THINK WELL ON IT
REFLECTIONS ON THE GREAT TRUTHS
OF CATHOLIC RELIGION
FOR EVERY DAY IN THE MONTH
By His Excellency
Bishop Richard Challoner
Directions for the Use of the following Considerations.
- Make choice of a proper time and place for recollection; and shut the door of thy heart as much as possible against the world, and its distracting cares and affections.
- Place thyself in the presence of God, representing him to thyself by a lively faith, as filling heaven and earth with his incomprehensible Majesty; or as residing, with all his attributes, in the very centre of thy own soul. Prostrate thyself in spirit before him, to adore this sovereign Lord; make an offering of thy whole self unto him, and humbly beg pardon for all thy past treasons against him.
- Implore, with fervour and humility, his light and grace, that the great truths of the Gospel may make a due impression upon thy soul, that thou mayest effectually learn to fear him, and to love him.
- Read leisurely, and with serious attention, the chapter for the day. Give the soul time to digest what thou art reading; and pause more particularly on those points which affect thee most.
- That thy reading may partake the more of the nature of mental prayer, strive to draw from thy considerations such affections as are suitable to the subject; by stirring up, for example, in, the soul, the fear and love of God, a confidence in his goodness, a sense of gratitude for his benefits, the horror of sin, and such like: Open thy heart as much as thou canst to these affections, that so these great and necessary virtues may take the deeper root there.
- Conclude thy considerations with holy resolutions of amendment of life, insisting in particular, on the failings to which thou art most subject, and firmly determining with thyself, to begin to put these resolution into execution, on such occasions as may occur that very day,
- Often reflect in the day time on the chief points of thy consideration; lest the enemy rob thy soul of this divine seed, by making thee quickly forget what thou hast been reading and considering.
THE FIRST DAY
On the Necessity of Consideration
Consider, first, those words of the prophet Jeremias: “With desolation is the whole earth laid desolate, because there is no one who thinks in his heart.” And reflect how true it is, that the want of Consideration on the great truths of Christianity, is the chief source of all our evils. Alas! the greater part of men, seldom or never think either of their first beginning, or last end: they neither consider who brought them into the world, nor for what; nor reflect on the eternity into which they are just about to step. Hence all their pursuits are earthly and temporal, as if they were only made for this life, or were to be always here, Death, judgment, heaven, and hell, make but little impression upon them, because they don’t give them time to sink deep into their souls by the means of serious Consideration. They run on, with their eyes shut, to the precipice of a miserable eternity, and only, then begin to think, when they find themselves lodged in that place of woe, where “their worm shall never die, and their fire shall never be quenched.” Ah! my poor soul, take care that this be not thy case.
Consider, that we cannot be saved without knowing God, and loving him above all things. Now, we can neither know him, nor love him as we ought, without the help of Consideration. It is this which discovers to us the infinite perfections of this sovereign Being, his heavenly beauty, his eternal love for us, and all the benefits which he has bestowed upon us, his most undeserving and ungrateful creatures: all which, alas! make no impression on us without serious Consideration. All things that are about us, the heavens, the earth, and every creature therein, cease not to preach God unto us, and invite us to love him. But without Consideration, we are deaf to this voice of the whole creation; we are like those that have eyes and see not, that have ears and hear not. Ah! the great and dreadful mischiefs that follow from the want of the true knowledge of God, which is the fruit of frequent Consideration! Is it not upon this account that the whole world is overrun with wickedness; and that hell opens wide its jaws, devouring without end or number, the unhappy children of Adam, because God is forgotten, because there is no knowledge of God upon earth?”
Consider, to save our souls, we must also know ourselves; we must know our misery and corruption, that we may be humble and diffident in ourselves; we must know our irregular inclinations and passions, that we may fight against them, and overcome them; we must study and watch the motions of our own hearts, that we may not be surprised by sin, and sleep in death. And how can this all necessary knowledge of ourselves, this science of the saints, be acquired without the help of daily Consideration? Ah! how unhappy are they who know all things else, and are strangers to themselves!
Consider, that in order to nourish in our souls the wholesome fear of God, which is the beginning of true wisdom, and spur ourselves on in the way of virtue, we must also seriously reflect on the enormity of sin, and the hatred God bears unto it; on the dreadful effect of sin in the soul, and on the multitude of our own sins in particular; on the vanity, misery and deceitfulness of the world; on the comfort and happiness that attend a virtuous life; on the shortness of time, and the dreadful length of a miserable eternity; on the certainty and uncertainty of death, and the sentiments we shall have when we come to die; on the small number of the elect. Ah! Christians, let us not neglect this great means of salvation! It was the consideration of these truths that made so many saints; that has so often reclaimed even the most abandoned sinners. Oh! what a profound lethargy must that soul be in, which is not roused at the thunder of those dreadful truths, death, judgment, hell, eternity!
Consider the bitter but fruitless repentance of the damned, condemning their past folly, in having thought so little on those things on which they shall now think for all eternity. Senseless wretches as we were! we had once our time, when, by thinking upon this miserable eternity, we might have escaped it. Those endless joys of heaven were offered us at a cheap rate, when a little reflection on them might have put us in the way of securing to ourselves the everlasting possession of them. But alas! we would not think then; and now it is too late. O my soul, learn thou to be wise by their misfortune; reflect in this thy day on the things that appertain to thy eternal peace; think well on thy last end; meditate on the great truths of the gospel. Thou must either think of them now, or hereafter, when the thought of them will only serve to aggravate thy misery for all eternity.