The young man's guide/The Helmet of Hope

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The young man's guide: counsels, reflections, and prayers for Catholic young men  (1910)  by Francis Xavier Lasance
The Helmet of Hope

The Helmet of Hope

XVI. The Protection of the Christian

1. THERE is a pious and pleasing legend which runs thus: When our first parents were expelled from the fair garden of Paradise, they wandered sadly up and down. Before them lay the land of toil, overgrown with thorns and thistles. Sighing, they exclaimed: "Alas! Would that the flaming sword of the angel had put an end to our existence!"

Then there breathed forth all at once a gentle breeze from Paradise; trees and shrubs swayed to and fro, and a little cloud, tinged with the roseate hues of dawn, floated down from the hills. A voice came out of this beauteous cloud and spoke as follows: "Your eyes will not be able to behold me, but although invisible, I will be your guide through life. I will dwell in your hearts, and smooth your path. When thou, O man, shalt till the earth in the sweat of thy brow, I will show thee in the distant horizon fields of golden corn and flowery gardens, so that thou shalt imagine thyself to be once more in Paradise."

"But," sighed our first parents, "wilt thou forsake us when we come to die?" "No," said the voice from the cloud, "but in death's dark night I will be to you a light. When your last hour is approaching, my cheering light shall surround you, and you shall behold Paradise open before you."

Our first parents asked: "Who art thou, celestial messenger, who dost bring us consolation?" "I am Hope," was the reply, "the daughter of Faith and Charity." The beauteous cloud melted away, and encompassed the persons addressed, hiding the celestial child from view. But their souls were refreshed and comforted.

2. My youthful reader, this heavenly child, the virtue of hope, must accompany you on your way through life. Like a helmet of steel, this virtue must guard your head against the blows of fate, which are often so hard. It must be your protection.

You must keep a firm hold on Christian hope; you must cling to it, and never let it go, for such is the will of God. He commands us to hope in Him, and this command is even implied in these words: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart." Hope therefore in the Lord! Why should we do this? What is the foundation of our hope?

3. Hope and confidence in God should be your protection and your support throughout your life, because, in the first place, God is almighty, He is infinitely merciful, faithful, and true; therefore He can and will fulfil the promises He has made to us. It is certain that He is able to fulfil His promises. For how could God be almighty if He were not able to do all things, if He could not pardon us, grant us graces, and receive us into heaven? Certainly God has only to will, and His grace penetrates our hearts, filling them with sincere penitence, washing away our sins, abolishing our debt. God wills indeed our sanctification, our salvation, and our happiness, for He is infinitely good. He truly loves all men, and desires to have them all with Himself in heaven. In the most touching manner has He made . this clear and plain, since He delivered up His only begotten Son to suffer a most agonizing death. The words of St. John will be true for evermore : " God so loved the world as to give His only begotten Son: that whosoever believeth in Him may not perish, but may have life everlasting" (John iii. 16).

4. Trust in the Lord, for He sealed His promises with the blood of His own Son. Of ourselves we could indeed not deserve eternal happiness, nor the graces needed for its attaintments, nor could we ever merit them. But what we could of ourselves not merit, Jesus Christ has merited for us, by means of His bitter passion and death. On this account we have, as the Apostle says: "Such confidence through Christ toward God."

For the same reason Sr. Ambrose writes, in order to allay our fears: "Behold, whom hast thou for thy judge! God has committed ail judgment to His Son. Can He therefore condemn thee, who has ransomed thee from death?"

5. Contemplate therefore the merits of Jesus Christ, and when you meditate upon them never let go your hope. If you have already fallen into mortal sin, or if you should ever be grievously wounded by the shafts of sin, hope on; never despair of the mercy and saving grace of the Lord. For if priests and levites, namely, your fellow-creatures in general, pass you by and abandon you, never will your Redeemer act in this way, never will He give you up for lost. No; your sad plight, your pitiable weakness, and the wounds of your soul will draw Him from afar to your aid, and will touch His sacred heart with compassion. He will act the part of a good Samaritan toward you. He has only oil and wine to bestow upon you, only mercy and loving kindness, if you go to Him with a contrite and humble heart — and a piece of gold, that is to say, Himself in the Most Blessed Sacrament, in order to pay all your debts. Hope in the Lord; He is your protection, your salvation.

Himself to man our God doth give, Our hope, the Lord most High; In this hope must the Christian live, In this hope he must die.

Apropos of these considerations, some reflections on the number of the saved and lost are not out of order.

As we read in the Gospel of St. Luke (xiii. 23), a certain man said to our blessed Saviour :

"Lord, are they few that are saved?" Jesus simply replied: "Strive to enter by the narrow gate."

"It is a question," says Father Walsh, S.J., in his admirable and consoling study, "The Comparative Number of the Saved and Lost," "about which there is no authoritative decision of the Church, nor unanimous opinion of her Fathers or theologians.

"Many, notably Suarez, hold — as Father Faber does — that the great majority of adult Catholics will be saved. Some, amongst whom we are glad to count the illustrious Dominican, Father Lacordaire, hold or incline to the opinion that the majority of mankind, including heathens and heretics, will be saved.

"Pere Monsabre, O.P., Father Castelein, S.J.. and Rev. Joseph Rickaby, S.J., advocate this mildest opinion. Father Rickaby says in his Conference, 'The Extension of Salvation': 'As to what proportion of men die in sanctifying grace, and what proportion in mortal sin, nothing is revealed, nothing is of faith, and nothing is really known to theologians. If ever you find a theologian confidently consigning the mass of human souls to eternal flames, be sure he is venturing beyond the bounds of Christian faith and of theological science. You are quite free to disbelieve his word. I do not believe it myself.

"'The rigor of the older theologians culminated in Jansenism. To the Jansenist the elect were the few grapes left upon the vine after a careful vintage (Is. xxiv. 13). Since the extirpation of Jansenism, the pendulum of theological speculation has swung the other way, and theologians generally hope more of the mercy of God, or, at least, speak with less assurance of the range of His rigorous justice,' "The reasons," continues Father Walsh, "which have induced me to think the mildest opinion, namely, that the majority — and I scarcely fear to add, the gnat majority — of mankind will be saved, are: First, because the study of God's character urges, if not forces, me to do so. Second, because this opinion appears to make most for His greater honor and glory, and for the merits of Christ. Third, because the belief in it is better calculated to make is love God, and to serve Him the more from love.

