The End of the World
by Rev. Johann Evangelist Zollner, 1883

The Destruction of Jerusalem
How Jesus Christ will hold the Last Judgment
The Procession Preceding the Last Judgment
The Abomination of Desolation
Our Own Death and Judgment
What we must do to prepare for the Last Judgement
Concluding Prayer for All Things Necessary to Salvation
(Composed by Pope Clement XI, 1721)


What we must do in order to be prepared
for the Last Judgment

by Rev. Johann Evangelist Zollner, 1883

"They shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with great power and majesty."--Matt. 24: 30.

As our holy faith teaches us, Jesus Christ will come again, at the end of the world, to judge the living and the dead. All men that have ever lived, and that will live to the last day, shall arise out of their graves at the sound of the trumpet of the Angels and be gathered together before Jesus Christ, that they may be judged, as once before secretly, so now publicly, before the face of heaven and earth. Many, very many, will not be able to stand favorably before the tribunal, as is evident from the words of Christ: "Many are called, but few chosen."--Matt. 20: 16. The reason why the great majority of mankind will hear the sentence of condemnation is not to be attributed to God, who wills all men to be saved (1 Tim. 2: 4), but to men themselves, who will not do what is necessary for obtaining salvation; that is, they do not all believe, keep the commandments and use the means of grace. The question now is, what must we do in order to stand in judgment? This question shall occupy our attention today. That we may be able to stand the judgment, we must,

I. Set our conscience in order,
II. Keep our conscience in order.

Part I.
To set our conscience in order, it is required that:

1. We make a thorough confession, i. e.,

(a) A general confession. Many nominal Christians live for years in entire forgetfulness of God, and add sin to sin. In order to set their disordered conscience in order, they must make a general confession, or a confession of their entire past life. Such a confession is especially necessary for those who have not been conscientious in their confessions, and, for this reason, soon again relapse into their former sinful life; it is justly to be feared that such Christians have confessed invalidly for the want of contrition and a firm purpose of amendment. It often happens that Christians do not examine their conscience strictly enough, and, consequently, accuse themselves of their sins, their qualities and number, very imperfectly, or that from fear or shame they conceal something which they ought to confess; those also must make a general confession because their confessions are invalid. Generally speaking, it is advisable for all, even for those who have not led a disordered life, to make a general confession, for, after all, it is possible that one or the other of their past confessions has essential faults, which must be corrected, or this or that of their past life to be rectified, to the knowledge of which they came by a general confession. St. Leonard of Port Maurice, remarks that many intended to make a general confession from devotion, not from necessity, but when, in the course of the general confession, they were carefully examined and questioned, they spoke another language, they perceived that a general confession was not only useful but also necessary for them, and that without such a confession they could not have died a good death.

(b) Without delay. As with the business of salvation, so we must not defer the general confession to the distant, uncertain future. No one knows whether he may not be so situated that the making of a general confession will be impossible for him. Much less ought such a confession to be deferred to the death-bed, for often circumstances occur that man can hardly make a usual, much less a general, confession. Hence at all times Christians who were solicitous for their eternal salvation, made their general confession in good time. A Spanish nobleman came one day to a missionary, requesting him to hear his general confession. To the question, why he wished to make a general confession at that time, he replied: "Ah, must I not die! But if I wait till that moment my wife and children, fear, the vehemence of sickness will rob me of quietude and deliberation; how great, therefore, would be my imprudence, if I should do this business at such an inopportune time and under so many difficulties." And he would not defer his general confession for a single day. Do you also make a general confession as soon as possible, especially when you change your state of life, or in the time of a Jubilee or mission, for these are the most appropriate times for it, provided you are really resolved upon penance and the amendment of your life.

2. And do all that is required for a true repentance. Therefore we must,

(a) Restore the goods of others, which we may have acquired unjustly, and repair the damage we have done. He who does not comply with this duty, confesses in vain; he remains in sin and shall perish. On account of the omission of this duty very many will be condemned to hell by the divine Judge, for it is only too true that injustices of every description overflow the land, very few of which are ever repaired. As boiled meat is not brought back to the butchers, so stolen goods are hardly ever returned to the right owner.

(b) Repair the injury which we have done to the honor or good name of our neighbor or to his salvation, as far as we can. He who has without necessity revealed the faults of his neighbor or has injured his character, must endeavor to wipe out the evil impression of his bad report by excusing his neighbor and praising his good qualities; but he who has slandered his neighbor, for instance, has falsely spoken ill of him, must retract and publicly acknowledge that he has wronged him. This retraction, as a rule, is as necessary as the restitution of stolen goods, and he who will not do it, can no more obtain of God the pardon of his sins than can cheats and thieves who make no restitution.

This is particularly true of those who give scandal and who have seduced others to sin. He who has incited one to a sin, e. g., impurity, must strive to bring him back to the way of virtue by instruction and admonition, by prayer and good example. St. Margaret of Cortona appeared on a certain holyday, in a penitential garment and a rope around her neck, at the door of the church, and with many tears asked the pardon of all that entered, for the scandal she had given them by her notorious life.

(c) Give up enmities and sincerely reconcile ourselves with our neighbor, for without such a reconciliation no forgiveness of sin can be expected, as Christ emphatically declares: " If you will not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive you your sins."--Matt. 6: 15.

(a) Finally avoid the proximate occasion of sin. Those who will not resolve to do this, are even now destitute of the true penitential spirit and the earnest resolution of amendment of life. Hence St. Augustine says: " He who will not flee in the danger (of sin) has the will to perish." Witnesses: St. Peter, St. Mary Magdalen. He who is really in earnest with his penance gives up his sinful familiarity, frequents no longer those places and societies where he has formerly sinned by drunkenness, gambling, impurity, and avoids the proximate occasions of sin.

Thus you must set your conscience in order by a thorough confession and the execution of all that is required for a true repentance that you may be able to meet the judgment. And after having set your conscience in order, you must keep it in order.

Part II.
To keep your conscience in order, you must:

1. Pray. That the judgment may have a good issue, we must persevere in grace to the end, for only "he that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved."--Matt. 10: 22. But in order to persevere in grace unto the end we need a special help of God, for the enemies of our soul are too numerous and powerful, and we too weak, for us to be able always to resist temptations and preserve ourselves from grievous sins. This is an article of faith, the Council of Trent expressly teaches: " If any one saith that the justified is able to persevere, without the special help of God in justice received, let him be anathema."--6 Sess. can. 22. But God gives this special help generally only to those who ask for it. Therefore St. Augustine says: "It is known that God gives some graces to those who do not ask him, e. g., the beginning of faith, but keeps other graces in readiness only for those who ask him, e. g., the gift of final perseverance." From this it follows that only those obtain salvation who pray, and those who are lost do not pray. Hence St. Alphonsus says: "The damned in hell have been damned because they have not prayed; if they had prayed, they would not have been damned. All the Saints, on the contrary, have been saved because they prayed; and if they had not prayed, they would not have been saved." Who then would not pray with fervor, since so much depends on prayer?

2. Spiritual reading. St. Augustine says that good religious books are letters which God sends us, and in which he warns us against danger, shows us the way of salvation, exhorts us to the patient endurance of all tribulations, enlightens us, and leads us to His divine love. Love to read good religious books, especially on Sundays and holydays, that you may learn to live piously and find grace before the judgment-seat of Jesus Christ.

3. The frequent reception of the holy Sacraments of Penance and the Blessed Eucharist.

(a) The Sacrament of Penance has two effects; it cleanses from sin and has the power to heal the wounds that sin has made, or prevent them, and preserve us against them. As often as you make an humble and sincere confession, you are cleansed from all your sins, both mortal and venial; and at the same time you also receive special graces, by which you are strengthened and preserved from relapse into sin. "Confession," says St. Augustine, "is the salvation of the soul, the destruction of vices, and the victory over hell; it shuts the gates of hell, and opens the portals of heaven."

(b) Still more powerful and blessed are the effects of holy Communion. It is as the Council of Trent teaches. "An antidote whereby we are freed from daily faults and presented from mortal sins."--Session 13, ch. 2.

Holy Communion, according to the testimony of St. Thomas of Aquin, affords us extraordinary power and strength to overcome all the assaults of Satan, and to persevere in good. Moreover, it affords us great peace of soul, enlivens in us the spirit of devotion, strengthens in us all good, and imparts to us the most effectual graces for Christian perfection. Consider what St. Francis of Sales says: Two kinds of people need frequent (confession and) Communion, the perfect and the imperfect; the perfect, in order to keep themselves in their perfection; the imperfect, that they may obtain perfection; the strong, in order not to become weak, and the weak, in order to become strong; the sick, in order to recover health, and the healthy, in order not to get sick.

4. The devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. By devotion to the Saints we can obtain many graces, for on account of their virtue and sanctity they are in great favor with God, and are His friends, on which account He hears their intercessory prayers. But we may promise to ourselves still greater graces from our devotion to Mary because she is not only a servant of God, but also the Mother of God. How could we believe that God, who so graciously hears the Saints, His servants, would refuse to hear the prayer of Mary, His mother, when she prays to Him for us? "No," says St. Anthony, "the prayer of Mary being the prayer of a mother, has the virtue of a command, and for this reason it is impossible that she should not be heard when she prays." Add to this that Mary is also our mother, who affectionately loves us, and therefore is ever ready to obtain for us all the graces that we need for salvation. "Peruse," says St. Bernard, "the whole Bible history, and if you will find in Mary the least appearance of hard-heartedness, or the least sign of ill-will or severity, you may be doubtful of her favor and she may awaken fear in you. But if, on the contrary, you find in her a mother's heart, full of compassion, goodness and mercy, as you shall find, give thanks to Him who, from so great compassion, gave you a mediatrix in whom these is nothing suspicious or uninviting." St. Alphonsus, that great lover and admirer of Mary, exhorts us to have great confidence in her and invoke her intercession in all our necessities, for, says he, she is as mild as the best mother, and full of grace and mercy. St. Thomas of Aquin, that great light of the Church, shortly before his death testified that he had never asked anything of God through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, that he had not received.


