abideth in God, and God 
in him." (1 John iv. 16.) A poor man loves riches, but 
he does not therefore enjoy them ; he may love a throne, 



350 SERMON XLVI. 



but he does not therefore possess a kingdom. But the 
man that loves God possesses God. " He abideth in 
God, and God in him/ 

4. Besides, St. Thomas says (Tr. de Virt, art. 3), that 
love draws in its train all other virtues, and directs them 
all to unite us more closely to God. Hence, because 
from charity all virtues are born, St. Lawrence Justinian 
called it the mother of virtues. Hence, St. Augustine 
used to say: " Love, and do what you wish." He that 
loves God can only do what is good ; if he does evil, he 
shows that he has ceased to love God. And when he 
ceases to love him, all things can profit him nothing. If, 
said the Apostle, I give all my possessions to the poor, 
and my body to the flames, and have not charity, I am 
nothing. " And if I should distribute all my goods to 
feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be 
burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." 
(1 Cor. xiii. 3.) 

5. Love also prevents us from feeling the pains of this 
life. St. Bonaventure says, that the love of God is like 
honey ; it sweetens things the most bitter. And what 
more sweet to a soul that loves God than to suffer for 
him ? She knows that by cheerfully embracing suffer 
ings she pleases God, and that her pains shall be the 
brightest jewels in her crown in Paradise. And who is 
there that will not willingly suffer and die in imitation 
of Jesus Christ, who has gone before us, carrying his 
cross, to offer himself in sacrifice for the love of us, and 
inviting us to follow his example ? "If any man will 
come after me, let him take up his cross and follow me." 
(Matt. xvi. 24.) For this purpose he has condescended 
to humble himself to death, and to the opprobrious death 
of the cross, for the love of us. " He humbled himself, 
becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the 
cross." (Phil. ii. 8.) 

Second Point What we ought to do in order to love 
God with our whole heart. 

G. St. Teresa used to say, that in calling a soul to his 
love, God bestows upon her an exceedingly great favour. 
Since, then, most beloved brethren, God calls us all to 
his love, let us thank and love him with our whole 



LOVE OF GOD. 351 



heart. Because he loves us intensely, he wishes to he 
tenderly loved by us. " When/ says St. Bernard, 
" God loves, he desires nothing else than to he loved ; 
for he loves only that he may be loved." (Serm. Ixiii., in 
Cant.) It was to inflame us with his divine love that 
the Eternal Word descended from heaven. So he him 
self has declared ; adding, that he only desires to see 
this fire lighted up in our hearts. " I am come to cast 
fire on the earth, and what will I but that it be kindled?" 
(Luke xii. 49.) Let us now see what means we ought 
to adopt in order to love God. 

7. In the first place, we ought to guard against every 
sin, whether mortal or venial. " If/ says Jesus Christ, 
" any one love me, he will keep my word." (John xiv. 
23.) The first mark of love is to endeavour not to give 
the smallest displeasure to the beloved. How can he be 
said to love God with his whole heart, who is not afraid 
to commit deliberate venial offences against God ? St. 
Teresa used to say to her spiritual children : " From 
deliberate sin, however small, may God deliver you." 
But some will say : Yenial sin is a small evil. Is it a 
small evil to displease a God who is so good, and who 
loves us so tenderly ? 

8. In the second place, to love God with the whole 
heart, it is necessary to have a great desire to love him. 
Holy desires are the wings with which we fly to God ; 
for, as St. Lawrence Justinian says, a good desire gives 
us strength to go forward, and lightens the labour of 
walking in the way of God. " Yires subministrat, posnam 
exhibet leviorem." According to the spiritual masters, 
he that does not advance in the way of the Lord goes 
back ; but, on the other hand, God cheerfully gives him 
self to those who seek after him. " The Lord is good to 
the soul that seeketh him." (Lamen. iii. 25.) He fills 
with his own good things all who desire him through 
love. " He hath filled the hungry with good things." 
(Luke i. 53.) 

9. In the third place, it is necessary to resolve coura 
geously, to arrive at the perfect love of God. Some 
persons desire to belong entirely to God, but do not 
resolve to adopt the means. It is of them the Wise 
Man says, " Desires kill the soul." (Prov. xxi. 25.) I 



352 SERMON XLVI. 



would wish, they say, to become a saint ; but still, with 
all their desires," they never advance a single step. St. 
Teresa used to say, that " of these irresolute souls the 
devil is never afraid." Because, if they do not resolve 
sincerely to give themselves to God without reserve, 
they shall always continue in the same imperfections. 
But, on the other hand, the saint says, that God wishes 
only from us a true resolution to become saints ; he him 
self will do the rest. If, then, we wish to love God 
with our whole heart, we must resolve to do without 
reserve what is most pleasing to him, and to begin at 
once to put our hands to the work. " Whatsoever thy 
hand is able to do, do it earnestly." (Eccl. ix. 10.) What 
you can do to-day do not put off till to-morrow ; do it 
as soon as possible. A certain nun in the convent of 
Tori degli Speechi, in Rome, led a tepid life ; but, being 
called by God, in a retreat, to his perfect love, she 
resolved to correspond immediately to the divine call, 
and said to her director, with a sincere resolution : 
" Father, I wish to become a saint, and to become one 
immediately." And from that moment, with the aid of 
God s grace, she lived and died a saint. We must, then, 
resolve to acquire the perfect love of God, and must 
immediately adopt the means of becoming saints. 

10. The first means is, to detach the heart from all 
creatures, and to banish from the soul every affection 
which is not for God. The first question which the 
ancient fathers of the desert ^ put to every one who 
sought admission into their society was: " Do you bring 
an empty heart, that the Holy Ghost may be able to fill 
it ?" If the world be not expelled from the heart, God 
cannot enter it. St. Teresa used to say: "Detach the 
heart from creatures ; seek God, and you shall find him." 
St. Augustine writes, that the Romans worshipped thirty 
thousand gods ; but, among these ^ gods the Koman 
Senate refused to admit Jesus Christ. Because, said 
they, he is a proud God, who requires that he alone 
should be adored. This they had reason to say ; for our 
God wishes to possess our whole souls. He is, as St. 
Jerome says, a jealous God. " Zelotypus est Jesus." And 
therefore lie will have no rival in the affections of our 
heart. Hence, the Spouse in the Canticles is called 



LOVE OF GOD. 353 



"an enclosed garden." "My sister, my spouse is an 
enclosed garden." (Cant. iv. 12.) The soul, then, that 
wishes to belong entirely to God, must be shut against 
all love which is not for God. 

11. Hence the Divine Spouse is said to be wounded 
by one of the eyes of his eyes. " Thou hast wounded 
my heart, my sister, my spouse ; thou hast wounded my 
heart with one of thy eyes." (Cant. iv. 9.) One of her 
eyes signifies, that in all her thoughts and actions the 
only end of the spouse is to please God; while, in their 
devout exercises, worldlings propose to themselves dif 
ferent objects sometimes their own interest, sometimes 
to please their friends, and sometimes to please them 
selves. But the saints seek only to please God, to whom 
they turn, and say : " What have I in heaven ? and, 

besides thee, what do I desire upon earth? Thou art 

the God of my heart, and the God that is my portion 
for ever." (Ps. Ixxii. 25, 26.) We should do the same 
if we wished to be saints. If, says St. Chrysostom, we do 
some things pleasing to God, what else but his pleasure 
do we seek?^ "Si dignus fueris agere aliquid, quod 
Deo placet, aliam prater id mercedem requiris ?" (Lib. 
2, de Compunct. Cord.) What greater reward can a 
creature obtain than to please its Creator ? Hence, in 
all we desire or do, we should seek nothing but God. 
A certain solitary, called Zeno, walking through the 
desert, absorbed in thought, met the Emperor Mace- 
donius going to hunt. The emperor asked him what 
he was doing. In answer, the solitary said : You go in 
quest of animals, and I seek God alone. St. Francis 
de Sales used to say, that the pure love of God con 
sumes all that is not God. 

12. Moreover, to love God with our whole heart, it is 
necessary to^love him without reserve. Hence we must 
love him with a love of preference. We must prefer 
him before every other good, and must be resolved to 
lose a thousand lives, rather than forfeit his friendship. 
We must say with St. Paul: Neither death, nor life, 
nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things 
present, nor things to come, nor any other creature, 
shall be able to separate us from the love of God." 
(Rom. viii. 38, 39.) We must also love him with a love 



354 SERMON XLYI. 



of benevolence, desiring to see him loved by all : and 
therefore, if we love God, we should seek as much as 
possible to kindle in others the fire of his love, or, at 
least, should pray for the conversion of all who do not 
love him. We must love him with a love of sorrow, 
regretting every offence offered to him more than every 
evil which we could suffer. We must love him with a 
love of conformity to the divine will. The principal 
office of love is to unite the will of lovers, and to make 
the soul say : "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" 
(Acts ix. 6.) Lord, tell me what thou dost wish from 
me ; I desire to do it. I wish for nothing ; I wish only 
what thou wiliest. Hence, we ought frequently to 
offer ourselves to God without reserve, that he may do 
with us, and with all we have, whatever he pleases. 
We must love God with a love of patience. This is that 
strong love by which true lovers are known. " Love is 
strong as death." (Cant. viii. 0.) " There is nothing too 
difficult," says St. Augustine, " to be conquered by the 
fire of love." (Lib. deMor. EccL, c. xxii.) For, adds the 
saint, in doing what we love, labour is not felt, or, if it 
be felt, the very labour is loved. "In eo quod arnatur, 
aut non laboratur, aut labor amatur.") St. Vincent of 
Paul used to say, that love is measured by the desire of 
the soul to suffer and be humbled, in order to please 
God. Let God be pleased, though it should cost us 
the loss of our life and of all things. To gain all, it is 
necessary to leave all. All for all, said Thomas a 
Kcmpis. The reason we do not become saints is, as St. 
Teresa says, because, as we do not give God all our 
affections, so he does not give us his perfect love. We 
must then say with tbe spouse in the Canticles : "My 
beloved to me, and I to him." (Cant. ii. 1 6.) My be 
loved has given himself entirely to me : it is but just 
that I give myself without reserve to him. St. John 
Chrysostom says, that when a soul has given herself 
entirely to God, she no longer cares for ignominies and 
sufferings ; she loses the desire of all things ; and not 
finding repose in any creature, she is always in search 
cf her beloved ; her sole concern is to find her beloved. 

lo. To obtain and to preserve divine love, three 
things are necessary : meditation, communion, and 



LOVE OF GOD. 355 



prayer. First, meditation is necessary. He who thinks 
but little on God, loves him but little. * In my medi 
tation/ says David, "a fire shall flame out." (Ps. 
xxxviii. 4.) Meditation, and particularly meditation on 
the passion of Jesus Christ, is the blessed furnace in 
which the love of God is kindled and fanned. "He 
brought me into the wine cellar ; he set in order charity 
in me/ (Cant. ii. 4.) The souls that are introduced 
into this heavenly cellar, by a single glance of Jesus 
Christ crucified and dying for the love of us, are wounded 
and inebriated with holy love. For St. Paul says, that 
Jesus Christ died for us all, that each of us may live 
only to love him. " And Christ died for all, that they 
also may not now live to themselves, but unto him who 
died for them/ (2 Cor. v. 15.) The communion is 
another holy furnace, in which we are inflamed with 
divine love. " The holy eucharist/ says St. Chrysos- 
tom, " is a fire which inflames us, that, like lions breath 
ing fire, we may retire from the holy table, being made 
terrible to the devil/ (Horn, xli., ad Pop.) Above all, 
prayer (the prayer of petition) is necessary. It is by 
means of prayer that God dispenses all his favours, but 
particularly the great gift of divine love. To make us 
ask this love, meditation is a great help. "Without me 
ditation we shall ask little or nothing from God. "We 
must, then, always, every day, and several times in the 
day, ask God to give us the grace to love him with our 
whole heart. St. Gregory says, that God wishes to be 
compelled^ and importuned by our petitions to bestow 
upon us his graces. " God wishes to be entreated to 
be compelled : he wishes in a certain manner to be over 
come by importunity." Let us, then, continually ask of 
Jesus Christ his holy love ; and let us ask his divine 
mother Mary, who is the treasurer of all his graces, to 
obtain it for us. Thesauraria gratiarum (Idiota). She 
is called by St. Bernardino, the dispensatrix of God s 

f races. " All graces are dispensed through her hands." 
t is through her intercession that we must obtain the 
great gift of divine love. 



356 SERMON XLVII. 



SERMON XLVII. EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY 
AFTER PENTECOST. 

On bad thoughts. 

" And Jesus seeing their thoughts, said : Why do you think evil hi 
your hearts." MATT. ix. 4. 

IN the gospel of this day it is related that a paralytic 
was presented te Jesus Christ that he might heal him. 
The Lord healed not only his body, but also his soul, 
and said to him : " Be of good heart, son ; thy sins are 
forgiven thee" (verse 2). Some of the Scribes, as soon 
as they heard these words, said in their hearts : He 
llasphemeth. But our Saviour soon let them know that 
he saw their evil thoughts, saying: "Why do you think 
evil in your hearts/ Let us come to the subject of this 
discourse. God sees the most secret evil thoughts of 
our hearts ; he sees and punishes them. Human judges 
forbid and chastise only external crimes ; for men only 
see what appears externally. " Men seeth those things 
that appear ; but the Lord beholdeth the heart." (1 
Kings xvi. 7.) God prohibits and punishes bad thoughts. 
We shall examine, in the first point, when bad thoughts 
are sinful ; in the second, the great ^ danger of bad 
thoughts when indulged ; and in the third, the remedies 
against bad thoughts. 

First Point. When bad thoughts are sinful. 

1. In two ways men err regarding bad thoughts. 
Some who have the fear of God, are scrupulous, and 
are afraid that every bad thought that presents itself 
to the mind is a sin. This is an error. It is not the 
bad thought, but the consent to it, that is sinful. ^ All 
the malice of mortal sin consists in a bad will, in giving 
to a sin a perfect consent, with full advertence to the 
malice of the sin. Hence St. Augustine teaches, that 
where there is no consent there can be no sin. " Nullo 
modo sit peccatum, si non sit voluntariuin." (De Vera 
Eel, cap. xiv.) Though the temptation, the rebellion of 
the senses, or the evil motion of the inferior parts, 



BAD THOUGHTS. 357 



should be very violent, there is no sin, as long as there 
is no consent. " Non nocet sensus," says St. Bernard, 
" ubi non est consensus." (De Inter. Domo., cap. xix.) 

