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Tag Archives: 4 last things

ST SYLVESTER GOZZOLINI, ABBOT

ST SYLVESTER GOZZOLINI, ABBOT

ST SYLVESTER GOZZOLINI, ABBOT – MEMORIAL: NOVEMBER 26

Sylvester, born of a noble family at Osimo, in Picenum, was remarkable, even as a boy, for his keen intelligence and upright conduct. Being duly instructed in sacred learning and made a Canon, he benefited his people by his example and his sermons. At the funeral of a relative, who was also a nobleman and a very handsome person, on seeing the disfigured corpse in the open tomb, he said: “What this man was, I am now; what he is now, I shall be.”

WITH THE DESIRE FOR GREATER PERFECTION, HE SPENT HIMSELF IN VIGILS, PRAYER AND FASTING 

He soon retired to a lonely place with the desire for greater perfection, and there spent himself in vigils, prayer and fasting. To hide himself better from men, he kept changing his dwelling place. At length, he arrived at Monte Fano, at that time a solitary place, built a church in honour of St Benedict and laid the foundations of the Congregation of Sylvestrines. There he strengthened the monks with his wonderful holiness. He shone with the spirit of prophecy, and possessed power over the demons and other gifts, which he always tried to hide with deep humility. He fell asleep in the Lord in the year of salvation 1267.

PRAYER:

Most merciful God, who, when the holy Abbot Sylvester was devoutly meditating upon the vanity of this world beside an open grave, graciously willed to call him into the desert and enrich him with unusual merits, we humbly pray that, following his example, despising the things of earth, we may thoroughly enjoy your everlasting presence. Through our Lord…

– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964

 

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YOU HAVE HERE NO LASTING HOME

YOU HAVE HERE NO LASTING HOME

YOU ARE A STRANGER AND A PILGRIM WHEREVER YOU MAY BE

You have here no lasting home. You are a stranger and a pilgrim wherever you may be, and you shall have no rest until you are wholly united with Christ.

Why do you look about here when this is not the place of your repose? Dwell rather upon heaven and give but a passing glance to all earthly things. They all pass away, and you together with them. Take care, then, that you do not cling to them lest you be entrapped and perish. Fix your mind on the Most High, and pray unceasingly to Christ.

GIVE BUT A PASSING GLANCE TO EARTHLY THINGS

If you do not know how to meditate on heavenly things, direct your thoughts to Christ’s passion and willingly behold His sacred wounds. If you turn devoutly to the wounds and precious stigmata of Christ, you will find great comfort in suffering, you will mind but little the scorn of men, and you will easily bear their slanderous talk.

CHRIST WAS LEFT BY FRIENDS, HE HAD ENEMIES AND DEFAMERS 

When Christ was in the world, He was despised by men; in the hour of need He was forsaken by acquaintances and left by friends in the depths of scorn. He was willing to suffer and to be despised; do you dare to complain of anything? He had enemies and defamers; do you want everyone to be your friend, your benefactor? How can your patience be rewarded if no adversity test it? How can you be a friend of Christ if you are not willing to suffer any hardship? Suffer with Christ and for Christ if you wish to reign with Him.

SPIRITUAL PEACE

Had you but once entered into perfect communion with Jesus or tasted a little of His ardent love, you would care nothing at all for your own comfort or discomfort but would rejoice in the reproach you suffer; for love of Him makes a man despise himself.

A man who is a lover of Jesus and of truth, a truly interior man who is free from uncontrolled affections, can turn to God at will and rise above himself to enjoy spiritual peace.

– From: Thomas a Kempis; The Imitation of Christ (15th century)

 

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YOU CANNOT CONTINUE TO LIVE IN SIN AND AFTERWARDS GO TO HEAVEN

YOU CANNOT CONTINUE TO LIVE IN SIN AND AFTERWARDS GO TO HEAVEN

JUDGMENT

In that day every trial borne in patience will be pleasing and the voice of iniquity will be stilled; the devout will be glad; the irreligious will mourn; and the mortified body will rejoice far more than if it had been pampered with every pleasure. Then the cheap garment will shine with splendour and the rich one become faded and worn; the poor cottage will be more praised than the gilded palace. In that day persevering patience will count more than all the power in this world; simple obedience will be exalted above all worldly cleverness; a good and clean conscience will gladden the heart of man far more than the philosophy of the learned; and contempt for riches will be of more weight than every treasure on earth.

