"And I beheld, and heard the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven,
saying with a loud voice: Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth....
[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Thursday, March 29, 2018

On the Treason of Judas & Death of the Wicked by Richard Challoner, 1807

On the Treason of Judas & Death of the Wicked 
by Richard Challoner, 1807
On the Treason of Judas
by Richard Challoner, 1807

Consider first, how sensible an afiliction it was to our Lord, to be betrayed and sold by one of His own Apostles, into the hands of those that sought his life. Inasmuch that He, who bore in silence all the insolences of the Jewish rabble, and the pagan soldiers; He who suffered the whips, thorns, and nails without complaint; could not but complain of this treachery, ingratitude, and perfidiousness of a false friend, both in His words to His disciples, the night before His passion, and to the traitor himself when he offered him the treacherous kiss; and long before by the royal Prophet.

Hear how he exresses himself in the Psalms. "Even the man of my peace," (the friend whom I had taken into my bosom.) "in whom I trusted, who eat my bread," (even the bread of life,) "hath greatly supplanted me," xl. 10. And again, "If my enemy hath reviled me, I would willingly have borne with it; and if he that hated me hath spoken great things against me, I would perhaps have hid myself from him." "But thou a man of one mind, my guide and my familiar, who didst take sweet meats together with me," (even the sacred body and blood of thy Redeemer,) "in the house of God we walked with consent," Ps. liv. 13, 14. Yes, I had associated thee to the communion of all my goods and graces in my church; I had admitted thee to be one of my individual companions, a witness of all my doctrine and miracles, and even one of my twelve Apostles. And that thou, so highly favoured without any merit of thine, should be thus ungrateful, thus false and perfidious, as without any injury or provocation, for a petty trifling interest, to betray me into the hands of my enemies, and to join thyself with them to persecute me unto death. O this it is that afflicts my soul; and the more insupportably, because in betraying and selling me, thou betrayest and sellest thy own soul (which is so dear to me) to be an eternal prey to devils. O take care my soul, thou never imitate the traitor! O dear Jesus, be thou my keeper, or else I shall also betray both myself and thee! Alas how often have I betrayed thee already by wilful sin! O never suffer me to be so miserable any more!

Consider 2dly, what an aggravation it was to the injury when the traitor offered to our Redeemer, that he should set no greater value on him, but sell him at so low a rate as thirty pieces of silver, the price ‘tis likely of the meanest slave; and that he should prefer such a trifling consideration before his Lord and his God, who made both him and all things, and who set such a value upon his soul, as to employ his whole life, and give his most precious blood to redeem it. My soul, dost thou not loudly condemn and detest this monstrous treason? But hast thou never been guilty of the like or worse? Hast thou never sold for a more trifling consideration. that grace and friendship of thy Redeemer? hast thou never preferred before him a petty interest, a filthy pleasure, is punctilio of honour, or the gratifying of some unreasonable passion? And what was all this, but selling both thy God and thy own soul for something of less value than the traitor’s thirty pieces of silver? Alas! ’tis what thou hast been guilty of, as often as thou hast committed mortal sin. Be confounded, repent, and amend.