You now know what you must do, that you may be able to stand the judgment. You must set your conscience in order by making a thorough confession of your sins, and you must fulfil all the conditions necessary to a true penance. You must keep your conscience in order, and therefore fervently practise prayer, read spiritual books, frequently go to confession and Communion, and have a particular devotion to the Blessed Virgin. Consider that your doom for all eternity will be decided before the judgment-seat of God, and therefore let it be your only care and business to prepare yourselves well for the Day of Judgment. If you have anything on your conscience, that you cannot well give an account of, rectify it without delay, walk in the fear of God and live as if the judgment were to take place today; then you need not fear when the Day of Wrath shall come. Amen.

A Prayer for All Things Necessary to Salvation


Our Death is for us the End of the World,
and the Last Judgment

by Rev. Johann Evangelist Zollner, 1883

"They shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and majesty."--Matt. 24: 50.

Our Blessed Lord, in the Gospel of this day, prophesies the end of the world, and the Last Judgment. The universe, as it now exists, will not last forever; sooner or later it will come to an end. Then will be the Judgment. Jesus Christ shall come down from heaven, not weak and humble as before, but with great power and majesty, to judge the living and the dead. At what time the end of the world and the Last Judgment will take place, no one knows; for God has revealed nothing of it to us. But even though these two events should take place after a long period of time, they will certainly come; our divine Saviour vouches for this truth, when at the end of this day's Gospel He says: "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away."

In a certain sense, however, we can say the end of the world, and the Last Judgment, shall come after a few years. How so? I shall answer this question by explaining to you that our death is for us,

I. The end of the world,
II. The Last Judgment.

Part I.

The events which precede and accompany the end of the world occur in a certain sense at our death; we can therefore justly say that the end of the world is, for us, when we die. Let us consider these events a little more closely.

1. Great tribulations will precede the end of the world, as Christ plainly says in the Gospel of today: "There shall be then great tribulations, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be." Wherein do these tribulations consist? In evils and calamities of every description. Plagues and sicknesses will break out and snatch away people without number: wars will rage, in which blood will flow in streams; and all nature will be confused and bring unspeakable woes upon men. The tribulations of those days will be so great that if, as the Lord says, they were not shortened no flesh should be saved.

The like will happen when we die. Look at a man whom death has pointed out as a victim; how he is distressed on all sides! He lies upon a bed of pain, and finds rest neither by day nor by night. No food, no drink refreshes him; sleep flees from his eyes; he feels nothing but woe and aching pains; he is so faint that he can hardly move a hand, all his senses are weakened, all his strength fails. And when he is in his agony, how short and heavy his breathing, how distorted his features till the last spark of life is extinguished in him. Are not these tribulations, such as have never come upon him? And if the dying man was a worldly man, who never cared for God and eternity, how terrible must his last hours be? His heart was bent upon temporal goods, the world was his god; now he sees and feels that he must leave, and leave forever, house and home, honors and dignities, joys and pleasures, friends and relations, in a word, all; what a painful and bitter separation! And what anguish must seize him, when he remembers the sins which in his life he has piled up mountain high, the many graces which he has received for his salvation, but squandered and abused, the many opportunities he has thrown away, and finally, eternity which cannot but have an unfavorable issue. Antiochus.--I. Mach. 6: 8-16.

2. Before the end of the world Antichrist will come and do immense mischief upon earth. "There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets; and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if it were possible) even the elect." St. Paul also speaks of Antichrist, and calls him "the man of sin, and the son of perdition, who opposeth, and is lifted up above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he sitteth in the temple of God showing himself as if he were God."-- II. Thess. 2- 4. Antichrist will have many adherents; for he will teach what flatters the passions, and will perform apparent miracles by the help of the devil; but against those who do not acknowledge him as the Messiah and serve him, he will raise a persecution, which in cruelty will far surpass those of the first three centuries of Christianity. The defection from the Christian faith will be very great.

The devil, that determined adversary of Christ and man, will prepare similar distresses and dangers of salvation for the dying. "This terrible enemy," says St. Alphonsus Ligouri, "puts forth all his energy in order to destroy the soul that is about to depart from this life." He knows that he has but a short time to gain the soul, and that if he loses her, he has lost her forever--Apoc. 12: 12. Therefore he assails the dying with all possible temptations. He entices them to presumption, and suggests to them, that they will not die yet, that they need not do penance yet, that they have nothing to fear from God, who is all-merciful; or he drives them to despair and suggests to them that the time for penance and conversion is over for them, that God will no more pardon them, that they belong already to the number of the damned, or he harasses them with doubts of faith, tempts them to pusillanimity, impurity, blasphemy, and attacks the soul on the side that is the weakest. Example: St Andrew Avellino was obliged to undergo so terrible a struggle with hell in his dying hour, that all who were present were seized with fear. For they saw that his face was distorted, and assumed a leaden color; he trembled all over his body; he gnashed his teeth, and shed copious tears. His aspect moved the bystanders to tears, they redoubled their prayers, and trembled for themselves, when they saw a Saint die in this manner. Only one circumstance consoled them; he frequently turned his eyes to the image of the Blessed Virgin, as if he called upon her for relief, whereat they remembered that he had often said during life that Mary would be his refuge in his dying hour. Finally it pleased God to put a stop to this conflict by a signal victory. The storm subsided and his countenance resumed its former cheerfulness and serenity. Calmly he fixed his eyes upon the image of Mary, inclined his head in token of gratitude and expired calmly. Here we see what exertions the devil makes to plunge the soul of the dying into perdition, but God assists those who have faithfully served him, and Mary takes those who have been devout to her under her particular protection and procures for them the victory in the battle with Satan.

3. Immediately after the tribulation of those days, "the sun shall be darkened, the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fail from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be moved." These are the events accompanying the end of the world. The whole firmament will tremble, all the heavenly bodies will leave their accustomed orbits and collide with one another with a terrible crash; the sun, the moon, and the stars will lose their brightness and cease to give light to the world, and dense darkness will cover the whole earth. Fire will fall from heaven and issue out of the bowels of the earth and consume everything that has life and breath. "The day of the Lord shall come as a thief, in which the heavens shall pass away with great violence; and the elements shall be dissolved with heat; and the earth, and the works that are in it, shall be burnt up."--II, Peter, 3: 10.

"What will happen at the end of the world, will also take place at the end of each individual man." When he lies there cold and stiff, no sun shines for him; the moon has lost her light for him; he sees no longer the stars in heaven, for him the end of the world has come, for all that the earth has and gives he can now no more possess, no more enjoy. If he was rich and had beautiful houses, large tracts of land, a lucrative business, much money, now he has none of all these things any more, only the grave remains for him. If he had a good time and enjoyed many pleasures, now, all that delights and rejoices the human heart has an end for him; only the grave remains for him. If he held an elevated position in society, if he enjoyed a great reputation among men, all is gone, only the grave remains for him. Saladin II., who had conquered many kingdoms in Asia, on his deathbed ordered that his shroud be fastened to a lance and carried before the funeral procession, and that a herald should proclaim: "This all that Saladin takes with him into the grave." Yes, yes, "When man shall die, he shall take nothing away, nor shall his glory descend with him."--Ps. 48; 18.

Part II.

As soon as the soul has departed from the body, she will be hurried before the tribunal of God: "It is appointed for men once to die, and after this the judgment."--Heb. 9: 27. This particular judgment, in reality, is the same as the last at the end of the world, for at one as well as at the other there is,

1. The same Judge. The judge at the Last Judgment, will be Jesus Christ, as He says himself: "When the Son of Man shall come in His majesty, and all the Angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the seat of His majesty. And all the nations shall be gathered together before Him; and He shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separated the sheep from the goats."--Matt. 25: 31, 32. It will also be Jesus Christ before whose tribunal we must appear after our departure, for "the Father doth not judge any man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son."--John, 5: 22.

We might suppose the circumstance that Jesus is our judge would take away the terror from the judgment, for He is all love and mercy, and did not come to judge but to save the world. But this is not so; as judge, Jesus Christ will give sway only to His justice, and the more mercy and love He has shown to men during life, the more rigorously will He deal with them if they did not serve Him. Joab, the general of king David, had once by his intercession obtained for Absalom the forgiveness of his father, but when he sinned against his father the second time, he became his implacable foe, and with cool deliberation transfixed him with three lances. What shall Christ do to those to whom He gives so many graces in life, but who squander them and die in impenitence? Will He be gracious to them again? No. For then He will know only justice, but no mercy. "That judge," says St. Bernard, "can be captivated by no friendliness, be moved by no compassion, be bribed by no money, and pacified by no satisfaction." Saul, on his way to Damascus, falls on the ground, when he hears a voice saying to him: "Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute me?" All strength has left him; and his eyes being open, he sees nothing, and for three days he can neither eat nor drink. Now, judge for yourselves what terror must seize the sinner before the judgment-seat when Christ shall cry out to him: "I am Jesus, whom you have persecuted, nay, crucified, by your sinful life. I have done and suffered so much for you, I have given you numberless graces and loved you more than a mother loves her only child, and you have never served nor glorified me; you have never loved me, you have resisted my will, withstood your conscience and reason, despised my blood, and thrown away your own happiness." Ah, how will the sinner tremble when Jesus speaks to him in these reproachful tones! But what consolation for the soul that loves God, when Jesus, full of tenderness and affection, turns to her and says: "I am Jesus, thy bridegroom, thy rewarder; because thou hast served me faithfully on earth, I will give to thee heaven as recompense."

