The Priest's Particular Judgement
Third Meditation - The Process
I. Jesus comes to render to me according to my works. There He is on the Judgement-seat to pronounce irrevocable sentence, to declare my eternal destiny. The Books are opened: the Book of my own conscience and the Book of God's Providence. The Lamb of God breaks the seals of my conscience, seals which my pride and fear had kept tightly bound. The mists of my mortality which had obscured the reading of my conscience - if indeed I ever took the trouble to read it - are swept away by the Light of His Divine Countenance. And the Book of God's Providence reveals every movement of my free-will; for every letter in the Book was written down and stereotyped at the moment of each of my decisions.
I am going to know myself, at last. And with what confusion! No self-deception, no allowances, no false colors. I shall have to look into myself and judge myself more mercilessly than would my bitterest enemy. I shall see fulfilled in me the request voiced by St. Augustine: Domine, noverim me! Lord, may I know myself!
Jesus, the thought of that moment fills me with dread.
II. The account books of my stewardship are opened before my eyes, and my Debits, Credits, and Deficit are shown to me.
Debits. God's benefits to me: my sublime priestly dignity, so purely a gift, so little appreciated; the ocean of graces in which the Lord immersed my existence and my ministry. Yes, Christ could also weep for me and say:
If thou hadst also known and that in this, thy day, the things that are to thy peace. (Luke xix, 42)Credits. My miserly returns: my good works - if I had any - so worm-eaten with defects, so hollow and devoid of right intention; my abuse of holy things, my profanation of the Sacraments, my dissipated life, my deeds perhaps infamous and sacrilegious, the hidden dregs of my sensual complacencies and lewd desires My God! If in the sight of my fellow men Thou were to draw aside the veil and expose all this, I should die of shame; what shall I do or say in Thy august Presence? Quid sum miser tunc dieturus?
Deficit: ineffable benefits corresponded to with monstrous disloyalty and rebellion; the ten thousand talents of the insolvent servant. . . . If only I could throw myself at Christ's feet and soothe His Anger with the plea: Have patience with me . . . !
III. If there my accounts are not in order, I shall have only one possible escape: to cast myself away from Christ for ever, into the regions of eternal malediction.
Depart from me, ye cursed.
Dilexit maledictionem et veniet ei,"Cursing shall wrap him about, sink like water into his inmost being, soak, like oil, into the marrow of his bones."
et induit eum sicut vestimentum,
et intravit sicut aqua in interiora ejus,
et sicut oleum in ossibus ejus... (Ps. cviii, 18)
I shall balance my accounts with my eternal damnation; I, a priest appointed to bless others, even Christ Himself, shall be for all eternity. . . a curse!
Unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required. (Luke xii, 48)And if over souls, and over Christ Himself, I bear rule, how do I bear it? At my own whim and fancy, perhaps, in imitation of Pilate's arrogance towards Christ:
A most severe judgement shall be for them that bear rule. (Wisdom vi, 6)
Knowest thou not that r have power to do with thee what I will?Have I not the power to make Christ descend upon the altar, to ill-treat Him, to imprison Him, to cast Him out? . . .
A most severe judgement shall be for them that bear rule.
Now is the time to soften the Judge's Heart, to make Him merciful towards me.
I shall be an inexorable judge of my own cause: I shall sound the depths of my soul, bringing my iniquities to the light of my conscious mind, acknowledging them for what they are, lamenting them as they deserve; I shall stir my heart to repentance, and accuse myself to God's minister, whose power is solely to forgive.
I shall do this at least once a week, making my confession with the proper dispositions.
Grant me, O Jesus, the strength of will to carry out this resolution. . .
Adapted from The Priest at Prayer
by Fr. Eugenio Escribano, C.M. (© 1954)
Translated by B.T. Buckley, C.M.
Please pray for our priests and pray for vocations to the priesthood!