Consider 3dly, and see in this example of Judas, that no state of life, or calling, how holy soever, can secure us from danger, since an Apostle, called by Christ and trained up in His school, so well instructed by his heavenly doctrine and great example, and empowered by him to cast out devils, and work wonderful miracles, is fallen nevertheless, and fallen so as to rise no more, even into the bottomless pit. O! let him that stands be sensible upon what slippery ground he stands, and by whose grace he is supported an kept from falling; that so, by distrusting so entirely in himself and placing his whole confidence in God, he may work out his salvation with fear and trembling. But what was it that brought Judas to this enormous treason? It was the love of money. This was his predominant passion. This he indulged at first in lesser injustices, by the opportunity of carrying the common purse, and thus, whilst he took no care to mortify his evil inclinations, by degrees they gained ground upon him, till they introduced Satan into the full possession of his soul, and so prevailed upon him to betray and to sell his Master, and then to hang himself in despair. Christians, beware of your passions, stifle them betimes, lest the grow headstrong, by being neglected in the beginning; especialy take care of that cheating vice of the love of money, the source of innumerable evils ; and yet the poison works so insensibly, that few or none are willing to think themselves infected with it. Alas! how many pretexts and pretences are made use of to cling to the evil; how many ways of palliating even frauds, injustices, usuries, and what not! And how ingenious are men, where their interest is concerned, to pesuade themselves that their way is right, the latter end of which (as they will find to their cost, when it is too late) leads to the second death. . . Conclude to mistrust thyself, and thy own judgment, in all cases where thy worldly honour, interest, or pleasure is concerned, because it is natural, on these occasions, to be biassed to that side of the question that is most agreeable to self-love. O, how hard it is to be an impartial judge in one's own case! But O how happy then are they, who in simplicity of heart, seek God, and His holy will and law, on all occasions, and do not desire to bend down the law of God to their will, but their will to the law of God!

Judas Iscariot commits the sin of despair against
the Holy Spirit and hangs himself with a halter

On the Death of the Wicked

Consider first, that as nothing is more desirable than the death of the Just man, by which he puts a happy conclusion to all the labours and miseries of that life, which we are leading here below, and enters into the never-ending joys of the Lord; so on the other hand nothing can be conceive more wretched, more dismal, and deplorable, than the death of the Wicked. "The death of the wicked is very evil," saith the Holy Ghost, Ps. xxxiii. 22. It is very evil indeed, as often as they are unexpectedly hurried away in their sins, and go down in a moment into hell; it is very evil also, as often as they die hard, and with little or no sense of God or eternity . But supposing neither the one nor the other to be the case, the death of the Wicked is still very evil; from the torture of their conscience, from the sense 0f present misery, and the dreadful apprehensions of a miserable eternity; and whatever way they look, all things seem to conspire against them; to denounce the judgments of God to them, and to set before their eyes a dismal scene of wo: Ah, how feelingly do they now experience that of the Psalm, (cxiv.) "The sorrows of death have compassed me, and the perils of death have found me!"

Consider 2dly, more in particular, the principal ingredients of his bitter cup, which the Wicked, who will not think of it, during life are so often constrained to drink of in death. And first the remembrance of their past sins, appearing now in quite other colours than they had represented them to themselves before; all staring them now in the face, in their most ugly shapes, and with their united forces, making a vehement assault upon them, to push them down headlong into the bottomless pit of despair. O how gladly would the dying sinner rid himself now of this odious company! What would he not give to shake off from his breast this viper’s brood of his own offspring! But all in vain, they will not be shaken off. O how sensibly do they make him feel the gripes of their gnawing; not unlike those of that never dying worm, which is one of the worst of the torments of hell! Then the remembrance of the graces they have so long resisted; of the opportunities of good they have so often neglected; of the talents they have buried; of the time they have squandered away, (one hour of which they cannot now recall, though they would give ten thousand worlds for it); of their past abuses of the Sacraments, of the Word of God, and of Prayer, these great means of Salvation; and the little good they can find in their whole lives, to put in the scales against so much evil; must add very much to their unspeakable anguish and distress, coming in upon them at this sad time, when they have so little presence of mind, so little leisure, opportunity or ability if doing any things themselves, and have too much reason to apprehend that God has forsaken them.