2. The same inquisition. This inquisition at the Last Judgment extends itself to all that we have done, spoken, thought, wished or desired during life, be it good or evil; all things shall be inspected from every side, so that each one recognizes whether or in what degree he deserves praise or blame, reward or punishment. "There is nothing hid, that shall not be revealed; nor secret that shall not be known."--Matt. 10: 26.

The inquisition is instituted in the same way at the particular judgment, with this difference only, that the whole transaction is secret between Jesus and the soul, whereas at the Last Judgment it is public, in the face of the whole world. As soon as the departed soul is before Jesus, her whole life is drawn to the strictest account. Numberless are our thoughts, wishes and desires; the eternal Judge will scrutinize them all, whether good or bad, and bring them to the light of day. Countless are the words we speak, all will be examined, even the most insignificant. Numberless are our works; these also will be subjected to the most minute scrutiny. Yes, this examination will refer also to all the graces that we have received for our salvation, to all the opportunities that are given us for doing good, to all the duties of religion and our station, to all our exercises of virtue and good works; whether we have done them fervently or carelessly, for the honor of God or from some other motive. What a rigorous inquisition! How much reason have we to be alarmed, and to pray with David: "O Lord, enter not into judgment with thy servant; for in thy sight, no man living shall be justified."--Ps. 142: 2. How earnestly should we endeavor to repair our sins by a penitential life and henceforth to serve God with fervor, that we may be able to stand the judgment!

The same sentence. At the Last Judgment, Christ will first turn to the good, and say: "Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Then he will turn to the wicked and say: "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels."-- Matt. 25: 34-41. As soon as these sentences shall be pronounced, they shall be executed; the just shall go into life everlasting, and the wicked into everlasting punishment.

The same will be done at the particular judgment. If the soul be found perfectly just by the judge, He will lovingly turn to her and say: "Come, thou blessed soul, possess the kingdom prepared for thee from the foundation of the world." Who can describe the delight of the soul on hearing these words! How great will be her joy, when she knows her salvation to be secured! With what exultation will she, accompanied by Christ and His angels, enter into the heavenly Jerusalem! And if, on account of some lesser stains, she should be sent into purgatory, she will not despond on that account, for she knows that she will remain only a short time in this place of purification, and then be admitted into heaven. What terror and consternation, on the contrary, will take hold of the sinner, when the divine Judge, full of wrath, shall turn to him and say: "Depart from me, thou cursed soul, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels." This sentence is irrevocable and is immediately executed, the damned sinner is plunged into the fiery jaws of the pool of hell and will be tormented there forever and ever.


Fifty years hence, few if any of us here present, will be alive; I cannot promise that there will be even one. Aye, we may assume for certain, that some of us within less than a year will be no more among the living. But when we die, the end of the world and the last judgment will be for us, as we have seen. * * * Reflect seriously on this important truth, and make on this day, the last of the Ecclesiastical year, holy resolutions to set the affairs of your conscience in order and to make provision for a good death. Purify your conscience from all sins by a good confession and devote the remnant of your life to the service of God and the salvation of your soul. If you do this, death and judgment will have no terror for you; Jesus Christ will be a gracious judge to you and will call you to the joys of heaven. Amen.

A Prayer for All Things Necessary to Salvation


The Abomination of Desolation--A Picture of Sin
by Rev. Johann Evangelist Zollner, 1883

"When you shall see the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place; then let those that are in Judea flee to the mountains."--Matt. 24: 15, 16.

Our Blessed Lord had reason to speak of an abomination of desolation which the Jews should see in thirty-seven years. What was done at Jerusalem and in the temple after the lapse of this time was really abominable. A wicked class of Jews occupied the temple and perpetrated there the most awful iniquities; in the holy place, where sacrifice and prayer used to be offered to God, wild shouts of war, the din of arms, the groans of the wounded and dying were heard, in place of the blood of victims human blood was seen flowing. During the terrible siege of almost six months, hunger and pestilence raged in Jerusalem, and snatched away great numbers of people, and many lost their lives by the sword of the enemy. Finally the Romans stormed the city, took it, and totally destroyed it together with the temple. This is the abomination of desolation of which Christ speaks in the Gospel of today. But there is an abomination of desolation which is far more terrible than that in Jerusalem, and this is sin. And of this abomination I shall speak to-day. I say: The abomination of desolation is a picture of sin, whether we consider,

I. The perdition which sin brings on man, or
II. The means of preservation which we must use against it.

Part I.
The abomination of desolation comprises particularly,

1. The numberless victims which death demanded during the siege of Jerusalem. During this memorable siege, five hundred Jews were daily crucified, till at last there remained no more wood for making crosses, neither was there room for the many captured Jews who were waiting to be crucified. Those in Jerusalem were obliged to see this terrible spectacle of their crucified brethren. What must have been their feelings at this horrible sight! Since the Romans surrounded the city with a wall and cut off all supplies from the Jews who were in it, the number of whom may have amounted to three millions of people, a terrible famine soon broke out, to which were added plagues and sicknesses. Countless people died of these two evils. Manseus, who had one city-gate to guard, reported to Titus, that through his gate alone one hundred and fifteen thousand bodies had been brought out from April 14th to July 1st. Other respectable Jews who had gone over to the Romans said that six hundred thousand bodies had been cast out at the gates and over the walls of the city, not counting those that were piled up in the houses like pyres. When finally the Romans took the city by storm, they cut down all they met, sparing neither age nor sex. The number of those who perished during the siege and the storming of the city must have amounted to no less than eleven hundred thousand.

In this abomination of desolation we have a picture of sin. He who commits a mortal sin at once loses supernatural life and sanctifying grace, of which the supernatural life consists. This is a dogma of the Church: "If anyone does not confess that the first man, Adam, when he transgressed the commandment of God in paradise, immediately lost the holiness and justice wherein he had been constituted, let him be anathema."--Con. Trident. Sess. 5: 1. What is said here of the sin of the first man, holds good of every mortal sin. Of such a sin it is said in the Sacred Scripture: "Sin, when it is completed, begetteth death."--James, 1: 15. Of a man who has a grievous sin on his conscience it is said: "Thou hast the name of being alive, but thou art dead."--Apoc. 3: 1. St. Augustine says: "There is a death of the body, and a death of the soul. The soul can die, and yet cannot die. She cannot die, because she never loses her consciousness; she can die, if she loses God. For as the soul is the life of the body, so God is the life of the soul. If the body dies when the soul leaves it, so the soul dies when God leaves her;" she has now only the natural, not the supernatural, life. Since by means of sanctifying grace God dwells in the soul, with the loss of this grace he departs from her and leaves her in the state of death.

How miserable is man in this state! He robs himself,

(a) Of the love of God. God full of detestation turns away and withdraws from him his favor and friendship, for, being infinitely holy, he must hate and detest everything bad. If it is generally looked upon as a great evil for any one to lose the favor of his sovereign and to merit his displeasure, what an inexpressible evil must it be to lose the love of God and to merit his ill-will! Can there be anything more terrible than to be obliged to say to one's self: God not only does not love me, but he also turns his face away from me in disgust, I can no longer appear before his face?

(b) Of all merits of past obedience. "If the just man turn himself away from his justice, and do iniquity, all his justices which he had done, shall not be remembered."--Ezech. 18: 24. Suppose a man has served God with ill fervor for a number of years and acquired a great many merits, he loses all his merits in the very moment he commits a mortal sin. Is not this a deplorable loss?

(c) Of the faculty of acquiring new merits by his good works. As little as a branch cut off from the vine can yield fruit, so little can a man who is separated from Christ by a mortal sin, produce fruits for eternal life; let him do all possible good works, he must not expect any reward therefor in heaven.--John, 15: 6. When many a sick man complains that he can earn nothing, should not the sinner complain and lament that he can merit nothing for heaven?

(d) And becomes guilty of erecting idols in the face of the city. The emperor Caligula (A. D. 37-41) wished to have his statue placed in the temple of Jerusalem and adored with divine veneration. Shortly after, several synagogues were destroyed and some converted into pagan temples and the statue of the emperor placed in them for adoration. When the Roman armies besieged Jerusalem, they planted their eagles and the images of their gods and goddesses around the city and offered up sacrifices and prayers before them. To the Jews, who adored only the true God and detested the idolatry of the Romans and other pagans above all things, the sight of these idols and the veneration paid to them was the most horrible abomination, and nothing was so painful to them as to witness it.

These abominable idolatries of the pagans are again a picture of sin. Sin comprises as it were the abomination of idolatry or the worship of idols; for he who commits a grievous sin, turns from God and refuses him the due veneration of love and obedience, and turns to the object of his inordinate inclination and gives his love to it. Hence St. Augustine says: "Not only he who adores false gods, but also he who obeys his inclinations rather than God, does wrong. What each one wishes and loves, that is his god." As often, therefore, as you commit a mortal sin, you do what the blind heathens did, who in place of the true God adored idols and in them the devil. That idolatry, however, is far more sinful than that of the heathens, because you do not, as they did, deserve excuse on account of ignorance. From sin then, originate several passions, and these, as often as they are gratified, are nothing else but a most sinful idolatry. Such an idolatry is pride, for the proud man does not properly adore God, but himself, claiming the honor due to God for himself. Such idolatry is avarice, for the avaricious sacrifice duty and conscience, justice and mercy, to their passions, wherefore St. Paul absolutely calls them idolaters.--Ephes. 5: 5. Under the head of idolatry may also be classed gluttony and impurity, for those who yield to these vices have their belly for their god.--Phil. 3: 19. In a word, all evil passions are idols; and he who permits himself to be governed by them is an idolater, because he serves them and not God. How many idolaters may there be among Christians, and how many Christians may be lost on account of their idolatry, like the idolatrous pagans!