2. Even the saints have been tormented by tempta 
tions. The devil labours harder to make the saints 
fall, than to make the wicked sin : he regards the saints 
as more valuable prey. The Prophet Habacuc says, 
that the saints are the dainty food of the enemy. 
" Through them his portion is made fat, and his meat 
dainty." (Hab. i. 16.) And therefore, the prophet adds, 
that the evil one stretches out his net for all, to deprive 
them of the life of grace : and that he spares no one. 
"For this cause, therefore, he spreadeth out his net, 
and will not spare continually to slay the nations/ 
(Ibid., v. 17.) Even St. Paul, after he had been made 
a vessel of election, groaned under temptations against 

chastity. " There was," said he, "given me a sting of 
the flesh, an angel of Satan to afflict me." (2 Cor. xii. 7.) 
He three times prayed to the Lord, to deliver him 
from these temptations ; but in answer the Lord told 
him, that his grace was sufficient for him. " For which 
thing thrice I besought the Lord, that it might depart 
from^me. And he said: My grace is sufficient for 
thee." (ver. 8, 9.) God permits even his servants to be 
tempted, as well to try their fidelity, as to purify them 
from their imperfections. And, for the consolation of 
timid and scrupulous souls, I will here state that, accor 
ding to the common opinion of theologians, when a 
soul that fears God and hates sin is in doubt whether 
she gave consent to a bad thought, she is not bound, as 
long as she is not certain of having given consent, to 
confess it: for it is then morally certain that she has 
not consented to it. Had she really fallen into grevious 
sin she would have no doubt about it ; for mortal sin 
is so horrible a monster, that it is impossible for him 
who fears God to admit it into the soul without his 
knowledge. 

3. Others, who are not scrupulous, but are ignorant, 
and have lax consciences, think that evil thoughts, 
though wilfully indulged, are not mortal sins, unless 
the act is consummated. This is an error worse than 
the former. What we cannot lawfully do, we cannot 



358 SERMON XLVII. 



lawfully desire. Hence it is, that a bad thought to which 
a person consents, has the same malice as the bad act. 
As sinful works separate us from God, so also do sinful 
thoughts. " Perverse thoughts separate us from God." 
(Wis. i. 3.) And as all bad actions are known to God, 
so also he sees all evil thoughts, and will condemn and 
punish them. " The Lord is a God of all knowledge, 
and to him are thoughts prepared." (1 Kings ii. 3.) 

4. However, all bad thoughts are not equally sinful : 
nor have all those that are sinful equal malice. In a 
bad thought we may consider three things : the sugges 
tion, the delectation, and the consent. The suggestion 
is the first bad thought that is presented to the mind : 
this is no sin, but, when rejected is an occasion of merit. 
" As often," says St. Antonine, " as you resist, you are 
crowned." The delectation takes place when the person 
stops, as it were, to look at the bad thought, which by 
its pleasing appearance, causes delight. Unless the 
will consents to it, this delectation is not a mortal sin ; 
but it is a venial sin, and, if not resisted, the soul is in 
danger of consenting to it : but, when this danger is 
not proximate, the sin is only venial. But it is necessary 
to remark, that, when the thought which excites the 
delight is against chastity, we are, according to the 
common opinion of theologians, bound under pain of 
mortal sin to give a positive resistance to the delecta 
tion caused by the thought ; because, if not resisted, 
the delight easily obtains the consent of the will. 
" Unless a person repel delectations," says St. Anselm, 
" the delight passes to consent, and kills the soul." (S. 
Ans. SimiL, c. xl.) Hence, though a person should not 
consent to the sin, if he delight in the obscene object, 
and do not endeavour to resist the delectation, he is 
guilty of a mortal sin, by exposing himself to the proxi 
mate danger of consent. " How long shall hurtful 
thoughts abide in thee." (Jer. iv. 14.) Why, says the 
Prophet, do you allow hurtful thoughts to remain in 
the mind ? Why do you not make an effort to banish 
them from the heart? God wishes us to watch over 
the heart with great care ; because on the heart that 
is, the will our life depends. " With all watchfulness 
keep thy heart, because life issue th out from it." (Prov. 



BAD THOUGHTS. 359 



iv. 23.) Finally, the consent, which is the cause of 
mortal sin, takes place when the person clearly knows 
that the object is mortally sinful, and embraces it per 
fectly with the will. 

5. A person may sin grievously by thought in two 
ways ; by desire, and by complacency. A person sins 
by desire when he wishes to do the bad act which he 
desires, or would wish to do it if he had the oppor 
tunity : the desire is a mortal or a venial sin, according 
as the act which he desires to do is mortally or venially 
sinful. However, in practice, the commission of the 
external act always increases the malice of the will, 
either because it ordinarily increases the complacency 
which the will indulges, or causes it to continue for a 
longer time. Hence, if the act followed, it is neces 
sary to mention it in confession. A person sins by 
complacency, when he does not desire to commit the 
sinful act, but delights in it as if he had committed it. 
This complacency is called morose delectation. It is 
called morose, not because the complacency in the 
thought of the unchaste acts lasts for a considerable 
time, but because the will dwells with delight on the 
thought. Hence, the sin of complacency may, as St. 
Thomas teaches, be committed in a moment. " Dicitur 
morosa," says the holy doctor, " non ex mora temporis, 
sed ex eo quod ratio deliberans circa earn immoratur 
revolvens libenter quoo statim respui debuerent." (1, 2, 
qu. 74, a 1 ad. 3.) He says " libenter " (wilfully) to re 
move scruples from persons of timorous conscience, 
who suffer against their will certain carnal motions and 
delights, although they do all in their power to banish 
them. Though the inferior part should feel a certain 
delight, as long as the will does not consent, there is no 
sin, at least no mortal sin. I repeat with St. Augustine, 
that what is not voluntary is by no means sinful. 
" Malum nullo modo sit peccatum, si non sit voltm- 
tarium." (De Yera Rel., c. xiv.) In temptations against 
chastity, the spiritual masters advise us, not so much 
to contend with the bad thought, as to turn the mind 
to some spiritual, or, at least, indifferent object. It is 
useful to combat other bad thoughts face to face, but not 
thoughts of impurity. 



360 SERMON M.VII. 



Scccnd Point. The great danger of bad thoughts. 

6. It is necessary to guard with all possible caution 
against all bad thoughts, which are an abomination to 
God. " Evil thoughts are an abomination to the Lord/ 
(Prov. xv. 26.) They are called "an abomination to the 
Lord," because, as the holy Council of Trent says, bad 
thoughts, particularly thoughts against the ninth and 
tenth commandments, sometimes inflict on the soul a 
deeper wound, and are more dangerous than external 
acts. " Nonnunquam animam gravius sauciant, et peri- 
culosiora sunt iis qua3 in manifesto admittuntur." (Sess. 
14, de Pa^na, cap. v.) They aie more dangerous on 
many accounts; first, because sins of thought are more 
easily committed than sins of action. The occasions of 
sinful acts are frequently wanting; but sins of thought 
are committed without the occasion. When a soul has 
turned her back on God, the heart is continually intent 
on evil, which causes delight, and thus multiplies sins 
without number. " All the thought of their heart was 
bent upon evil at all times." (Gen. vi. 5.) 

7. Secondly, at the hour of death sinful actions can 
not be committed ; but we may then be guilty of sins 
of thought ; and he who has had a habit of consenting 
to bad thoughts during life, will be in danger of in 
dulging them at death ; for then the temptations of the 
devil are most violent, Knowing that he has but little 
time to gain the soul he makes gre^at efforts to bring 
her into sin. " The devil is come down unto you, hav 
ing great wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time/ 
(Apoc. xii. 12.) Being in danger of death, St. Eleazar, 
as JSurius relates, was so severely tempted with bad 
thoughts, that, after his recovery, he said : " Oh ! how 
great is the power of the devils at the hour of death !" 
The saint conquered the temptations, because he was 
accustomed to reject bad thoughts. But miserable the 
man that has contracted the habit of committing them. 
Father Scgncri relates that a certain sinner indulged 
evil thoughts during life. At death he made a sincere 
confession of all his sins, and was truly sorry for them ; 
but, after death, he appeared to a person and said he 
was damned. He stated, that his confession was valid, 
and that God had pardoned all his sins : that, before 



IUD THOUGHTS. 3G1 



death, the devil represented to him, that should he 
recover from his illness, it would be an act of ingratitude 
to forsake a certain woman who had a great affection 
for him. He hanished the first temptation : a second 
came, which he also rejected ; hut having continued to 
think on it for a little, he was tempted a third time, 
yielded to the temptation, and thus he was lost. 

Third Point. On the remedies against had thoughts. 

8. The Prophet Isaias says, that to be freed from bad 
thoughts, we must take away the evil of our thoughts. 
" Take away the evil of our devices." (Isa. i. 16.) What 
does he mean by taking away the evil of our devices ? 
He means that we should take away the occasions of evil 
thoughts, avoid dangerous occasions, and keep at a dis 
tance from bad company. I knew a young man who 
was an angel ; but, in consequence of a word which he 
heard from a bad companion he had an evil thought, 
and consented to it. He was of opinion that this was 
the only grievous sin which he committed in his whole 
life ; for he afterwards became a religious, and, after 
some years, died a holy death. Thus, it is also necessary 
to abstain from reading books that are obscene, or other 
wise bad. You must, moreover, avoid dances with 
females and profane comedies : at least when the dances 
or comedies are immodest. 

9. Some young men will ask : Father, is it sinful to 
make love ? I say : I cannot assert that of itself it is 
a mortal sin ; but persons who do so are often in the 
proximate occasion of mortal sin ; and experience shows 
that few of them are found free from grievous faults. 
It is useless for them to say that they neither had a bad 
motive nor bad thoughts. This is an illusion of the 
devil ; in the beginning he does not suggest bad 
thoughts ; but when, by frequent conversations together, 
and by frequently speaking of love, the affection of these 
lovers has become strong, the devil will make them 
blind to the danger and sinfulness of their conduct, and 
they shall find that, without knowing how, they have 
lost their souls and God by many sins of impurity and 
scandal. Oh ! how many young persons of both sexes 
does the devil gain in this way ! And of all those sins 



362 SERMON XLVII. 



of scandal God will demand an account of fathers and 
mothers, who are bound, but neglect, to prevent these 
dangerous conversations. Hence, they are the cause of 
all these evils, and shall be severely chastised by God 
for them. 

10. 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 cove 
nant with my eyes, that I should not so much as think 
upon a virgin." (Job xxxi. 1.) He says that he made a 
covenant with his eyes that he would not think. What 
have the eyes 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 
mentcm sagitta impuri arnoris." 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 
si a. 

11. When thoughts against chastity, which often 
occur without any immediate occasion, present them 
selves, it is, as I have said, necessary to banish them at 
once, without beginning to argue with the temptation. 
The instant you perceive the thought reject it, without 
giving ear to it, or examining what it says or represents 
to you. It is related in the book of the sentences of 
the fathers, 4, that St. Pachomius one day saw a devil 
boasting that he often made a certain monk fall into 
sin ; because, when tempted, the monk, instead of turn 
ing to God, listened to his suggestions, and began to 
reason with the temptations. But the saint heard 
another devil complaining, that he could gain nothing 
from the monk whom he tempted ; because the monk 
immediately had recourse to God for help, and thus he 
was always victorious. This is the advice of St. Jerome: 
As soon as lust shall suggest evil, let us exclaim : The 
Lord is my helper. " Statim ut libido titillaverit sensum, 



PAIN OF LOSS WHICH THE DAMPED SUFFER. 363 

erumpamus in vocem : Domine auxiliator meus." (Epist. 
22, ad Eustoch.) 

12. Should the temptation continue it will be very 
useful to make it known to your confessor. St Philip 
Neri used to say, that " a temptation disclosed is half 
conquered." In assaults of impurity, some saints have 
had recourse to very severe mortifications. St. Benedict 
rolled his naked body among thorns. St. Peter of Alcan 
tara threw himself into a frozen pool. But I consider 
the best means of overcoming these temptations to be, 
to have recourse to God, who will certainly give us the 
victory. " Praising, I will call on the Lord," said 
David, " and I shall be saved from my enemies." (Ps. 
xvii. 4.) And when, after asking aid from God, the 
temptation continues, we must not cease to pray, but 
must multiply prayers : we must sigh and groan before 
the most holy sacrament in the chapel, or before a cru 
cifix in our own room, or before some image of most holy 
Mary, who is the mother of purity. It is true, all our 
efforts are useless unless God sustains us by his own 
hand ; but he sometimes requires these efforts on our 
part, that he may supply our deficiency, and secure to 
us the victory. In such combats with hell, it is useful 
in the beginning to renew our purpose never to offend 
God, and to forfeit life rather than lose his grace ; and 
then, we must make repeated petitions to him, saying : 
Lord give me strength to resist this temptation : do not 
permit me to be separated from thee : deprive me of life 
rather than allow me to lose thee. 



SEKMON XL YIIL NINETEENTH SUNDAY 
AFTER PENTECOST. 

On the pain of loss which the damned suffer in hell. 

" Cast him into the exterior darkness ; there shall be weeping and 
gnashing of teeth." MATT. xxii. 13. 

ACCORDING to all laws, divine and human, the punish 
ment of crime should be proportioned to its grievous- 
ness. " According to the measure of the sin shall the 
measure also of the stripes be." (Deut. xxv. 2.) Now, 



364 SERMOX XLVIII. 



the principal injury which sinners do to God by mortal 
sin, consists in turning their back upon their Creator 
and their sovereign good. St. Thomas defines mortal 
sin to be " a turning away from the immutable good" 
(p. 1, qu. 24, art. 4). Of this injury the Lord complains 
in the following words : " Thou hast forsaken me, saith 
the Lord ; thou hast gone backward. (Jer. xv. 6.) Since, 
then, the greatest guilt of the sinner consists in deli 
berately consenting to lose God, the loss of God shall 
constitute his greatest punishment in hell. " There shall 
be weeping." In hell there is continual weeping ; but 
what is the object of the bitterest tears of the unhappy 
damned ? It is the thought af having lost God through 
their own fault. This shall be the subject of the present 
discourse. Be attentive, brethren. 

1. No! dearly beloved Christians! the goods of the 
earth are not the end for which God has placed you in 
the world ; the end for which he has created you is the 
attainment of eternal life. " And the end life eternal." 
(Rom. vi. 22.) Eternal life consists in loving God, and 
possessing him for eternity. Whosoever attains this 
end shall be for ever happy ; but he who, through his 
own fault, does not attain it, loses God; he shall be 
miserable for eternity, and shall weep for ever, saying : 
" My end is perished." (Lamen. iii. 18.) 