Consider 3dly, what anguish it is also to the dying sinner, to see himself violently torn away from all those things he had set his heart upon in this world. " O cruel death," shall he then say, " dost thou make so bitter a separation?" (1 Sam. xv. 32.) What sad farewells will he be then constrained to bid to his honours, riches, pleasures, and all other worldly enjoyments; to his friends, kindred, house, and family, together with the whole world; and his own body too; in order to depart into an unknown country, and to take nothing with him thither, but his works, which he would gladly leave behind him. O how does the sight of all about him, his wife, his children, and his worldly goods, which he has loved more than his God, now serve for nothing but to increase his misery? And if, to change the melancholy scene he endeavours to divert his thoughts from the remembrance of his past extravagancies and present miseries, and to look forward; he meets there with still more frightful objects, from the just apprehenion of what will follow after death; what hands he shall fall into then; what a severe trial he must immediately go through and what the sad consequence must be, if he be there cast. Alas, he sees himself just now launching forth, with all his evil into eternity, an immense ocean, to whose further shore the poor sailor can never reach, and which he has too much reason to fear, will be to him an eternity of wo.

Conclude to lead a virtuous life, and thou shalt have no share in this dismal scene of evils which attends the death of the wicked.

The six sins against the Holy Ghost are:

1. Presumption.
2. Despair.
3. Resisting the known truth.
4. Envy of another's spiritual good.
5. Obstinacy in sin.
6. Final impenitence.

The Sin of Despair: Then Judas, who betrayed Him, seeing that He was condemned, repenting himself, brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and ancients. Saying: I have sinned in betraying innocent blood. But they said: What is that to us? look thou to it. And casting down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed: and went and hanged himself with a halter (S. Matt, xxvii. 3).

Q. When does man sin through despair?

A. When a man, tormented and alarmed by the consciousness of the sins which he has committed, puts away from himself all thoughts of conversion, because he believes that it is impossible for him to be converted, and that his sins are too great to be forgiven.

Q. Is the sin of despair a great sin?

A. Yes; it is a very great one, and the seal of condemnation.

Q. To which attributes of God is the sin of despair particularly opposed?

A. 1st. To the Omnipotence of God, of whom it is written, "that He is able even of stones to raise up children to Abraham." Math. iii. 9.

2d. To the veracity of God. For the Lord expressly assures us by Ezechiel: "In the hour, when the sinner shall return to me, all his iniquity shall be remembered no more." And again: "As I live," says the Lord God, "I will not the death of the sinner, but that he be converted and live!"

And Christ himself assures of this, saying: "Receive ye the Holy Ghost; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven." John, xx. 23.

3d. To the goodness and mercy of God, with the commendation and praise of which the entire Holy Scriptures are filled, and to which the examples of innumerable penitents, both of the Old and New Testaments bear witness, who, no matter how grievously they had sinned, were received again into favor by God, if sincerely repenting they returned to Him like David.

We read in the works of Blasius (in Man. Sp. c. 4.) that one day God revealed to St. Catharine of Sienna, that He was more offended by the final despair of a sinner, than by all the sins which he committed in his whole life.

"To commit a crime is to kill the soul, but to despair is to fall into hell."--De Sum. Bono ii. 14 (from Summa Theologica)

Prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary
Against Despair and for a Happy Death

Holiest Mary, mother of goodness, mother of mercy! when I reflect on my sins and on the moment of my death, I tremble and am filld with confusion. My sweetest mother, in the blood of Jesus and in thy intercession are my hopes. Comfort of the afflicted! abandon me not at my death-agony; fail not to console me in that great affliction. If, even now, I am so tormented by remorse for sin committed, by the uncertainty of of forgiveness, by the danger of relapse, and the rigor of divine justice, how will it be with me then? Mother, before death overtake me, obtain for me a great sorrow for my sins, a true amendment, and a constant fidelity to God, in all that yet remains to me of life. And when, indeed my hour is come, then do thou, Mary, be my hope be thou mine aid in the anguish in which my soul will be overwhelmed; when the enemy sets before my face my sins, oh! comfort me then, that I may not despair. Obtain for me at that moment to invoke thee often, that, with thine own sweet name and that of thy most holy Son upon my lips, I may breathe forth my spirit. This grace thou hast granted to many of thy servants: I, too, desire it, and hope to obtain it. Amen.

Hail Mary, three times.