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Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Advent and Death Part 6

Many graces come out of suffering, but one of the most important is that of detachment. When one is facing death, either as a meditation, or in illness or old age, detachment from people, things, status allows one to face God with purity of heart.

Remember, only the perfect see God, and suffering remains an important part of the process of purification.

If you have been following the mini-series, you have been reading the snippets from St. Alphonsus.

Here is another one for today. I have looked at his writings on not abusing God's mercy and on the shortness of human life. This part is connected to detachment, for, if we do not lose ourselves now, we shall lose God for all eternity.

Thanks to the great men of Papa Stronsay for this picture.

The Pain of Loss 
1. The greatest pain of hell is not the fire nor the 
darkness, not the stench, nor any other of all the material 
torments of that dreadful prison of despair; it is the 
pain of loss - that is, the pain of having lost God which 
of itself may be said to constitute hell. The soul was 
created to be forever united with God, and to enjoy the 
sight of his enrapturing countenance. God is its last 
[32] end, its only good, so that all the goods of earth and 
heaven, without God, could not make it happy. Hence 
it is that if a condemned soul in hell could possess and 
love God, hell, with all its torments, would be to it a 
paradise. But this will be its greatest punishment, 
which will render it forever inconceivably miserable, to 
be deprived of God for all eternity, without the least 
hope of ever again beholding him or loving him. 
Jesus, my Redeemer! nailed to the cross for my sake, 
You are my hope; oh that I had died rather than offended 
2. The soul, being created for God, has an instinctive 
tendency to become united with its sovereign good, its 
God; but being united with the body, when it wallows 
in iniquity, it becomes so darkened by the created ob- 
jects which allure the senses that it loses its sight, 
and has so little knowledge of God as no longer to desire to 
be united with him. But when separated from the body, 
and from sensible objects, then it will know that God is 
the only good that can render it happy. Therefore, as 
soon as it shall have departed from here, it will feel itself 
drawn with most powerful attraction towards a union 
with God; but having left this life an enemy of God, it will 
be not only kept back from him by its sins, as by a chain, 
but dragged by them into hell, there to be forever sepa- 
rated and at a distance from God. The wretched soul in 
that eternal dungeon will know how beautiful God is, 
but will not be able to behold him. It will know how 
amiable God is, but will not be able to love him; it will 
even feel itself forced by its sins to hate him; and this 
will be its hell of hells, to know that it hates a God who 
is infinitely lovely. It will desire that it were possible 
to destroy God, to whom it is hateful; and to destroy 
itself, hating God; and this will be the eternal occupa- 
tion of this unhappy soul. 
O Lord! have pity on me. 
[33] 3. This torment will be immensely increased by the 
remembrance of the graces that God bestowed upon it, 
and the love which he evinced towards it during its 
lifetime. It will especially call to mind the love of 
Jesus Christ in shedding his blood, and laying down his 
life for its salvation; but, ungrateful soul, not to forego 
its own miserable gratifications, it consented to lose God, 
its sovereign good; and it will find that no hope will be 
left of ever regaining him. 
Ah, my God! If I were in hell, I would not be able to 
love You, nor to repent of my sins; but as I have it now 
in my power to repent and to love You, I am sorry with 
my whole soul for having offended You, and love You 
above all things. Grant me to remember continually 
that hell which I have deserved, that I may love You 
with still greater and greater fervor. O Mary, refuge of 
sinners! do not abandon me.