2. The pain produced by loss is proportioned to the 
value of what has been lost. If a person lose a jewel 
a diamond worth a hundred crowns, he feels great 
pain ; if the diamond were worth two hundred crowns, 
the pain is double ; if worth four hundred, the pain is 
still greater. Now, I ask, what is the good which a 
damned soul has lost ? She has lost God ; she has lost 
an infinite good. The pain, then, arising from the loss 
of Gcd is an infinite pain. " The pain of the damned," 
says St. Thomas, " is infinite, because it is the loss of an 
infinite good." (1. 2, qu. 87, a. 4.) Such, too, is the 
doctrine of St. Bernard, who says, that the value of 
the loss of the damned is measured from the infinitude 
of God the supreme good. Hence, hell does not con 
sist in its devouring fire, nor in its intolerable stench, 
nor in the unceasing shrieks and bowlings of the 



PAIN OF LOSS WHICH THE DAMNED SUFFER. 365 

damned, nor in the terrific sight of the devils, nor in the 
narrowness of that pit of torments, in which the damned 
are thrown one over the other : the pain which consti 
tutes hell is the loss of God. In comparison of this 
pain, all the other torments of hell are trifling. The 
reward of God s faithful servants in heaven is, as he said 
to Abraham, God himself. " I am thy reward, exceed 
ing great." (Gen. xv. 1.) Hence, as God is the reward 
of the blessed in heaven, so the loss of God is the punish 
ment of the damned in hell. 

3. Hence, St. Bruno has truly said, that how great 
soever the torments which may be inflicted on the 
damned, they never can equal the great pain of being 
deprived of God. Add torments to torments, but do 
not deprive them of God. " Addantur tormenta tor- 
mentis, et Deo non priventur." (Serm. de Jud. Fin.) 
According to St. Chrysostom, a thousand hells are not 
equal to this pain. Speaking of the loss of God, he 
said: " Si mille dixeris gehennas, nihil par dices illius 
doloris." (Horn, xlix., ad Pop.) God is so lovely that 
he deserves infinite love. He is so amiable that the 
saints in heaven are so replenished with joy, and so 
absorbed in divine love, that they desire nothing but to 
love God, and think only of loving him with all their 
strength. At present, sinners, for the sake of their 
vile pleasures, shut their eyes, and neither know God 
nor the love which he deserves ; but in hell they shall, 
in punishment of their sins, be made to know that God 
is an infinite good and infinitely amiable. " The Lord 
shall be known when he executeth judgment." (Ps. ix. 
17.) The sinner, drowned in sensual pleasures, scarcely 
knows God : he sees him only in the dark, and there 
fore he disregards the loss of God. But in hell he 
shall know God, and shall be tormented for ever by the 
thought of having voluntarily lost his infinite good. 
A certain Parisian doctor appeared after death to his 
bishop, and said that he was damned. His bishop 
asked him if he remembered the sciences in which he 
was so well versed in this life. He answered, that in 
hell the damned think only of the pain of having lost 
God. 

4. " Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting 



366 



SERMOX XLYIT1. 



fire/ (Matt. xxv. 41.) Depart from me." This com 
mand constitutes the hell of the damned. Begone from 
me ; you shall be no longer mine, and I shall be no 
longer yours. " You are not my people, and I will not 
be yours." (Osee i. 9.) At present this punishment is, 
as St. Augustine says, dreaded only by the saints. " Hecc 
amantibus non contemnentibus poena est." It is a 
punishment which affrights the soul that loves God more 
than all the torments of hell ; but it does not terrify 
sinners, who are immersed in the darkness of sin. But 
at death they shall, for their greater chastisement, 
understand the infinite good which they have lost 
through their own fault. 

5. It is necessary to know that men have been created 
for God, and that nature draws them to love him. In 
this life, the darkness of sin, and the earthly affections 
which reign in their hearts, stifle their natural tendency 
and inclination to a union with God, their sovereign 
good ; and therefore the thought of being separated from 
him does not produce much pain. But when the soul 
leaves the body, and is freed from the senses, which 
keeps her in darkness, she then clearly sees that she has 
been created for God, and that he is the only good which 
can make her happy. " But," says St. Antonine, " the 
soul separated from the body understands that God is 
her sovereign good, and that she has been created for 
him." Hence, as soon as she is loosed from the bondage 
of the body, she rushes forward to embrace her supreme 
good : but because she is in sin, and his enemy, God 
will cast her off. Though driven back and chased away, 
she retains her invincible tendency and inclination to a 
union with God ; and her hell shall consist in seeing 
herself always drawn to God, and always banished from 

him. 

6. If a dog see a hare, what effort does he not make 
to break his chain and seize his prey ! Thus, at her 
separation from the body, the natural inclinations of 
the soul draw her to God, while at the same time sin 
separates her from him, and drags her with it into 
hell. Sin, ^says the prophet, like a wall of immense 
thickness, is placed between the soul and God, and 
separates her from him. " But your iniquities have 



PAIN OF LOSS WHICH THE DAMNED SUFFER. 367 

divided between you and your God." (Isa. lix. 2.) 
Hence, the unhappy soul, confined in the prison of hell, 
at a distance from God, shall weep for ever, saying : 
Then, my God, I shall be no longer thine, and thou 
wilt be no longer mine. I shall love thee no more, and 
thou will never again love me. This separation from 
God terrified David, when he said : " Will God, then, 
cast off for ever ? or will he never be more favourable 
again ?" (Ps. Ixxvi. 8.) How great, he says, would be 
my misery if God should cast me from him, and never 
again be merciful to me ! But this misery every damned 
soul in hell suffers, and shall suffer for eternity. As long 
as he remained in sin, David felt his conscience roproach- 
ing him, and asking, " Where is thy God ?" David, 
where is thy God, who once loved thee ? Thou hast 
lost him ; he is no longer thine. David was so afflicted 
at the loss of his God that he wept night and day. " My 
tears have been my bread day and night, whilst it has 
been said to me daily : Where is thy God ?" (Ps. xli. 4.) 
Thus, even the devils will say to the damned : Where is 
your God ? By his tears David appeased and recovered 
his God ; but the damned shall shed an immense sea 
of tears, and shall never appease nor recover their 
God. 

7. St. Augustine says, that if the damned saw the 
beauty of God, "they should feel no pain, and hell 
itself would be converted into a Paradise." (Lib. de Trip. 
Hab.) But the damned shall never see God. When 
David forbade his son Absalom to appear in his pre 
sence, the sorrow of Absalom was so great, that he 
entreated Joab to tell his father that he would rather 
be put to death than never more be permitted to see 
his face. " I beseech thee, therefore, that I may see 
the face of the king ; and if he be mindful of my 
iniquity, let him kill me." (2 Kings xiv. <32.) To a cer 
tain grandee, who acted irreverently in the church, Philip 
the (Second said: " Do not dare ever to appear again 
in my presence." So intense was the pain which the 
nobleman felt, that after having returned home, he 
died of grief. What then must be the feelings of the 
reprobate at the hour of death, when God shall say to 
them : Begone ; let me never see you again : you shall 



368 SERMON XI/VI1T. 



never more see my face ! " I will hide my face from 
them ; all evils and afflictions shall find them." (Deut. 
xxxi. 17.) What sentiments of pity should we feel at 
seeing a son who was always united with his father, 
who always eat and slept with him, weeping over a 
parent whom he loved so tenderly, and saying: My 
father, I have lost you ; I shall never see you more. 
Ah ! if we saw a damned soul weeping bitterly, and 
asked her the cause of her wailing, she would answer : 
I weep because I have lost God, and shall never see him 
again. 

8. The pain of the reprobate shall be increased by the 
knowledge of the glory which the saints enjoy in Para 
dise, and from which they sec, and shall for ever see, 
themselves excluded. How great would be the pain 
which a person should feel if, after being invited by his 
sovereign to his own theatre, to be present at the sing 
ing, dancing, and other amusements, he should be 
excluded in punishment of some fault ! How bitter 
should be his anger and disappointment when, from 
without, he should hear the shouts of joy and applause 
within ! At present sinners despise heaven, and lose it 
for trifles, after Jesus Christ shed the last drop of his 
blood to make them worthy of entering into that happy 
kingdom. But when they shall be confined in hell, the 
knowledge of the glory of heaven shall be the greatest of 
all their torments. St. John Chrysostom says, that to 
see themselves banished from that land of joy, shall be 
to the damned a torment ten thousand times as great as 
the hell which they suffer. " Decem mille quis ponat 
gehennas, nihil tale dicet quale cst a beata gloria 
excidere." (S. Joan. Chry. ap. 8. Thorn. Suppl, qu. 98, 
art. 9.) Oh ! that I had at least the hope, the damned 
will say, that after a thousand, or even a million of 
ages, I could recover the divine grace, and become 
worthy of entering into heaven, there to see God ! But, 
no ! he shall be told, " When the wicked man is dead, 
there shall be no hope any more/ (Prov. xi. 7.) When 
he was in this life he could have saved his soul ; but 
because he has died in sin his loss is irreparable. Hence, 
with tears of despair, he shall say : "I shall not see the 
Lord God in the land of the living." (Isa. xxxviii. 11.) 



PAIN OF LOSS WHICH THE DAMNED SUFFER. 369 

9. The thought of having lost God and Paradise, 
solely through their own fault, shall increase the torture 
of the damned. Every damned soul shall say: It was 
in my power to have led a life of happiness on earth 
by loving God, and to have acquired boundless happi 
ness for eternity ; but, in consequence of having loved 
my vices, I must remain in this place of torments as 
long as God shall be God. She will then exclaim in 
the words of Job: "Who will grant me that I might 
be according to the months past, according to the days 
in which God kept me ?" (Job xxxix. 2.) Oh ! that 
I were allowed to go back to the time I lived on earth, 
when God watched over me, that I might not fall into 
this fire ! I did not live among the savages, the 
Indians, or the Chinese. I was not left without the 
sacraments, sermons, or masters to instruct me. I was 
born in the bosom of the true Church, and have been 
well instructed and frequently admonished by preachers 
and confessors. To this prison I have not been dragged 
by the devils ; I have come of my own accord. The 
chains by which I am bound and kept at a distance from 
God, I have forged with my own will. How often has 
God spoken to my heart, and said to me: Amend, and 
return to me. Beware, lest the time should come when 
thou shalt not be able to prevent thy destruction. 
Alas ! this time has come ; the sentence has been 
already passed ; I am damned ; and for my damnation 
there neither is, nor shall be, any remedy for all eter 
nity. But if the damned soul has lost God, and shall 
never see him, perhaps she can at least love him ? !N"o ; 
she has been abandoned by grace, and thus she is made 
the slave of her sins, and compelled to hate him. The 
damned see that God is their adversary on account of 
their contempt for him during life, and are therefore 
always in despair. " Why hast thou set me opposite to 
thee, and I am become burthensome to myself." (Job 
vii. 20.) Hence, because the damned see that they are 
enemies of God, whom they at the same time know to 
be worthy of infinite love, they are to themselves objects 
of the greatest horror. The greatest of all the punish 
ments which God shall inflict on them, will consist in 
seeing that God is so amiable, and that they are so 

2 A 



370 SERMON XI. VII I. 



deformed, and the enemies of this God. * I will set 
before thy face." (Ps. xlix. 21.) 

10. The sight of all that God has done for the damned 
shall above all increase their torture. "The wicked shall 
see and shall be angry." (Ps. cxi. 10.) They shall see 
all the benefits which God bestowed upon them all the 
lights and calls which he gave them and the patience 
with which he waited for them. They shall, above all, see 
how much Jesus Christ has loved them, and how much he 
has suffered for the love of them ; and after all his love 
and all his sufferings, they shall see that they are now 
objects of his hatred, and shall be no longer objects of 
his love. According to St. Chrysostom, a thousand hells 
are nothing compared with the thought of being hateful 
to Christ. " Si mille quis ponat, gehennas, nihil tale 
dicturus est, quale est exosum esse Christo." (Horn xiv. 
in Matt.) Then the damned shall say: My Redeemer, 
who, through compassion for me, sweated blood, suffered 
an agony in the garden, and died on the cross bereft of 
all consolation, has now no pity on me ! I weep, I cry 
out ; but he no longer hears or looks to me ! He is 
utterly forgetful of me. He once loved me ; but now he 
hates and justly hates me; for I have ungratefully refused 
to love him. David says, that the reprobate are thrown 
into the pit of death. " Thou shalt bring them down 
into the pit of destruction." (Ps. liv. 24.) Hence St. 
Augustine has said : " The pit shall be closed on top, it 
shall be opened at the bottom, it shall be expanded 
downwards ; and they who refuse to know God shall be 
no longer known by him." " Puteus claudetur sursum, 
aperietur deorsum, dilatatibur in profundum : et ultra 
nescientur a Deo qui Deum scire noluerunt." (Horn, 
xvi., cap 50.) 

11. Thus the damned see that God deserves infinite 
love, and that they cannot love him. St. Catherine of 
Genoa being one day assailed by the devil, asked him. 
who he was. He answered with tears : 1 am that wicked 
one icho is deprived of the love of God. I am that miser 
able being that can never more love God. They not 
only cannot love God, but, abandoned in their sins, 
they are forced to hate him : their hell consists in 
hating God, whom they at the same time know to be 



PAIN OF LOSS WHICH THE DAMNED SUFFER. 371 

infinitely amiable. They love him intensely as their 
sovereign good, and hate him as the avenger of their sins. 
" Res miserrima," says a learned author, " amare vehe- 
menter, et amatum simul odisse." (Magnotius Medit.) 
Their natural love draws them continually to God; but 
their hatred drags them away from him. These two 
contrary passions, like two ferocious wild beasts, inces 
santly tear in pieces the hearts of the damned, and cause, 
and shall for all eternity cause, them to live in a continual 
death. The reprobate then shall hate and curse all the 
benefits which God has bestowed upon them. They shall 
hate the benefits of creation, redemption, and the sacra 
ments. But they shall hate in a particular manner the 
sacrament of baptism, by which they have, on account of 
their sins, been made more guilty in the sight of God ; 
the sacrament of penance, by which, if they wished, they 
could have so easily saved their souls ; and, above all, 
the most holy sacrament of the altar, in which God had 
given himself entirely to them. They shall consequently 
hate all the other means which have been helps to their 
salvation. Hence, they shall hate and curse all the angels 
and saints. But they shall curse particularly their guar 
dian angels their special advocates and, above all, 
the divine mother Mary. They shall curse the three 
divine persons the Father, the Son, and the Holy 
Ghost; but particularly Jesus Christ, the Incarnate 
Word, who suffered so much, and died for their salva 
tion. They shall curse the wounds of Jesus Christ, the 
blood of Jesus Christ, and the death of Jesus Christ. 
Behold the end to which accursed sin leads the souls 
which Jesus Christ has dearly bought. 



