THE GOODS OF THIS WORLD ARE FALSE GOODS.
St. Teresa used to say that nothing that ends ought to be considered of any consequence. Death approaches, the curtain falls, the scene closes, and thus all things come to an end. Let us therefore strive to gain that fortune which will not fail with time.
What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul (Matt. xvi. 26). O great maxim, which has conducted so many souls to Heaven, and given so many Saints to the Church! What doth it profit us to gain the whole world, which passes away, and lose the soul, which is eternal?
The world! And what is this world but mere show — a scene which quickly passes away? The fashion of this world passeth away (1 Cor. vii. 31). Death approaches, the curtain falls, the scene closes, and thus all things come to an end!
Alas! at the hour of death, how will all worldly things appear to a Christian — those silver vessels, those heaps of money, that rich and vain furniture — when he must leave them all forever?
O Jesus! grant that henceforward my soul may be wholly Thine; grant that I may love no other but Thee. I desire to renounce all things before death tears me away from them.
What does it avail a man to be happy for a few days (if anything can be called happiness without God), if afterwards he must be unhappy forever?
David says that earthly goods, at the hour of death, will seem as a dream to one waking from sleep: As the dream of them that awake (Ps. lxxii. 20). What disappointment does he feel who, having dreamt that he was a king, on awaking finds himself still lowly and poor as ever!
O my God! who knows but that this Meditation which I am now reading may be the last call for me? Enable me to root out of my heart all earthly affections, before I enter into eternity. Grant that I may be sensible of the great wrong that I have done Thee, by offending Thee, and by forsaking Thee for the love of creatures. Father, I am not worthy to be called thy son (Luke xv. 21). I am grieved for having turned my back upon Thee; do not reject me, now that I return to Thee.
No post of honour, no pomps, no riches, no amusements, will console a Christian at the hour of death; the love of Jesus Christ, and the little that he has suffered for His love, will alone console him.
Phillip II., when dying, said: “Oh that I had been a Lay-brother in some monastery, and not a king!” Philip III. said: “Oh that I had lived in a desert! for now I shall appear but with little confidence before the tribunal of God.” Thus do those express themselves at the hour of death, who have been esteemed the most fortunate in this world.
In short, all earthly goods acquired during life generally end at the hour of death in remorse of conscience and fears of eternal damnation. O God! will the dying sinner say, I have had sufficient light to direct me to withdraw myself from the world, but yet I have followed the world, and the maxims of the world; and now what sentence will be pronounced upon me? Fool that I have been! I might have been a Saint, with the opportunities and advantages that I enjoyed! I might have led a happy life in union with God; and now what do I get from my past life? But when will he say this? When the scene is about to close, and he is entering eternity — at the very moment on which will depend his happiness or misery forever!
O Lord, have pity on me! In the past I have not been so wise as to love Thee. From this day forward, Thou alone shalt be my only Good. My God and my All! Thou alone deservest all my love, and Thee alone will I love.