A GOOD AND CLEAN CONSCIENCE 

Then you will find more consolation in having prayed devoutly than in having fared daintily; you will be happy that you preferred silence to prolonged gossip.

Then holy works will be of greater value than many fair words; strictness of life and hard penances will be more pleasing than all earthly delights.

Learn, then, to suffer little things now that you may not have to suffer greater ones in eternity. Prove here what you can bear hereafter. If you can suffer only a little now, how will you be able to endure eternal torment? If a little suffering makes you impatient now, what will hell fire do?  In truth, you cannot have two joys: you cannot taste the pleasures of this world and afterwards reign with Christ.

ALL IS VANITY, EXCEPT TO LOVE GOD AND TO SERVE HIM ALONE

If your life to this moment had been full of honours and pleasures, what good would it do if at this instant you should die? All is vanity, therefore, except to love God and to serve Him alone.

He who loves God with all his heart does not fear death or punishment or judgment or he’ll, because perfect love assures access to God.

It is no wonder that he who still delights in sin fears death and judgment.

It is good, however, that even if love does not as yet restrain you from evil, at least fear of hell does. The man who casts aside the fear of God cannot continue long in goodness but will quickly fall into the snares of the devil.

– From: Thomas a Kempis; The Imitation of Christ

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2019 in Words of Wisdom

 

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IN ALL THINGS CONSIDER YOUR END

IN ALL THINGS CONSIDER YOUR END

In all things consider the end; how you shall stand before the strict Judge from Whom nothing is hidden and Who will pronounce judgment in all justice, accepting neither bribes nor excuses. And you, miserable and wretched sinner, who fear even the countenance of an angry man, what answer will you make to the God Who knows all your sins? Why do you not provide for yourself against the day of judgment when no man can be excused or defended by another because each will have enough to do to answer for himself? In this life your work is profitable, your tears acceptable, your sighs audible, your sorrow satisfying and purifying.

PRIORITIES

The patient man goes through a great and salutary purgatory when he grieves more over the malice of one who harms him than for his own injury; when he prays readily for his enemies and forgives offences from his heart; when he does not hesitate to ask pardon of others; when he is more easily moved to pity than to anger; when he does frequent violence to himself and tries to bring the body into complete subjection to the spirit.

It is better to atone for sin now and to cut away vices than to keep them for purgation in the hereafter. In truth, we deceive ourselves by our ill-advised love of the flesh. What will that fire feed upon but our sins? The more we spare ourselves now and the more we satisfy the flesh, the harder will the reckoning be and the more we keep for the burning.

– From: Thomas a Kempis; The Imitation of Christ

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2019 in Words of Wisdom

 

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PRAYER FOR A HAPPY DEATH

PRAYER FOR A HAPPY DEATH

PRAYER OF ST FRANCIS XAVIER TO ST MICHAEL FOR A HAPPY DEATH 

O powerful Protector of those who invoke thee, holy Archangel Michael, defend me against the attacks of Satan every moment of my life, and, above all, when the Sovereign Judge shall call me to render to Him an account of all my actions and of my fidelity in the accomplishment of His holy law. Amen.

ANTIPHON TO THE ARCHANGEL MICHAEL 

St Michael Archangel, defend us in the day of battle, that we may not be lost in the dreadful judgment.

[Indulgence of 100 days, once a day. – Leo XIII., Aug. 19th, 1893.]