" Cardinal Bellarmine, in one of his expositions of the Psalms, writes: 'David records God's providence in regard of the beasts and the birds in order to let man see that he will never be forsaken by God in His providence. God, who so bounteously feeds beasts and ravens, will never desert those who are made to His own image and likeness.' Is not such Our Lord's reasoning and conclusions as we have them in His Sermon on the Mount : "Behold the birds of the air; for they neither sow nor do they reap, nor gather into barns, and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are you not of much more value than they?' The most learned theologians lay down and prove the following proposition : That God really and sincerely wishes the salvation of all men, because He is the Creator of all men. In the words of St. Ambrose: 'God wishes all whom He creates to be saved; would to God, O men, that you would not fly and hide yourselves from Him; but even if you do He seeks you, and does not wish you to perish.' It is more probable that though many can and will fight God to the end and be lost, they will be fewer far than those whom He will tenderly, and in His own way, bring home to Himself. God is not only the Creator but the Father of all men without any exception. He has commanded us to address Him by this title : ' Our Father, who art in heaven.' All Christians do so; and a preacher, in his opening instructions, would teach and exhort the untutored savage to believe in and speak to Him as such.

" God is the Father of all men and eminently a perfect Father. We could not imagine such a father casting out, expelling from his home forever a child, until he had tried the proper means to keep him with himself — until the child deserts him, or, by wilful, obstinate, persistent disobedience to his father's will, necessitates his own expulsion. Such a father will do all he well can for the Welfare of his children do everything short of violence to enable his children to succeed in all that is for their good. The dominant desire — wish — will of such a father must be to make his children happy; his dominant dread and horror, that one of them should be unhappy.

"Our Lord tells us how easy and swift true repentance can be in the case of the publican — the notorious and typical sinner — who by making an act of sorrow for his sins, in seven words, went home to his house justified. God is far more ready and generous in forgiving the worst than men — even good men — are in forgiving each other, and bad would it be for the best of us if He were not.

"By way of showing the effect which can be produced by the very thought of God Our Father, and belief in Him as such, I may give a fact told to me by the person concerned — now dead for some years. He fell into a state akin to despair about his salvation. A confessor, to whom he opened his mind, told him to go, take his Bible, and write out all the texts in which God calls Himself his Father. He did so, and was blessed with calm and peace before he had written twenty."

The following extracts from the Sacred Scriptures reveal the goodness and mercy of God. Like the psalms of David, which you ought to read and meditate upon, they confirm us in our hope.

"Say to them: As I live, saith the Lord God, I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way, and live" (Ezech xxxiii. n).

"The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke xix. 10).

"Behold what manner of charity the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called, and should be the sons of God" (i John iii. i).

"But I say to you: Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you; that you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven, who maketh the sun to rise upon the good and bad, and raineth upon the just and unjust. ... Be you perfect as also your heavenly Father is perfect." — Words of our blessed Saviour (Matt. v. 44, 45, 48).

"Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore have I drawn thee, taking pity on thee" (Jer. xxxi. 3).

u The Lord is gracious and merciful; patient and plenteous in mercy."

"The Lord is sweet to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works." "Every day will I bless Thee, and I will praise Thy name forever" (Ps. cxliv. 8, 9, 2).

Let us give the good God, our Father in heaven, a service of Love, in the spirit of St. Francis Xavier, who said: "O God! I love Thee, not for the sake of winning heaven, or of escaping hell, not for the hope of gaining aught, but solely because Thou art my God."

"Not with the hope of gaining aught,
  Not seeking a reward;
But as Thyself hast loved me,
  O ever-loving Lord.

E'en so I love Thee, and will love,
  And in Thy praise will sing:
Solely because Thou art my God
  And my eternal King."

XVII. Providence Watches Over us.

1. MANY years ago my path led me by the side of a river, where laborers were engaged in erecting water-works. It was a sultry summer's day, and I pitied the workmen who were obliged to pursue their daily toil in the fierce rays of the sun. I said to myself: "How these poor creatures have to suffer, exposed as they are the livelong day to this blazing heat; and in spite of all their wearisome toil, they perhaps scarcely earn wherewithal to buy clothing and to appease their hunger and thirst!" My sympathy for these laborers caused me to devote my attention to them for a short space of time and to listen to them at their work.

a. Two middle-aged workmen, whose countenances showed that the cares of a family were weighing upon them, met as they were engaged in wheeling their barrows. "Give me a pinch of tobacco to fill my pipe!" one man said to his comrade; " it's about the only solace a poor man has in these days of want and scarcity. These are hard times indeed; I can scarcely believe that there is a God in heaven!"

But the other replied: "Hold your tongue! Your complaints will not mend matters! You just look at me! I have a sick wife and seven children, and they have all to be supported by the labor of my hands! The bread doesn't go very far in filling their mouths, and my heart is often heavy when I look round on them all. But do you know what sustains and supports me? I have been married for seventeen years, and God has never forsaken me; His hand will not be shortened in years to come, and He will never cease to help me; for Providence watches over us!"

3. "O what an excellent lesson is this in simplicity and pious trust in God," I reflected; "how suitable, and practical a subject has been chosen!" Providence watches over us! Frequently have I heard these consoling words, but never did they seem so impressive as upon this occasion, when I heard them uttered by a father who had an invalid wife and seven children, and in these hard times had only his scanty earnings, wherewith to furnish them with daily bread, and whose confidence in God never wavered for an instant in spite of everything.

4. Providence watches over us  ! How does this thought bring comfort to the heart of him who is overtaken by misfortune. But where is confidence in God to be found in this unbelieving age? I make bold to say that neither the poverty of the lower orders, nor the heartlessness of the wealthy classes, but the want of faith and confidence in God, is the principal cause of the evils of the present day; nay, more, amid the evils which surround us, it is itself the most terrible evil of all.

Yet Providence ceases not to watch over us; a thousand examples both in daily life and in history prove this in an incontrovertible manner. But one of the most beautiful and forcible examples to be found in all time is related in the Book of books, in the pages of Holy Scripture.

5. Let us call to mind the fate of Joseph, when he was in Egypt. Who could appear more unfortunate than he was, when, though perfectly innocent, he was sold by his own brothers, dragged away from home, falsely accused of a most disgraceful crime, and on this account cast into prison I But Providence watched over him! He left the dungeon in order to ascend a throne, than which only a regal throne could rank higher. Thus his misfortune brought about his good fortune, and not his alone, but that of his country, his beloved father, and his brethren. Certainly the providence of God manifested itself in this instance in no ordinary manner, and caused all things to work together for good. In order that he might be governor of Egypt, it was necessary that Joseph should be a slave, be loaded with fetters, and thrown into the prison where criminals condemned to death were confined.