372 SEltMON -XI, IX. 



SERMON XLIX. TWENTIETH SUNDAY 
AFTER PENTECOST. 

On the predominant passion. 

" For he was at the point of death. Lord, come down before that 
my son die." JOHN iv. 47, 49. 

OUR passions are not of themselves bad nor hurtful, 
when regulated according to the dictates of reason and 
prudence, they do us no injury, but are, on the contrary, 
profitable to the soul ; but, when disorderly, they are 
productive of irreparable mischief to those who obey 
them ; for, when any passion takes possession of the 
heart, it obscures the truth, and makes the soul incapable 
of distinguishing between good and evil. Ecclesiasticus 
implored the Lord to deliver him from a mind under the 
sway of passion. " Give me not over to a shameless and 
foolish mind." (Eccl. xxiii. 6.) Let us, then, be careful 
not to allow any bad passion to rule over us. In this 
day s gospel it is related that a certain ruler, whose son 
was at the point of death (incipiebat enim mori), knowing 
that Jesus Christ had come into Galilee, went in search 
of him, and entreated him to come and cure his son. 
" Come down before that my son die." The same may 
be said of him who begins to submit to the tyranny of 
any passion. " He is at the point of death " of the soul, 
which should be dreaded far more than the death of the 
body. Hence, if he wishes to preserve spiritual life, he 
ought to ask the Lord to deliver him as soon as possible 
from that passion Lord, come down before my soul die; 
if he do not, he shall be miserably lost. I intend to-day 
to show the great danger of damnation to which all who 
submit to the domination of any bad passions are 
exposed. 

1. " Only this," said Solomon, " I found, that God 
made man right, and he hath entangled himself with 
an infinity of questions." (Eccl. vii. 30.) " God created 
man right" that is, in the state of justice ; but, by 
giving ear to the serpent, man exposed himself to temp- 



THE PREDOMINANT PASSION. 373 

tations, and was conquered. He rebelled against God, 
and his passions rebelled against himself. These are 
the passions which, according to St. Paul, cause a con 
tinual war between the flesh and the spirit. " For the 
flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the 
flesh." (Gal. v. 17.) However, with the aid of divine 
grace, it is in man s power to resist these passions, and 
not to allow them to rule over him. It is, as the Lord 
told Cain, even in the power of man to rule over them, 
and to bring them into subjection to reason. " But the 
lust thereof shall be under thee, and thou shalt have 
dominion over it." (Gen. iv. 7.) Let the assaults of the 
flesh and of the devil, to make us abandon the way of 
God, be ever so violent, Jesus Christ has said : " Lo ! 
the kingdom of God is within you." (Luke xvii. 21.) 
Within us he has established a kingdom, in which the 
will is the queen that ought to rule over all the senses 
and passions. And what greater honour or glory can a 
man have, than to be the master of his passions ? 

2. The proper regulation of the motions of the mind 
constitutes the interior mortification so much recom 
mended by spiritual masters, and secures the salvation 
of the soul. The health of the body depends on the 
regulation of the humours : if one of them predominate 
to excess it causes death. But the health of the soul 
consists in the proper control of the passions by reason. 
But, when any passion rules over reason, it first en 
slaves, and then kills the soul. 

3. Many pay great attention to their external con 
duct ; they endeavour to appear modest and respectful ; 
but, at the same time, they cherish in their hearts sinful 
affections against justice, charity, humility, and chastity. 
For them is prepared the chastisement with which the 
Saviour threatened the Scribes and Pharisees, who were 
careful to have their cups and dishes clean, but nour 
ished within unjust and unclean thoughts. " Woe to 
you, Scribes arid Pharisees hypocrites ; because you 
make clean the outside of the cup and of the dish ; but, 
within you are full of rapine and uncleanness." (Matt, 
xxiii. 25.) The Royal Prophet says, that all the beauty 
of a soul that is the true daughter of God consists in 
an interior good will. "All the glory of the king s 



374 



SERMON XLIX. 



daughter is within." (Ps. xliv. 14.) Of what use, then, 
says St. Jerome, is it to abstain from food, and at the 
same time to allow the mind to swell with pride ? or to 
abstain from wine, and to indulge in the drunkenness 
of anger ? " Quid prodest tenuari abstinentia, si animus 
superbia intumescit ? quid vinum non bibere, et odio 
inebriari ?" Christians who act in this manner do not 
lay aside their vices ; they only cover them with the 
mantle of devotion. A man, then, must divest himself 
of all bad passions ; otherwise he will not be the king, 
but the slave of his affections, and in opposition to the 
command of the Apostle sin shall reign in his heart. 
" Let not sin, therefore, reign in your mortal body, so 
as to obey the lusts thereof." (Rom. vi. 12.) Man, then, 
is, as St. Thomas says, the king of himself when he re 
gulates his body and his carnal affections according to 
reason. " Rex est homo per rationem, quia per cam 
regit totum corpus et affectus ejus." (In Joan, iv.) But, 
according to St. Jerome, " when the soul serves vice 
she loses the honour of a kingdom." (In Thren., ii. 7.) 
She loses the honour of a queen, and becomes, as St. 
John teaches, the slave of sin. " Whosoever committeth 
sin is the servant of sin." (John viii. 34.) 

4. St. James exhorts us to treat the body and its lusts 
as we would treat a horse. "We put a bridle in the 
mouth of a horse, and we bring him wherever we 
please. :< We put bits in the mouths of horses, that 
they may obey us, and we turn about their whole 
body." (St. James iii. 3.) Hence, as soon as we feel the 
cravings of any bad passion, we must restrain it with 
the bridle of reason ; for, if we yield to its demands, it 
will bring us to the level of brute animals, that obey 
not the dictates of reason, but the impulse of their 
beastly appetites. " And man, when he was in honour, 
did not understand: he is compared to senseless beasts, 
and is become like to them." (Ps. xlviii. 13.) " It is 
worse," says St, John Chrysostom, "to become like, 
than to be born, a senseless beast ; for, to be naturally 
without reason is tolerable." The saint says, that to 
want reason by nature is not disgraceful ; but, to be 
born with the gift of reason, and afterwards to live 
like a beast, obeying the lusts of the flesh, is degrading 



THE PREDOMINANT PASSION. 375 

to man, and makes him worse than a senseless brute. 
What would you say if you saw a man who would, of 
his own accord, live in a stable with horses, feed with 
them on hay and oats, and sleep, as they do, on dung ? 
The man who submits to the tyranny of any passion, 
does what is far worse in the eyes of God. 

5. It was thus the Gentiles lived, who, because the 
darkness of their understanding prevented them from 
discerning between good and evil, went wherever their 
sensual appetite led them. " That you walk not," says 
St. Paul, " as also the Gentiles walk, in the vanity of 
their mind, having their understanding darkened." 
(Ephes. iv. 17, 18.) Hence they were abandoned to 
their vices to impurity and avarice, and blindly obeyed 
the commands of their passions. " Who, despairing, 
have given themselves up to lasciviousness, unto the 
working of all uncleanness, unto covetousness." (verse 
19.) To this miserable state are reduced all Christians 
who, despising reason and God, follow the dictates of 
passion. In punishment of their sins God abandons 
them, as he abandoned the Gentiles, to their own wicked 
desires. " Wherefore God gave them up to the desires 
of their own heart." (Rom. i. 24.) This is the greatest 
of all chastisements. 

6. St. Augustine writes, that two cities may be built 
up in the heart of a Christian; one by the love of God, 
the other by self-love. " Ccelestem (civitatem) aidificat 
amor Dei usque ad contemptum sui ; terrestrem oodificat 
amor sui usque ad contemptum Dei." (Lib. li, de Civ., 
cap. xxviii.) Thus, if the love of God reign within us, 
we will despise ourselves : if self-love reign, we will 
despise God. But, in conquering self-love consists the 
victory to which shall be given a crown of eternal 
glory. This was the great maxim which St. Francis 
Xavier always inculcated to his disciples : " Conquer 
yourself; conquer yourself." All the thoughts and feel 
ings of man, says the Scripture, are inclined to evil 
from his boyhood. " The imagination and thought of 
man s heart are prone to evil from his youth." (Gen. 
viii. 21.) Hence we must, during our whole life, 
zealously combat and conquer the evil inclinations 
which continually rise within us, as noxious weeds 



SERMON XI. IX. 



spring up in our gardens. Some will ask how they 
can free themselves from bad passions, and how they 
can prevent them from starting up within them. St. 
Gregory gives the answer : " It is one thing to look at 
these heasts, and another to keep them within the den 
of the heart." (Mor. lib. 6, cap. xvi.) It is one thing, 
says the saint, to look at these beasts, or bad passions, 
when they are outside, and another to harbour them in 
the heart. As long as they are outside they can do us 
no harm ; but if we admit them into the soul they 
devour us. 

7. All bad passions spring from self-love. This is, 
as Jesus Christ teaches all who wish to follow him, the 
principal enemy which we have to contend with ; and 
this enemy we must conquer by self-denial. " If any 
one shall come after me let him deny himself." (Matt. 
xvi. 24.) " Non intrat in te, amor Dei," says Thomas 
a Ivcmpis, " nisi exulet amor tui." Unless we banish 
self- love from the heart the love of God cannot enter. 
Blessed Angela of Foligno used to say, that she was more 
afraid of self-love than of the devil, because self-love has 
greater power than the devil to draw us into sin. St. 
Mary Magdalene de Pazzi used to say the same, as we 
read in her life : " Self-love is the greatest traitor we 
have to guard against. Like Judas, it betrays us with a 
kiss. He who conquers it conquers all enemies ; he 
who dees not conquer it is lost." The saint then adds : 
" If you cannot kill it with a single stroke give it 
poison." She meant, that since we are not able to 
destroy this accursed enemy, which, according to St. 
Francis de Sales, dies only with our latest breath, we 
must at least labour to weaken it as much as possible ; 
for when strong it kills us. Death, says St. Basil, is the 
reward which self-love gives its followers. The wages 
of self-love is death ; it is the beginning of every evil. 
" Stipendium amoris proprii mors est, initium omnis 
mali." (S. Bas. Apud Lyreum, lib. 2.) Self-love seeks 
not what is just and honourable, but what is agreeable 
to the senses. Hence Jesus Christ has said : " He that 
loveth his life" that is, his sensual appetite or self-will 
" shall lose it." (John xii. 25.) He who truly loves 
himself, and wishes to save his soul, should refuse to 



THE PREDOMINANT PASSION. 377 

the senses whatever God has forbidden ; otherwise he 
shall lose God and himself. 

8. There are two passions which reign within us : 
the concupiscible and irascible appetites that is, love 
and hatred. I have said, two principal passions ; for 
each of them, when vicious, draws in its train many 
other bad passions. The concupiscible appetite brings 
with it temerity, ambition, greediness, avarice, jealous} r , 
scandal. The irascible brings with it revenge, injustice, 
slander, envy. St. Augustine advises us, in our combat 
with the passions, not to endeavour to beat them all 
down in a single conflict. " Calca jacentem, conflige 
cum resistente." (In cap. viii. Rom.) We must trample 
on the passion which we have cast to the ground, so 
that it may be no longer able to contend with us, and 
then we must endeavour to subdue the other passions 
which resist our efforts. 

9. But we must endeavour above all to find out our 
predominant passion. He who conquers this conquers 
all his passions ; he who allows himself to be overcome 
by it is lost. God commanded Saul to destroy all the 
Amalecites, along with all their animals and all their 
property. He destroyed everything that was vile, but 
spared the life of King Agag, and preserved all that 
was valuable and beautiful. " And Saul and the people 
spared Agag and the rest of the flocks of sheep .... 
and all that was beautiful, and would not destroy them; 
but everything that was vile and good for nothing, that 
they destroyed." (1 Kings xv. 9.) In this Saul was 
afterwards imitated by the Scribes and Pharisees, to 
whom our Lord said : " Woe to you, Scribes and Phari 
sees, because you tithe mint, and anise, and cummin, 
and have left the weightier things of the law, judgment, 
and mercy, and faith." (Matt, xxiii. 23.) They were 
careful to pay the tithe of things of least value, and 
neglected the more important things of the law : such 
as justice, charity to their neighbour, and faith in God. 
Some persons act in a similar manner ; they abstain 
from certain defects of minor importance, and, at the 
same time, allow themselves to be ruled by their pre 
dominant passions ; but if they do not destroy this 
passion, they never shall gain the victory of salvation. 



378 



SERMON XLIX. 



The King of Syria commanded the captains of his 
cavalry to kill the King of Israel only, and not to mind 
the others. " Fight ye not with small or great, but 
with the King of Israel only." (2 Paral. xviii. 30.) 
They obeyed the order, slew King Achab, and gained 
the victory. 

10. We must imitate the captains of Syria : unless we 
kill the king that is, the predominant passion we shall 
never be able to obtain salvation. The passion which 
brings man under its sway, first blinds him and prevents 
him from seeing his danger. Now, how can a blind 
man, led by a blind guide, such as passion, which fol 
lows not reason, but sensual pleasures, possibly avoid 
falling into some abyss ? " If the blind lead the blind, 
both fall into the pit." (Matt. xv. 14.) St. Gregory says 
that it is a common artifice of the devil to inflame daily 
more and more our predominant passion, and thus he 
brings us into many horrible excesses. Through passion 
for a kingdom, Ilerod spilled the blood of so many inno 
cent infants. Through love for a woman, Henry the 
Eighth was the cause of so many frightful spiritual evils, 
put to death several most worthy individuals, and, in the 
end, lost the faith. No wonder : for he who is under 
the domination of any passion no longer sees what he 
does. Therefore he disregards corrections, excommu 
nications, and even his own damnation : he seeks only 
his own pleasures, and says: " Come what will, I must 
satisfy this passion. And, as eminent virtue is accom 
panied by other virtues, so an enormous vice brings in 
its train other vices. " In catena iniquitatis," says St. 
Lawrence Justinian, " foederata sunt vitia." 