– From: St Anthony’s Treasury, 1916

 
 

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HOW THE BEAUTY OF A CHRISTIAN SOUL ENRAPTURES HIM WHO BECAME ITS SPOUSE BY BAPTISM

HOW THE BEAUTY OF A CHRISTIAN SOUL ENRAPTURES HIM WHO BECAME ITS SPOUSE BY BAPTISM

RAISE YOUR EYES TO THE REGIONS OF INFINITE LOVE: THERE YOU WILL FIND THE SECRET OF YOUR TEARS

Alas! we always forget that the object of our love is beloved also by another, and that God is called in the Holy Scriptures a jealous God. In our affections we forget Him Who loves more than all creatures together, and Who, lest they should find any reason to complain of Him, has willed to die for them, eternal as He was by His nature. Raise your eyes to the regions of infinite love, there you will find the secret of your tears. You will see wrapped in the embrace of God the soul which divided itself so equally between God and you, that not even the attractions of Heaven would have torn it from you, if it had not received an indisputable order. You will see the reason of this command, which seems so cruel, and understand how the beauty of a Christian soul enraptures Him Who became its Spouse by baptism.

DEATH IS THE PORTAL OF LIFE

Unhappy that we are, we do not believe these divine mysteries! We call birth and life by the name of death; we make a tomb of the portal of heaven, we weep there, like men who have no hope?

– Lacordaire, from Laverty & Sons (eds), Leeds, 1905

 

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THE ENTRANCE OF THE SOUL INTO HEAVEN

THE ENTRANCE OF THE SOUL INTO HEAVEN

WHAT JOY!

What joy when the soul, freed from the bonds of the flesh, rises triumphant above the clouds, and, passing the starry barrier, presents itself at the gate of heaven!

What joy to cross for the first time the sacred threshold of the heavenly home! The angels and saints going forth to meet the soul, pressing around it, offering it glad congratulations.

What joy to recognise in this happy company so many friends and dear relatives, our glorious patrons, our holy protectors, and, above all, Jesus and Mary!

– Laverty & Sons (eds), 1905

 

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EACH MINUTE BEARS THE IMPRESSION OF YOUR INTENTION

EACH MINUTE BEARS THE IMPRESSION OF YOUR INTENTION

“Man lives only once, and after this comes the judgment.” (Hb9:27)

 

What is your age?

Nineteen years.

Have you counted the number of minutes which have elapsed since your birth? This number is enormous: nine millions, nine hundred and ninety-one thousand two hundred and sixty.

And all these minutes have ascended to God; and God has examined them one by one. He has weighed them; they must serve to pay for your eternity.

Each one bears the impression of your intention, as each piece of money bears the effigy of some prince; and those alone pass current in eternity which are marked with the image of God.

Should not this reflection make us tremble?

“I have never understood,” says Eugénie de Guérin, “the confidence of those who present themselves before God with no other credentials than social good conduct, as if our duties were enclosed in the narrow circle of this world.

The fact of being “a nice son, a nice neighbour or a nice brother” is not sufficient to obtain admission for us into heaven. God requires other merits…from him on whom He bestows an eternal crown of glory.

– From: Golden Grains, H.M.Gill And Son, Dublin 1889

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2016 in Words of Wisdom

 

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TO ROB DEATH OF ITS TERRORS

Most people fear death in a greater or less degree, however much they may outwardly conceal the fact. And if we ask the reason why they should fear it, the reason is not far to seek. Death is a punishment of sin. It was the penalty that was attached by God Himself to the first transgression of His law. To our first parents, Adam and Eve, He said: “In the day thou eatest of it, thou shalt die the death.” He was speaking, of course, “of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste brought death into the world and all our woe”, as Milton says in the opening lines of his Paradise Lost. For this reason we shrink from it and all its circumstances – the coffin, the corruption, the worms, all so many marks and signs of our fallen condition. Disease, old age with its disabilities, the natural decay and loss of our faculties are its normal forerunners and are invested with the same reproach as testimonies to our being originally born in sin.

The older you get, the more real death becomes 

When you were still going, you did not think about death. It was almost impossible for you to envisage it. When you were older death became more real, and if it were a disturbing thought perhaps you turned hastily away from the grim spectre. When you become old, if you are not so already, its approach will be so near that you can hardly avoid thinking of it and the thought of it may, though it need not, have a paralytic effect on you.

