My brother, in this picture of death behold yourself and what you must one day become. “Remember that dust thou art, and unto dust thou shall return.” Consider that in a few years, and perhaps in a few months or days, you will become rottenness and worms. By this thought Job became a saint. I have said to rottenness: Thou art my father: to worms, my mother, and my sister (Job xvii. 14).
All must end; and if, after death, you lose your soul all will be lost for you. Consider yourself already dead, says St. Laurence Justinian, since you know that you must necessarily die (Lign. Vit. De hum. C. 4). If you were already dead, what would you not desire to have done? Now that you have life, reflect that you will one day be among the dead. St. Bonaventure says, that, to guide the vessel safely, the pilot must remain at the helm; and in like manner, to lead a good life, a man should always imagine himself at the hour of death. Says St. Bernard, “Look to the sins of your youth, and be covered with shame”. “Remember the sins of manhood and weep.” “Look to the present disorders of your life; tremble”, and hasten to apply a remedy.
When St. Camillus de Lellis saw the graves of the dead, he said within himself: If these return to life, what would they not do for eternal glory? And what do I do for my soul, who have time? This the Saint said through humility. But my brother, you, perhaps, have reason to fear that you are the fruitless fig-tree of which the Lord said: Behold, for these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig-tree, and I find none (Lk. xiii. 7) You have been in this world for more than three years; what fruit have you produced? Remember, says St. Bernard, that the Lord seeks not only flowers, but fruits; that is, not only good desires and resolutions, but also holy works. Learn then to profit of the time which God in his mercy gives you: do not wait until you desire time to do good, when time shall be no more. Do not wait till you are told, Time shall be no longer; depart (Apoc. x. 6) the time for leaving this world has arrived; what is done, is done.
Affections and Prayers.
Behold me, O my God! I am that tree which deserved for so many years to hear from Thee, Cut it down — why cumbereth it the ground? Yes; for so many years during which I have been in the world, I have brought forth no other fruit than the briers and thorns of sin. But, O Lord! Thou dost not wish that I despair. Thou hast said to all, that he who seeks Thee shall find Thee. Seek and you shall find? I seek Thee, O my God! and wish for Thy grace. For all the offences I have offered to Thee I am sorry with my whole heart; I would wish to die of sorrow for them. Hitherto I have fled from Thee; but now I prefer Thy friendship to the possession of all the kingdoms of the earth. I will no longer resist Thy invitations. Dost Thou wish me to be all Thine? I give Thee my whole being without reserve. Thou gavest Thyself entirely to me on the Cross. I give myself entirely to Thee.
Thou hast said : If you shall ask me anything in my name, that I will do (Jn. xiv. 14). My Jesus, trusting in this great promise, I ask, in Thy name and through Thy merits, Thy grace and Thy love. Grant that Thy grace and Thy holy love may abound in my soul, in which sin has abounded. I thank Thee for having given me grace to make this petition by inspiring the prayer, Thou showest that Thou dost intend to hear it. Hear me, O my Jesus; give me a great love for Thee; give me a great desire to please Thee, and give me strength to do Thy will. O Mary, my great advocate! do thou also listen to my cry, and pray to Jesus for me.