I hope, my dear young people, that you are not of this number, but reflecting today on these solemn words, you will make a firm resolution not to commit a single mortal sin; and thus that dreadful day, so terrible for the sinner, will be for you a day of joy, of glory, of triumph, and the beginning of your eternal reward. When the hour of the great judgment shall arrive, St. Michael, accompanied by many other angels, will give a blast from his trumpet which shall be heard in all parts of the earth; because the sound shall be winged forth by the power of God's omnipotence. "And they shall hear the voice of the Son of God:" Arise, ye dead, and come to judgment." Great and small, kings and princes, rich and poor, learned and ignorant, all shall obey that summons. At the first sound of this blast, the bodies which for centuries have been reduced to dust will return to their former shapes, and will be reanimated by the voice of the Son of God. All shall come forth from their graves, but there will be a great difference among them. The elect will rise with bodies more brilliant than the stars and like to the angels; as St. Matthew says, "Then the just shall shine like the sun." The wicked shall be there in their former bodies too, but so loathsome that it will be to them as well as to their companions a day of horror. No wonder, for the just have risen to a new life but the wicked to eternal death.
Dear children, what would be your feelings if you should see yourselves in such an abominable body? And yet how many there are among the young who, through an inordinate love of their body, never go contrary to their passions, because they wish to indulge in unlawful pleasures. Then the angels will separate the good from the bad. Oh, what a dreadful separation! the wicked to the left, the good to the right; the good father to the right, the wicked son to the left, the good brother to the right, the wicked one to the left; now is the time to separate the wheat from the cockle. Now is the time to bind the cockle into bundles to burn. That young man who looked so deceptively innocent in his life, who appeared so good to his parents, is now the cockle because he was wicked, he and his companions; another seemed so devout, but he, too, is the cockle because his heart was full of sin. All the most hidden sins will then be manifest; those sins which were committed in the dark and in secret places, those sins which through shame were withheld from the knowledge of the confessor, and those sins, mark it well, which were confessed, but without sorrow and without the resolution to do better. Yes, father, mother, sisters, brothers and friends shall know all our secrets. Nahum the prophet says: "I will discover thy shame to thy face, and will show thy [wickedness] to the nations, and thy shame to kingdoms."
But now heaven opens, and the holy cross appears, carried by angels; the cross, the sign of redemption and of life; the wicked shall fall on their faces as if struck by lightning. What cries and shrieks will they utter! But the good will rejoice when they see the cross, and falling on their knees they will cry out: ''holy cross, we hail thee, our only hope! cross, our comfort in life and now our glory and triumph, we adore thee! '' But behold, in this tumult of voices, amid all this thunder and lightning, in the midst of these fiery clouds, appears the dread Judge, clothed in garments of revenge. The terrible Majesty, with eyes burning like coals of fire. What anger, what menacing looks! His anger shall burn like a fire (Ps. Ixxxviii. 47). A red mantle on His shoulders; from His mouth proceeds a two-edged sword. The sinner shall tremble at the sight; the eyes of Christ, the Judge, shall meet the terrified looks of the sinner. The guilty shall also see, but not for his consolation, the sweet face of Mary, the Mother of sinners, and he will exclaim: "Mary, help me! Mother, have pity on me, throw a glance of mercy toward me! Cover me, Mary, with thy mantle! '' But Mary shall turn from him and say: "No longer call me Mother; you are no son of mine: there is no longer time for mercy, but for justice and divine vengeance; I feel no pity for you; when in your life I wished you to be my son, you refused to come to me; now it is too late."
The angels, too, and all the saints of heaven will reaffirm God's dreadful damnation, and turn from you in disgust: ''He will speak to them in His anger." The great Judge will then speak in His wrath to the sinner, and call him to a rigorous account for all his sinfulness, even for the most secret deeds. 'Up to the present I have been silent and patient; now is My time to render you punishment for all your iniquities; give back what thou owest.' If I were your father where was the honor due Me as such? Hardly did you come to the use of reason when you began to insult Me. You arose in the morning and went to bed at night like an animal, without remembering your Creator; you did not know your prayers, but learned early to curse My holy name. Look at your youthful waywardness, your disobedience to your superiors. From your earliest childhood you took a pride in being unruly; you know your thefts, your quarrels, your lies, your filthy practices, by which you rent and soiled the white garment of your Baptism. You went to church only to dishonor Me; at Mass you laughed, talked, and did not pray, but disturbed others in their devotions. Give an account of all this; not only of this, but give an account, too, of the sins which you made others commit. Your companion was innocent, but you corrupted him, and you are guilty of the sins which he afterwards committed. How many souls redeemed by My precious blood you have destroyed! "Give back what thou owest, rise and give an excuse for all this, if you can. Tell Me if thou hast anything to justify thyself. "(Isaias xliii. 26). Will you plead ignorance? Were you not born in a Christian family, where you received holy teachings, and saw many examples of virtue? What advice did your parents, your teachers, and also your confessor give you? You knew the malice of sin, still you persisted in committing it; you knew there would be a judgment, when you would have to give an account of even an idle word; you knew that in your surroundings in the school and on the street that there was cockle sown among the wheat, but you would not be edified by good example. Will you give as an excuse, weakness: that your passions were too strong for you? You could, if you had wished, have made yourself strong, for you had at hand prayer and the sacraments; I gave you My Body as food and My Blood as drink, but they became a poison to you because you received them unworthily. You had the help of the saints, of the angels and of Blessed Mary. How many youths with less strength than you, weaker than you, more tempted than you, and more exposed to dangers, have preserved themselves from the contamination of vice. There is a young man who at home saw nothing but bad example, whose parents had no love for God, still he remained good. After your first communion you were pious for a while. Why did you cease to be pious? Why did not your piety last for life, as it should? Ah, wretch! you shall feel the effects of My anger; the blood which I shed for you will condemn you." The trembling sinner, convicted by the all-wise Judge, will not be able to open his mouth in his defence; he will call upon the mountains to cover him, the flames to destroy him; yes, he will even call upon hell itself to hide him in its bosom.