Looking death straight in the face

The wise thing to do at all times in your life is to look death straight in the face, for the thought of it is a deterrent from sin – a much greater evil. But your consideration of death must not be morbid, but sane and calm. Acknowledge it to be a frightening thing but accept it, as a punishment of sin, in entire resignation to God’s will. Offer it, in advance, as often as the thought of it occurs, as an expiation for all your sins, and unite it with the death of Our Lord on the Cross. In this way you will ensure a happy death, one that will be full of consolation and hope for the actual moment of its happening. The fears and anxieties that during life may come to you at the thought of death are indeed veritable sufferings, but united to our Blessed Redeemer’s sufferings they can be converted into so many acts of penance that will bring their certain reward in not only procuring you a happy and peaceful death but in winning for you great merit in heaven. So the naturally disturbing thought of death can by degrees become a consoling one, seeing that it can be the means of immense spiritual gain.

“Watch and pray, for ye know not the day nor the hour”

But there is another consideration that can help to rob death of its terrors. After it, our destiny will be fixed for eternity. There will then be no more chance of doing penance and no more chance of practising virtue, of being patient under the daily annoyances and troubles of life, of exercising charity in the many ways and opportunities that offer themselves every single day, of acquiring merit and hoarding up treasure in heaven. Death is the end of our trial and probation; and death may come at any time, be we young, middle-aged, or old. “Watch and pray,” Our Blessed Lord said, “for ye do not know the day nor the hour.”

“While it is day”

The thought of death therefore should be the stimulus to instant action. We recall the words of Our Lord, “I must work the works of Him who sent me, while it is day,” and again He said, “The night cometh when no one can work” (John 9:4). The night is, of course, death. Let us then make Our Lord’s word ours, act upon them at once, now, to-day and every day. Let us work as it were against time. There is a Tuscan proverb that runs: “Pray as if you had to die to-day, work as if you had to live for aye.” If we live in this spirit, how faithful we shall be to our prayers, how constant in our frequentation of the sacraments, how often we shall turn to God during the day offering our work with a renewed intention of doing it all for Him, how careful and assiduous we shall be in doing that work, whatever it be, for we shall know that we are doing His will, the complete doing of which is the summit of all perfection. To those who live in this spirit, death when it comes will only be the end of a long day of toil and service in the interests of our dear Lord and Master, who will know how to console, bless, and reward His faithful servant. Death for such a one will have lost its terrors. This is the consolation of those who “live and die in the Lord”.

The joy of having finally made it all the way through the valley of the shadow of death

Yet though we have a natural dread of death, there is another sure way of getting rid of its terrors, and it is one that every good Catholic can acquire. To those who have a great and true love of God, who have thought and meditated upon His perfections – His goodness, His beauty, His lovableness, and the rest, all of which He has in an infinite and ineffable degree – to those who have come so to love Him that nothing and nobody apart from God has any attractions for them except in so far as they lead them to an ever-increasing love for God and an ever-growing desire to possess Him, to such souls death is not a dread, it is only the unfolding of the gate that gives entrance to the full vision of Him.

Why should they fear now that they are freed from the prison-house? 

One of our English poets has described us as “the prisoners of death”, but death can hold us only on this earth. When death comes for those who love God above all things, it is the beginning of their true life. While on this earth, all their aspirations and hopes have been directed to the unseen world, why should they fear now they are freed from the prison-house? Their heart has long been in heaven and the Treasure they most prize is there; there is their King and their Lord, their dearest and unfailing friend; and there too is their Mother Mary, and with her, the angels and the saints, the very élite of God’s creation. The soul in love with God has all this in mind and so is detached from all earthly things and ever looks to the world to come.

Our dearest and unfailing friend

Death reminds us to grow in this love of God, to love ever more entirely for Him, continually to push out self-love so that He may find room to wholly possess us.