2. The profanation of the temple. The leaders in Jerusalem were divided into two furious factions. The one which called itself zealots for the law, occupied the temple, fortified themselves there against their opponents, and perpetrated within its walls and courts horrible abominations. A fierce and bitter struggle ensued in the Holy of Holies; Jew killed Jew, blood flowed in streams, and the bodies of the slain were lying in great heaps in the holy halls. This was an abomination of desolation, such as was never before seen. The Christians seeing this abomination, understood from the prophecy of Christ that the destruction of Jerusalem was nigh; they therefore fled to Pella and other places on the mountains and saved their lives.

Here again you have a true picture of sin. As the temple of Jerusalem was desecrated and profaned by the iniquities of the Jews, so sin desecrates and profanes the body and the soul of man. Or is it not a desecration and profanation of the body, to abuse its senses and members, eyes, ears, tongue, hands, and feet, which ought to serve the soul as instruments to Christian virtues and good works, to sins and vices, such as pride, impurity, theft, rapine and murder? Is it not a desecration and profanation of the soul to abuse her powers and faculties, such as the understanding, will and memory, to the offence of God and service of sin. And what have Christians to expect who desecrate and profane body and soul by their sins and vices? What else than their destruction like the Jews, who desecrated and profaned the temple?

The abomination of desolation appears to us also as a picture of sin, when we consider the means of preservation against it.

Part II.

In order to preserve ourselves from the moral abomination of desolation, from sin, we must employ the same means that Christ advised the Christians to employ, in order to escape the abomination of desolation in Jerusalem. When you see the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place,

1. Let those that are in Judea flee to the mountains. According to this direction of the Lord the faithful should rescue themselves from perdition by flight into the mountains; they should, in order not to fall into the hands of the hostile army, which would overflow the land like a deluge, seek their safety by flight from Jerusalem, which was doomed to destruction. There can be no doubt that they did so. When they witnessed the signs given by Christ of the near destruction of Jerusalem, they left the city and the flat country and repaired into the mountains and thus saved their lives. Flight is also for us one of the most necessary means of preservation from sin.

(a) We must shun the proximate occasion of sin, i. e., we must avoid everything by which we were usually induced to sin, for if we do not shun the occasion, we may in all probability be induced to sin. Such proximate occasions of sin are the so-called keeping of company with persons of the opposite sex, the living together or intimate familiarity with irreligious and immoral persons, the participation in amusements dangerous to good morals, etc. He who does not shun the proximate occasion of sin when he can is devoid of the good will to avoid sin, and will certainly fall into it, for "he that loveth danger shall perish in it."--Eccles. 3: 27. Man of himself being weak and prone to evil, how can he persevere in good, if he imprudently exposes himself to occasions which very violently entice him to sin? When pillars of virtue such as David and Peter fell in the proximate occasion will not you, weak reeds that you are, fall in such an occasion? The downfall of these men made even the Saints tremble, and must you not be blind if you imprudently expose yourselves to the occasions of sin? Are you stronger than David, holier than Peter, or wiser than Solomon?

(b) We must flee into the mountains. We do this, when in interior and exterior temptations and inclinations to sin, we at once raise our hearts to God, place ourselves in his presence, and call upon him for help. Joseph of Egypt and the chaste Susanna did this, and they both overcame their vehement temptations and preserved their innocence. Therefore when you are tempted to whatever sin, turn to God without delay, implore his protection, ask for his grace, and say with all the determination you are capable of: " Lord, my God, I will die rather than sin."

2. "And he that is on the house-lop, let him not come down to take anything out of the house: and he that is in the field, let him not go back to take his coat." In these words Christ advises,

(a) To a speedy flight. Those who are on the house-tops and in the fields are not to return into the house, but to flee in order to escape perdition. In like manner you must leave all that is a proximate occasion of sin to you, in haste without deliberating and procrastinating, in order to preserve yourself against sin. Every delay increases the danger, because on the one hand the temptation becomes stronger, and or, the other hand the will to resistance grows weaker. And why should you delay to execute what is absolutely necessary to your salvation?

(b) To a flight connected with sacrifices. The faithful were to leave house and home, relinquish their possessions and even give up their necessary apparel in order to save their lives. In like manner you must make a sacrifice of what is most near and dear to you, in order to save your soul. "If thy hand, or thy foot, scandalize thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee. It is better for thee to enter into life maimed or lame, than, having two hands or two feet, to be cast into everlasting fire."--Matt. 18: 8.

3. " Woe to them that are with child, and that give suck in those days. But pray that your flight be not in the winter or on the Sabbath." Christ speaks here of the obstacles to a speedy flight, and pronounces woe upon those that are with child, and that give suck in those days, because they cannot flee quickly, and consequently cannot save their lives; he also admonishes the faithful to pray that their flight should not be in winter or on the Sabbath, because it is difficult to travel in winter on account of the bad weather and bad roads, and because the Jews were not allowed on the Sabbath to make a journey of more than a thousand paces.

There are many obstacles which we must overcome, in order to preserve ourselves from sin. Such obstacles are: Concupiscence, of which St. James says: "Every man is tempted, being drawn away by his own concupiscence, and allured" (James, 1: 14); the world with its evil maxims, scandals, and bad examples, as St. John writes: "All that is in the world, is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life" (1. John, 2: 16); the devil, who according to St. Peter, " as a roaring lion, goeth about, seeking whom he may devour" (1. Pet. 5: 8) bad habits and passions, which are contracted by frequent relapses into sin. What must we do in order to surmount these obstacles? Christ tells us, when he says: "Pray." Prayer is the most necessary and effectual means for preservation against sin, for if we pray with fervor and confidence we receive the grace of God, which enables us to overcome the most violent temptation. Therefore, our Lord admonishes us: "Watch ye, and pray, that ye enter not into temptation." St. Lawrence Justinian says: " By prayer we build for ourselves a strong tower in which we are safe against all the assaults and against all the power of our enemies."

4. "Then if any man shall say to you: Lo, here is Christ, or there, do not believe him. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets." At the time of the destruction of Jerusalem many false teachers arose, who either pretended themselves to be the Messiah, or claimed this title for some other impostor and thus seduced the people. Even when Jerusalem was being besieged by the Roman army, these impostors assured the Jews, that God would protect the city and the temple. Christ warns his own against these false prophets, and admonishes them 'to give no ear to them, for at the destruction of Jerusalem they would find their death.

There are also false prophets in our days, and these are men who preach infidelity by word and writings, propagate heretical doctrines and false principles, reject the Church, her doctrine and her commandments and represent many things as good and lawful, which are wrong and sinful, such as impurity, cheating, injustice, suicide, neglect of religious duties, etc. What is more necessary in order to preserve yourselves against error and sin than that you reject such false prophets with horror and detestation and give no heed to them, according to St. John: "If any man come to you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into the house, nor say to him, God save you. For he that says to him: God save you, communicateth with his wicked works."--II. John, 10: 12.


You are now acquainted with the means for the preservation from the moral abomination of desolation, which is sin. Use them diligently. Shun as much as possible what is the proximate occasion of sin to you. In every temptation think of the omnipresent God, and say with Joseph: "How can I do this wicked thing, and sin against my God ?"--Gen. 39: 9. If it appears difficult for you to give up the proximate occasion of sin, or to resist a temptation, reflect that what delights is of short duration, but that what burns lasts forever. Because you are weak of yourselves, have recourse to prayer in every temptation, that you may gain strength for the victory. Walk prudently and circumspectly, and beware lest you fall into the snares of the enemies of your soul. "Watch ye, therefore, praying at all times, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that are come, and stand before the Son of Man."--Luke, 21: 36. Amen.

A Prayer for All Things Necessary to Salvation


The Procession Preceding the Last Judgment
by Rev. Johann Evangelist Zollner, 1883

"He shall send His angels with a trumpet, and a great voice; and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest parts of the heavens, to the uttermost bounds of them."--Matt. 24: 31.

The Gospel of this day speaks of great, solemn processions which shall take place at the end of the world, immediately before the Last Judgment; for we read there: "He (Jesus Christ) shall send His angels with a trumpet, and a great voice; and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest parts of the heavens, to the uttermost bounds of them." Therefore, when the divine Saviour shall appear upon earth at the Day of Judgment, the risen just from all parts of the world, attended by angels, will hasten to Him and gather around Him in a way similar to that in which the faithful in Rogation Week, or on the feast of Corpus Christi, or at the Forty Hours' Devotion gather around Jesus present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar. O that we would always attend our processions in the spirit of penance and with fervent devotion, that we might have the happiness of participating in the last procession of the Saints, who on the Day of Judgment will gather around Jesus and with Him enter into heaven!

I shall speak to you today on processions,
and show you that they are,

I. A very venerable, and,
II. A very salutary devotion.

Part I.
Processions are a very venerable devotion.
We are convinced of this by,

1. Their age. We find processions,

(a) In the Old Testament. The Israelites made solemn processions around Jericho for seven days, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant. This was a procession that had a wonderful termination, for after being made the seventh time, the walls of the city fell down and the Israelites took it. In the second Book of Kings (II. Kings, 6,) we read that King David caused the ark of the covenant to be carried in solemn procession to Jerusalem. A still more solemn procession took place after the building of the temple there. The priests carried the ark of the Lord, and the tabernacle of the covenant, and all the vessels of the sanctuary, that were in the tabernacle; King Solomon and all the multitude of Israel went with him before the ark; and they sacrificed sheep and oxen that could not be counted or numbered, and the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord into its place.--III. Kings, 8: 1-6. The triumphal entry of Jesus before His Passion was a procession, and, indeed, a very solemn one.--Matt. 21: 7-9.

