Meditations - Tuesday in the first Week of Advent: Preliminaries of the Last Judgment
Summary of the Morrow’s Meditation
Tomorrow and the following days we will meditate on the second advent of the Saviour, coming to judge the world at the end of time, as the Gospel of Sunday last announced to us. We will, then, limit ourselves tomorrow to the consideration of the three preliminaries of the judgment; that is to say, first, the general resurrection; second, the separation of the good and the wicked; third, the descent of the Sovereign Judge, preceded by His cross. We will then make the resolution: first, to keep our bodies pure, so that they may rise glorious; second, to follow in all things the example set us by the saints, so that we may not be separated from them at the last day and driven back amongst the wicked; third, to love Jesus Christ and His cross, which will be our joy in that great day if we have loved them during our life. Our spiritual nosegay shall be the words of the Apostle: “For we must all be manifested before the judgment-seat of Christ” (2co v:10).
Meditation for the Morning
Let us adore Jesus Christ, the Sovereign Judge of the good and of the wicked; of the good in order to recompense them, of the wicked in order to punish them. Let us hope in His goodness, saying with St Teresa: What a consolation for me to have my best Friend for my judge! But let us also fear His justice, saying with St Paul: After each action comes the judgment, which will discern between the good and the evil (heb ix:27).
The General Resurrection.
God will prelude this great act by the burning up of the universe, which shall be reduced to ashes (2pe iii:10). A heap of ashes, behold that is all which will remain of the whole of this world in which the human race is in such a continual state of noisy agitation, and to which man attaches himself by so many ties! O children of men, therefore St Peter exclaims, what more is wanting to make you decide to be saints, detached and irreproachable in your conduct (2pe iii:11, 12)? The scene of the judgment being thus prepared, the trumpet of the angels will make the four winds of heaven resound with the terrible words which caused Jerome to tremble in the desert: “Rise, ye dead, and come to judgment”. The bodies and souls of all will obey instantly. The soul of the just will enter with joy into the body which it will animate, which formerly partook of its sufferings, and which is now about to partake of its recompense, which it even already shares: for it is glorious, impassible, immortal, agile like the spirits, brilliant like the sun. Oh, how glad will it then be to have crucified its flesh, given up its body to fatigue and to pain, and to have made of all its senses a pure offering to the Lord! The soul of the damned, on the contrary, will shudder with horror at the approach of the body which has ruined it, and desire to fly from it and be forever separated from it; but it is united to it by an invisible hand. O cursed body which has damned me, how mad I was to flatter thee, to spare thee, to caress thee! Why did I not immolate thee by penitential scourges! And whilst thus crying out, the poor soul cruelly feels the answer which the body would make, could it but speak: Thine alone is the fault! Thou oughtest to have led me and governed me; and thou madest thyself my slave; thou didst plunge me into the mire, knowing that from thence I should fall into the flames. Let us here examine ourselves. What will the resurrection be to us? Will it be the sweet resurrection of the just, or the terrible resurrection of the wicked?
The Separation of the Good and the Wicked.
The human race having risen, a voice will make itself heard: Gather together His saints from all the quarters of the globe (psa xlix:5). Immediately the angels will spread themselves amongst the assembled nations; they will gather together the elect; they will place them with honour on the right, and they will drive back the wicked to the left (mat liii:49). What a joy for the good to see themselves at last separated from the enemies of God, associated with all that is most venerable in heaven, with patriarchs and prophets, with apostles and martyrs, with even angels and princes of the celestial court! Oh, what ravishing society! How the heart will be at ease there, and what happiness to be reunited there forever! The damned, on the contrary, will shudder with rage at seeing themselves cast amongst all that the earth possesses of the vilest, of corruption the most infamous, of profligacy the most hideous, amidst all the devils! Oh, what frightful society, what despair at being associated with it throughout eternity! Oh, how deceived we have been (wis v:6)! Will these wretched creatures exclaim. Behold those whose regularity, whose modesty, and whose piety we ridiculed: behold them shining with glory; and we, behold we are covered with ignominy as with a garment (Ibid. 3). Behold them ranged amongst the children of God, the princes of heaven (Ibid. 5), whilst we, who seemed to tread them under our feet, we are humbled, confounded, condemned to eternal torments! O my soul! Let us avoid such great misery by means of a thorough reformation of our lives.
The Descent of the Sovereign Judge, Preceded by His Cross.
Then, says the Evangelist, shall appear in the air the standard of the Sovereign Judge, the cross, as the precursor of His coming being at hand (mat xxiv:30). A cry of happiness will burst from the just when they behold the sight. The cross was their delight when on earth; it was beneath its shade that they hid their merits, at its feet that they laid down their troubles, to its arms that they attached themselves by mortification and penitence. Behold wherefore the sight of it inundates them with such happiness! But how very different it will be with those who did not love the cross! They will tremble at the sight of it, because it will be their condemnation. It preaches nothing but privations, and they desired nothing but pleasures; it teaches nothing but humility and poverty, and they sought after nothing but glory and riches. What will the cross be for us at that great day? It is for us to decide. Meanwhile, after the cross will appear the Sovereign Judge; He will appear borne by the cherubim, surrounded by a thousand million of angels which form His court. The just will tremble with gladness at the spectacle. Oh, what reason we have to adore Him, to love Him, to fear Him, for how great He is, how amiable, how terrible! The damned, on the contrary, will be seized with fear; they will cry to the mountains to fall on them, they will call for death, and death will be deaf to their cries (rev ix:6). What matter for serious reflection!
Resolutions and spiritual nosegay as above.