It is not difficult for a good Catholic to arrive at a pure love of God, loving Him for Himself alone and His ineffable goodness. The thought alone that the greatest pain of the damned in hell is the loss of this Infinite Good is enough to convince our intellect and to stir our will, so that (as has been pointed out in another conference) we love Him with the whole of our minds and our hearts. Fear, such as the thought of hell may inspire, is – especially in the initial stages of conversion, as St Augustine points out in his Confessions – a motive for serving God; but this fear should by degrees give way to love, so that love becomes the dominating motive in our lives and sanctifies them as nothing else can.

It is then that we shall be able with all sincerity to say with St Paul, quoting from the prophet Osee [Hosea], “O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?” (1Cor. 15:55).

– From: Lift Up Your Hearts, Christopher J. Wilmot, S.J., The Catholic Book Club, London, 1949

 

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THE CONSOLATIONS OF THE GENERAL JUDGEMENT

“Then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in Heaven” (Matt. 24:30)

The pagan theory, held by more than one Government in our days, that the State as such knows no master, either in the heaven above or on the earth below, that it is a law unto itself, and is wholly independent of the moral order which binds individuals, is as untrue as it is blasphemous.

…as untrue as it is blasphemous

And its further contention that there is no sanction in this world or in another for what men may be pleased to call its misdeeds is equally false and contrary to facts.

…contrary to facts

That there is a punishment even on this earth for the collective crime of a nation or people is made apparent for all time by the tragic events of years past. But over and above the downfall of a guilty country and its ruin at the hands of an outraged world, there is awaiting it a further and more terrible, though less immediate, retribution of which we are reminded in the words quoted at the head of this conference, and that is the sentence that will be passed at the General Judgement. Let us betake ourselves in thought to that day of awful consummation, when right will be vindicated for ever, and wrong finally dethroned and cast into the burning.

The General Judgement

In imagination, helped out by the words of the Gospel, let us envisage the scene. The world then has grown old: its course is wellnigh run. The Gospel has been preached to all nations, and the abomination of desolation is standing in the Holy Place.

The day of consummation when right will be vindicated for ever…

False prophets have gone abroad and seduced many, and unless these days had been shortened even the elect would have been perverted. Nations have arisen one against another and murderous wars have laid waste the land; pestilences and famines and earthquakes have exercised their sway over the face of the earth. A mighty persecution against all that is holy and good, against Christ and His Church has broken out.

…and wrong will be finally dethroned and cast into the burning

There have been signs in the heavens: the sun refused to give its light, and the moon has turned to blood, for a conflagration of unexampled proportions has sprung up and spread far and wide and threatens to consume the world.

The Gospel has been preached to all nations, and the abomination of desolation is standing in the Holy Place

And suddenly there is a sound, the like of which never was heard before: it is the trumpet of Judgement summoning the quick and the dead before the tribunal of God.

At that piercing blast the countless generations of the dead start from their graves as if they had been but sleeping, and the sea gives up those that were buried in its depths. All are there, those that inhabited the earth before the Deluge, the five empires of Daniel, Jews and Greeks and Romans, Christian and heathen, rulers of States and their subjects, the rich, the poor, the learned, the ignorant.

And suddenly there is a sound which has never been heard before: a piercing trumpet blast

And then “the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the heavens,” a wail will arise from all the tribes of the earth, and they shall see the Son of Man coming “in the clouds of heaven with great power and majesty”, with Blessed Mary at His side, and the apostles around Him, and an innumerable multitude of angels forming His retinue.

The trumpet of Judgement, summoning the living and the dead

The most solemn and awe-inspiring moment in the history of the world has arrived. It is a generally accepted theological opinion that each one of that immense assemblage will have been already judged after death in private fashion and that his state will have been sealed for evermore. None the less is the General Judgement of the last day a final and fitting complement to the dispositions of divine governance; in no sense a superfluous pageant or scenic display but the necessary epilogue of the bloodstained annals of mankind.

The Son of Man is coming in the clouds of heaven with great power and majesty

Man is not merely an individual who can sin against his Maker in his private capacity: he is associated with others, he is the member of a state, or community, or family; he has friends who have come under his influence or by whom he has himself been influenced, and it is only right and proper that the sins of these aggregate bodies, and the guilt of each individual in relation to his neighbour should be exposed before the world and meet with the overwhelming reprobation of men and angels, of Christ and of God.