Then Christ, the Judge, with a sweet smile upon His face, will turn to the elect and say to them: "My beloved and faithful ones, now is the time come when I will reward you for the services which you have so faithfully rendered Me. Yes, I remember the good examples you have shown, the good advice given to your companions, the crust of bread and the glass of water given to the poor in My name. I remember that from your tenderest years you offered Me your innocent hearts. I remember your many acts of love, and while others have forgotten and offended Me, you have always honored, loved, and visited Me. Now has the time come for the great feast in paradise. "Come, ye blessed of My Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.' Come now to eternal rest, come away from poverty to wealth, from tears to joy, from the cross to the crown.'' What joy there will be! Indeed you are the glory of God, for He will acknowledge you before the whole world as His faithful children; worthy of the delights and glory of heaven. Can you imagine a greater honor? "Thou art My servant Israel, for in thee will I glory" (Isaias xlix. 3). You are very happy, my dear young people, when a compliment is paid you by some great personage, and you never forget it. How great then will be your happiness to receive praise from God Himself !
Then again the eternal Judge will change His demeanor,and turning to the wicked will say: "Ah! you miserable beings, what have you to expect from Me? You did not love nor reverence Me in your life; I will not now acknowledge you. I know you not. You did not wish to have part with Me, and now you shall not. Go from my presence; you are objects of my hatred; go, ye damned, into eternal fire. "Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire" (Matt. XXV. 41). Cursed by My divine Father, cursed by Me, cursed by the Holy Ghost, cursed by Mary, by the angels and all the saints." What dreadful cries will these wretches send forth on hearing these maledictions! The saints will repeat the curses of God: "Away from here, ye accursed, away from here, ye accursed! "Then the saints will praise God for His justice. These wretches would throw themselves into hell if they could, but God wants them to be witnesses of the triumph of the good; and they must stand there to see it to their own great punishment. These good people whom they ridiculed during life: "They were those whom you held in derision formerly." They will burst with envy, "The sinner shall witness this and gnash his teeth." Ah! indeed we were fools, we were wrong! See that youth whom we laughed at so often because he was pious, and called him scrupulous or a bigot, because he never took part in our wicked talks, plays, and pastimes. There he is now, covered with glory and in triumph, while we are bound in chains, captives of the devil, and prisoners of hell. How foolish were we who considered their life absurd and their end without honor, but now we see them counted among the children of God and among the saints is their lot. The wicked will say, "Yes, we have enjoyed the world and all its vanities, but what has it given us in return? Not happiness, not contentment; what a life of restlessness was ours! There is no peace for the wicked; we surfeited our souls and bodies with sin. Oh! had we done half as much to save our souls as we did to enjoy the illusive joys of our life on earth, we would be saints. "We have grown tired in the way of iniquity and perdition, we have walked in difficult paths."
Then the saints, all robed in white, with palm branches in their hands in sign of triumph, will go joyfully to heaven, there to begin the eternal chant of paradise. The wicked, howling, blaspheming, and despairing, are caught in a terrible whirlpool that starts beneath their feet, sucking them down into eternal perdition: "And these shall go to eternal perdition but the just into life eternal." In this way the great judgment will be accomplished; we shall all see one another in the valley of Jehosophat. I shall see you and you shall see me. Shall we be on the right united with the saints, or shall we be found among the wicked, on the left? Alas, what a misfortune it would be if one of us were to be found among the ranks of the wicked! Shall I, your preacher, be found on the left, arrayed in sacerdotal garments, with the mark of the character of the priesthood impressed on my forehead? St. Jerome so feared this possibility that he retired into a cave and there meditated on the terrible sound of the trumpet which was to call him to judgment, and beat his breast with a rock till it became all livid with blows. "That dreadful voice rings still in my ears, I tremble with my whole body." Should not I, who am not a saint, but a humble priest, fear much more? Jesus, trembling in every limb in fear of that day, I throw myself at Thy feet to implore mercy for myself and for my young hearers. Now Thou art the Father of mercy; then Thou shalt be the inexorable Judge; then it will be too late to ask for mercy. What am I, miserable wretch, going to say; whom will I engage as my patron, when even the just will tremble? Look upon us now, humble and contrite, asking for the pardon of our sins. Never again will we commit a sin, never again will we utter bad words or blasphemies or curses, nor go with bad companions.
Dear Jesus, in Thy goodness make us faithful to Thee and let us not be separated from Thee. Remember, sweet Jesus, that for our salvation Thou didst come down from heaven. By the many sufferings Thou didst endure we pray Thee to have mercy on us and save us; we have cost Thee too much to be abandoned by Thy mercy. Yes; save us, save us, good God, God of mercy, of infinite goodness, save us! Remember, dear Jesus, that Thou didst come to save me: do not then destroy me on that day: Fountain of all goodness,
Sermons for Children's Masses, Imprimatur 1900