CONSIDERATIONS ON THE RELIGIOUS STATE. I.
Consider that salvation is assured to souls who enter the Religious state.
God has placed us in the world and keeps us here in life, not to acquire the perishable goods of earth, but the eternal goods of Heaven. The end is life everlasting (Rom. vi. 22). But the misfortune is that in the world men think very little indeed, if at all, of eternal life, and only dream of acquiring honours and pleasures, and this is the reason why so many souls perish.
To understand the importance of our eternal salvation it is enough to have Faith and to consider we have only one soul, and if that is lost, all is lost were a man even master of the whole world. What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul? (Matt. xvi. 26). This great maxim of the Gospel has induced many youths to shut themselves up in cloisters, others to live in deserts, and others to give up their lives for Jesus Christ. For, said they, what does it profit us to possess the whole world, and all the goods of this world, in this present life, which must soon finish, and then be damned and be miserable in the life to come, which will never end? All those rich men, all those princes and emperors, who are now in hell — what have they now of all they enjoyed in this life but greater torment and a greater despair? Miserable beings! They lament now and say: All those things are passed away like a shadow (Wis. v. 9). For them all is passed like a shadow, like a dream, and that lamentation which is their lot has lasted already many years, and will last throughout all eternity. The fashion of this world passeth away (1 Cor. vii. 51). This world is a scene which lasts but a short time; happy he who plays in this scene that part which will afterwards make him happy in the life which will never end. When he shall then be contented, honoured, and a prince in Paradise, so long as God shall be God, little will he care for having been in this world — poor, despised and in tribulation. For this end alone God has placed us on this earth, and keeps us here in life, not to acquire transitory but eternal goods: The end is life everlasting.
O my God! How have I ever deserved this great mercy, that, having left so many others to live in the midst of the world, Thou hast willed to call me, who have offended Thee more than others, and deserved, more than they, to be deprived of Thy divine light, to enjoy the honour of living as a friend in Thy own house! O Lord, grant that I may understand this exceeding grace, which Thou hast bestowed on me, that I may always thank Thee for it, as I purpose and hope to do always during my life and throughout eternity, and do not permit me to be ungrateful for it. Since Thou hast been so liberal towards me, and hast in Thy love preferred me to others, it is but just that more than others I should serve and love Thee.
With desolation is all the land made desolate, because there is none that considereth in the heart (Jer. xii. 11). How few are they who reflect on death, by which for us the scene is closed; on the eternity which awaits us; on what God has done for our sake! And hence it comes that these miserable beings live in blindness and carelessly, far from God, having their eyes, like the beasts, intent only on earthly things, without remembering God, without desiring His love, and without a thought of eternity. Therefore, they die afterwards an unhappy death, which will be the beginning of eternal death and endless misery. Then it is they will open their eyes; but it will be only to lament over their own foolishness.
This is the great means of salvation which is found in Religion, namely, continual meditation on the eternal truths. Remember thy last end and thou shalt never sin (Eccles. vii. 40). In well-regulated Religious houses this is done every day, and even several times a day. And therefore in the light of divine things, which there shines continually, it is morally impossible to live, at least for a long time, far from God, and without keeping one’s account ready for eternity.
O my Jesus! Thou wouldst have me to be wholly Thine, and to Thee I give myself entirely. Accept me, and henceforward keep me as Thy own, since I am no longer mine. Finish Thou the work which Thou hast begun. Thou hast called me to Thy house, because Thou wilt have me become a Saint. Make me then what Thou wilt have me. Do it, O Eternal Father! for the love of Jesus Christ, in Whom is all my confidence. I love Thee, my sovereign Good, I love Thee. O infinite Goodness! I love Thee alone, and will love Thee forever. O Mary, my hope, succour me, and obtain for me to be always faithful and thankful to my Lord.