I am running out of time to share Garrigou-Lagrange’s Providence with you, so I want to skip some bits, not that these are not worthy, in order to concentrate on the last few chapters.
Recommending pages 251, 252, 253, 257, 264 and 292, I am skipping to the discussion on the particular judgment. Now, I have written on this before many times on this blog. One of my friends experienced his particular judgment over a year ago, for three days, seeing all the sins and failings. A strong man, he told me he sobbed during those three days, realizing his great lack of holiness and love for God.
As noted in a post quite a while ago, I had one experience of the horror of one venial sin.
Garrigou-Lagrange writes this: “Once the body has been left behind, the soul has direct vision of itself as a spiritual substance, in the same way that the pure spirit has direct vision of itself, and in that instant it is made aware of its moral condition. It receives an interior illumination rending all discussion useless. God passes sentence, which is then transmitted by conscience, the echo of God’s voice. The soul now sees plainly what is its due according to its merits and demerits, when then stand out quite distinctly before it.”
The author continues, and then refers to Newman, who I referred to a few days ago. Here is the passage from The Dream of Gerontius quoted:
“When then—if such they lot—thou seest thy Judge,
The sight of Him will kindle in thy heart
All tender, gracious, reverential thoughts.
Thou wilt be sick with joy, and yearn for Him
That one so sweet should e’er have placed Himself
At disadvantage such, as to be used
So vilely by a being so vile as thee.
There is a pleading in His pensive eyes,
Will pierce thee to the quick, and trouble thee,
And thou wilt hate and loathe thyself; for, though
Now sinless, thou wilt fell that thou hast sinned
As never thou didst feel; and wilt desire
To slink away, and hide thee from His sight;
And yet wilt have a longing eye to dwell
Within the beauty of His countenance.
And those two pains, so counter and so keen—
The longing for Him, when thou seest Him not;
The shame of self at thought of seeing Him—
Will be thy veriest, sharpest purgatory.
It is the face of the Incarnate God
Shall smite thee with that keen and subtle pain;
And yet the memory which it leaves will be
A sovereign febrifuge to heal the wound;
And yet withal it will the wound provoke,
And aggravate and widen it the more.”
Garrigou-Lagrange continues, “Justice will then mete out condign punishment for sins committed, to last for a time or eternity. “
And, “…the sinner clearly realizing that through his own fault he has failed forever to attain his destined end.”
The Dominican reminds us that both mercy and justice are mysteries. We cannot understand God’s mercy nor His justice. And, although we define these as separate attributes of God, but are in reality inseparable.