Prepare for Death with St John Vianney

From a sermon by Saint John Vianney...

'Alas! That there are so many of these blind people who do not open their eyes until the moment when there are no further remedies for their ills! Yes, my dear brethren, yes, a life of sin and a death of rejection! You are in sin and you do not wish to give it up? No, you say. Very well, my children, you will perish in sin. You will see that in the death of Voltaire, the notorious blasphemer.

Listen carefully and you will see that if we despise God always and if God waits for us during our lives, often, by a just judgment, He will abandon us at the hour of our death, when we would like to return to Him. The idea that one can live in sin and give it all up one day is one of the Devil's traps which will cause you to lose your soul as it has caused so many others to lose theirs. Voltaire, realising that he was ill, began to reflect upon the state of the sinner who dies with his conscience loaded with sins. He wished to examine his conscience and to see whether God would be willing to pardon him all the sins of his life, which were very great in number. He counted upon the mercy of God, which is infinite, and with this comforting thought in mind, he had brought to him one of those priests whom he had so greatly outraged and calumniated in his writings. He threw himself upon his knees and made a declaration to him of his sins and put into his hands the recantation of all his impieties and his scandals. He began to flatter himself on having achieved the great work of his reconciliation. But he was gravely mistaken. God had abandoned him; you will see how. Death anticipated all spiritual help. Alas! This unfortunate blasphemer felt all his terrors reborn in him. He cried out: “Alas, am I then abandoned by God and men?”
Yes, unhappy man, you are. Already your lot and your hope are in Hell. Listen to this godless man; he cries out with that mouth sullied with so many profanities and so much blasphemy against God, His religion, and His ministers.

“Ah,” he cried, “Jesus Christ, Son of God, who died for all sinners without distinction, have pity on me!”
But, alas! Almost a century of blasphemy and impiety had exhausted the patience of God, Who had already rejected him. He was no more than a victim which the wrath of God fattens for the eternal flames. The priests whom he had so derided but whom, in this moment he so desired, were not there. See him as he falls into convulsions and the horrors of despair, his eyes wild, his face ghastly, his body trembling with terror! He twists and turns and torments himself and seems as if he wants to atone for all those previous blasphemies with which his mouth had been so often sullied. His companions in irreligion, fearing, lest someone might bring him the last Sacraments, something which would have seemed to them to dishonour their cause, brought him to a house in the country, and there, abandoned to his despair...'

In other words, do not consider that your entrance to the Father's House is a realistic prospect unless you are repentant. Prepare now, as His Holiness has done, for death, so that you, like he, can say, 'Two or three years and I'll be off to the Father's House'. Don't be like me and Voltaire and wait for the last minute, daring to presume that God will spare your soul, forget your impiety and overlook your sins! Let us not presume God's mercy. It's just not cricket. Let us seek it everyday.


Liam Ronan said…
"And one of the two thieves who hung there fell to blaspheming against him; Save thyself, he said, and us too, if thou art the Christ.
But the other rebuked him; What, he said, hast thou no fear of God, when thou art undergoing the same sentence? And we justly enough; we receive no more than the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing amiss.
Then he said to Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
And Jesus said to him, I promise thee, this day thou shalt be with me in Paradise." Luke 23:39-43

Worth reflecting on lest we despair.
Anonymous said…
Our Lord's words of great hope and encouragement in the The Divine Mercy Devotions really need to be amplified all over the world. As He said to St. Faustina "My mercy is unfathomable" Its a refuge for great sinners. Divine Mercy requires sincere repentance.
Anonymous said…
it pains me greatly that the majority of catholics in the western world are practicing "Voltaire" christianity..

helped by many priests who speak not of repentence but rather seek never to offend anyone!

Let us pray for the people in the pews even more than those outside our church!!!
John Vasc said…
In a different account of Voltaire's's death, a priest at his deathbed asked him to formally renounce the devil. Voltaire replied "Now is not the time for making new enemies." They are often said to have been his last words. A good laugh for his posthumous readers, but not quite so amusing for him.

Blithely postponing a general reconciliation with God (or even an overdue Confession after grave and habitual sin) to a more 'convenient' time, is a result of the complacent sense of assurance in God's unfailing mercy, as (mis-)taught since 1975.

St Augustine's feastday is on Thursday - a useful reminder that we have all fallen short of the mercy of God, and stand constantly in need of His Divine Grace.

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