(b) In the New Testament. In the first three centuries, during the time of the bloody persecutions, there were processions. When in the year 220 the body of the martyr St. Boniface of Tarsus was brought to Rome, many clergymen and lay-people went to meet it, singing hymns, in order to receive and bring it into the place appointed for it. When afterwards the Church obtained liberty, and could publicly celebrate her divine service, processions became more general. Thus St. Chrysostom, in a sermon, mentions processions which were held on account of continuous rainy weather, and were attended by a great multitude of people chanting the Litany. Of the same Chrysostom, the Church historians Socrates and Sozemus report that, in order to neutralize the public processions of the Arians, held with songs of praise, and which earned great applause, he also instituted solemn processions, whereat he also allowed the Catholics to sing hymns and to have torch-lights and silver crosses borne in front. Not only the common people participated in these processions, but even emperors and kings. Thus the Church historian Rufinus relates, that at the request of the Emperor Theodosius, when about to go to war, a procession was made through the principal streets, which the emperor himself attended in a penitential garment. Nicephorus reports the same of the Emperor Theodosius, the Younger.

The Processions are therefore of very ancient date, even older than Christianity, and therefore certainly venerable.

1. Their object. They are made,

(a) In order to praise God openly and to change the earth into a holy temple. The whole world is a house of God, for God is everywhere. "Whither shall I go from thy Spirit ? or whither shall I flee from thy face? If I ascend into heaven, thou art there; if I descend into hell, thou art present. If I take my wings early in the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there also shall thy hand lead me; and thy right hand shall hold me."--Ps. 138: 7-10. From this the duty arises for us everywhere to adore and praise God. We do this in processions,

2. In order everywhere to admire the goodness and glory of God and to give Him thanks. The places where God gives us His graces, are chiefly, indeed, our churches. How many graces do we receive in them; God, however, shows Himself also outside of them as our affectionate Father, and the giver of every blessing and grace. Everything upon earth gives testimony of His goodness. The fields, the gardens, the meadows, the trees, shrubs, springs, brooks, rivers, birds, beasts, in short, all creatures, whether animate or inanimate, point to God, from whom every good gift comes, and remind us of His fatherly hand, which daily and hourly gives benefits of every sort. Are we not then right in making processions and praising God in the open air?

(b) In order to purify and to sanctify nature profaned by sin. Who can count the sins committed in the fields and meadows, in public and in lonely places! How many curses and blasphemies are uttered, how many sins of impurity committed in thoughts, looks, words and works! How often do valleys and hills resound with oaths and imprecations, quarrels and dissensions; how often does not the earth drink in the blood of the murdered! Is it not meet and just then to hold processions, in order to make some reparation for the insults offered to God, and to draw down by our prayers His blessing upon our fields?

Lastly, to give testimony to the truth, that everything depends upon the blessing of God. The farmer tills and cultivates his fields; more he cannot do. It is now with God, that the seed sprout, come up, grow and ripen, He must give rain and sunshine at the right time, He must keep away hail, frost, and inundations, that our labor may be rewarded with a plentiful harvest. Therefore the Apostle says: "Neither he that planteth is anything, nor he that watereth; but God who giveth the increase."--1. Cor. 3: 7. Now when we go around the fields in processions, we beg God to bless them, and thereby we give to God the honor, and acknowledge that of ourselves, as of ourselves, we can do nothing; and we beg of His fatherly goodness, growth, protection and blessing for all that we have sown and planted.

Processions are therefore venerable, not only on account of their age, but also on account of their object.

Part II.
Processions are also a very salutary devotion.

1. Because they remind us of various wholesome truths. Let us only consider the way in which they are made.

(a) All processions proceed from the church, that is, from the altar, as the starting point. What does this signify? On the altar the Sacrifice of the Mass is offered, which is the centre of the divine service, and from which as all prayer, so also that which we perform in the processions, has its value and virtue.

(b) At the head of the processions is the cross; it opens the procession. The cross signifies that we are assembled as Christians in the name of Christ crucified, in whose name we begin, continue and finish all our prayers and labors, as the Apostle admonishes us: "All whatsoever you do in word or in work, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ" [Col. 3: 17); moreover, that Christ crucified is our leader, whom we follow, as He says Himself: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" (Matt. 16: 24); finally, that whatever we ask of God the Father, we expect to obtain through the merits of Jesus Christ, according to His own words: "If you ask the Father anything in my name, he will give it you." --John, 16: 23.

(c) The banners which are carried in procession are emblematic of Christ's victory over death and hell, and of the triumph of His religion over the pagan world. (History of the victory of Constantine over Maxentius.) The red and the white banners indicate that we must walk in all innocence under the banner of Christ, and fight unto death against the visible and invisible enemies of our salvation, against the world, the flesh, and the devil, and be as ready as were the martyrs to give our life's blood for our faith; the blue banners indicate that we must walk the way of mortification and self-denial, with humble and penitent sentiments for our sins. "This is the victory which overcometh the world, our faith."--1. John, 5: 4.

(d) The lights which are carried in procession refer to Jesus Christ, the light of the world, and admonish us, like the prudent virgins, to be watchful and to make provision that at the coming of the divine bridegroom we may meet Him with the burning lamps of charity and good works. They also remind us of the duty of letting our light so shine before men, that they may see our good works and glorify our Father, who is in heaven.--Matt. 5: 16.

(e) The images of Mary and the Saints in procession are, according to St. Bernard, an admonition to us to imitate the Blessed Virgin and the Saints; at the same time they remind us of the truth of faith, that we are in intimate communion with the Saints, and, like them, must courageously fight against the world, the flesh and the devil, in order to receive with them the crown of victory in heaven.

(f) The tolling of the bell at processions reminds us of the words at the blessing of the bells. As soon as the sons of Christians hear the sound of the bells the fervor of devotion shall grow in them, and the choir of angels be invited.

(g) Significant is the order in which the procession is made. The children open the procession, and go immediately after the cross. St. Bernard says of this: "The nearest to Jesus and to the heavenly country are the humble, the innocent, the children." Christ Himself says: "Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come to me: for the kingdom of heaven is for such."--Matt. 19: 14. And again: "Amen, I say unto you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."--Matt. 18: 3. We must think of these words when we see the children at the head of the procession, and make good resolutions. Then follow the young men and young maidens; they have the preference over the married, because the virginal state is more perfect than the married. --1. Cor. 7: 38. After this follow the clergy, who form the centre of the procession, whereby they are reminded of two important duties, of the duty of watchfulness, and the duty of good example. They have those who precede them before their eyes, and this indicates that they must have a watchful eye upon those whose souls are intrusted to their care, according to the admonition of St. Paul: "Take heed to yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath placed you bishops to rule the Church of God."--Acts, 20: 28. Those who follow the clergy can look at them and observe them, and this is an admonition to them, that they ought to shine before all the faithful with a good example, as St. Paul says to his disciple Timothy: "Be thou an example of the faithful, in word, in conversation, in charity, in faith, in chastity."--1. Tim. 4: 12. The clergy are followed by the temporal authorities. This order has its reason in the honor due to these persons, but it also indicates that as they are corporally the nearest to the clergy, they should also be near them in disposition and live in peace with them and the Church. Then come the rest of the congregation, first the men, then the women, because men in the Church and in civil life have precedence over women. They march in double file, and this is done not only on account of order, but also because it reminds us of the admonition of St. Bernard, "that on our way to heaven we must live in peace and concord one with another."

2. Because they are a very effectual means for the obtaining of divine help and grace. Witnesses are,

(a) The Sacred Scripture. "If two of you shall agree upon earth, concerning anything whatsoever they shall ask, it shall be done for them by my Father, who is in heaven."--Matt. 18: 19. What a powerful incentive to fervor in prayer for the faithful and what virtue must there be in the prayer said in procession, when not only two, but even hundreds and thousands of the faithful, and among them so many innocent and pious Christians, praise God aloud and cry to him for help and mercy! "When God refuses nothing to so few," says St. Chrysostom, "what will he be able to refuse to the whole assembly--to the whole Church?"

(b) History. When the bodies of SS. Gervase and Protase were exhumed and exposed to the veneration of the faithful in the cathedral of Milan, a solemn procession was instituted, which was attended by an almost countless multitude. There it was that great miracles were wrought, many who had been afflicted with various diseases were instantly cured. Among others, a certain Severus, a citizen of Milan, who had been blind for many years, obtained his sight. Saints Ambrose, Augustine, and Prosper give testimony of these miracles.

(c) Experience. In continuous rainy weather, or a long drouth, we usually have recourse to general prayer and processions. And how often does it happen that after such devotions favorable weather follows?


Processions, as we have heard, are venerable and salutary devotions. Honor them and take part in them. Glorify God and give Him thanks for all His graces and blessings. Profess your faith before the whole world, and resolve always to follow Christ crucified on the way of the cross, by leading a penitential and mortified life; ask the forgiveness of your sins, and make the resolution henceforth to serve Him with all fidelity. This is the right way, this is the salutary attendance at processions, which inspires us with the hope that on the last day we may be found worthy of taking part in the last, solemn procession, which Jesus Christ will lead from earth to heaven with His Angels and Saints. Amen.

A Prayer for All Things Necessary to Salvation


How Jesus Christ will hold the Last Judgment
by Rev. Johann Evangelist Zollner, 1883

"They shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with great power and majesty."--Matt. 24: 30.

Today, on the last Sunday of the Ecclesiastical year, the Church directs our attention to the end of the world and the Last Judgment. From eternity God has appointed the day and the hour when the world, with everything in it, will come to an end. The Gospel of this day says: "The sun shall be darkened, and the moon sha.ll not give her light; and the stars shall fall from heaven ; and the powers of the heavens shall be moved." And immediately after, the Son of God will come from heaven with great power and majesty to hold the Last Judgment. When all men shall have risen from the dead at the sound of the trumpet, they shall be gathered around Christ in the valley of Josaphat, in order to be judged by Him. I shall speak to you today of this judgment by answering the following question: How will Jesus Christ hold the Last Judgment? He will,

I.. Examine the lives of men most severely,
II. Bring all secret things to light,
III. Pronounce sentence upon the good and the bad.

