Second Point. — Let us consider the signs which shall announce the second coming of the Son of God, and the principal circumstances which will accompany His coming. The sun will refuse its light to terrified men; the moon will appear as if stained by blood; the sea in frightful convulsions, threatening to overflow its barriers; densest darkness will cover the earth as with a thick veil of mourning; angels will come to announce that the end of time has arrived — the human race awaiting, in consternation, in frightful anxiety, the end which these sad signs foretell. However, the destruction of the universe is not the most appalling in the last scenes which will terminate all the scenes of the world. For what is it, after all, that the world should be effaced, when we know that it must perish? But on the ruins of the world, the Son of man, announced by so many prodigies, preceded by justice, surrounded by majesty, comes from heaven in all the pomp of His power, in the midst of the acclamations of the heavenly court, who attend Him! What a contrast between glory and destruction, between life and death! Behold the picture which the Prophet Daniel has made of it: "I beheld attentively, until the thrones were placed, and the Ancient of days was seated. His throne was like flames of fire and its wheels of burning fire. A swift stream of fire issued forth from before Him. A million of angels ministered to Him and a thousand million stood before Him. The Judge is seated and the books were opened. I beheld one like the Son of man advance towards the Ancient of days; and they presented them before Him. And they gave Him honor, power, and kingdom, and all peoples, tribes, and tongues shall serve Him. His power is an everlasting power which shall not be taken away from Him, and His Kingdom shall not be destroyed. My spirit trembled. I, Daniel, was affrighted at these things.'' And who shall not be terrified? O my God, behold me at Thy feet, seized with terror at the remembrance of Thy judgments! Have pity on me before the day of Thy vengeance arrives, for on that day there shall be no longer pity or pardon.
Third Point. — Let us consider the rigor with which Jesus shall deal towards impenitent sinners on the day of His justice. He will command His angels to separate the wicked from the elect, as if they were unclean animals. He will place before their eyes the iniquities which have stained their miserable lives; and when He shall have confounded them before the eyes of the whole world, He will turn on them the eyes of His majesty. But who could endure the weight of His avenging looks? How true it is to say that sinners shall implore the mountains to crush them and death to annihilate them! But no, this will not happen; they must endure the agony of His terrible gaze, they must live to render by their sufferings eternal homage to that justice which they have so shamefully outraged. To understand to what extent sinners are hideous in the eyes of God, it will suffice to meditate on the first word He will address them. It is a word of indignation and disgust: "Depart from Me," and His voice, like to thunder-sound, shall resound to the extremities of the earth. At this anathema hell rejoices at the victims which are given and the demons rush forth to receive their prey. A saint thought he heard a voice issue from the throne of God to plead the cause of the sinner, and the following dialogue ensued: "Lord, dost Thou not recognize the work of Thy hands, and Thy privileged creature? O my God, suspend Thy sentence and Thy vengeance. These whom Thou rejectest are the very ones for whom Thou didst die; they are Thy children, the heirs to Thy Kingdom." But He answers: "I do not know them! They have blasphemed My name, they have despised My love, they are ingrates. They have employed My very gifts against Me, and now I have cursed them. Depart from Me forever.'' " But, O my God, behold their tears, hear their lamentations. They form a large part of Thy children! Do not allow them to perish forever." But He answers: " Have they not outraged Me? Indeed they weep, but it is with rage, not in love. How often have I spoken to their hearts, how often have I tried to lead them back to Me, and they have closed their ears to My voice. Now I curse them, let them go far from My presence. Depart, ye cursed!"
O my God, I am not astonished, if the remembrance of Thy judgments has converted so many sinners, peopled the deserts with holy anchorites, and wrung tears from so many holy penitents. Is it possible to weep too bitterly for the faults which must be expiated in hell, unless they are expiated here on earth? My God, what shall be my misfortune, if, after having reflected on the terrors and the regrets which will follow Thy second coming, I shall not profit by the means of salvation which the first coming affords me ! Do not permit it, O my God, and grant that I may never abuse Thy love and Thy mercy.
Source: Short Instructions for Every Sunday of the Year and the Principal Feasts, Imprimatur 1897