] 1. It is necessary, then, as soon as we perceive any 
passion beginning to reign within us, to beat it down 
instantly, before it acquires strength. " Let cupidity 
gain strength," says St. Augustine, " strike it down 
while it is small." (In Ps. cxxxvi.) St. Ephrem gives 
the same advice : " Unless you quickly destroy passions, 
they cause an ulcer." (De Perfect.) A wound, if it be 
not closed up, will soon become an incurable ulcer. To 
illustrate this by an example, a certain monk, as St. 
Dorotheus relates (Serm. xi.), commanded one of his 
disciples to pluck up a small cypress. The disciple 



THE PREDOMINANT PASSION. 379 

obeyed, and drew it up with a slight effort. The monk 
then ordered him to pull up another tree, which was 
somewhat larger. He succeeded in the task ; but not 
without a good deal of labour. The disciple was then 
told to pluck up a tree which had taken deep root ; but 
all his efforts were ineffectual. The monk then said to 
him : Thus it is, my son, with our passions ; when they 
have taken deep root in the heart, we shall not be able 
to extirpate them. Dearly beloved brethren, keep 
always before your eyes this maxim : that either the 
spirit must trample on the flesh, or the flesh shall 
trample on the spirit. 

12. Cassian has laid down an excellent rule for con 
quering our passions. Let us endeavour, he says, to 
change the object of our passions ; and thus from being 
vicious they shall become holy. Some are prone to 
anger against all who treat them with disrespect. Such 
persons ought to change the object of their passions, and 
turn their indignation into a hatred of sin, which is 
more injurious to them than all the devils in hell. 
Others are inclined to love every one who possesses 
amiable qualities : they should fix all their affections on 
God, who is infinitely amiable. But, to recommend 
ourselves to God, and to beg of him to deliver us from 
our passions, is the best remedy against them. And, 
when any passion becomes very violent, we must 
multiply prayers. Reasoning and reflections are then of 
little use ; for passion obscures our faculties ; and the 
more we reflect the more delightful the object of passion 
appears. Hence, there is no other remedy than to have 
recourse to Jesus and to most holy Mary, saying with 
tears and sighs : " Lord, save us, or we perish : do not 
permit us to be ever separated from thee. "We fly to thy 
protection, holy mother of God." souls created to 
love God, let us raise ourselves above the earth ; let us 
cease to fix our thoughts and affections on the miserable 
things of this world; let us cease to love dross and 
smoke and dung ; let us endeavour with all our strength 
to love the Supreme Infinite Good, our most amiable 
God, who has made us for himself, and expects us in 
heaven to make us happy, and to make us enjoy the very 
glory which he eujoys tor eternity. 



380 SERMON L. 



SERMON L. TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY AFTER 
PENTECOST. 

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 



THE ETERNITY OF HELL. 381 

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.) AVhat, 
says St. Cyprian, has encouraged the saints to lead a life, 
which, on account of their continual austerities, was an 



382 SERMON L. 



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 



THE ETERNITY OF HELL. 383 



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 



384 SKUMON L. 



* 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 



ETERNITY OF HELL. 385 

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 



386 SERMON L. 



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 ob- 



ETERNITY OF HELL. 387 

ject 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." 



388 SERMON II. 



SERMON LI. TWENTY-SECOND SUNDAY 
AFTER PENTECOST. 

Straits and anguish of dying Christians who have been 
negligent during life about the duties of religion. 

"Render, therefore, to Ciesar the things that are Ciusar s, and to Clod 
the things that are God s." MATT. xxii. 21. 

ONE day, the Pharisees, with the malignant intention of 
ensnaring him in his speech, that they might afterwards 
accuse him before the ministers of Caesar, sent their dis 
ciples to ask Jesus Christ, if it were lawful to pay tribute 
to Caesar. In answer, the Redeemer, after looking at 
the coin of the tribute, asked : " Whose image and in 
scription is this ?" Being told it was Caesar s, he said: 
" Render then to Cajsar the things that are Caesar s, and 
to God the things that are God s." By these words 
Jesus Christ wishes to teach us, that it is our duty to 
give to men what is due to them ; and to reserve for him 
all the affections of our heart, since he created us to love 
him, and afterwards imposed upon us a precept of loving 
him. " Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy 
whole heart." Miserable the man who, at the hour of 
death, shall see that he has loved creatures, that he has 
loved his pleasures, and has not loved God. "When 
distress cometh upon them, they will seek peace, and 
there will be none." (Ezech. yii. 25.) He will then 
seek peace, but shall not find it ; for many causes of 
distress and trouble shall assail him. What shall these 
causes be ? Behold, the unhappy man shall then say, 
first : God ! I could have become a saint, but have not 
become one. Secondly, he shall say : Oh ! that I now 
had time to repair the evil I have done ! but time is at 
an end. Thirdly : Oh ! that at least, in the short time 
which remains, I could remedy the past : but, alas! this 
time is not fit for repairing past evils. 

first Point. God! I could have, but have not, 
become a saint. 

1. Because, during their whole life, they thought 
only of pleasing God and sanctifying themselves, the 



STRAITS AND ANGUISH OF DYING CHRISTIANS. 389 

saints go with great confidence to meet death, which 
delivers them from the miseries and dangers of the 
present life, and unites them perfectly with God. But 
the man who has thought only of his pleasures and of 
his own ease, and has neglected to recommend himself 
to God, or to reflect on the account which he must one 
day render, cannot meet death with confidence. Poor 
sinners ! they banish the thought of death whenever it 
presents itself to them, and think only of living in plea 
sures and amusements, as if they never were to die. But 
for each of them the end must one day come. "The 
end is come ; the end is come." (Ezech. vii, 2.) And 
when this end is come every one must gather the fruit 
which he has sown during his life. "For what things 
a man shall sow, those also shall he reap." (Gal. vi. 8.) 
If he has sown works of holiness, he shall receive rewards 
of eternal life ; but if he has sown evil works, he shall 
reap chastisements and eternal death. 

2. The scene of his past life is the first thing which 
shall rush on the mind of the dying man, when the 
news of death shall be announced to him. He shall 
then see things in a light far different from that 
in which he viewed them during life. The acts of re 
venge which appeared to him lawful the scandals 
which he disregarded the liberty of speaking ob 
scenely and injurious to the character of his neighbour 
the pleasures which were regarded as innocent the 
acts of injustice which he held to be allowable shall 
then appear what they really were : grevious sins and 
offences against God, each of which merited hell. Alas ! 
those blind sinners, who voluntarily blind themselves 
during life, by shutting their eyes to the light shall, at 
death, involuntarily see all the evil they have done. 
" Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened." (Is. xxxv. 
5.) At the light of the candle which lights him to 
death, " the wicked shall see and shall be angry," (Ps. 
cxi. 10.) He shall see all the irregularities of his past 
life his frequent abuse of the sacraments, confessions 
made without sorrow or purpose of amendment, con 
tracts completed with remorse of conscience, injury 
done to the property and reputation of others, immodest 
ests, rancours, and vindictive thoughts. He shall 



390 SERMON LI. 



then see the bad examples which he gave to young 
persons who feared God, and whom he treated with con 
tempt, and turned into derision by calling them hypocrites 
and other reproachful names. He shall see so many lights 
and calls received from God, so many admonitions of 
spiritual fathers, and so many resolutions and promises 
made but afterwards neglected. 

3. He shall see particularly the bad maxims by which 
he regulated his conduct during life. " It is necessary to 
seek the esteem of the world, and to preserve honour." But 
is it necessary for a man to preserve his honour by tramp 
ling on the honour due to God? "We ought to indulge in 
amusements as often as we can." But is it lawful to indulge 
in amusements by insulting God? " Of what use to the 
world is the man who lives in poverty aud has no money ? 
But, will you, for the sake of money, lose your soul? In 
answer to these questions the sinner says : No matter. 
What can be done ? " If we do not make a fortune in the 
world we cannot appear among our equals." Such the 
maxims of the worldling during life ; but at death he 
shall change his language. He shall then see the truth 
of that maxim of Jesus Christ: " "What doth it profit a 
man, if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his 
own soul." (Matt. xvi. 2G.) Unhappy me! the world 
ling shall exclaim on the bed of death, I have had so 
much time to tranquillize my conscience, and behold I am 
now at the point of death, and I find my soul burdened 
with so many sins ? What would it have cost me to 
have broken oft such a friendship, to have gone to con 
fession every week, to have avoided certain occasions of 
sin? Ah! very little, but though it should have cost 
me a great deal of pain and labour, I ought to have sub 
mitted to every inconvenience in order to save my soul. 
Salvation is of greater importance to me than the do 
minion of the entire world. But, alas ! the sentiments 
of negligent Christians at death are as fruitless as the 
sorrows of the damned, who mourn in hell over their 
sins as the cause of their perdition, but mourn in vain. 

4. At that time they derive no consolation from their 
past amusements or pomps, from their exalted dignities, 
or from the humiliation of their rivals. On the con 
trary, at the hour of death, these things, like so many 



STRAITS AND ANGUISH OF DYING CHRISTIANS. 391 

swords shall pierce their hearts. " Evil shall catch the 
unjust man unto destruction." (Ps. cxxxix, 12.) At 
present the lovers of the world seek after banquets, 
dances, games, and scenes of laughter and joy ; but, at 
the time of death this laughter and joy, as St. James 
says, shall be turned into mourning and affliction. "Let 
your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy 
into sorrow." (St. James iv. 5.) Of this we see frequent 
examples. A young man who entertains his companions 
by sallies of wit and by immodest jests, is seized with a 
severe illness. His friends come to see him, and find him. 
overwhelmed with grief and melancholy. He indulges QO 
more in jests, or laughter, or conversation. If he speaks 
at all, his words are words of terror or despair. His 
friends ask why he speaks so despondingly why he is so 
melancholy. Have courage, they say : your illness is 
not dangerous. They endeavour to inspire hope and 
cheerfulness : but he is silent. And how can he be 
cheerful when he feels his conscience burdened with many 
sins, sees that he must soon appear before Jesus Christ 
to give an account of his entire life, and that he has 
much reason to fear that he shall receive the sentence 
of eternal death ? He will then say : O fool that I 
have been ! Oh ! that I had loved God ! Had I loved 
him, I should not now find myself in these straits, in, 
this anguish. Oh ! that I had time to tranquillize the 
troubles of my conscience ? Let us pass to the second 
point. 

Second Point. Oh ! that I had time to repair the evil 
I have done ! but now time is at an end. 

5. Oh ! that I had time, he will say, to repair the past I 
But, when will he say this ? When the oil in the lamp 
is consumed : when he is on the point of entering into 
eternity. One of the greatest causes of the distress and 
anguish of the careless Christian at the hour of death, 
is the remembrance of the bad use he has made of the 
time in which he ought to have acquired merits for 
heaven, and in which he has accumulated merits for 
hell. Oh ! that I had time I Do you seek for time ? 
You have lost so many nights in gaming, and so many 
years in indulging the senses, without ever thinking of 



S92 SERMON LI. 



your soul ; and now you seek for time ; but time is now 
no more. " Time shall be no longer." (Apoc. x. 6.) 
Were you not already admonished by preachers to be 
prepared for death ? were you not told that it would come 
upon you when you least expected it ? " Be you ready," 
says Jesus Christ ; " for at what hour you think not the 
Son of Man will come." (Luke xii. 40.) You have de 
spised my admonitions, and have voluntarily squandered 
trie time which my goodness bestowed upon you in spite 
of your demerits ; but now time is at an end. Listen to 
the words in which the priest that assists you shall tell 
you to depart from this world : Proficisere anima Chris 
tiana de hoc mundo. Go forth, Christian soul, from this 
world. And where shall you go ? To eternity, to 
eternity. Death respects neither parents nor monarchs ; 
when it comes, it does not wait even for a moment. 
" Thou hast appointed his bounds, which cannot be 
passed." (Job xiv. 5.) 

6. Oh ! what terror shall the dying man feel at hear 
ing the assisting priest tell him to depart from this world ! 
what dismay shall he experience in saying with himself: 
"This morning I am living, and this evening I shall be dead ! 
" To-day I am in this house ; to-morrow I shall be in the 
grave : and where shall my soul be found ? His terror 
shall be increased when he sees the death-candle lighted, 
and when he hears the confessor order the relatives to 
withdraw from his chamber, and to return to it no more. 
It shall be still more increased when the confessor gives 
him the crucifix, and tells him to embrace it, saying : 
" Embrace Jesus Christ, and thinkno more of this world." 
He takes the crucifix and kisses it ; but, in kissing it, he 
trembles at the remembrance of the many injuries which 
he has offered to Jesus Christ. He would now wish to 
repent sincerely of all his injuries to his Saviour, 
but he sees that his repentance is forced by the 
necessity of his approaching death. "He," says St. 
Augustine, " who is abandoned by sin before he 
abandons it, condemns it not freely, but through ne 
cessity." 

7. The common delusion of worldlings is, that earthly 
things appear great, and that the things of Heaven, 
as being distant and uncertain, appear to be of 



STRAITS AND ANGUISH OF DYING CHRISTIANS. 393 

little value. They regard tribulations as insupportable, 
and grievous sins as unimportant. The miserable beings 
are as if they were shut up in a room filled with smoke, 
which hinders them from seeing objects before their 
eyes. But at the hour of death this darkness shall vanish, 
and the soul shall begin to see things in their real colours. 
At that hour all temporal things appear to be what they 
really are vanity, lies, and deception; and the things of 
eternity assume their true value. Oh ! how important 
shall judgment, hell, and eternity, which are so much 
disregarded during life, appear at the time of death. 
According as these shall begin to put on their true 
colours, the fears of the dying man shall increase. " In 
morte," says St. Gregory, " tanto timor fit acrior, quanto 
retributio vicinior; et quanto vicinius judicium tangitur, 
tanto vehementius formidator." (Mor. 25.) The nearer 
the sentence of the Judge approaches, the more sensible 
the fear of condemnation becomes. Hence the sick man 
will say : * Oh ! in what anguish do I die ! TJ nhappy me ! 
Oh ! that I knew that so unhappy a death awaited me !" 
You have not known ; but you ought to have foreseen 
it; for you knew that a good death could not be expected 
after a wicked life. But, since I must soon die, oh! that 
I could at least, in the little time that remains, tranquil 
lize my conscience ! Let us pass to the third point. 

Third Point. Oh ! that I could, in the little time 
that remains, repair the past ! But, alas ! this time is 
not fit for repairing past evils. 