6. Wherefore St. Jerome says: "What we consider to be misfortune, is in reality a blessing." And St. Chrysostom is right when he thus exhorts us: "When any event transcends our power of understanding, we ought not to conclude that it is not well done, but rather, since we recognize on the one hand the action of Divine Providence in governing the universe, so ought we in cases which exceed the limits of our comprehension, to adore His unsearchable wisdom." Wonderful truly are the ways of God, who is able to search them out?

7. What ought therefore to be your resolution? This above all else; never, in any moment of life to murmur and complain, as if God were unjust, as it His providence had ceased to watch over you. But habituate yourself, however severe may be the afflictions which overtake you, to say with patient Job: "The Lord gave, the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."

God it is who makes the soil
Grateful to the laborer's toil;
He whom sun and stars obey
Holds the whole world in His sway;
Yet from His bright throne above
Looks upon mankind with love.
In that bounteous Lord confide,
For your wants He will provide.

"Two principles," says Father Ramiere, S.J., "form the unalterable basis of the virtue of abandonment or absolute surrender to Divine Providence.

"First Principle: Nothing is done, nothing happens, either in the material or in the moral world, which God has not foreseen from all eternity, and which He has not willed, or at least permitted. "Second Principle: God can will nothing, He can permit nothing, but in view of the end He proposed to Himself in creating the world; i.e., in view of His glory and the glory of the Man-God, Jesus Christ, His only Son.

"To these two principles we shall add a third, which will complete the elucidation of this whole subject, viz. : As long as man lives upon earth, God desires to be glorified through the happiness of this privileged creature; and consequently in God's designs the interest of man's sanctification and happiness is inseparable from the interest of the divine glory.

"If we do not lose sight of these principles, which no Christian can question, we shall understand that our confidence in the providence of Our Father in heaven can not be too great, too absolute, too childlike. If nothing but what He permits happens, and if He can permit nothing but what is for our happiness, then we have nothing to fear, except not being sufficiently submissive to God. As long as we keep ourselves united with Him and we walk after His designs, were all creatures to turn against us they could not harm us. He who relies upon God becomes by this very reliance as powerful and as invincible as God, and created powers can no more prevail against him than against God Himself. This confidence in the fatherly providence of God can not, evidently, dispense us from doing all that is in our power to accomplish His designs; but, after having done all that depends upon our efforts, we will abandon ourselves completely to God for the rest."

"When we will what God wills," says St. Alphonsus, "it is our own greatest good that we will; for God desires what is for our greatest advantage. Let your constant practice be to offer yourself to God, that He may do with you what He pleases." God can not be deceived and we may rest assured that what He determines will be best for us. Can there be a better prayer than this?

"All that is bitter," says St. Ignatius Loyola, 'as well as all that is sweet in this life, comes from the love of God for us.'"

XVIII. Resurrection and Recognition

I. WHEN a socialistic pamphlet is intended for distribution among the working classes, the author frequently depicts their misery in harrowing terms. It Is true that the lot of the laboring man is a hard one, and the modern, impious socialist tells him this over and over again, but hear what sort of comfort he offers him.

Your Church points you, as a Catholic, to a better life than this, to a life where you will find rest after your toil, if you, while on earth, have served God with a clean heart, and have applied yourself to your daily tasks with a pure intention. But the writer of a pamphlet such as I allude to, leaves the unfortunate laborer, whose lot upon earth is so full of hardship, in doubt whether there is any resurrection and recognition, any "Wiedersehen" of our loved ones, any better life. Who is right, you with your blissful hope, or this newspaper writer with his cold and miserable comfort — despair? The question has been settled long since; Christ rose again, therefore for us also there will be a resurrection and recognition!

2. Will this hope perhaps deceive us? Never! An unhappy mother knelt by the grave of her darling, a boy about ten years old. She remained kneeling there for hours; she wept until her eyes were red; she sighed and prayed until her voice failed her; yet, as the poet tells us:

When for the loved one lost our tears o'erflow
The mourning heart is bowed with bitter woe,
This thought into the heart with solace steals :
He is not dead whom now the grave conceals.

Assuredly, "he is not dead whom now the grave conceals"! An inner voice tells us this, and the same voice is heard by all those nations who honor the last resting-places of the dead. Everywhere, even among the most uncivilized nations, we find the hope that the sleep of the grave will not last forever, but that the day of awakening will dawn.

But we, as Christians, have no mere vague presentiments concerning this resurrection and recognition, but the most complete assurance. For Jesus Christ, who is Himself the Eternal Truth, says, in clear and solemn accents: "I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in Me, although he be dead, shall live."

3. And there must of necessity be a resurrection an eternal recompense; it is imperatively demanded by the justice and holiness of God. His eye sees how frequently upon earth licentiousness, crime, injustice, stalk openly abroad or flourish in secret. Where is the penalty, the punishment? Religion has its champions, virtue its heroes, faith its martyrs. Where is the reward?

Or are virtue and vice, innocence and guilt, of equal value in the eyes of God? In that case there would no longer be virtue or vice, guilt or merit; everything would be equal and there would no longer be a question of a Supreme Being, who is holy and just!

4. Come, let us draw near to a death-bed. We will suppose that we see stretched upon it a young man who is about to breathe his last. He is at an age when life holds out the brightest promise of enjoyment; he is in the bloom of youth, being scarcely more than twenty years of age. He has grown up good and pious, innocent of evil, a spectacle to men and angels. Now death is approaching; the bystanders are dissolved in tears, the dying man alone is calm; he even smiles, a ray of celestial brightness hovers around his wasted features, he exclaims with his final gasp: "Jesus, I am Thine in life and in death! Jesus, mercy!" Now tell me, can God answer the prayer of this angel in the flesh by dooming him to annihilation?

5. Let us approach another death-bed. Upon it there lies a young man who is about to draw his last breath, but who has been a grief to his family, a disgrace to his relatives. Ever since his boyhood he has been the slave of vice, and he has now become the deplorable victim of his evil passions. There he lies — there he dies — in despair. Now tell me again, can we inscribe upon the bier of the chaste young man, adorned as he was with virtue, words implying his life to have been a delusion? And can we eulogize the miserable victim of vice by affirming that he did nothing wrong? Could God consign these two beings, so radically different from one another, to an equal annihilation? Could they both become, as they lie in the grave, a mere mass of moldering corruption, dust, and ashes — this, and nothing more forever? Is not the mere idea of anything so monstrous abhorrent to the conscience of every man?

