“MY LIFE IS CUT OFF AS BY A WEAVER.”
Oh, how many whilst they are busy weaving, that is, preparing and executing the worldly projects they have devised with so much care, are surprised and cut off by death! O God, of what use are riches, possessions, or kingdoms in death when nothing is needed but a coffin and a simple garment to cover the body! My life is cut off as by a weaver; whilst I was yet beginning, he cut me off.
King Ezechias said, with tears, My life is cut off as by a weaver; whilst I was yet but beginning, he cut me off. (Is. xxxviii. 12). Oh, how many, whilst they are busy weaving–that is, preparing and executing the worldly projects which they have devised with such care–are surprised by death, which cuts all short! By the light of that last candle,* all things of this world vanish; applause, amusements, pomps, and grandeurs. Great secret of death, which makes us see that which the lovers of this world do not see! The most enviable fortunes, the most exalted dignities, the proudest triumphs, lose all their splendour when they are viewed from the bed of death. The ideas of certain false happiness, which we have formed to ourselves, are then changed into indignation against our own madness. The dark and gloomy shades of death cover and obscure all, even royal dignities.
*A blessed candle is usually lighted and placed in the hand or by the bed of the dying.–Ed
At present our passions make the things of this earth appear different from what they really are; death tears away the veil, and shows them in their true light, to be nothing but smoke, dirt, vanity and misery. O God, of what use are riches, possessions, or kingdoms, in death, when nothing is needed but a coffin, and a simple garment to cover the body? Of what use are honours, when nothing remains of them but a funeral procession, and pompous obsequies, which will not avail the soul if it be lost? Of what use is beauty, if nothing remains after it but worms, stench, horror, even before death, and after it a little fetid dust?
O God of my soul, O Infinite Goodness, have pity on me who have so greatly offended Thee. I already knew that in sinning I should lose Thy grace, and I chose to lose it. Oh, tell me what I must do to regain it. If Thou desirest that I repent of my sins, I do indeed repent with my whole heart, and I wish I could die of grief. If Thou wilt that I hope for pardon, behold, I hope for it through the merits of Thy Blood.
He hath made me as it were a by-word of the people, and I am an example before them. (Job xvii. 6). That rich man, that minister, that general dies, and he will then everywhere be spoken of: but if he has led a bad life, he will become a by-word of the people; and, as a warning to others, he will be held up as an instance of the vanity of the world, and also of Divine Justice. In the grave his body will be mingled with the corpses of the poor: The small and the great are there. (Job iii. 19). What has the beautiful formation of his body availed him, since now it is but a heap of worms? What has the authority he possessed availed him, since now his body is thrown into a grave to rot, and his soul has been cast into hell to burn? Oh, what a misfortune, to serve for others as a subject for these reflections, and not to have made them to his own profit! Let us, then, be persuaded that the proper time for repairing a disordered conscience is not the hour of death, but during life. Let us hasten to do now that which we cannot do then. All passes quickly and ends. The time is short. Therefore let us so act that everything may serve towards attaining eternal life.
I leave all, I renounce all the pleasures and riches that the world can give me, and I love Thee above every other good, O my most amiable Saviour. If, O Lord, Thou desirest that I demand graces of Thee, I ask for two: permit me not to offend Thee any more, and grant that I may love Thee; and then do with me as Thou wilt. Mary, my hope, obtain for me these two graces; I hope for them through thee.