8. The time allowed to careless Christians at the 
hour of death, is, for two reasons, unfit for tranquillizing 
the troubles of their conscience. First, because this 
time will be very short ; for at the commencement, and 
for some days during the progress, of the disease, the 
sick man thinks only of physicians, of remedies, and of 
making his last will. During that time his relatives, 
friends, and even the physicians deceive him by hold 
ing out hopes of recovery. Hence, deluded by these 
hopes, he will not be able for some time to persuade 
himself that his death is at hand. When shall he begin 
to persuade himself that death is near? Only when he 
shall be at the very point of death. This is the second 



394 



SERMON LI. 



reason why that time is unfit for repairing the evils of 
the soul. At that time the dying man is sick in mind 
as well as in body. He shall be assailed by pains in 
the chest, spasms in the head, debility, and delirium. 
Those shall render him unable to make any effort to 
excite a true detestation of his past sins, or to apply to 
the disorders of his past life a remedy which will calm 
the terrors of his conscience. The news of his approach 
ing death will astound him to such a degree, that he 
shall be scarcely half alive. 

9. A person labouring under a severe headache, 
which deprives him of sleep for two or three nights, will 
not even attempt to dictate a letter of ceremony. And 
at death when he feels but little, understands but little, 
and sees only a confusion of things which fills him with 
terror, the careless Christian adjusts a conscience bur 
dened with the sins of thirty or forty years. Then are 
verified the words of the gospel : " The night cometh 
when no man worketh." (John ix. 4.) Then his con 
science will say to him : " Now thou canst be steward 
no longer/ * (Luke xvi. 2.) There is no more time for 
negotiation ; what has been done, is done. " When dis 
tress cometh upon them, they will seek for peace, and 
there shall be none. Trouble shall come upon trouble." 
(Ezech. vii. 25, 26.) 

10. It is often said of a person that he led a bad life, 
but afterwards died a good death ; that by his sighs 
aud tears he gave proofs of sincere repentance. 
"Morientes non delicti pccnitentia," says St. Augustine, 
"sed mortis urgentis admonitio compellit." (Serm. xxxvi.) 
The wailing of such persons proceeds not from sorrow 
for their sins, but from the fear of imminent death. 
He was not afraid of sinning, says the holy doctor, but 
of burning. " Non meteuit peccare, sed adere." (Epis. 
cxiv.) Till this moment the dying man has loved sinful 
objects : will he now detest them ? Perhaps he will 
then love them with more tenderness ; for the objects 
of our affections become more dear to us when we are 
afraid of losing them. The celebrated master of St. 
Bruno died with signs of repentance ; but when laid in 
the coffin, he said that he was damned. If, at the hour 
of death, even the saints complain that on account of 



STRAITS AND ANGUISH OF DYING CHRISTIANS. 395 

the state of the head, they can think but little of God, 
or make hut little effort to excite good acts, how can 
the negligent Christian make these acts at death, when 
he was not in the habit of making them during life ? 
It may be said that he appeared to have a sincere sorrow 
for the wickedness of his past life. But, was his sorrow 
true sorrow ? The devil persuades him that the wish 
to have sorrow is true sorrow ; but he deceives him. 
The dying man will say : " I am sorry from the bottom of 
my heart," etc. ; but these words shall come from a heart 
of stone. " From the midst of the rocks they shall give 
forth their voices." (Ps. ciii. 12.) But he has fre 
quently been at confession, and has received all the 
sacraments ; he has died in perfect resignation. Ah ! 
the criminal who goes to be executed, appears to be 
perfectly resigned : but why ? Because he cannot 
escape from the officers of justice, who bring him in 
chains to the place of execution. 

11. moment on which eternity depends! This 
moment made the saints tremble at the hour of death, 
and made them exclaim : " God ! where shall I be in a 
few hours ?" " Sometimes," says St. Gregory, " the soul 
even of the just man is disturbed by the terror of ven 
geance. (Mor. xxiv.) "What, then, shall the careless 
Christian, who has disregarded God, feel when he sees 
the scaffold prepared on which he must die ? * His 
eyes shall see his own destruction, and he shall drink of 
the wrath of the Almighty." (Job xxi. 20.) He shall 
see with his own eyes death prepared for his soul, and 
shall from that moment begin to feel the anger of the 
Lord. The viaticum which he must receive, the extreme 
unction which will be administered to him, the crucifix 
which is placed in his hands, the recommendation of 
the soul which is read by the assisting priest, the 
lighting of the blessed candle all these shall form the 
scaffold of divine justice. The poor sick man perceives 
that he is already in a cold sweat, that he can no longer 
move or speak, that his respiration has begun to fail : 
in a word, he sees that the moment of death is at hand ; 
he sees his soul defiled with sins ; the Judge waiting for 
him ; hell burning under his feet ; and in this confusion 
of darkness and terror he shall enter into eternity. 



396 SERMON LIT. 



12. " that they would be wise, and would under 
stand, and would provide for their last end." (Deut. 
xxxii. 29.) Behold, dearly beloved brethren, how the 
Holy Ghost exhorts us to provide now for the terrible 
straits and distress by which we shall be encompassed 
at death, and to adjust at present the accounts which 
we must render to God ; for it will be then impossible 
to settle these accounts so as to save our souls. My 
crucified Jesus, I will not wait till death to embrace 
thee ; I embrace thee at this moment. I love thee 
above all things ; and because I love thee, I repent 
with my whole heart of all the offences and insults I 
have offered to thee, who art infinite goodness ; and I 
purpose and hope, with thy grace, to love thee always, 
and never more to offend thee. Through the merits of 
thy passion I ask thee to assist me. 



SERMON LIL TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY 
AFTER PENTECOST. 

On impenitence. 

" Lord, my daughter is even now dead." MATT. ix. 18. 

How great is God s goodness ! how difficult it is [to 
obtain pardon from a man whom we have offended ! 
when sinners cast themselves at the feet of the Lord 
with humility and with sorrow for having offended 
him, he instantly pardons and embraces them. " Turn 
to me, saith the Lord of Hosts, and I will turn to you/ 
(Zach. i. 3.) Sinners, says the Lord, I have turned my 
back on you, because you first turned your back on me: 
return to me, and I will return to you and will embrace 
you. When rebuked by the Prophet Nathan, David 
repented, and said: " I have sinned against the Lord; I 
have offended my God." David was instantly pardoned : 
for at the very moment that he confessed his guilt, 
Nathan said to him : " The Lord also hath taken away 
thy sin." (2 Kings xii. 13.) But let us come to the 
gospel of the day, in which we find that a certain 
ruler, whose daughter was dead, went immediately to 



IMPENITENCE. 397 



Jesus Christ, and asked him to restore her to life: 
" Lord, my daughter is even now dead ; but come, lay 
thy hand upon her, and she shall live." In explaining 
this passage, St. Bonaventure turns to the sinner, and 
says : " Your daughter is your soul ; she even now is 
deadly sin; hasten your conversion/ Brother, your 
soul is your daughter, that has just died by committing 
sin. Eeturn immediately to God. Hasten ; if you 
delay, and defer your conversion from day to day, the 
wrath of God shall suddenly come upon you, and you 
shall be cast into hell. " Delay not to be converted to 
the Lord, and defer it not from day to day." (Eccl. v. 
8, 9.) Behold the sermon for this day, in which I will 
show, first, the danger to which he who is in the state of 
sin, and defers his conversion, is exposed ; and secondly, 
the remedy to be adopted by him who is in sin, and 
wishes to save his soul. 

First Point. The danger to which a person in sin, 
who defers his conversion, is exposed. 

1. St. Augustine considers three states of Christians. 
The first is the state of those who have always preserved 
their baptismal innocence ; the second is the state of 
those who have fallen into sin, and have afterwards re 
turned to God, and persevered in grace ; the third is of 
those who have fallen and have always relapsed into 
sin, and are found in that unhappy state at death. 
Speaking of the first and second class, he pronounces 
them secure of salvation ; but, speaking of the third he 
says : "Non dico, non praesumo, non promitto." (Horn, 
xli. int. 50.) " I do not say ; I do not presume ; I do not 
promise." He neither says, nor presumes, nor promises, 
that such sinners^are saved. From these words it ap 
pears that, in his opinion, it is very improbable that 
they obtain eternal life. St. Thomas teaches (2, 2, qu. 
109, a. 8) that he who is in the state of mortal sin can 
not long abstain from the commission of some new sin. 
And St. Gregory says: " A sin which is not blotted out 
by repentance by its weight soon draws to another sin ; 
hence it is not only a sin, but the cause of sin." (1. 3, 
Mor. c. ix.) One sin^is the cause of another, because, 
in the sinner reason is disordered, and inclines him to 
evil; and therefore he cannot long resist temptation. 



398 



SERMON LIT. 



" Quando," says St. Anselm, " quis manet in peccato, 
ratio jam est deordinata et ideo veniente tentatione 
faciet id quod est facilius agere." Hence, according 
to the holy doctor, though they understand the great 
advantage of sanctifying grace, sinners, because they 
are deprived of grace, always relapse, in spite of all 
their efforts to avoid sin. " Per peccatum non potest 
prosequi bonum quod cogniscit, conatur et labitur." 
But how can the branch that is cut off from the vine 
produce fruit? "As," says Jesus Christ, "the branch 
cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine, 
so neither can you, unless you abide in me." (John 
xv. 4.) 

2. But some young persons may say: " I will hereafter 
give myself to God." Behold the false hope of sinners, 
which leads them to remain in sin till death, and from 
death conducts them to hell ! Who are you that say, 
you will hereafter give yourself to God ? But who, I 
ask, promises you that you shall have time to give 
yourself to God, and that you shall not meet with a 
sudden death, which will take you out of this world 
before you give yourself to him? "He," says St. 
Gregory, ^ " who has promised pardon to penitents has 
not promised to-morrow to sinners." (Horn. xii. in Ev.) 
The Lord has promised pardon to all who repent of 
their sins ; but to those who wish to continue in sin he 
has not promised time for repentance. Do you say, 
hereafter ? But Jesus Christ tells you that time is in 
the hand of God, and not under your control. " It is 
not for you to know the times or moments which the 
Father has put in his own power." (Acts i. 7.) We 
read in the Gospel of St. Luke, that Jesus Christ, seeing 
a fig-tree which was fruitless for three years, ordered it 
to be cut down. "He said to the dresser of the vine- 
3^ard : Behold, for these three years I come seeking 
fruit on this fig-tree, and I find none. Cut it down 
therefore. Why cumbereth it the ground ?" (Luke xiii. 
7.) Tell me, you who say that you will hereafter give 
yourself to God, for what purpose does he preserve 
your life ? Is it that you may continue to insult him 
by sin ? No ; he gives you life that you may renounce 
sin, and change your conduct. " Knowest thou not that 



IMPENITENCE. 399 



the benignity of God leadeth thee to penance ?" (Rom. 
ii. 4.) But you are resolved not to amend ; and if you 
wish to give yourself to God only hereafter, he will say 
of your soul to the dresser of his vineyard: "Cut it 
down. Why cumbereth it the ground ?" Why should 
such a sinner be allowed to remain on earth ? Is it to 
continue to offend me ? Cat down this fruitless tree, and 
cast it into the fire. " Every tree, therefore, that doth 
not yield good fruit, shall be cut down, and cast into the 
fire." (Matt. iii. 10.) 

3. But, should God hereafter give you time for re 
pentance, will you, if you do not now repent, return to 
him hereafter ? Sins, like so many chains, keep the 
sinner in bondage. " He is first bound with the ropes 
of his own sins." (Prov. v. 22.) My brother, if you 
cannot now break the cords by which you are at present 
bound, will you be able to break them hereafter, when 
they shall be doubled by the commission of new sins ? 
To give him an idea of the degree of folly which impeni 
tent sinners reach, our Lord showed one day to the 
Abbot Arsenius, an Ethiopian, who, not being able to 
raise a load of faggots, added to their weight, and thus 
became less liable to raise it. Sinners, said the Saviour 
to the holy abbot, act in a similar manner. They wish 
to get rid of their past sins, and, at the same time, com 
mit new ones. These new sins shall lead them into others 
more numerous and more enormous. Cain sinned against 
his brother, first, by envy ; then, by hatred ; and after 
wards, by murder ; finally, he despaired of the divine 
mercy, saying : " My iniquity is greater than that I may 
obtain pardon." (Gen. iv. 13.) Judas also was first 
guilty of the sin of avarice ; he then betrayed Jesus 
Christ, and afterwards hanged himself. Sins chain the 
sinner, and make him their slave, so that he knowingly 
brings himself to destruction. " His own iniquities catch 
the wicked/ (Prov. v. 22.) 

4. Moreover, his sins weigh down the sinner to such 
a degree, that he no longer regards heaven nor his own 
salvation. ^ My iniquities," said David with tears, 
" are growing over my head, and, as a heavy burden, 
are become heavy upon me." (Ps. xxxvii. 5.) Hence 
the miserable man loses reason, thinks only of earthly 



400 SERMON LII. 



goods, and thus forgets the divine judgments. " And 
they perverted their own minds, and turned away their 
eyes, that they might not look unto heaven, nor re 
member just judgments." (Dan. xiii. 9.) He even 
hates the light, because he fears that it will interrupt his 
criminal pleasures. " Every one that doth evil hateth 
the light/ (John iii. 20.) Hence, he becomes miserably 
blind, and goes round about continually from sin to sin. 
" The wicked walk round about." (Ps. xi. 9.) He then 
despises admonitions, divine calls, hell, heaven, and 
God. "The wicked, when he is come into the depth of 
sins, comtemneth." (Prov. xviii. 3.) 

5. " He hath," says Job, " torn me with wound upon 
wound, he hath rushed in upon me like a giant." (Job 
xvi. 15.) By conquering one temptation, a man acquires 
not only additional strength to repel future assaults, 
but also diminishes the power of the devil. And, on 
the other hand, when we yield to any temptation, the 
devil becomes like a giant, and we become so weak, 
that we have scarcely strength to resist him any longer. 
If you receive a wound from an enemy you lose 
strength. If to this new wounds be added you shall 
be exhausted, and rendered unable to defend yourself. 
This is what happens to the fools who say: "I will here 
after give myself to God." How can they resist the 
attacks of the devil, after they have lost their strength, 
and after their wounds have mortified ? " My sores 
are putrefied and corrupted, because of my foolishness." 
(Ps. xxxvii. 6.) At its commencement a wound is 
easily healed ; but when it becomes gangrenous, the 
cure is most difficult. Recourse must be had to the 
cautery ; but even this remedy is in many cases inef 
fectual. 