6. No, this can not be, that in death virtue and vice should become mere meaningless terms; rather must each of these two things meet its proportionate recompense.

Do you therefore, my dear young friend, practise virtue and flee from vice; there is a resurrection and a recompense; there is a Wiedersehen! "Take courage, and let not your hands be weakened; for there shall be a reward for your work " (2 Parol, xv. 7).

" I know that my Redeemer liveth, and in the last day I shall rise out of the earth; and I shall be clothed again with my skin, and in my flesh I shall see my God; whom I myself shall see, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. This my hope is laid up in my bosom " (Job xix. 25-27).

"The just shall live forevermore; and their reward is with the Lord, and the care of them with the Most High" (Wis. v. 16), "Who will render to every man according to his works" (Rom. ii. 6).

'Tis sweet, as year by year we lose
Friends out of sight, by faith to muse
How grows in Paradise our store.

— Keble.

XIX. Heaven on Earth

1. ONCE upon a time a grand banquet was prepared in the palatial residence of a millionaire. The appetizing odors of the viands pervaded the whole house; strains of musical instruments delighted the ear, the gorgeous furniture was a joy to the eye. In the courtyard of the residence stood a horse, calmly munching its hay; the music did not bewilder it, and the footmen who hastened hither and thither, carrying dishes filled with all the delicacies of the season, aroused no longing in the horse, who continued to eat the hay with keen relish. The servants thought they would like a little joke, and placed soup, Toast meat, and vegetables before the animal; however, it thrust them all aside, and went on eating the hay.

" No one can possibly wonder," I think I hear you say, "if the horse refuses to eat meat, and cares only for oats and hay, since it is its nature to do this." You are perfectly right, but mark this: there are human beings, and unfortunately they are very numerous, who, like this horse and other animals, maintain their position at the manger, and eat their hay and their oats, instead of cultivating an appetite for better food.

2. You will understand what I am driving at. There are people both young and old, who have no appetite for anything better than the miserable hay and oats of earthly delights; people to whom pleasure and gold seem to constitute a heaven upon earth. They long for animal enjoyments, not for celestial joys. Such persons would willingly learn how to pray, indeed they would go on praying until their voice failed, if only God would grant them just one request. And what, think you, would be this request? Do you imagine that these votaries of pleasure would pray for spiritual and eternal gifts? They can not bear the thought of death and eternity. I have already told you that their heaven is on earth. Their sole wish is that the Almighty would make a bargain with them, and promise that they should never grow old, and never die. You do not hear them say with St. Paul: "I desire to be dissolved." Oh, no! but "I desire to remain here, to live forever on earth."

3. And what would they promise if God would make this bargain with them? Th6 answer is plain enough; they would say: "Keep Thy heaven for Thyself as far as we are concerned, if only we may remain always young, and live forever upon earth in the gratification of all our senses and natural inclinations." Listen to this bit of wisdom from that smart journalist, to whom I referred in the preceding chapter. He writes: "The earth was assigned to us as our abode in order that we might enjoy it to our heart's content, seek for pleasure, and find our satisfaction in it. Those who in exchange for our tears and lamentations offer us nothing but the sight of a dim and distant heaven, only point to a future life, are either not the true friends of the poor man and of the human race in general, or they are the victims of a morbid self-delusion."

A self-delusion! Pray, where did this scribbler discover this? Certainly not in the pages of Holy Scripture, but in his own brain, and he himself is undoubtedly the victim of a delusion.

One who is certainly far above this newspaper editor has spoken in a very different strain, in that He said: "In my Father's house there are many mansions: I go to prepare a place for you" (John xiv. 2).

And the great apostle St. Paul tells us: "We have not here a lasting city, but we seek one that is to come" (Heb. xiii. 14).

"Therefore, if you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God: Mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth. For you are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Col. iii. 1-3).

St. Peter admonishes us: "Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims (on earth) to refrain yourselves from carnal desires, which war against the soul" (1 Peter ii. 11).

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who according to His great mercy hath regenerated us unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead — unto an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that cannot fade — reserved in heaven for you" (1 Peter i. 3, 4).

4. Let us quit the polluted realms of the terrestrial heaven and raise our eyes to the true heaven. And why ought we to do this? Because the world and its pleasures pass away. The happiness which it offers us, in its honors and riches and pleasures will never satisfy our hearts, which are made for the enjoyment of higher and better things.

Hear the testimony of a man who had enjoyed a very wide experience and had drained the cup of earthly pleasures to its very dregs — I mean Solomon. As he himself plainly states, he had left nothing untried. What was the result? Was he satisfied? No, the refrain of his song is ever the same: "Vanity of vanities, and all things are vanity."

5. Away, therefore, with this beggarly rubbish, with the “heaven” which the world promises you! You were born to something better, your inheritance is not here! The ueaven which is above should be the objecr of your soul’s desires. Thither ought you to direct your eyes, as the marksman directs his eyes to the target. Say with David: ‘How lovely are Thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the Lord” (Ps. Lxxxiii. 2).

Should your lot be a prosperous one in this world, you ought to long far more for that blessed place where your joy will be com- plete and everlasting. Should afflictions be your portion, bear them with resignation, if only you can attain eternal happiness. Let earth give you what it will, it can not give you heaven; let earth take from you what it will, it can never deprive you of heaven. There- fore farewell, O vain and fleeting world! Draw near, O blissful heavenly dwelling- place! Would that we were already within thy gates, O Paradise! To such a prayer as this, who would not gladly say: Amen.

O Paradise! O Paradise!
  Who doth not crave for rest?
Who would not seek the happy land
  Where they that loved are blest ?
  Where loyal hearts and true
  Stand ever in the light,
All rapture through and through
  In God’s most holy sight ?

O Paradise! O Paradise!
  'Tis weary waiting here;
I long to be where Jesus is,
  To feel, to see Him near.

O Jesus! Thou the beauty art
  Of angel worlds above;
Thy name is music to the heart,
  Enchanting it with love.

O my sweet Jesus! hear the sighs
  Which unto Thee I send;
To Thee my inmost spirit cries,
  My being’s hope and end.

Jesus! our only joy be Thou,
  As Thou our prize wilt be;
Jesus! be Thou our glory now,
  And through eternity.