Part I.
Jesus Christ will most severely examine the lives of men. This examination will extend,

1. To thoughts. Jesus, the omniscient Judge, will examine all the thoughts, representations, inclinations, wishes and desires which a man has had during his whole life. This cannot be doubted in the least, for the Holy Ghost says it in plain and direct words in the Book of Wisdom (1: 9): " Inquisition shall be made into the thoughts of the ungodly; and the hearing of his words shall come to God." O what a number of sins shall appear at this inquisition? How will men who pay no attention now to their interior, be amazed, when all at once, all that passed in their hearts will appear plainly before their eyes! "Crimes without number," says St. Bernard, "of which we never thought we had rendered ourselves guilty, we shall see break forth from the heart as from an ambush. We shall be shown to ourselves such as we really are; we must descend into our hearts, into which we were never wont to descend; a sudden light will light up the abyss; this secret place of malice, this workshop of Satan shall be opened." Then it will come to pass that many men, on account of the sins of their hearts, on account of their bad thoughts and desires, cannot stand the examination and will be rejected. How carefully, then, should you keep watch over all your thoughts and desires, in order to suppress and banish those that are sinful!

2. To words. Christ emphatically assures us of this, when he says: "But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it on the Day of Judgment."--Matt. 12: 36. The divine Judge will then subject to the most severe scrutiny, all the words which we have spoken, written, voluntarily heard or read from the first moment we arrived at the age of discretion, to our last breath; He will judge us in reference to all good and bad, indifferent and useless words, all lies, detractions and calumnies, curses and blasphemies, all obscene songs, etc. Great God, what an account! How many men will be rejected on account of the sins of the tongue! How watchful, therefore, ought we to be of our tongue, that it may not be the cause of our damnation!

3. To works, whether they were done publicly or secretly, alone or with others, by day or by night, in youth, manhood, or old age. Whatever we have seen, heard, or touched, in a word, whatever we have done with the senses, will be scrutinized, every use and employment of our body and its members must be accounted for. In like manner our business, occupations, labors, trade, or amusements and enjoyments, visits, company, games, our walking and standing, our sitting and lying down--each and all will be most minutely scrutinized. "All things that are done, God will bring into judgment for every error, whether it be good or evil."--Eccles. 12: 14. O that in whatever we do we would not forget that we must give an account, and that heaven or hell is attached to it, that we would guard against every sinful action!

4. To the consequences of our words and actions. Almost every word or action is a seed, from which springs forth wheat or cockle. St. Peter preached, and three thousand Jews were converted; Arius preached, and millions of orthodox Christians lost the true faith, and perished. What consequences! It often happens that one sin, e. g., an unchaste word, is the cause of many thousand sins! How often does it happen that those who scandalize and seduce others have long rotted in the grave, but yet the sins to which they have given occasion, are still committed. Examples from history and life. What an account will that be, when God shall sit in judgment over the consequences of sin! We should therefore avoid nothing so much as scandal and seduction.

5. To the duties of our station in life. We all, whoever and whatever we may be, superiors or subjects, peasants, mechanics, merchants, single or married, rich or poor, healthy or sick, high or low, have particular duties, of the performance of which we must give an account. On the fulfilment of these duties also depends our salvation. Witness: Heli, who, on account of his neglect of the duty of his station, was punished with sudden death, and probably with the loss of eternal salvation. Should not everyone, considering this, fulfil the duties of his station with the greatest conscientiousness?

6. To the graces received for our salvation. Every illumination of the understanding, every motion of the will, every inspiration to virtue, every good example that we have before our eyes, every salutary admonition given to us, every sermon, every spiritual reading, each reception of the Sacraments, every Mass at which we assist, all holy seasons and feasts we live to celebrate, all the misfortunes, sufferings and sicknesses which God sends us, all these things the eternal Judge will place before our eyes and call us to account for them. How then will those Christians fare, who leave so many graces and means of salvation unemployed, or abuse them to sin? Reflect seriously how you have heretofore behaved towards these graces, and amend what is to be amended, that you may be able to stand in judgment.

7. To the time of our life, which in reality is nothing else than a continual grace for our salvation. There is not an hour that God does not claim His own, there is not a day over which He has resigned His sovereignty; therefore, in our whole life there will not be a single minute of the use of which we shall not be obliged to give an account. How will those fare who waste their precious time in idleness, in amusement, or, what is still worse, in vices and sins, or who devote their whole life to the pursuit of temporal goods, and neglect the business of their salvation. Reflect on these questions and do not forget that eternal salvation depends on the right use of time.

8. To the exercises of virtue and good works. It is not enough that we do good; we must also do it in the right manner. If you practise virtue and good works, but not on account of God, for His honor, and for the love of Him, but for ambition, self-gratification, or to gain the praise and applause of men, you have, as Christ says of the Pharisees, already received your reward. Nay, if you do good, but do it carelessly and render yourselves guilty of various faults, you can not only expect no reward, but must rather expect punishment from God. Examine yourselves here, how you have heretofore prayed, labored, heard sermons and Mass, how you have confessed, received Communion, and behaved in difficulties and afflictions.

Oh, how vast in extent will be the account which we must give on the Day of Judgment! Have we not reason to pray with David: "Enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight no man living shall be justified?"--Ps. 142: 2.

Part II.
Jesus Christ will bring all secret things to light.

1. In the darkness of night we see many things not at all, and many appear to us otherwise than they really are. But when the sun rises, thousands of objects appear which were before invisible, and all that is beautiful or ugly, will exhibit itself in its proper shape and form. It is so with the actions of men. Here upon earth, much of what man does, remains necessarily hidden; no one knows what passes within him, what he thinks, wishes, and designs; he does not perfectly know even himself. But on the day of the Last Judgment, at the appearance of Jesus Christ, the Sun of Justice and the light of the world, all secret things will come to light and everything will exhibit itself as it is in reality. The Judge will publicly pronounce sentence, and therefore all the thoughts, words, and works of men must be revealed, that everyone may be convinced of his justice and confess: "Thou art just, O Lord, and Thy judgment is right."--Ps. 118: 137. "There is nothing hid," says Christ, "which shall not be made manifest: neither was it made secret, but that it may come abroad."-- Mark, 4: 22.

2. Consequences of this revelation.

(a) For the sinner. What confusion, what shame for the sinner, when suddenly all the secrets of his cunning and malice are unveiled, and all his vices and iniquities appear in all their ugliness! If now, in the presence of all, you were obliged to confess and reveal with a loud voice all the evil you have done in thought, word, and deed, what would be your feelings? But what would this revelation and confession be in comparison with that which shall take place on the Day of Judgment, before the whole world, before all Angels and men, and before the devils themselves. Need we wonder that sinners at the publication of their crimes will cry out full of despair: "Ye mountains, fall upon us; ye hills, cover us!" "More terrible than hell itself," says St. Basil, "will be the confusion and shame of the wicked, with which they shall be filled by the revelation of their most secret crimes. More awful than everlasting darkness, and more bitter than the everlasting flames will be this shame when all their hidden evil shall come to light.

(b) For the just man. Who is able to describe the consolation and joy of the just, when all the good they have thought, spoken, and done is all at once displayed in all its beauty before the gaze of an admiring world! They shall stand there, crowned with honor and glory, and overflowing with happiness they will with a loud voice praise God, who thus glorifies them. It is true, their sins also will be revealed, but this revelation will not be to their disgrace, but to their glorification, on account of the penance which they have done for them. These sins can be compared to the wounds which a soldier has received in battle, which are not to his shame, but to his honor and praise.

Part III.
Jesus Christ will pronounce sentence upon the good and the wicked.

Upon the good. He will say to them: "Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess 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 clothed me; sick, and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me."--Malt. 25: 34-36.

(a) "Come." The divine Saviour uses this word, in order to remind us of that first call, when He invited us to follow Him, saying: "Come to me, all you that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek and humble of heart."--Matt, 11: 28, 29. Because the elect so readily followed this call, He now uses a similar one and invites them to come to Him, in order to reward them for their obedience. How the just shall exult when they hear His " Come!" Let us now follow our Lord, when He says, " Come," go into my vineyard and labor, that on the Day of Judgment we may be so happy as to hear out of His mouth this second " Come," enter into the joy of the Lord.

(b) "Ye blessed of my Father." With these words Christ signifies the graces and blessings which the elect have received on account of His merits from their heavenly Father, and shall receive for all eternity. When they hear these words, full of joy they will exclaim with the Apostle: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places, in Christ; as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world."--Ephes. 1: 3, 4.

(c) "Possess the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." This kingdom for which the just have labored so much and so hard, endured so many sufferings, undergone so many mortifications and privations, and which now they are going to possess, is the kingdom of eternal beatitude in heaven. And God has prepared this kingdom for them, not at their birth, or their death, but from the foundation of the world--nay, from eternity, because He has foreseen that they would diligently employ the graces necessary for salvation and persevere in His service to the end.

(d) "For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat;" etc. With these words Christ announces that He will receive the works of mercy and charity which we do to our fellow-men, as if we had done them to Him. "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: 40. It is not, however, said here that only works of charity receive the heavenly reward; they stand for all good works and for the observance of the whole Christian law, because the love of our neighbor includes the love of God, and because this twofold love is the fulfilling of the law. Therefore, all who serve God faithfully during life, shall hear on the Day of Judgment the consoling words: "Come, ye blessed," etc.

2. Upon the wicked. He will say to them: "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels. 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 clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit me."--Matt. 25: 41, 42.

(a) "Depart from me." King Philip of Spain once saw two courtiers misbehaving in the church, and on his return to his apartments he said to them: "You two must never appear again in my presence; you are banished from my court for life." These words of their angry sovereign so terrified them that one of them died of apoplexy and the other became an idiot. What terror will seize the damned, when Christ in His anger shall say to them, in a voice of thunder: "Depart from me; you shall never for all eternity have part in me or heaven."

(b) "Ye cursed." You have not willed the blessing, bear now the curse of the Triune God, of your guardian angel, your patron saint, your pastors, your parents and friends and of all the damned, whose number you have increased by your scandals and bad examples.

