Morning Meditation for the 12th Day of January ~ St Alphonsus Liguori

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Spiritual Reading

THE GREAT THOUGHT OF ETERNITY

St. Augustine called the thought of Eternity the great thought — Magna cogitatio. This thought has brought the Saints to count all the treasures and greatness of this life as nothing more than straw, dust, smoke, and refuse. This thought has sent anchorites to hide themselves in deserts and caves, noble youths, and even kings and emperors, to shut themselves up in cloisters. This thought has given courage to Martyrs to endure the torture of piercing nails and heated irons, and even of being burnt in the fire.

No; we are created not for this earth: the end for which God has placed us in the world is — that with our good deeds we may inherit eternal life. The end is eternal life (Rom. vi. 22). Therefore, St. Eucherius said that the only affair we should attend to in this life is Eternity; that is, win a happy Eternity, and escape a miserable one: the object for which we contend is Eternity. If assured of this end, we are forever blessed; if we fail in it, forever miserable.

Happy he who lives with Eternity ever in view, in a lively Faith that he must speedily die, and enter upon Eternity. The just man lives by faith (Gal. iii. 11). It is Faith that makes the just live in the sight of God, and which gives light to their souls, by withdrawing from them earthly affections, and placing before their thoughts the eternal blessings which God promises to them that love Him.

St. Teresa said that all sins had their origin in a want of Faith. Therefore in order to overcome our passions and temptations, we ought constantly to revive our Faith by saying: I believe in life everlasting. I believe that after this life, which will soon be ended, an eternal life awaits me, either full of joys, or full of pains, according to my merits or demerits.

St. Augustine says that the man who thinks of Eternity, and yet is not converted to God, has either lost his senses or his Faith. “O Eternity!” (these are his words), “he that meditates upon thee, and repents not, either has not Faith, or if he has Faith, he has no heart.” In reference to this, St. John Chrysostom relates that the Gentiles, when they saw Christians sinning, thought them either liars or fools. If you believe not, they said, what you say you believe, you are liars; if you believe in Eternity and sin, you are fools. “Woe to sinners who enter upon Eternity without having known it, because they would not think upon it!” exclaims St. Caesarius; and then he adds: “But oh, double woe! They enter upon it and they never come forth.”

St. Teresa used to say to her disciples: “My children, there is one soul, one Eternity!” By which she meant: My children, we have one soul, and when that is lost, all is lost; and, once lost, it is lost forever! In a word, upon the last breath we breathe in dying, depends whether we shall be forever blessed, or forever in despair. If the Eternity of the next life, if Paradise, if hell, were mere fictions of literary men, things of doubtful reality, even then we ought to bestow all our care to live well, and not to risk our soul to be lost forever. But it is not so; these things are not doubtful; they are beyond dispute; they are things of Faith; they are more real than the things we see with our bodily sight.

Let us then pray to our Lord: Increase our Faith (Luke xvii. 5); for we may, if weak in Faith, become worse than Luther or Calvin. On the other hand, one thought of living Faith upon the Eternity that awaits us can make us Saints.

St. Gregory writes that they who meditate on Eternity are neither puffed up by prosperity, nor cast down by adversity; for they desire nothing and fear nothing in this world. When infirmities or persecutions come upon us, let us think of the hell we have deserved through our sins. Thus every cross will seem light, and we shall thank the Lord, saying: It is the mercy of the Lord that we are not consumed (Lament. iii. 22). And with David: Unless the Lord had been my helper, my soul had almost dwelt in hell (Ps. xciii. 17). Through myself I was already lost; Thou hast done this, O God of mercy! Thou hast stretched forth Thy hand, and drawn me forth from hell: Thou hast delivered my soul, that it should not perish (Is. xxxviii. 17).

O my God, Thou knowest how often I have deserved hell; but, notwithstanding, Thou biddest me hope, and I desire to hope. My sins terrify me, but Thy death gives me courage, and Thou dost promise pardon to him that repents. A contrite and humbled heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise. I have dishonoured Thee in the time past, but now I love Thee above all things, and I grieve more than for any other evil, that I have offended Thee. O my Jesus, have mercy upon me. Mary, Mother of God, pray for me.

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