The most solemn and awe-inspiring moment in the history of the world has arrived

Then at length shall the ways of Providence, so often mysterious and hidden, be revealed and justified in the eyes of all creatures. Then shall nations, the proudest and mightiest, rulers first and subjects after, stand arraigned for judgement in the fierce light of day, humbled to the dust and held up to universal condemnation not only for the unjust wars they have waged, the rivers of blood they have shed to satisfy an insensate ambition, and the atrocities they have perpetrated in defiance of every law, divine and human; but also in many instances for their national apostasy, their loudly advertised irreligion, their persecution of the Church, their oppression of the poor, the countenance they gave to vice and corruption.

Man is not merely an individual who can sin in his private capacity, he sins in his public role 

These are crimes calling to heaven for vengeance; and yet God often delays, they are not always visited by Him in the lifetime of the evildoers. Sometimes even iniquity seems to prosper in the high places, and an unrighteous cause may succeed and prevail.

At the Last Day, however, “the people will be seen to have devised vain things” and “He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh at them, and the Lord shall deride them and speak to them in his anger and trouble them in his rage” (Psalm 2). Shame unutterable shall be their portion. There shall be “gnashing of teeth and the call for mountains to cover them,” but all in vain final humiliation and utter discomfiture will be public and irretrievable.

Man’s public and hidden misdeeds will be brought to account in public and in full view of whom they have wronged without anybody having apologised to them, without having even tried to put it right and without having done penance before God and His Church

The General Judgement, moreover, besides bringing fit retribution to States and Peoples for their manifold crimes will also expose and avenge those innumerable sins which are not merely private and personal to men, but in which others are involved, scandals which have led them into evil, false teachings which have sapped and endangered their faith, wicked examples which they have been induced to imitate, malicious slanders that have assassinated their character, cruel deeds that have embittered their life.

Transgressions in regard to neighbour

It is only just that the workers of evil should answer to God in private for their more hidden misdeeds, those against themselves and against Him, but that they should be brought to account in public and in presence of those they have wronged for their other transgressions in regard to their neighbour.

And hence it is not a little remarkable that the sentence of the Judge on that day will make no mention of secret sins, but only of such as may have hurtfully affected others.

Depart from me, for I was hungry and you gave me not to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me not to drink; I was a stranger and you took me not in; naked and you covered me not, sick and in prison and you did not visit me – and: As long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you it to me (Matt 25:41 et seq.)

We do not take consolation or joy in the thought of the punishment that the wicked will suffer at that great Day of Judgement; we do not find pleasure in another’s pain, however much he may have deserved it. But we may well be consoled to think that at the Last Day God’s ways will be justified and all His claims upon the worship and service of His creatures will be vindicated, that all wrongs will be righted.

At the Last Day all wrongs will be righted

We may secure that the General Judgement will be to each of us individually a day of consolation, for according to Our Lord’s own words the final sentence passed upon us will depend upon the manner in which we have acquitted ourselves in the observance of God’s first and great commandment of charity.

God’s first and great commandment of charity

If in spite of many other sins and imperfections of which we had repented during life, we have always steadily striven to exercise charity, then to us will be said before that mighty host of all our fellow beings those consoling words:

Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me to eat: I was thirsty and you gave me to drink: I was a stranger and you took me in: naked and you covered me: sick and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee a stranger and took thee in or naked and covered thee? Or when did we see thee sick or in prison and came to thee? And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me (Matt 25:34 et seq.)

At the final day of reckoning God’s ways will be justified

What an incentive this is to all of us to practise charity in the many and sundry ways that are offered to us every day, so that at the final day of reckoning we may stand up unafraid and consoled at that Great Judgement of Our Lord.

– From: Lift Up Your Hearts, Christopher J. Wilmot, S.J., The Catholic Book Club, London, 1949

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2016 in Words of Wisdom

 

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