(c) "Into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels." Fire will be the portion of the damned, that element which pains most terribly, the fire of hell, compared with which every other fire is only like a painted fire, the fire prepared by God's vengeance for the devil and his angels, the apostate spirits, which without intermission will burn forever and ever. Oh, the wretched damned! it would have been a thousand times better for them never to have been born.

(d) "For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat" etc. When those who omitted the good which they ought to have done, are condemned, what shall become of those who do evil, heap sin upon sin, and live and die in impenitence!

Immediately after Christ has pronounced sentence upon the good and the bad, it will be executed: "The wicked shall go into everlasting punishment; but the just, into life everlasting."--Matt. 25: 46.


This is the Last Judgment, which awaits you and me and every one of us, and which will decide our doom for all eternity. Let us frequently think of it, and work out our salvation with fear and trembling, that we may not be classed with the reprobate, but with the elect, and may be called to the kingdom of heaven, which has been prepared for us from the foundation of the world. Amen.

A Prayer for All Things Necessary to Salvation


The Destruction of Jerusalem,
and the End of the World

by Rev. Johann Evangelist Zollner, 1883

The Gospel read in the Mass of this day speaks of two prophecies of our Saviour, one of which was fulfilled more than eighteen hundred years ago, and the other shall be fulfilled after the lapse of a period known to God alone. The first of these prophecies concerns the destruction of Jerusalem and the kingdom of the Jews; and this is a historical fact. Jerusalem, that renowned, powerful and populous city, together with its temple, was totally destroyed, and levelled with the ground, and more than a million of Jews lost their lives through hunger, pestilence, and the sword of the enemy; those who were spared were scattered all over the world, and their descendants are to this very day without temple or sacrifice, without king or country. To them applies the old song: "Everywhere I am at home, everywhere I am known--ubi bene, ibi patria!" The second prophecy of the Lord refers to the end of the world. I must remark here that these two prophecies are not strictly limited, but are interwoven in many ways, so that what is said of the destruction of Jerusalem may be said of the end of the world, and vice versa. We shall today briefly consider both prophecies of our Lord.

I. The prophecy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem.
II. The prophecy concerning the end of the world.

I shall here explain the first part of the prophecy of Christ, which especially refers to the destruction of Jerusalem, and draw from it some very important lessons.

1. Explanation of the prophecy.

(a) "When you shall see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place: He that readcth let him understand. Then let those that are in Judea flee to the mountains." The prophet Daniel, who lived five hundred years before Christ, prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem--Dan. 9: 26, 27.

Christ refers to this prophecy in the Gospel of today. By "the abomination of desolation," we understand the horrid things which happened during the siege of the city of Jerusalem, viz.: robberies, the shedding of blood, and various horrible crimes by which the temple was profaned by the rebellious Jews; the idols which the Gentiles erected in the sight of Jerusalem, and the vices and crimes perpetrated both by Jews and Gentiles. When the Christians should see these abominations, they would know that the destruction of Jerusalem was nigh, and they should flee into the mountainous regions in order to be secure there from the Roman army. The Christians, according to the record of Church historians, did so; they fled to Pella in the mountainous Galaad and into other mountainous regions, and thus saved their lives.

(b) "And he that is on the house-top, let him not come down to take anything out of his house; and he that is in the field, let him trot go back to take his coat." The roofs of houses in the East were flat and surrounded by a railing; and as there was a stairway leading to them from the outside, it was not necessary, in order to descend, to go into the house. When the Lord says that those who are on the house-top should not come down to take anything out of the house, and that those who are in the field should not go back, he wishes the Christians to flee speedily that they might not fall into the hands of the enemy.

(c) And he cries out: "Woe to them that are with child, and that give suck in those days," because they are not in a condition to flee quickly; again, he says they should pray that their flight might not be in the winter, because at that time the inclement weather and the bad roads would render flight difficult; and not on the Sabbath, because on the Sabbath-day the Jews were allowed to go the distance only of a thousand paces; therefore they could not flee far enough to escape the enemy.

(a) Christ then speaks of a tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be, and says that if the days of tribulation had not been shortened, no man could escape with his life; but that for the sake of the elect, those days would be shortened. The tribulation of the Jews during the seige of Jerusalem and its destruction were truly great beyond measure. The Jewish historian, Josephus, says: "Never did any city suffer so much; never, from the beginning of the world, was a generation so fruitful of crimes." By the order of Titus, five hundred Jews were daily crucified publicly in the sight of all the city. The famine was so great that the besieged were reduced to eat hay and straw, the very leather of their shoes, and the most disgusting things, and even human flesh.

Six hundred thousand bodies of those who died of hunger and pestilence were cast into the trenches. When Titus saw the great multitude of corpses, he raised his hand towards heaven and exclaimed: "I am innocent of this tribulation; it is not my work, but the judgment of God." At the taking of the city so many Jews were cut down that the blood flowed in torrents in the streets and public squares. If God had not, for the sake of the Christians who lived among them, shortened the days of this terrible tribulation, they all would have perished together.

What our Lord says here, has far more reference to the end of the world; for the tribulations which in that time shall come upon men will be far greater than those at the siege and destruction of Jerusalem; but God will also shorten those tribulations, for the sake of the pious Christians who will be living at that time.

2. Lessons.

(a) By the "abomination of desolation," we can understand, in a spiritual sense, every mortal sin; for mortal sin is such an abomination in the eyes of God, that those who die contaminated with it are rejected forever from His presence. It is also mortal sin that so disfigures the soul, this most glorious creature of God, that nothing hideous upon earth can be compared with it. If we could see with our corporal eyes a soul defiled by mortal sin, we should be so frightened by its aspect, that we should fall lifeless to the ground. Mortal sin also works an awful devastation in the soul, for it destroys in it the supernatural image of God, robs it of sanctifying grace, the filiation of God, and the inheritance of heaven, and delivers it as a slave to the devil and to eternal damnation. Can there be anything more terrible imagined than mortal sin? How blinded then must those Christians be who commit mortal sin without scruple, who live in it for months and years, and who do not make use of so many and such easy means, by which they free themselves from their misery of sin! O never forget that mortal sin is the greatest of all evils, and shun it more than death. And if you should ever have the misfortune to fall into mortal sin, cleanse your conscience without delay by a good confession and place yourselves again in the state of grace.

(b) In order to escape the abomination of desolation, Christ advises flight. We must shun everything that is to us a proximate occasion of sin, for only in this way can we preserve ourselves from sin and save our souls. Avoid all intimate familiarity with bad people, and especially amorous relations with persons of the opposite sex, and keep away from those houses, societies and amusements in which danger threatens you of offending God. Not to avoid the proximate occasion of sin, and in this way to be willing to sin, is to tempt God. If it seems hard to avoid the proximate occasion of sin, think of the words of Christ: "If thy hand, or thy foot, scandalize thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee. It is better for thee to enter into life maimed or lame, than, having two hands or two feet, to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thy eye scandalize thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee. It is better for thee with one eye to enter into life, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell-fire."Matt. 18: 8, 9.

(c) Christ cries out: Woe to those that are with child, and that give suck. In a spiritual sense they are those Christians who often make good resolutions but never execute them. How many Christians are there, who, in their confessions, and on other occasions, promise everything good, but never keep their word! How often, when they make a good purpose of amendment, do they say: "I earnestly resolve to amend my life and never more to offend God;" and yet they always commit their former sins again. Know, then, that such resolutions made, but not kept, lead not to heaven, but to hell. An old proverb says: "Hell is paved with good intentions," meaning resolutions that are not kept. Not only make good resolutions, but also keep them; and to do this, ask of God His grace, and often renew them, especially in time of temptation.

(d) Our divine Saviour admonishes His hearers to pray that their flight may not be in the winter, or on the Sabbath. In a spiritual sense we are admonished in these words not to defer the business of salvation to the future, to the leisure of old age. For, first, it is uncertain that we shall arrive at that old age for which we so fondly hope; many are snatched away in the bloom of manhood; and again, old age is ill-fitted for penance and amendment, on account of our inveterate evil habits, and on account of the decrease of the powers and faculties of both body and soul. Lay to heart the advice of the Holy Ghost: "Delay not to be converted to the Lord, and defer it not from day to day. For his wrath will come on a sudden ; and in the time of vengeance he will destroy thee."--Eccls. 5: 9. Let us beware of spending our life in effeminacy and idleness; there is no sabbath in this life for us, no time for rest, but working days, in which we must labor for the honor of God, the salvation of our own soul, and the good of our fellow-men. Let us look for rest only in heaven.

(e) Christ speaks of a great tribulation, which shall come upon Jerusalem. Tepid, slothful, lukewarm Christians who put off the business of their salvation to a time when they can no longer do it, must look for this. In the struggle of death the body will have great tribulation; and the soul will be tormented by the stings of conscience. By the dim light of the dying candle you will see more clearly than by the bright light of the sun, for then the world will no longer blind you, and your passions will be silent. Then you shall perceive what an evil it is to live heedlessly in sin, to love the world, to neglect the duties of religion and your station in life, and to be unconcerned about the salvation of your soul; then you shall see yourself defiled by a multitude of sins, which before you took no notice of; then you will find that even your virtues and good works are not without defects and imperfections. How great shall your tribulation then be! In order to avert this tribulation from you, do now what you shall wish on your death-bed to have done. Take death for your adviser and follow its direction.

(f) When the divine Saviour says that the days of tribulation shall be shortened for the sake of the elect, we perceive that God, for the sake of the just, will be gracious ever, to sinners, and avert punishment from them, or mitigate it. Proofs of this truth are: Moses, at whose intercession God very often withdrew the threatened punishment from the Israelites in the desert; Abraham, who prevailed so much with God, that he would have spared Sodom if ten just men had been found in the city. Even in these days it is the just, for whose sake God is gracious and merciful to sinful humanity and does not punish it as it deserves. How wrong do unbelievers and sinners act, who mock pious Christians. They are the enemies of those to whom they owe perhaps their life and prosperity.

