Day 15 (Dec 11) Rejoice Always & The Eternal Consequences of Sin (Advent Meditation)
1. St. Paul goes beyond the mere command to rejoice, and to rejoice in the Lord; he also bids us to rejoice always. Is this possible? Yes, it is quite possible. If it were not, the Apostle would not have imposed it upon us. It is not easy, because our self-love and our selfishness destroy joy. But the saints, who had driven self-love out of their hearts, found it a pleasant and an easy task to be always joyful. If we desire the same, we must do our best to get rid of this hindrance to our joy.
2. How are we to accomplish this task? It must be a gradual one. It is to be arrived at by many acts of submission to the will of God, and to the will of others when opposed to our own; and the submission must have for its motive, not the intellectual conviction that what we ourselves desire is in itself inferior, but the determination to submit for the sake of submission, and as an act of reverence to God. We must be willing to submit both will and intellect to those set over us, without complaining or questioning their commands. Do I do so?
3. When this painful process is over, and when at length we begin to learn the happiness of giving up our own will to the will of others, we soon begin to receive the reward of our self-conquest. We acquire by degrees an undisturbed calm of soul, and an increasing strength of will, as the fruits of our victory over self, and above all a happy consciousness that we have been learning the lesson of conforming our will to the will of God, in which the happiness of heaven consists.
The Eternal Consequences of Sin
Whoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the pool of fire. (Apoc. xx. 15.)
Try to represent to your imagination the eternal prison-house. Listen to the shrieks and yells and cries of despair that issue thence; see the agony written on the faces of the inmates; approach, if you can, to the devouring flame, taste the burning thirst that longs for one drop of water as an indescribable luxury.
1. What is it that the lost are suffering here? The pain of fire. Touch a piece of red-hot iron and see how long you can bear it. Yet the lost souls in hell endure an agony far worse than this, not in one portion of their body, but in all. Their eyes burn in the sockets like molten balls of fire. The fire surrounds them like water; nay, it is within and without them, it dries up their tongue, it consumes their entrails, it penetrates to the very marrow of their bones. My God, may I never incur this agony!
2. This fire is no ordinary fire. It is a supernatural fire; the breath of God kindles it. The torment of burning as known to us is a suffering far less than the torment of hell. If the lost could be transferred to a bath of seething, molten lead, it would be a far less suffering than that of the fire in which they are steeped in hell.
3. About this fire there is none of the light of ordinary fire. It carries with it the blackness of darkness. No ray of light will ever pierce its hideous gloom, no word of comfort, no sort of relief, no hope of change. Nothing to alleviate the eternal misery that comes of sin.
Pray that if the love of God or hope of heaven does not keep you from sinning,
at least the fear of hellfire may stop you in time!
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