Lenten Meditation 29: The Examination of Our Sins At the Last Day

1. Behold the heavens will open, and the angels and saints will descend to be present at the judgment followed by the Queen of Heaven, the ever blessed Virgin, and after her will appear the eternal Judge of the living and of the dead, encompassed with great power and majesty. The appearance of Jesus will be to the just the greatest consolation; but to the wicked, the indignant countenance of the Son of God will be horror and confusion worse than hell itself. They will say to the mountains: Fall upon us, and hide us from the wrath of the Lamb [Rev 6:16]. They will desire that the mountains may immediately fall upon them rather than behold the indignant countenance of the Lamb, that is, of the Redeemer, who in their lifetime was as a lamb towards them, in silently bearing with their repeated injuries against him.

O Jesus! Thou who wilt one day be my Judge; I am heartily sorry for having so grievously offended Thee. Pardon me my sins, and grant that when Thou appearest as my Judge, I may not behold Thee indignant against me.

2. The judgment sat, and the books were opened [Dan 7:10]. Then will it be impossible to conceal our sins; Jesus himself, who will be our Judge, having long ago witnessed them, will manifest them to the whole world. He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness [1 Cor 4:5].

O my Redeemer! Thou who already knowest all my iniquities, have mercy on me now, before the time of mercy ends.

3. In a word, Jesus Christ will on that day make himself known as the great Lord of all: The Lord shall be known, says the Psalmist, when he executeth judgment [Ps 9:17]. At present more account is made of some pleasure, of a mere vapor, of a fit of passion, than of God. Hence will the Judge then justly say to the sinner, To whom have ye likened me, or made me equal? [Isa 40:25] To what have you compared me and postponed me? Have your base inclinations, or a mere caprice, prevailed with you more than my grace? O God! what shall we then answer to such reproaches? Oh, how will our utter confusion close our mouths! But let us now answer and say:

O Jesus! I know that Thou wilt one day be my Judge, but now Thou art my Saviour. Remember that Thou hast died for me. I am sorry with my whole heart for having despised Thee, my sovereign good. But if hitherto I have despised Thee, behold I now esteem and love Thee more than myself, and am willing to die for Thy love. O Jesus! pardon me, and never suffer me to live any more deprived of Thy love. Mary, most gracious advocate of sinners, help me now whilst I can yet receive thy powerful assistance.

Text from St. Alphonsus de Liguori, The Way of Salvation and Perfection, ed. Eugene Grimm, 2d ed. (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1886).

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