WE SHOULD SETTLE OUR ACCOUNTS AT ONCE.
The Lord wishes that we be not lost but saved, and therefore by threats of chastisement He unceasingly exhorts us to a change of life. He Who wishes you to take care does not wish to destroy.
Except you will be converted, he will brandish his sword (Ps. vii. 13). Behold, God says in another place, how many, because they would not cease to offend Me, have met with a sudden death, when they least expected it, and were living in peace, secure of a life of many years. For when they shall say: Peace and security, then shall sudden destruction come upon them (1 Thess. v. 3). Again God says: Unless you do penance, you shall all likewise perish (Luke xiii. 3). Why so many threats of chastisement before the execution of vengeance? It is because He wishes us to amend our lives, and thus avoid an unhappy death. He, says St. Augustine, who tells you to beware, does not wish to take away your life. It is necessary, then, to prepare our accounts before the day of accounting arrives. Dearly beloved Christian, were you to die, and were your lot for eternity to be decided before night, would your accounts be ready? Oh, how much would you give to obtain from God another year or month, or even another day, to prepare for Judgment? Why then do you not, now that God gives you this time, settle your accounts? Perhaps it may not happen-that this shall be the last day for you? Delay not to be converted to the Lord and defer it not from day to day; for his wrath shall come on a sudden, and in the time of vengeance he will destroy thee (Ecclus. v. 8, 9). To save your soul you must give up sin. If, then, you must renounce it at some time, why do you not abandon it this very moment? Perhaps you are waiting till death arrives? But, for obstinate sinners, the hour of death is the time, not of pardon but of vengeance. In the time of vengeance he will destroy thee.
Ah, my dear Redeemer, Thou hast spent all Thy Blood, and hast given Thy life in order to save my soul, and I have often lost it by presuming on Thy mercy. I have, then, so often abused Thy goodness to offend Thee! By doing so, I have deserved to be suddenly struck dead, and to be cast into hell. In a word, I have been engaged in a contest with Thee. Thou didst treat me with mercy, and I offended Thee; Thou didst seek me, and I fled from Thee; Thou gavest me time to repair the evil I had done, and I employed that time in adding insults to insults. Lord, make me understand the injustice I have done Thee, and the obligation under which I am to love Thee. Ah, my Jesus, how could I be so dear to Thee Whom I chased away as often as Thou didst seek me. How hast Thou been able to bestow so many graces on one who has given Thee so much displeasure? From this I see the ardour of Thy desire to save me from perdition.
Should any one borrow from you a large sum of money, you take care to get legal security for it. Who knows, you say, what may happen? Why are you not equally careful about the salvation of your soul, which is of far greater importance to you than all the riches of the earth? When eternity is at stake, why do you not say: Who knows what may happen? If you lose a sum of money, all is not lost; though in losing it your entire property should be lost, you may still have hopes of recovering it. But if at death you lose your soul, then you shall truly have lost all, and can never hope to regain it. You are careful to keep an exact account of all the goods you possess, lest, by dying suddenly, any of them might be lost; and if you meet with a sudden death, and find yourself in enmity with God, what will become of your soul for all eternity?
I am sorry with my whole heart for having offended Thee, O infinite Goodness! Ah, receive this ungrateful sheep, that casts itself sorrowful at Thy feet; receive it and bind it on Thy shoulders, that it may never more stray away from Thee. I will never again abandon Thee. I wish to love Thee; I wish to be Thine, and, provided I belong to Thee, I am content to suffer every pain. And what greater punishment can fall upon me than to live without Thy grace, to be separated from Thee, Who art my God, Who hast created me and died for me? O accursed sins, what have you done? You have made me displease my Saviour Who has loved me so tenderly. Ah, my Jesus, as Thou hast died for me, so I ought to die for Thee. Thou hast died through love for me — I should die through sorrow for having despised Thee. I accept death in whatever manner and at whatever time Thou art pleased to send it. Hitherto I have not loved Thee, or I have loved Thee too little. I do not wish to die in this state. Ah, grant me a little more time that I may love Thee before I die. Change my heart; wound it; inflame it with Thy holy love. Through that affection of charity which made Thee die for me, grant me this favour. I love Thee with my whole heart. My soul is enamoured of Thee. Do not permit me to lose Thee. Give me holy perseverance. Give me Thy holy love. Most holy Mary, my refuge and my Mother, perform the office of advocate in my behalf. Amen.