6. But further, St. Paul teaches, that God " will have 
all men to be saved " (1 Tim. ii. 4) ; and that Jesus 
Christ came on earth for the salvation of sinners: 
" Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners." (1 
Tim. i. 15.) God certainly wills the salvation of all 
who desire it : he wills the salvation of those who wish 
to save their souls ; but not of those who labour for 
their own damnation. Jesus Christ has come to save 
sinners. To save our souls, two things are necessary : 



IMPEXITKKCE. 401 



first, the grace of God ; and secondly, your own co 
operation. " Behold, I stand at the gate and knock: if 
any man shall hear my voice, and open to me the door, 
I will come unto him." (Apoc. iii. 20.) Then, in order 
that God may enter into us by his grace, we must, on 
our part, ohey his calls, and open our hearts to him. 
Likewise, St. Paul says, " with fear and trembling work 
out your salvation." (Phil. ii. 12.) He says, ^vork out. 
Then we, too, must co-operate to our salvation by good 
works ; otherwise the Lord will only give us sufficient 
grace by which we shall be able to save our souls, but 
by which we certainly will not save them. Behold, the 
reason : he who is in the state of sin, and continues to 
commit sin, is daily more and more attached to the flesh, 
and more removed from God. Now, how can God, by 
his grace, approach to us, when we withdraw farther 
from him ? He then retires from us, and becomes less 
liberal of his favours. " And I will make it desolate 
and I will command the clouds to rain no rain upon it." 
(Isa. v. 6.) When the soul continues to offend God he 
abandons her, and withdraws his helps. Hence she 
shall cease to feel remorse of conscience ; she shall be 
left without light ; and the blindness of her understand 
ing and the hardness of her heart shall be increased. 
She shall become utterly insensible to the calls of God, 
to the maxims of faith, and to the melancholy examples 
of other rebellious souls that have closed their career in 
hell. 

"But who knows," the obstinate sinner will say, "but 
God will show me the same mercy which he has ^hown to 
certain great sinners? In answer to this, St. Chrysostom 
says: "Fortasse dabit, inquis: cur dicis fortasse ? Con- 
tigit aliquando; sed cogita quod de anima deliberas?" 
(Horn. xxii. in 2 Cor.) You say : " Perhaps God will give 
me the grace of salvation. 3 But why do you say perhaps? 
Is it because he has sometimes given to great sinners the 
grace of eternal life ? But remember, says the holy 
doctor, that there is question of your soul, which, if 
once lost, is lost for ever. I, too, take you up, and 
admit that God has, by certain extraordinary graces, 
saved some enormous sinners. But these cases are very 
rare ; they are prodigies and miracles of grace, by 

2c 



402 SERMON LIT. 



which God wished to show the boundlessness of his 
mercy. But, ordinarily, sinners who wish to continue 
in sin, are, in the end, cast into hell. On them are 
executed the threats of the Lord against obstinate sin 
ners. " You have despised my counsels, and neglected 
my reprehensions. I also will laugh in your destruc 
tion. . . . Then they will call on me, and I will not hear." 
(Prov. i. 25, 26, 28.) I, says the Lord, have called on 
them again and again, but they have refused to hear 
me. " But they did not hear nor incline their ears ; 
but hardened their neck, that they might not hear me." 
(Jer. xvii. 23.) Now they call upon me, it is but just 
that I refuse to listen to their cries. God bears, but he 
does not bear for ever; when the time of vengeance 
arrives he punishes past and present iniquities. " For 
the Most High is a patient rewarder." (Eccl. v. 4.) And 
according to St. Augustine, the longer God has waited 
for negligent sinners the more severely he will chastise 
them. " Quanto diutius expectat Deus, ut emenderis ; 
tanto gravius judicabit, si neglexeris." (Lib. de util. ag. 
prcn.) He who promises to amend, and wilfully neglects 
to return to God, is unworthy of the grace of true re 
pentance. 

But God is full of mercy . He is full of mercy; but 
he is not so stupid as to act without reason : to show 
mercy to those who continue to insult him would be 
stupidity, and not goodness. " Is thy eye evil because 
I am good ?" (Matt. xx. 15.) Will you persevere in 
wickedness because I am bountiful ? God is good, but 
he is also just, and exhorts us all to observe his law, if 
we wish to save our souls. "If thou wilt enter into 
life keep the commandments." (Matt. xix. 17.) Were 
God to show mercy to the wicked as well as to the just, 
and to give to all the grace of conversion before death, 
he would hold out a strong temptation even to the saints 
to commit sin : but, no ! when his mercies have reached 
their term he punishes, and pardons no more. " And 
my eye shall not spare thee, and I will show thee 
no pity." (Ezec. vii. 4.) Hence he says : Pray that 
your flight may not be in the winter or on the Sabbath." 
(Matt. xxiv. 20.) We are prevented from working in 
the winter by the cold, and on the Sabbath by the 



IMPENITENCE. 4Q3 



law. In this passage the Redeemer gives us to under 
stand that, for impenitent sinners, a time shall come 
when they would wish to give themselves to God, but 
shall find themselves prevented by their bad habits from 
returning to him. Of this there are numberless melan 
choly examples. In his sermons on a happy death, 
Cataneus relates, that a dissolute young man, when ad 
monished to give up his wickedness, said: I have a saint 
who js omnipotent, and this is the mercy of God. Death 
came ; the unhappy man sent for a confessor ; but while 
he was preparing for confession, the Devil wrote down 
before his eyes all his sins. He was seized with terror, 
and exclaimed : Alas ! what a long catalogue of sins ! 
And before he was able to make his confession he 
expired. In his sermons for Sundays Campadelli relates 
that a young nobleman addicted to sins of the flesh, was 
warned by God and by men to amend his life ; but he 
despised all their admonitions. He afterwards fell into 
a severe illness, confessed his sins, and promised to 
change his life ; but, after his recovery, he returned to 
the vomit. Behold the vengeance of God ! Being one 
day in a field^ during the vintage, he took fever, went 
home, and feeling that the disease was far advanced, he 
sent in haste for a priest who lived near the house. The 
priest comes, enters the house, salutes the sick man, but 
sees a frightful spectacle, the eyes and mouth open, the 
face black as jet. He calls the sick man, but finds that 
he is dead. Dearly beloved brethren, take care that you, 
top, be not miserable examples of the justice of God. 
Give up sin ; but give it up from this moment; for, if 
you continue to commit sin, the same vengeance which 
has fallen on so many others shall also fall on you. Let 
us come to the remedy. 

Second Point. The remedy for those who find them 
selves in sin, and wish to save their souls. 

9. Jesus Christ was one day asked, if the number of 
the elect is small. " Lord, are they few that are saved? 
But he said to them: Strive to enter by the narrow 
gate ; for many, I say to you, shall seek to enter, and 
they shall not be able." (Luke xiii. 23, 24.) He says 
that many seek to enter heaven, but do not enter ; and 



404 SERMON LII. 



why ? Because they wish to obtain eternal life without 
inconvenience, and without making strong efforts to 
abstain from forbidden pleasures. Therefore, he said : 
"strive to enter at the narrow gate." The gate of 
heaven is narrow : to enter it we must labour, and 
must do violence to ourselves. And we ought to be 
persuaded that what we can do to-day we shall not be 
always able to do hereafter. The delay of conversion 
sends many Christians to hell : the weakness, darkness, 
and obduracy of the soul are, as we have already said, 
daily increased, and the divine helps are diminished. 
Thus, the soul shall die in her sins. You say: I will 
hereafter return to God. Then you know that, to save 
your soul, you must renounce sin why do you not give 
it up now that God calls you to repentance ? If at some 
time, says St. Augustine, why not now ? The time which 
you now have to repair the past shall not be given to 
you hereafter ; and the mercy which God shows you at 
present will not be extended to you at^a future time. If, 
then, you wish to save your soul, do ^ immediately what 
you must one day do. Go to confession as soon as pos 
sible, and tremble lest every delay may be the eternal 
ruin of your soul. 

10. "Nullus," says St. Fulgentius, "sub spe miseri- 
cordicc debet diutius in peccatis remanere, cum nolit in 
corpore sub spe diutius segrotare." (St. Fulg. ad Petr. 
Diac.) Were a physician, says the saint, to offer you a 
remedy for sickness, would you say : I do not wish to be 
cured at present, because I hope to recover hereafter ? 
And when there is a question of the salvation of your 
soul, you say : I will remain in sin, because I hope 
that God will be merciful to me at a future time. But 
if, according to his just judgments, the Lord should not 
show you mercy hereafter, what shall become of you? 
shall you not be damned ? Let us, says the Apostle, 
do good while we have time to do it. "Therefore/ 
whilst we have time let us work good to all men." 
(Gal. vi. 10.) For time may not be given to us to 
do good hereafter. Hence the Lord exhorts us to 
guard our souls with great care; because we know 
not the hour when he will come to demand an 
account of our life. "Watch ye, therefore, because 



IMPENITENCE. 405 



you know not the day nor the hour." (Matt. XXY. 
18.) 

11. "My soul is continually in my hands." (Ps. 
cxviii. 109.) He who wears on his finger a ring con 
taining a diamond of great value, looks frequently at the 
ring to see if the diamond be secure : it is thus we ought 
to watch over our souls. And should we see that it has 
been lost by sin, we ought instantly to adopt every 
means in our power to recover it. We ought to turn 
immediately to Jesus, our Saviour, like Magdalene, who, 
as soon as she knew that he sat at meat, ran to him, cast 
herself at his feet, and by her tears obtained pardon. 
(Luke vii. 37.) " Now the axe is laid to the root of the 
tree._" (Luke iii. 9.) For all who are found in sin, the axe 
of divine justice is at hand to take away their life as soon 
as the time of vengeance arrives. Arise, then Christian 
souls, and if you_are bound by any bad habit, burst your 
chains, and remain no longer the slaves of Satan. " Loose 
the bonds from off thy neck, captive daughter of Zion." 
(Isa. Hi. 2.) ^Posuisti vestigium/ says St. Ambrose, 
" supra voraginem culpao, cito aufer pedem." You have 
placed your foot on the mouth of a vortex that is, on 
sin, which is the mouth of hell : take away your foot, 
and retire ; otherwise you shall fall into an unfathom 
able abyss. 

12. I find myself subject to an evil habit. But, if you 
wish to give up sin, who can force you to commit it ? 
All bad habits and all the temptations of hell are over 
come by the grace of God. Recommend yourself to the 
heart of Jesus Christ, and he will give you grace to 
conquer all enemies. But should you be in any proxi 
mate occasion of sin you must immediately take it away, 
otherwise you shall relapse. " Potius prroscinde," says 
St. Jerome, " quam solve." Do not wait to loose your 
bonds gradually; cut them by a single stroke. The 
devil seeks to make you slow in shaking off your 
fetters. Look for a good confessor; he will tell you 
what to do. And should you have the misfortune of 
falling hereafter into any mortal sin, go immediately to 
confession, even on the same day or the same night, if 
you can. Finally, listen to what I now say to you : God 
is ready to assist you : if you wish, it is in your power 



406 SERMON LIII. 



to save your souls. Tremble, brethren, lest these words 
of mine, if you despise them, should be for you so many 
swords in hell for all eternity. 



SERMON LIII. TWENTY-FOURTH SUNDAY 
AFTER PENTECOST. 

On Blasphemy. 

"When, therefore, you shall see the abomination of desolation." 
MATT. xxiv. 15. 

ALL sins are hateful in the sight of God ; but the sin of 
blasphemy ought more properly to be called an abomi 
nation to the Lord. Every mortal sin, as the Apostle 
says, dishonours God. " By transgression of the law, 
thou dishonourest God." (Rom. ii. 23.) Other sins dis 
honour God indirectly by the violation of his law ; but 
blasphemy dishonours him directly by the profanation 
of his most holy name. Hence St. Chrysostom teaches, 
that no sin exasperates the Lord so much as the sin of 
blasphemy against his adorable name. " Nihil ita 
exacerbat Deum, sicut quando nomen ejus blasphema- 
tur." Dearly beloved Christians, allow me, then, this 
day, to show you, first, the great enormity of the sin of 
blasphemy ; and secondly, the great rigour with which 
God punishes it. 

First Point. On the great enormity of the sin of 
blasphemy. 

1. What is blasphemy ? It is the uttering of lan 
guage injurious to God ; it is, according to the defini 
tion of theologians, " contumeliosa in Deum locutio ;" or, 
contumely against God. God ! whom does man 
assail when he blasphemes ? He directly attacks the 
Lord. "He hath strengthened himself against the 
Almighty." (Job. xv. 25.) Are you not afraid, blas 
phemer, says St. Ephrem, that fire will come down 
from heaven and devour you ? or that the earth shall 
open and swallow you up ? " Non metuis ne forte ignis 
de ccelo descendat et devoret te, qui sic os adversus 



BLASPHEMY. 407 



omnipotentem aperis ? Neque vereris, ne terra te ab- 
sorbeat?" (Paren. 3.) The devil, says St. Gregory 
Nazianzen, trembles at the name of Jesus : and we are 
not afraid to profane it. " Domones ad Christi nomen 
exhorrescunt, nos vero nomen adeo venerandum con- 
tumelia afficere nou veremur." (Orat. xx.) The vin 
dictive assail a man who is their own equal ; but, by 
their blasphemies blasphemers appear to seek revenge 
against God, who does or permits what is displeasing to 
them. There is a great difference between an act of 
contempt towards the portrait of a king, and an insult 
offered to his person. Man is the image of God ; but the 
blasphemer offends God himself. " He who blasphemes/ 
says St. Athanasius, " acts against the very Deity itself." 
The man who violates the law is guilty of a crime ; but 
he who attacks the person of his sovereign commits an 
act of treason ; therefore he receives no mercy, but is 
chastised with the utmost severity. What, then, shall 
we say of the man who blasphemes and insults the 
majesty of God ? " If," says the high-priest Heli, "one 
man shall sin against another, God may be appeased in 
his behalf; but if a man shall sin against the Lord, who 
shall pray for him ? " (1 Kings ii. 25.) The sin of blas 
phemy, then, is so enormous, that the saints themselves 
appear not to have courage to pray for a blasphemer. 