XX. Trust in God: Be of Good Cheer!

I. WITH courage like that of the lion, the young man rushes forth into a hostile world. It appears as if nothing could prevent him from attaining his highest aims, from realizing his youthful ideals. But alas! no sooner do the first obstacles present themselves, no sooner does he perceive that he will have to struggle and fight, no sooner do a few words of mockery or contradiction sound in his ears, than his lion-like courage vanishes, he no longer feels the joy of battle; nerveless and inert, he drops his wings.

And if the force of temptation assails him and, weak and inexperienced as the young man is, he falls into sin, and falls very deeply and grievously, then, instead of rising up with court age and energy, he lies in the abyss of his first sin, and abandons himself to cowardice, or even to despair. Never do this, my friend! However hopeless the case may appear, whatever the circumstances may be, take courage, be of good cheer, trust in God!

2. Never think or say : " God will never forgive my sins; He will not grant me the grace which is necessary, if I am to attain heaven; whatever I do, I shall be damned, there is no help for it!" This would be to despair, and despair is a terrible sin, a blasphemy against God. On this subject St. Thomas tells us that there is scarcely a greater sin than despair, and St. Augustine assures us that Judas sinned yet more grievously through despair, than even by betraying his divine Master.

And how awful are the consequences of this sin I The unhappy man who despairs loses all courage, all joy ; he falls from sin to sin, because he thinks that nothing can be of any consequence, since he is already lost. Thus in his despair he lives a wretched life while on earth, till he exchanges his misery here below for the everlasting misery of hell.

3. For this reason I say to you: Trust in God, have confidence in His goodness and mercy. It is, of course, no bad sign that you should feel alarm and terror on account of your sins, that you should regret your past folly, that you should tremble at the thought of the peril incurred by a sinful life. When, after a long-winter, it begins to lighten, thunder, and rein, it is a sign that spring is near.

Therefore, when the storm agitates the heart of the sinner, that is, when his conscience torments him and exhorts him to repentance, it is a good sign, if he pays heed to the warning voice, and he is happier in his sadness than he was formerly in his sinful pleasures. This is not despair, but a salutary fear of God.

4. Despair consists rather in a voluntary and deliberate renunciation of ail hope of attaining everlasting happiness, and a refusal to have recourse to the means of salvation. But is it possible, O merciful God, that any one can have so little trust in Thee, so little confidence in Thy fatherly love, as to imagine Thee to be unwilling to pardon?

I only wish I could transport him who thus despairs to the far-off land where Jesus lived and suffered for our sake. Behold, I would say to him, here was your Redeemer born, here He lay in the manger for your sake, and yonder, on a mountain near to Jerusalem He shed His blood upon the tree of the cross. Now, then, tell me, are you a man ? If you are a man, this precious blood was shed for you. Tell me again whether you truly repent of your sins and are deter- mined to forsake them without delay, to forsake them, not at some distant day, but at once? If this be the case, then away with your doubts; go on your way rejoicing, and trust in God !

5. Dear reader, in whatever circumstance you may find yourself, trust in God ! If you find it difficult to curb your unruly passions, to fly from the dangers by which your soul is menaced, to avoid the occasions of sin, and resolutely to turn a deaf ear to the magical enchantments of the world, then, O young man, take courage, trust in God, pray — pray — pray to God with confidence! And if you have to serve an apprenticeship, and submit to the drudgery of learning your business, and if you are obliged to go far away from home and earn your bread in the sweat of your face, then, when you long to repair to some place of amusement, and there forget your weariness and toil by means of drinking, dancing, and gambling, do not give up, but pray to God and trust in Him ! Or, as a Religious once wrote in a young man's album :

Spread thy wings and boldly fly,

Courage raises to the sky.

Say with the Royal Psalmist: "I have put my trust in Thee, O Lord ; Thou art my God. My lots are in thy hands." — Ps. xxx. 15, 16.

"It is good to confide in the Lord." — Ps. cxvii. 8.

" He will overshadow thee with His shoulders and under His wings thou shalt trust.

" His truth shall compass thee with a shield thou shalt not be afraid of the terror of the night.

" For He hath given His angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways." — Ps. xc 4, 5, 11

6. In conclusion I will quote the remarkable words which a German statesman addressed upon one occasion to the students at the University of Innsbruck: "We find in the words of St. John (Apoc. xxi. 8) that (among the reprobates) there come in the first place the fearful, the timidiy who lack courage to stand up for the cause of God and the Church; next come thieves and other immoral persons. Think what it would be to find yourself condemned to remain for all eternity in the company of these timidi, and with them to partake of the cup which eternal justice has prepared for their punishment in the pool burning with fire and brim- stone. Wherefore, my friends, do not flag in the fight.” ;

When afflictions fierce assail
Never let thy courage fail;
Hottest fire, refiners say,
Melts the gold and hardens clay

Father Claude de la Columbiere's Act of Hope and Confidence in God

MY GOD, I believe most firmly that Thou watchest over all who hope in Thee, and that we can want for nothing when we rely upon Thee in all things; therefore I am resolved for the future to have no anxieties, and to cast all my cares upon Thee. “In peace in the selfsame I will sleep and I will rest; for Thou, O Lord, singularly hast settled me in hope.”

Men may deprive me of worldly goods and of honors; sickness may take from me my strength and the means of serving Thee; I may even lose Thy grace by sin; but my trust shall never leave me. I will preserve it to the last moment of my life, and the powers of hell shall seek in vain to wrest it from me. “In peace in the selfsame I will sleep and I will rest.”

Let others seek happiness in their wealth, in their talents: let them trust to the purity of their lives, the severity of their mortifications, to the number of their good works, the fervor of their prayers; as for me, O my God, in my very confidence lies all my hope. “For Thou, O Lord, singularly hast settled me in hope.” This confidence can never be vain. “No one has hoped in the Lord and has been confounded.” I am assured, therefore, of my eternal happiness, for I firmly hope for it, and all my hope is in Thee. "In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped; let me never be confounded.”

I know, alas! I know but too well that I am frail and changeable; I know the power of temptation against the strongest virtue. I have seen stars fall from heaven, and pillars of the firmament totter; but these things alarm me not. While I hope in Thee I am sheltered from all misfortune, and I am sure that my trust shall endure, for I rely upon Thee to sustain this unfailing hope.

Finally, I know that my confidence can not exceed Thy bounty, and that I shall never receive less than I have hoped for from Thee. Therefore I hope that Thou wilt sustain me against my evil inclinations; that Thou wilt protect me against the most furious assaults of the evil one, and that Thou wilt cause my weakness to triumph over my most powerful enemies. I hope that Thou wilt never cease to love me, and that I shall love Thee unceasingly. “In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped; let me never be confounded."