Let us now consider the prophecy of Christ concerning the end of the world, and draw from it some good lessons.

Part II.
I. Explanation of the prophecy.

Jesus warns his followers against men who pretend to be Christ, and against false prophets, and says of them, that they will do great signs and wonders, so that, if it were possible, even the elect would be deceived. There were false prophets, and especially men who pretended to be Christ, at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. Thus we read in the Acts (5: 36, 37, & 8: 9), that a certain Theodas, then Judas, a Galilean, and after him Simon, who called himself, the Power of God, and after him again an Egyptian who invaded Judea with four thousand highwaymen (Acts, 21: 38), all desired to be looked upon as the Messiah. The prophecy of Christ concerning the false Christs and false prophets, refers, however, in the proper sense, to the time of the end of the world. At that time, Antichrist, a great lying prophet, shall appear, whom St. Paul calls "the man of sin, who opposeth, and is lifted up above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself as if he were God."--II. Thess. 2: 3, et seq. The signs and wonders which Antichrist and his adherents shall perform, will not be real, but only apparent wonders, and will be effected by the agency of the devil, who possesses not only great powers, but also great knowledge, and thus is able to do many things that have a resemblance to a true miracle performed by God. Witnesses, are the Egyptian sorcerers, who imitated several miracles wrought by Moses.--Exodus, 7: 12; 8: 7. Simon the Magician (Acts, 8: 9-11), who by his magic arts blinded many. It is related of him that he pretended to be Christ and tried to ascend on high, but that by the prayer of Saints Peter and Paul he fell down and was killed.

2. When the divine Saviour says, "that as lightning cometh out of the east, and appeareth even unto the west, so also shall the coming of the Son of Man be," He refers to His sudden and visible coming at the Day of Judgment. The meaning is: When the Son of Man comes to judge the living and the dead, He will not, like the false prophets, be in a secluded place where only a few can see Him, so that there could be a doubt of His advent and existence, but He will come like a flash of lightning, which all of a sudden bursts forth from the clouds and is seen far and near, open, and before the eyes of the whole world.

(a) "Wheresoever the body shall be, there shall the eagles also be gathered together." According to the explanation of many interpreters of the Sacred Scripture, this expression, "the eagles," is equivalent to vultures, carnivorous birds, that gather about a dead body. The sense is: As vultures congregate about a dead body, so, after the fall of Antichrist, Jesus Christ shall come with his judgments upon the corrupted and apostatized world and deliver it to eternal perdition.

(b) Christ announces the end of the world, and His coming to judge it, saying that immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven. The sign of the Son of Man, which shall appear in heaven, is the holy cross, which shall shine with inexpressible splendor high in the air; the tribes of the earth are the wicked, who, at the sight of the cross, shall, full of terror and consternation, break out into lamentations. Their terror will be increased when, immediately after, they shall see Jesus Christ coming in the clouds of heaven with great power and majesty to hold the Last Judgment.

(c) And he shall send his angels with a trumpet, and a great voice; and they shall gather together in one place all mankind, when the judgment will be held.

(d) By the parable of the fig-tree, Christ means to say: As we know that summer is nigh when the fig-tree shoots forth its tender branches, so by the appearance of Antichrist, and other signs which he foretold, we can know that the end of the world, and the Last Judgment are nigh. The words: "This generation shall not pass, till all these things be done," refer, first, to the destruction of Jerusalem, which many of the Jews, to whom he foretold it, lived to see; in a remote sense they refer also to the end of the world, because when it shall take place many men will yet be living. Finally, the Lord gives the assurance that heaven and earth shall pass away, i.e., be changed into a new heaven and a new earth, but that His words remain unchangeable and will certainly be fulfilled.

2. Lessons.

(a) Antichrist has forerunners at all times; in the past and also in our day. They are particularly those who make it their principal task to destroy the holy faith and to substitute infidelity in its stead. They pursue this end with word and pen, and no means is too bad for them, if it only suits their purpose. They never cease to calumniate the Catholic Church, her doctrines, her precepts and her ordinances, and to invent all kinds of lies against her, in order to render her suspicious and odious. Be not deceived by them. Look upon every one who teaches or wishes anything contrary to the doctrine of the Catholic Church--the pillar and ground of truth--as a forerunner of Antichrist, and have nothing to do with him. Be also on your guard against men who attempt to seduce you to various sins, such as impurity, injustice, drunkenness, gambling, omission of prayer, neglect of confession and Communion. These also do the work of the devil; you must give no ear to their flatteries and seductive discourses.

(b) The coming of Christ at the Last Judgment shall be sudden, like lightning. Let us consider that the coming of Jesus Christ at our particular judgment will also be unexpected; this will take place immediately after our death, as He Himself says: "Behold, I come as a thief."--Apoc. 16: 15. Let us always be prepared for death and never remain in a state in which we would not wish to die. Consider that it is generally sinners that death overtakes, and hurries before the judgment-seat of God in the midst of their wicked career. To them the words of the Apostle apply: "When they shall say, peace and security, then shall sudden destruction come upon them, as the pains upon her with child; and they shall not escape."--I. Thess. 5: 3. Your greatest and only care should be to live in the state of grace.

(c) When Christ says: "Wheresoever the body shall be, there shall the eagles also be gathered together," among other things, He brings the truth before us, that the judgment of God will come when the measure of sin is full. It was so with the Jews; when the measure of their sin was full, they perished together with their city. The same lot will fall upon all sinners. God frequently tolerates sinners for a long time, and He sees how they heap sin upon sin. But when the measure of their sin is full He cries out to them, as it were, from heaven: "Thus far, and no farther!" He snatches them from the earth and delivers them to everlasting fire. Be not heedless, live not in sin for months and years, for nothing is so dangerous as this, since no one knows when the time of grace will be over and the measure of sin be full.

(d) At the coming of Christ the sign of the holy cross will appear in heaven, as the Church says, in the canonical hours: "This sign of the cross will be in heaven when the Lord shall come to judge." At the sight of this sign the wicked will lament and be terrified, for they know that the cross will bring them woe and damnation, but the good will rejoice and find great consolation, for in the cross they recognize the sign of salvation. The admonition of Christ: "Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me," seems very hard to many; but much harder will be the rebuke: "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire!" Those who now hear with joy the word of the cross and follow it, will then have no fear of hearing that awful sentence. For when the Lord shall come, this sign shall appear in the clouds, and then all who were subject to the cross, and during their life made themselves conformable to Christ will go to Him with great confidence.

(e) Heaven and earth, that is, the whole visible creation, will pass away and, like the human bodies, yield to death and decay, in order to pass over into a new and better state. Do not attach your hearts to these perishable, frail things of the world, have no inordinate desire for anything earthly, and be not so foolish as to lose heaven and to deserve hell for the sake of vain and fleeting earthly enjoyments. When you have a carnal temptation, say to yourselves "The joys of earth are brief, the fires of hell are eternal." Frequently meditate on heaven with its unspeakable felicity, and say with St. Ignatius: "How contemptible is the earth to me when I contemplate heaven!"


These are the truths and the lessons which you must ever follow and often consider. As today we celebrate the last Sunday of the Ecclesiatical year, thank God for all the graces and blessings which He has bestowed upon you; be sorry for all your sins and faults and the bad use which you have made of the graces given to you, and make the resolution to spend the last eight days of the Ecclesiastical year in piety and penance. Promise the Lord, that if He permits you to live till then, you will spend the new year in zeal for His honor, and that you will strive to amend your faults, and to labor for your perfection, that you may meet death and judgment with calmness and a blessed confidence of rendering a good account of your stewardship. Amen.

A Prayer for All Things Necessary to Salvation
(Composed by Pope Clement XI, 1721)

My God, I believe in Thee; do Thou--strengthen my faith. All my hopes are Thee: do Thou secure them. I love Thee; teach me to love Thee daily more and more. I am sorry that I have offended Thee; do Thou increase my sorrow. I adore Thee as my first beginning: I aspire after Thee as my last end. I give Thee thanks as my constant benefactor; I call upon Thee as my sovereign protector.

Vouchsafe, O my God! to conduct me by Thy wisdom, to restrain me by Thy justice; to comfort me by Thy mercy, to defend me by Thy power. To Thee I desire to consecrate all my thoughts, words, actions, and sufferings; that henceforward I may think of Thee, speak of Thee, refer all my actions to Thy greater glory, and suffer willingly whatever Thou shalt appoint.

Lord, I desire that in all things Thy will may be done because it is Thy will, and in the manner that Thou wiliest. I beg of Thee to enlighten my understanding, to inflame my will, to purify my body, and to sanctify my soul. Give me strength, O my God, to expiate my offenses, to overcome my temptations, to subdue my passions, and to acquire the virtues proper for my state of life.

Fill my heart with tender affection for Thy goodness, hatred of my faults, love of my neighbor, and contempt of the world. May Thy grace help me to be submissive to my superiors, condescending to my inferiors, faithful to my friends, and charitable to my enemies.

Assist me to overcome sensuality by mortification, avarice by almsdeeds, anger by meekness, and tepidity by devotion. O my God! make me prudent in my undertakings, courageous in dangers, patient in affliction, and humble in prosperity. Grant that I may be ever attentive at my prayers, temperate at my meals, diligent in my employments, and constant in my resolutions.

Let my conscience be ever upright and pure, my exterior modest, my conversation edifying, and my comportment regular. Assist me, that I may continually labor to overcome nature, to correspond with Thy grace, to keep Thy commandments, and to work out my salvation.

Make me realize, O my God, the nothingness of this world, the greatness of heaven, the shortness of time, and the length of eternity! Grant that I may prepare for death; that I may fear Thy judgments, and in the end obtain heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.