But, Christian soul, that you may see more clearly what you are, follow the advice of St. Chrysostom: “Go to the grave; contemplate dust, ashes, worms; and sigh.” 2 Behold how that corpse first turns yellow, and then black. Afterwards, the entire body is covered with a white, disgusting mould; then comes forth a clammy, fetid slime, which flows to the earth. In that putrid mass is generated a great multitude of worms, which feed on the flesh. Rats come to feast on the body; some attack it on the outside; others enter into the mouth and bowels. The cheeks, the lips, and the hair fall off. The ribs are first laid bare, and then the arms and legs. The worms, after having consumed all the flesh, devour one another; and, in the end, nothing remains but a fetid skeleton, which in the course of time falls to pieces; the bones separate from one another and the head separates from the body. They became like the chaff of a summer’s threshing-floor, and they were carried away by the wind.
Behold what man is: he is a little dust on the threshing- floor, which is blown away by the wind.
Behold a young nobleman, who was called the life and soul of conversation: where is he now? Enter into his apartment: he is no longer there. If you look for his bed, his robes, or his armor, you will find that they have passed into the hands of others. If you wish to see him, turn to the grave, where he is changed into corruption and withered bones. O God! that body, pampered with so many delicacies, clothed with so much pomp, and at- tended by so many servants, to what is it now reduced? O ye saints! who knew how to mortify your bodies for the love of that God whom alone you loved on this earth, you well understood the end of all human greatness, of all earthly delights; now your bones are honored as sacred relics, and preserved in shrines of gold, and your souls are happy in the enjoyment of God, expecting the last day, on which your bodies shall be made partners of your glory, as they have been partakers of your cross in this life. The true love for the body consists in treating it here with rigor and contempt, that it may be happy for eternity; and in refusing it all pleasures, which might make it miserable forever.
Affections and Prayers.
Behold, then, O my God! to what my body, by which I have so much offended Thee, must be reduced! to worms and rottenness. This does not afflict me; on the contrary, I rejoice that this flesh of mine, which has made me lose Thee, my Sovereign Good, will one day rot and be consumed. What grieves me is, that, to indulge in these wretched pleasures, I have given so much displeasure to Thee. But I will not despair of Thy mercy. Thou hast waited for me in order to pardon me. The Lord waiteth, that He may have mercy on you (Isa., xxx, 18).
Thou wilt forgive me if I repent. O Infinite Goodness, I repent with my whole heart of having despised Thee. I will say with St. Catharine of Genoa, “My Jesus, no more sins! no more sins!” I will no longer abuse Thy patience. O my crucified Love, I will not wait till the confessor places the crucifix in my hands at the hour of death. From this moment I embrace Thee; from this moment I recommend my soul to Thee. Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit (Ps., xxx, 6). My soul has been so many years in the world, and has not loved Thee. Give me light and strength to love Thee during the remainder of my life: I will not wait to love Thee at the hour of death. From this moment I love Thee; I embrace Thee, and unite myself to Thee ; and I promise never more to depart from Thee, O most holy Virgin! bind me to Jesus Christ, and obtain for me the grace never to lose him more.