The Arrow of the Love of God

XXI. Lift up Your Heart

I. IN THE commencement of the last century, Napoleon the Great found himself a solitary prisoner on the island of St. Helena. In order to dispel the ennui which overtook him, he passed in mental review the great men of bygone ages. When he fixed his gaze on Christ, he is said to have exclaimed: "See how He attracted the whole human race to Himself!”

And so indeed it is. The name of Jesus Christ is heard at the cradle of the infant and the grave of the old man, in the cottage and the palace; it is heard by the weak and by the strong; it sounds in the depths and.on the heights, ia water and on dry land, by day and by night.

Thus have been fulfilled those words of Our Lord: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to Myself.”

He has drawn all things to Himself by the sweet bond of charity. He has given to us poor mortals the most convincing proofs of His in- finite love, His divine charity. Let these proofs encourage us; therefore, lift up your heart Lift it up to the holy mountain, up to the cross, up to Heaven!

2. To the holy mountain, to Mount Olivet. There behold amid the shadows of night, faintly illuminated by the light of the moon, beneath the boughs of the olive trees, a man kneeling on the ground, bowed down as if by a heavy burden, convulsively wringing His hands, His countenance pale as death, while a sweat of blood forces itself through the pores of His skin and trickles down His forehead. And His dearest friends, whom He loved as no friend ever loved his friend, no mother her child, leave Him alone in His agony; they have no word of comfort for Him, they are sleeping; they could not watch with Him one hour, although a short time before they had protested that they were ready to go with Him into prison and to death!

3. Yet all is not told. His enemies approach ake ravenous wolves, and out of their midst one steps forward, who had been His friend, His disciple, and imprints the terrible kiss of treachery upon His sacred forehead. : And they bind the innocent Lamb, the incarnate Son of God, and lead Him away to Jerusalem; they mock and blaspheme Him, they scourge Him and crown His head with cruel thorns. Now He climbs the steep ascent of Mount Golgotha. With a heavy cross pressing upon His lacerated shoulders, the Man of Sorrows totters along. Having reached the summit, they tear off His clothes, throw Him down upon the cross, stretch His mangled limbs, drive huge nails through His hands and feet, and then set up the cross. Behold the charity of thy God!

4. Lift up your heart to the cross! There hangs the Lamb of God, suspended upon the tree of shame between heaven and earth. The blood flows from a hundred wounds and trickles down upon the cross. To all this physical torture add the mental anguish which rends His soul at the sight of His beloved Mother standing at His feet. His heart is ready to break with compassion! Furthermore, there is the mockery and blasphemy of the godless bystanders, whose obstinacy, as He knows only too well, will cause all His sufferings to be of no avail as far as they are concerned. And finally, there is the inexpressibly painful dereliction which wrings from His lips the agonizing cry: “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Now consider all that we have been passing in review and see “whether there be any sorrow like to this sorrow”; see whether there be any charity like to this divine charity!

5. But lift up your heart still higher, lift it up to heaven. If with mortal eyes you are sot able to behold the full glory of this abode of the blessed, and if you can not draw near to Him, the Eternal One, because He dwells “in the light inaccessible,” do not be discouraged, lift up your heart! For in the light of the bright ray which God will cause to shine upon you, you will be able to form at least some faint conception of the glories of the celestial city.

There in the brilliance of eternal glory, the Son of God sat at the right hand of His Father, not having as yet assumed the nature of man; in the fulness of time the Father sent Him into the world to become man and to die upon the cross. But why did He send His beloved Son to incur humiliation, suffering, and death?

6. Listen, wonder, and adore! He, the crucified, Himself gives the answer. He solves the problem worthy of a God, in the words which He formerly addressed to Nicodemus: “God so loved the world, as to give His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting’’ (John iii. 16).

Thus, again, it was charity which impelled God to an action neither heaven nor earth could possibly have foreseen, an action which would of itself have sufficed to justify the words of the apostle of love, ‘God is love !”’

Wherefore, my friend, strive to free your heart from all mere earthly or sinful affection. Lift up your heart to heaven! There alone is an object truly worthy of your love!

Love, all other love transcending,
Love from God’s own throne descending,
Blessings free that love unending
From the cross is ever sending.

St. Francis Xavier's Hymn of Love

O GOD, I love Thee for Thyself

And not that I may heaven gain,

Nor yet that they who love Thee not,

Must suffer hell’s eternal pain.

Thou, O my Jesus! Thou didst me

Upon the cross embrace;

For me didst bear the nails and spear

And manifold disgrace;

And griefs and torments numberless,

And sweat of agony;

E’en death itself — and all for one

Who was Thine enemy.

Then why, O blessed Jesus Christ,

Should I not love Thee well:

Not for the sake of winning heaven,

Or of escaping hell;

Not with the hope of gaining aught,

Not seeking a reward: But as Thyself hast loved me,

O ever-loving Lord.

E’en so I love Thee, and will love,

And in Thy praise will sing;

Solely because Thou art my God

And my eternal King.

XXII. All for the Love of Jesus

I. Love is a necessity to every human heart. Man is swayed by love either for good or for evil. Hence it is of the highest importance for every man, and especially for the young man, that an active, practical, abiding, unswerving love of God should dwell within his heart — of the highest importance for the young man, since it is in youth that the war against the threefold enemy — the devil, the world, and the concupiscence of the flesh—is the fiercest and most decisive.

If you, my dear young man, while you are rejoicing in the golden days of youth, fail to gain a mastery over the devil, the world, and the concupiscence of the flesh, the victory will at a later period become very difficult, perhaps even impossible, and in this case you will never win the heavenly crown which is the reward of him who conquers.

But how, and by what means shall you conquer? Solely and wholly through the power of love. For of love the poet sings:

Love is like the orb of day,
Love in every heart holds sway;
Who no more can tune his lay
To love, may cast his lyre away.

"Love is your master; for he masters you."

— Shakespeare.

"Love aids the hero, bids ambition rise To nobler heights, inspires immortal deeds, E'en softens brutes, and adds a grace to virtue." — Thomson.

"Love's reign is eternal, The heart is his throne, And he has all seasons Of life for his own." — Morris.

"'There is a comfort in the strength of love 'Twill make a thing endurable, which else Would overset the brain, or break the heart."

— Wordsworth.

"Love is strong as death. Many waters can not quench charity; neither can the floods drown it." — Solomon (Cant. viii. 6, 7).