2. Some sacrilegious tongues blaspheme the God who 
preserves their existence ! " Tu Deo benefacienti tibi," 
says St. Chrysostom, " et tui curam agenti maledicis." 
O God ! you stand with one foot at the gate of hell ; 
and if God, in his marcy, did not preserve your life 
you should be damned for ever : and, instead of thank 
ing him for his goodness, you, at the very time that he 
bestows his favours upon you, blaspheme his holy 
name. " If," says the Lord, " my enemy hath reviled 
me, I would verily have borne with it. (Ps. liv. 13.) 
Had you treated me with contumely and insult at the 
time that I chastised you, I would be more willing to 
bear with your impiety; but you revile me at the 
time that I confer my favours upon you. diabolical 
tongue ! exclaims St. Bernardine of Sienna, what could 
have induced you to blaspheme your God, who has 
created you, and redeemed you with his blood ? "0 



408 SERMON 1,111. 



lingua diabolica, quid, potest te inducere^ad blasphe- 
mandum Deus tuum qui te plasmavit, qui te pretioso 
sanguine redemit?" (Serm. xxxiii.) Some expressly 
blaspheme the name of Jesus Christ of that God who 
died on a cross for the love of them. God ! if we 
were not subject to death, we should be glad to die for 
Jesus Christ, in order to make some little return of 
gratitude to a God who gave his life for us. I say, a 
little return of gratitude ; for there is no comparison 
between the death of a miserable creature, and the death 
of a God. But instead of loving and blessing this God, 
you, as St. Augustine says, revile and curse him. " Christ 
was scourged by the lash of the Jews; but he is not less 
scourged by the blasphemies of false Christians." (S. 
Aug. in Joan.) Some have blasphemed and insulted 
the Virgin Mary, that good mother, who loves us so 
tenderly, and prays continually for us. Some of these 
blasphemers have received a horrible chastisement from 
God. Surius relates, in the 7th August, that a certain 
impious Christian blasphemed the blessed Virgin, and 
pierced her image with a dagger. As soon as he went 
out of the church to which the image belonged, he was 
struck by a thunderbolt, and reduced to ashes. The 
infamous Nestorious blasphemed, and induced others to 
blaspheme, most holy Mary, by asserting that she was 
not the mother of God. But, before death, his im 
pious tongue was eaten away by worms, and he died in 
despair. 

3. "Who is this who speaketh blasphemies?" (Luke 
v. 21.) He is a Christian who has received the holy sacra 
ment of baptism, in which his tongue has been in a cer 
tain manner consecrated to God. A learned author 
says, that on the tongue of all who are baptized is 
placed blessed salt, " that the tongues of Christians may 
be made, as it were, sacred, and may be accustomed to 
bless God." (Clericat. torn. 1. Dec. Tract. 52.) And the 
blasphemer afterwards makes his tongue, as St. Ber- 
nardine says, a sword to pierce the heart of God. 
u Lingua blasphemantis efficitur quasi gladius cor Dei 
penetrans." (Tom. 4. serm. xxxiii.) Hence the saint adds 
that no sin contains in itself so much malice as the sin of 
blasphemy. " Kullum est peccatum quod habet in se 



BLASPHEMY. 409 



tantem iniquitatem sicut blasphemia." St. Chrysostom 
says, that " there is no sin worse than blasphemy; for in 
it is the accumulation of all evils, and every punishment." 
St. Jerome teaches the same doctrine. " Nothing," says 
the holy doctor, " is more horrible than blasphemy ; for 
every sin, compared with blasphemy, is small." (In Isa. 
cxviii.) And here it is necessary to observe, that blas 
phemies against the saints, against holy things or holi 
days such as the sacraments, the Mass, Easter Sunday, 
Christmas Day, Holy Saturday are of the same species 
as blasphemies against God ; for St. Thomas teaches, 
that, as the honour paid to the saints, to holy things, 
and holidays, is referred to God, so an insult offered to 
the saints is injurious to God, who is the foundation of 
sanctity. " Sicut Deus, in sanctis suis laudatur," as we 
read in the 150th Psalm, " laudate Dominum in sanctis 
ejus, ita et blasphemia in sanctos in Deum redundat." 
(S. Thorn, qu. 13, a 1 3, a 1, ad 2.) The saint adds, that 
blasphemy is one of the greatest of the sins against 
religion. (Ibid. a. 3.) 

4. Thus, from the works of St. Jerome we may 
infer, that blasphemy is more grievous than theft, than 
adultery, or murder. All other sins, says St. Bernar- 
dine proceeds from frailty or ignorance ; but the sin of 
blasphemy proceeds from malice. " Omnia alia peccata 
vindentur procedere partim ex fragilitate, partim ex ig- 
norantia, sed peccatum blasphemia procedit ex propria 
malitia." (Cic. serm. xxx.) For it proceeds from a bad 
will, and from a certain hatred conceived against God. 
Hence the blasphemer renders himself like the damned, 
who, as St. Thomas says, do not now blaspheme with 
the mouth for they have no body, but with the 
heart, cursing the divine justice which punishes them. 
" The detestation of the divine justice is in them an in 
terior blasphemy of the heart." (S. Thorn. 2, 2, qu. 13, 
a. 4.) ^ The saint adds, that we may believe that as the 
saints in heaven, after the resurrection shall praise God 
with the tongue, so the reprobates in hell shall also blas 
pheme him with the tongue. " Et credibile est quod 
post resurrectionem erit in eis etiam vocalis blasphemia) 
sicut in sanctis vocalis laus Dei." Justly, then, has 
a learned author called blasphemy the language of 



410 



SERMON LIU. 



hell ; because, as God speaks by the mouth of the saints 
so the devil speaks by the mouth of blasphemers. 
" Blasphemia est peccatum diabolicum, loquela infer- 
nalis : sicut enim Spiritus Sanctus loquitur per bonos 
ita et diabolus per blasphemos." )Mansi. Discors, 7, 
num. 2.) When St. Peter denied Christ in the Palace of 
Pilate, and swore that he did not know him, the Jews 
said, that his language showed that he was a disciple of 
Jesus, because he spoke the language of his Master. 
" Surely," they said, "thou also art one of them; 
for even thy speech doth discover thee." (Matt. xxvi. 
73.) Thus we may say to every blasphemer : You are 
from hell ; you are a true disciple of Lucifer ; for you 
speak the language of the damned. St. Antonine 
writes, that the entire occupation of the damned in. 
hell consists in blaspheming and cursing God. " Noil 
aliud apus inferno exercent nisi blasphemare Deum et 
maledicere." (Part 2, tit. 7, cap. iii.) In proof of this 
doctrine the saint adduces the following text of the 
Apocalypse : " And they gnawed their tongues for 
pain: and they blasphemed the God of heaven." (Apoc. 
xvi. 10, 11.) The holy doctor afterwards adds, that he 
who indulges in the vice of blasphemy, already belongs 
to the number of the damned, because he practises their 
art. " Qui ergo hoc vitio detinetur ostendit se per- 
tinere ad statum damnatorum, ex quo exercet artem 
eorum." (Ibid.) 

5. To the malice of blasphemy is added the malice of 
scandal, which generally accompanies blasphemy ; for 
this sin is ordinarily committed externally and in pre 
sence of others. St. Paul reproved the Jews, because 
by their sins they caused the Gentiles to blaspheme our 
God, and to laugh at his law. "For the name of God, 
through you, is blasphemed by the Gentiles." (Rom. ii. 
24.) But how much more criminal are Christians, who, 
by their blasphemies, induce other Christians to imitate 
their example! How does it happen, that in certain 
provinces blasphemies are never, or at least very 
seldom, heard, and that in other places this horrible 
vice is so prevalent, that the Lord may say of them : 
" My name is continually blasphemed all the day long." 
(Isa. Iii, 5.) In the squares, houses, cities, villas, nothing 



BLASPHEMY. 411 



is heard but blasphemies. How does this happen ? 
Some of the inhabitants learn to blaspheme from others : 
children from their parents, servants from their masters, 
the young from the old. In some families particularly 
the vice of blasphemy seems to be transmitted as an in 
heritance. The father is a blasphemer ; hence, the sons 
and nephews blaspheme : to this inheritance their de 
scendants succeed. accursed father ! Instead of 
instructing your children to bless the name of God, you 
teach them to blaspheme him and his saint. " But I re 
prove them when they blaspheme in my presence." Of 
what use are these reproofs, when with your own 
mouth you give them bad example. For God s sake, 
for God s sake, O fathers of families, never blaspheme ; 
but be particularly on your guard never to blaspheme 
in presence of your children. This is a crime which 
God can no longer bear in you. And whenever you 
hear any of your children utter a blasphemy, reprove 
them severely, and, in obedience to the advice of St. 
Chrysostom, strike him on the mouth, and you shall 
thus sanctify your hand. " Contere os ipsius, manum 
tuam percussione sanctificat." (Horn. i. ad pop.) Certain 
fathers unmercifully beat a child for the neglect of 
some temporal business ; but if he blaspheme the saints, 
they either laugh at his blasphemies, or listen to them 
in silence. St. Gregory relates (Dial. 4., cap. xvii.), 
that a child of five years, the son of a Koman noble 
man, was in the habit of profaning the name of God. 
The father neglected to correct him ; but he one day 
saw his son pursued by certain black men. The child 
ran to embrace his father ; but they, who were so many 
devils, killed him in the father s arms, and carried him 
with them to hell. 

Second Point. On the great rigour with which God 
punishes the sin of blasphemy. 

6. "Woe to the sinful nation... they have blas 
phemed the Holy One of Israel." (Isa. i. 4.) W e to 
blasphemers, eternal woe to them : for, according to 
Tobias, they shall be condemned. " They shall be con 
demned that blaspheme thee." (Job xiii. 16.) The Lord 
has said by the mouth of Job, "Thou imitatest the 



412 



SERMON LI 1 1. 



tongue of blasphemers ; thy own mouth shall condemn, 
and not I." (Job xv. 5, 6.) In pronouncing the sentence 
of their condemnation, God will say : It is not I that 
condemn you to hell ; it is your own mouth, with which 
you have dared to revile me and .my saints, that con 
demns you. Poor miserable blasphemers ! They shall 
continue to blaspheme in hell for their greater torment : 
their very blasphemies in hell shall always remind them 
that they^ are damned for ever in punishment of their 
blasphemies on earth. 

7. But blasphemers are punished not only in hell, 
but even on this earth. In the Old Law they were 
stoned by the people. " And he that blasphemeth the 
name of the Lord, dying let him die ; all the multitude 
shall stone him." (Lev. xxiv. 76.) In the New Law 
they were condemned to death by the Emperor Justi 
nian. St. Louis, King of France, ordered them to be 
punished by perforating their tongue, and by branding 
their forehead with a red hot iron ; and when they 
afterwards relapsed into blasphemy, he ordained that 
they should die on the scaffold. (Homo Bon. de cas. 
res. p. 2, c. i.) Another author says, that the law 
renders blasphemers (as being infamous) incapable of 
giving testimony. (Navarr. cons. 11, de offic. ord.) By 
the constitution of Gregory the Fourteenth, they were 
deprived of Christian burial. In the Authentica ut non 
luxur horn., it is said that blasphemies bring on famine, 
earthquakes, and pestilence. " Propter blasphemias, et 
fames, et terreemotus et pestilentia fiunt." You, O 
blasphemer, complain that though you labour and sub 
mit to fatigue, you are always in poverty. You say : " I 
know not why I am always in misery : some malediction 
must have fallen on my family." No ; the blasphemies 
which you utter are the cause of your wretchedness, and 
make you always an object of God s malediction. 

8. ^ ! how many melancholy examples could I 
mention of blasphemers who have died a bad death. 
Father Segneri relates, (Tom. 1, Rag. 8,) that, in Gas- 
cony, two men who had blasphemed the blood of Jesus 
Christ, were soon after killed in a quarrel, and torn to 
pieces by dogs. In Mexico, a blasphemer being once re 
proved, answered : " I will hereafter blaspheme more 



BLASPHEMY. 413 



than I have hitherto done." During the night he found 
his tongue sowed under the palate, and died in that 
miserable state without giving the least sign of repentance. 
Dresselius relates, that a certain person was struck blind 
in the very act of blaspheming. Another, in uttering a 
blasphemy against St. Anthony, was seized by a flame 
which issued from the image of the saint, and was burnt 
alive. In his book against blasphemy, Sarnelli relates, 
that in Constantinople, a man called Simon Tornaco, 
who had blasphemed God, began like a mad dog to 
lacerate his own flesh, and died in his madness. Canta- 
pratensis states (cap. xlviii.), that a person who had been 
guilty of blasphemy, had his eyes distorted, and that 
falling on the ground he bellowed like an ox, and con 
tinued to roar aloud until he expired. In the Gallician 
Mercury (lib. x.) we read that a man named Michael, 
who had been condemned to be hanged, when he felt 
the pain of the halter, burst out into blasphemies, and 
died instantly. After death his head fell from the body, 
and the tongue remined hanging out from the neck, as 
black as coal. I abstain from fatiguing you with other 
terrible examples : you can find a great many of them 
in the work of Father Sarnelli against blasphemy. 

9. But to conclude. Tell me, blasphemers, if 
there be any of you present, what benefit do you derive 
from your accursed blasphemies ? You do not receive 
pleasure from them. Bellarmine says, that blasphemy 
is a sin which produces no pleasure. You derive no 
profit from them ; for, as I have already said, your 
blasphemies are the cause of your poverty and wretch 
edness. You derive no honour from them ; your 
fellow- blasphemers have a horror of your blasphemies, 
and call you a mouth of hell. Tell me, then, why you 
blaspheme. " Father, the habit which I have contracted 
is the cause of my blasphemies." But can this habit 
excuse you before God ? If a son beat his father, and 
say to him : " My father, have compassion on me : for I 
have contracted a habit of beating you :" would the 
father take pity on him ? You say that you blaspheme 
through the anger caused by your children, your wife, 
or your master. Your wife or your master put you into 
a passion, and you take revenge on the saints. What 



414 SERMON LIII. 



injury have the saints done to you ? They intercede 
before God in your behalf, and you blaspheme them. But 
" the devil tempts me at that time." If the devil tempts 
you, follow the example of a certain young man, who, 
when tempted to blaspheme, went for advice to the Abbot 
Pemene. The abbot told him, that as often as the devil 
tempted him to commit this sin, his answer should be : 
Why should I blaspheme that God who has created me, 
and bestowed so many benefits upon me ? I will for 
ever praise and bless him. The young man followed the 
advice, and Satan ceased to tempt him. When you are 
excited to anger, can you speak nothing but blasphemies? 
Say on such occasions : " Accursed sin, I hate thee : 
Lord, assist me: Mary, obtain for me the gift of patience." 
And if you have hitherto contracted the abominable 
habit of blaspheming, renew every morning, as soon as 
you rise, the resolution of doing violence to yourself to 
abstain from all blasphemies during the day : and then 
say three Arcs to most holy Mary, that she may obtain 
for you the grace to resist every temptation by which 
you shall be assailed. 



THE END. 



Printed by EDMUOT BURKE & Co., Cl & 62 Great Strand Street, Dublin, 



Liguori , A.M. 

Sermons for all the Sundays 
in the year. 



BQ 
707^ 
.Ik 
Sk 
C2 *