Meditation for Friday
by St. Alphonsus Liguori
Consider that hell is a dreadful prison filled with fire. In this fire the reprobate are enveloped, having an abyss of fire above them, and around them and below them, in their eyes, their mouths, and throughout every part of their frame. There each sense suffers a torment peculiar to itself. The eyes are tormented with darkness and smoke, and at the same time by the sight of devils and damned souls; the ears hear nothing but continual howlings, lamentations and blasphemies; the smell is tormented by the stench of half-putrefied bodies; the taste by a burning thirst and cruel hunger, without the possibility of being alleviated by a drop of water or a morsel of bread. Hence proceed from those miserable captives, tears, groans, lamentations, howlings and despair; but all in vain: they will never obtain the smallest consolation under their torments, or the least mitigation of their pains. O hell, hell! Shall we wait until we are buried in your flames to believe you and to fear you? And yet this is the conduct of thoughtless and unrepenting sinners. O you who are reading this, what is your state? Were you to die at this moment, wither would you go? Ah! You could not endure the pain of a spark of fire falling upon your hand, and have you the assurance to expose yourself to the hazard of burning in a pool of fire, in desolation and despair for all eternity?
Consider the punishments that will be inflicted in hell on all the powers of your soul. The memory will be forever tormented with the recollection, and with remorse of conscience; this gnawing worm will continually remind you that you have damned yourself for some miserable pleasure or interest. O God! what will the soul think of past pleasures, after hundreds, thousands, and millions of years spent in hell? This gnawing worm will call to its recollection the time which God had given it for repentance, the means of salvation wherewith he had furnished it, the good example which he had set before it, and the resolutions which it had formed, but would never execute. The soul will, moreover, see that its present state is irremediable. O God, O God! how terrible is hell. The will, also, will be eternally contradicted; it will never obtain what it wishes, and will always meet with what it would gladly avoid. The understanding will discover the greatness of the good which it has lost in losing heaven and God. O God! O God! pardon me, for the love of Jesus Christ.
Sinner, you, who at present make small account of losing God, will discover your misfortune, when you will see the elect triumph and exult with joy on their entrance into heaven, and yourself banished, like an unclean animal, from that blessed country, deprived forever of seeing the face of an infinitely amiable God, and separated form the company of Mary, of the angels and the saints. Then, in fury and despair, you will exclaim: "O paradise of delights: O God of infinite goodness! thou art not and never will be mine." Repent, then; change your life; do not wait till the time of repentance is at an end. Give yourself to God; begin truly to love him. Beg of Jesus and Mary to have pity on you.
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