But only true love, love to God, has power to conquer the devil, the world, and the concupiscence of the flesh. Wherefore let a true, practical, abiding love of God and of Christ be your guiding star; let it be the mainspring of your life; let it animate and strengthen you.

2. You must learn to say from your heart with the apostle St. Paul: "The charity of Christ presseth us" (2 Cor. v. 14), for then only will you be able to speak of victory. Without love no victory whatever can be achieved, and on no domain. We learn this from sacred and profane history, from the history of the world, from the history of each individual man. Love, as generally understood, conquers in good as well as in evil.

What, for instance, inspired and animated many a patriot to march fearlessly to battle, and to perform those immortal deeds of heroism which are read of in the pages of history? It was love, love of their native land.

What induced Napoleon the Great to give himself no rest, but to drive his triumphal chariot through all the countries of Europe? It was love, the love of fame.

What Induces the miser to resist the most powerful of all instincts, the desire for food and drink, and literally to starve himself to death, with a chest full of gold in his possession? It is love, the love of money.

3. What leads an invalid to conquer Tea? and anguish, and to submit to a most painful and dangerous operation? It is love, the love of his own life, which makes him risk everything.

What causes a mother so often to give up her own ease and comfort, and sacrifice money, time, sleep, health, and everything she can call her own, for the sake of a sick child? It is love, her great love for her offspring. And what enables pious married people to conquer their selfish desires? It is love, the love which ought to exist between husband and wife.

What induced St. Vincent de Paul to achieve so heroic a victory over himself, and allow himself to be shut up in prison with the dregs of mankind, with unhappy convicts condemned to the galleys? It was love, love for their immortal souls.

4. How would it have been possible that untold numbers of holy martyrs, amongst whom were tender virgins and young children, should renounce not only honor, freedom, fortune, health, the joys of family life, but should give up their lives amid terrible torture? It was only possible through the power of love, love for their Redeemer; they said with the Apostle: "The love of Christ presseth us."

And how was the greatest and most glorious victory recorded in the annals of the human race obtained, the victory over sin, death, and hell, the divine victory of the Saviour when He expired upon Mount Calvary? This was indeed the supremest victory of love, the victory of divine and infinite charity in regard to the poor sons of Adam.

5. Such, my youthful reader, is the all-conquering might of love. And if you know that it is imperatively necessary for you to overcome the lust of the eyes, the concupiscence of the flesh, and the pride of life, in order to win and wear the victor's crown in heaven, how consoling, is the thought that you will be able to conquer through the might of love, through the love of Christ!

And He, the Saviour of the world, has made it so easy for us to love Him, because He first loved us, and has done so very much for as. Ought it not rather to be difficult not to love this divine Redeemer?

6. Wherefore let a true and all-absorbing love of God enter into your heart and dwell there. This love streams forth from the tabernacle, from the Sacrament of Love. At this moment the Saviour is knocking at the door of your heart. Open to Him; let Him enter in, that He may inflame you with His love. Pray, pray: Heart of Jesus inflamed with love of me, inflame my heart with love of Thee!

Thus shall you conquer through the power of love; conquer your impure and evil passions; this unholy fire will be subdued by the holy fire of a true love of God.

Darkness shrouds your future; who can lift the veil which conceals it? Perhaps it is thick with storms and strife; but if love of Christ reigns in your heart, you will pass in safety through life's long day and death's dark night. Wherefore pray frequently and fervently to your Redeemer in some such words as these:

O Christ, whose life on earth was love,

Our hearts with charity inspires

Draw all our thoughts to Heaven above\
Where love fulfils the soul's desire.

All for Thee, O Heart of Jesus

HOW sweet it is to feel, dear Lord
  That Thou wilt surely see
Each work, or thought, or act of mine
  That may be done for Thee!

That when I try with pure intent
  To serve, to please, to love Thee,
Thy watchful Heart each effort knows.
  Thy blessing rests above me.

Empty my soul of all desire
  Man's idle praise to seek,
Hide me in Thee, for Thou dost know
  How frail I am — and weak.

Take Thou my all, since for so long
  Thy providence has sought me,
Make me Thine own since at such cost
  Thy precious blood has bought me.

Live, Jesus, live, so live in me,
  That all I do be done by Thee,
And grant that all I think and say
  May be Thy thoughts and words to-day.

— Leaflets,

XXIII. The Pearl of Life

I. ST. JOHN the Evangelist writes thus: " Before the festival day of the Pasch, Jesus, knowing that His hour was come that He should pass out of this world unto the Father; having loved His own who were in the world He loved them unto the end" (John xiii. i). Thereupon, as the other evangelists tell us, Jesus instituted the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. This was therefore the token that Jesus loved His own unto the end. The Most Holy Eucharist is indeed the Sacrament of Love; it is in truth a miracle of love. Simply for love of us poor human beings is Jesus Christ really and truly present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. From the Tabernacle therefore does He unceasingly call to us: "Come unto me, all you that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you!"

2. It is especially necessary that you, my youthful reader, should keep your belief in the real presence of Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament ever alive within your soul. For this re? son call to mind the principal foundations of this belief.

The first foundation rests upon the promise of Him who is the Eternal Truth. When Jesus Christ, the God-Man, promises anything, He fails not to fulfil that promise. He solemnly promiser to institute the Most Holy Sacrament. When upon one occasion, after the miraculous multiplication of the loaves, the people came to Him in the hope of obtaining a further supply of bread, He referred them to another kind of bread, which He would bestow upon them. And what kind of bread did He mean? He said : " The bread that I will give is My flesh, for the life of the world," that is to say, the selfsame flesh which He offered up on the cross in order that the world, all mankind, should have eternal life. Thus plainly and definitely did Jesus promise that He would really and truly give His flesh to be our food. 3. But Holy Scripture proceeds to say: "The Jews therefore strove among themselves." And why did they thus strive? Because they deemed it to be absolutely impossible that Jesus would really give them His flesh to eat.

Now consider for a moment: if Jesus had not intended to give His flesh — His real body, but merely bread as an emblem of His body, what would He undoubtedly have answered the Jews? He would certainly have given them the necessary explanation, and said something as follows: "You must not misunderstand Me, good people; I will only give you an emblem or My flesh, only bread to eat." But did Jesus speak in this manner? No I On the contrary, He repeated His former words, and confirmed them with a sort of oath: "Amen, Amen, I say unto you! Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you. For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed."

