The Imitation of The Sacred Heart of Jesus
Now withdraw thyself wholly from a depraved world…
For, on what can I rely, when even my good deeds must be mistrusted?On what shall I ground my hope? Behold! naught do I find, whereon to place a safe reliance, except on Thy Heart.
1. The Voice of Jesus
My Child, so soon as thou hast gone into eternity, thou shalt find thyself before My Judgment-seat, to give an account of thy life, and to hear the decision of thy lot forever.
I Myself, the Searcher and Knower of hearts, to whom all power is given in heaven and on earth, I will preside over this judgment.
All and every one, whether they be willing or not, must make their appearance before Me, the Judge of the living and the dead, to receive the final sentence: nor is it possible thereafter to appeal to another tribunal.
What is just, I will judge: neither by gifts nor by promises will I be conciliated; nor shall the prayers of any one change My Heart; neither will I be moved by repentance.
That day shall be a day of justice, not of mercy. Then shall each one receive according to his works.
2. Your Judgement
What shall thy feeling be then, My Child, when thou shalt stand alone before the infinite Majesty, with naught except thy works alone, whether they be good or evil?
Then will the devil arise in judgment against thee, and accuse thee, ready to drag thee into hell.
Thy Guardian Angel will stand up against thee, to bear witness to the truth of what is brought against thee.
Nay, even thy own conscience will accuse thee, and overwhelm thee with alarm, and dread, and terror.
Thus accused, with none to take thy defense, thou shalt wither away for fear; nor shalt thou dare to open thy mouth.
3. Nothing is hidden from My Eyes
For all things, whether they be known or unknown, are in My sight; nor is there anything hidden from My eyes.
Yet, searching I will search the heart, from the first dawn of its reason, even to the last breath of its life.
From it will I draw forth every evil, be it public or private; whether its own work, or that of another; whether great or small; whatever thou hast committed by thought, and word, and deed, and omission.
And not only of things evil, but also of those that are vain, or idle, or useless, I will exact an account.
Nay more, justice itself will I judge: I will weigh, in the scales of the sanctuary, even thy good deeds, and see what was wanting in them; either in the motive, in the manner of doing, or in the end intended, scrutinizing whether all was supernatural and perfect.
Then, many things, which, during life, appeared good, shall be found void and evil.
Then, the showy semblances of the virtues of the lukewarm, shall be seen as they are, and shall be cast aside, as dry stubble, fit only to be burnt.
And, searching still further, I will seek out the fruit of all the favors which I bestowed, of all the graces, of all the means of salvation and perfection.
Yea, I will summon time itself against thee, and I will thoroughly investigate in what manner thou didst use it.
4. Life and death
What shalt thou do then, sinner, when even the just shall hardly be secure?
Above thee thou shalt descry a heaven uncertain, below the yawning abyss; at thy right, Angels as witnesses; at thy left, demons enraged; before thee, the supreme Arbiter of life and death.
5. My Mercy or My Justice
Ah! My Child, now act with care, that thou mayst find safety then. Now it is easy, then it shall be impossible.
Follow now the invitings of My mercy, that thou mayst not then feel the severity of My justice.
Now withdraw thyself wholly from a depraved world, that then, with reprobate worldlings, thou mayst not be forced to hear: Depart, ye accursed, into everlasting fire.
Now, untrammeled by aught of earth, follow thou the Saints, that with them, thou mayst be worthy then to hear: Come, ye Blessed of My Father, possess the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
6. The Voice of the Disciple
O Lord! How much better it is, here to examine and judge myself strictly, that I may not be condemned before Thy Judgment-seat!
How much better, here to weigh well all my thoughts, and words, and deeds, that I may plainly see whether they are good, whether they are wholly according to Thy will, whether they shall be able to stand Thy searching, and deserve Thy approval!
At present there is still a remedy, but at that time every effort shall prove unavailing: now mercy is still offered me, then justice will thunder forth: Give an account of everything.
Lord, O Lord! if thou wilt mark iniquities, who shall endure it? If Thou searchest also things indifferent, yea, even those that are good, who can stand before Thee?
O Jesus! Although I am inwardly rejoiced that Thou, and none other, art to be my Judge, yet, when I reflect that I am obliged to give an account of matters so numerous and so dreadful, I tremble with fear.
For, on what can I rely, when even my good deeds must be mistrusted? On what shall I ground my hope? Behold! naught do I find, whereon to place a safe reliance, except on Thy Heart.
In this, therefore, will I hope: for, though It shall then be the Heart of my Judge, yet It will still remain the Heart of my Jesus, of One that loves them that love Him.
O my Jesus! be mindful of Thy word, in which Thou hast given me hope: for Thou hast said: Who loves Me, him also will I love.
If I love Thee, and am loved by Thee, then will I surely not fear to come and appear before Thee.
Lo, therefore, what I will do: I will love Thee, most lovely and most loving Jesus; I will love Thee with my whole heart, and love Thee all the days of my life.
“Voice of Jesus” is taken from Arnoudt’s “Imitation of the Sacred Heart”, translated from the Latin of J.M. Fastre; Benziger Bros. Copyright 1866