Morning Meditation for the Third Sunday after Epiphany ~ St Alphonsus Liguori

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Morning Meditation

“BE NOT WISE IN YOUR OWN CONCEITS.”

Be not wise in your own conceits (Ep. of Sunday. Rom. xii. 16-21).

The wise Christian looks to the future, that is, to the account he must render at the hour of death. Sinners think only of the present, and regard not the end for which they were created. Oh that they would be wise and would understand and would provide for their last end! (Deut. xxxii. 29).

I.

Sinners are foolish; the Saints are truly wise. “A man not truly wise,” says St. Bernard, “who is not wise towards himself,” that is, by taking special care to secure for himself eternal happiness. Sinners think only of the present, but regard not the end for which they were created. Yet what will it profit them to gain all things if they attain not 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 fail in that, all is lost. What is this end? Life everlasting (Rom. vi. 22). During life sinners care but little for the attainment of this 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? The Saint then adds: “Such a one runs well but off the right road.”

These are the wise ones of the world who know so well how to acquire wealth and honours, and to indulge in every kind of amusement, but 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 would 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 advantages hath the boasting of riches brought us? All those things are passed away like a shadow (Wis. v. 8). In the world we cut 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 for thereby their perverse will, an internal enemy, is strengthened.

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 were 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 forever 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 be, 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 but shed tears at the sight of the destruction a Christian who commits mortal sin brings upon himself.

Dear Jesus, have pity upon me! I have forgotten Thee, but Thou didst not forget me. O my God, enlighten me and assist me.

II.

Consider how great is the folly of sinners, who, by living in sin, lead even here on earth 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? (Eccles. i. 12). What are they but vanity and vexation of spirit? (Eccles. 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 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). God gives peace to 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. 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.

O my God, permit me not to become any more so blind as to prefer my own unlawful gratifications before Thee. I now detest them and I love Thee above all things. O Mary, my Mother, help me to love Jesus.

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