4. And what Jesus promised in this definite and certain manner He has not failed to perform. At the last supper He truly changed bread and wine into His most sacred body ,and blood. He expressly said in reference to the bread which He took into His hands, "This is My body," and not, "This bread signifies My body," or, " It will become My body." And at the same time He commanded His apostles: " Do this in commemoration of Me! "

5. And remark yet a third proof : ever since the apostolic ages the Holy Catholic Church has understood the words of Jesus in the very same sense. For example, one of the earliest Fathers of the Church, St. Justinian, who died in the year 166, expressed in the clearest terms the belief of the Church, which had been handed down to him by the apostles. The following are his words: "We have been taught that this sacred food is the flesh and blood of the Son of God become man."

6. Therefore, enter every church where a lamp glimmers before the tabernacle both by day and night, with ever-renewed and lively faith. There contemplate the love of Jesus, the pearl of our life here below. Be not cold and unmoved like the stone floor, but adore your God with fervor and pray with the deepest reverence. Pierce with the eye of faith the veils of the Blessed Sacrament, and pray with heart and lips :

Jesus, dearest Lord, I love Thee,
Because Thou first hast loved me;
All other love I will resign,
Conform me to Thy love divine.

Pange Lingua Gloriosi

SING, my tongue, the Saviour's glory,
Of His flesh the mystery sing;
Of the blood, all price exceeding,
  Shed by our immortal King,
Destined, for the world's redemption,
  From a noble womb to spring.

Of a pure and spotless virgin
  Born for us on earth below,
He, as man with man conversing,
  Stay'd, the seeds of truth to sow?
Then He closed in solemn order
  Wondrously His life of woe.

On the night of that last supper
  Seated with His chosen band,
He the paschal victim eating,
  First fulfils the Law's command;
Then, as food to His apostles
  Gives Himself with His own hand.

Word made flesh, the bread of nature
  By His word to flesh He turns;
Wine into His blood He changes —
  What though sense no change discerns
Only be the heart in earnest,
  Faith her lesson quickly learns.

Tantum Ergo Sacramentum

DOWN in adoration falling,
  Lo! the sacred Host we hail;
Lo I o'er ancient forms departing,
  Newer rites of grace prevail;
Faith, for all defects supplying,
  Where the feeble senses fail

To the Everlasting Father,
  And the Son who reigns on high,
With the Holy Ghost proceeding
  Forth from each eternally,
Be salvation, honor, blessing,
  Might, and endless majesty.

XXIV. In the Bright Days of Youth

I. PERHAPS you know from your own experience what homesickness is, the indescribable longing for home, for your dear ones. The saints also knew what homesickness is, but their longing was not for creatures, for earthly goods and possessions. They longed for the heavenly country, the land of everlasting joy, of peace and blessedness, the home of the saints; they longed for that heavenly fatherland, concerning which the Apostle writes : " Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love Him!" Their longing for heaven was so ardent, that they awaited with holy impatience the hour of their death.

God does not require of us that we should feel homesickness of such a kind as this, but what He does require of all men, and especially cf the young, therefore of you, my youthful reader, is that we should love Him and serve Him faithfully. I say that God expects this from young people more especially, since Holy Scripture thus exhorts them, "Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth." Wherefore love God and serve Him faithfully in the bright days of youth.

2. It was a blessed, a golden day when your pious sponsors, full of joyous hopes, brought you back from the baptismal font to your parents' house. From that hour, warmed by the sun of divine grace, you grew like a lily among thorns; indeed you knew nothing of the thorns of evil, in the blissful ignorance of your childish innocence. Your soul was like an untarnished mirror; your heart was the abode of celestial peace; you! understanding a clear, bright flame. Your will was open to receive all that is good; the frank expression of your eyes reflected the purity of your soul. Your ear had not as yet been polluted by the voice of the tempter; your lips had not tasted the poisonous cup of sin. Your hands were pure and clean; your feet had not walked in the way of transgressors; innocence was depicted in your countenance.

3. Therefore it is not wonderful that you, endowed as you were with all the qualities of a good child, with obedience, innocence, love of learning, modesty, and with harmless merriment, should have been the joy and delight of your parents and teachers, a spectacle to God, to angels, and to men! Yes, fair and golden were the days of your first youth, which you spent under the parental roof, beneath an unclouded sky.

And how is it with you at present? I do pot know, but I hope for the best, and therefore I entreat you to continue to serve God faithfully in the bright days of youth which yet remain to you!

4. You will understand some day, what you perhaps fail to perceive now, what an unspeakable advantage it is to consecrate the bright days of youth to God; strive to preserve your innocence unsullied to old age - ave, to the grave. What a happiness, what a joy, to be able to say to God, when this mortal life is ended, in the words of the young man in the Gospel: "All these (the commandments) have I kept from my youth" (Matt. xix. 20).

Wherefore never agree with the fools who say: "The time of our life is short. Come, therefore, and let us enjoy the good things that are present, and let us speedily use the creatures as in youth. Let us crown ourselves with roses before they be withered."

No, never say: "When I am old I will think of God, work for Him, and serve Him. The time to do this has not yet come!" That would be a very presumptuous, foolhardy way of speaking, and one which might cause you bitter repentance at a later period.

5. Hear what St. John Chrysostom, an illustrious Doctor of the Church, said upon this subject to his audience in a sermon delivered with wonderful eloquence: "Since no one likes to have a decrepit old servant, how much more does God desire and look for the service of the young, in order that He may receive the first-fruits of life. Is it right that any one should spend his youth in the service of sin, and keep his feeble old age, and the dregs of his life for God? To act thus is to offer the pure gold to Satan, and the dross to God; to give the costly pearls to Satan, and to leave the empty shells for God; to bestow the pure wheaten flour upon Satan, and to give the chaff to God; to offer the earliest roses of spring to Satan, and to make a present of the withered leaves to God, to lay the first, best, and rarest fruits on the altar of Satan, and to offer to God those which have lain long under the tree, have been devoured by insects, and allowed to rot."

6. What an awful punishment is on this account to be dreaded for the dissolute young man! Do you, therefore, make better resolutions, and say to yourself: "I am still young, and I will adorn the bright days of youth with virtues. I will give my heart to Him, to whom alone it belongs, and who asks so earnestly for it in these words: 'My Son, give Me thy heart.' "

The heart of childhood is all mirth,
  We frolic to and fro
As free and blithe, as if on earth
  Were no such thing as woe.

But if too soon with reckless faith
  We trust the flattering voice
Which whispers: "Take thy fill ere death
  Indulge thee and rejoice,"

Too surely each succeeding day
  Some lost delight we mourn;
The flowers all fade along our way
  Till we, too, die forlorn.

— Keble