The Priest's Particular Judgement
First Meditation - The Stark Reality
I. The fruit of all bad government, and even its efficient cause, is impunity: allowing the delinquent to go unpunished.
We have seen it these days in several countries: systematic robbery, assassinations, criminal gangs stalking through the busy thoroughfares of big cities in broad daylight.
Why? The governing authority was afraid of the criminal, who had become lord and master of judges and tribunals; the executive power was intimidated, its sanctions were inadequate or were not put into force.
Now, if God really exists; if it is true, according to the Book of Wisdom, that "Thy Providence, O Father, governeth" (xiv, 3); if God wields effective dominion over His free-willed creatures; then He cannot consent to impunity without being a bad ruler.
So I must make no mistake about it: in God there is Justice; in His Judgements there is righteousness; and one day He will call everyone of us to account.
II. A lively faith in the Divine Judgement is an absolute necessity for persevering in good or for rising up from evil. To doubt God's Judgement or to deny its existence is a carte-blanche for every misdemeanour and disorder.
Early in the path of his straying the sinner stumbles against the temptation, against a kind of psychological need, to deny roundly or to call in question or to ignore the Divine Judgement.
How frequent and significant the texts of Holy Scripture recording this temptation!
And they said: How does God know? And is there knowledge in the Most High? (Ps. lxxii, 11)And these cries of a bad conscience have resounded in the hearts of unbelievers throughout the ages. Have they ever been heard in mine?
And you say: What does God know? And He judges as it were through a mist. The clouds are His covert, and He does not consider our things; and He walks about the poles of heaven. (Job xxii, 13-14)
And they have said: The Lord shall not see: neither shall the God of Jacob understand. (Ps. xciii, 7)
III. Is a temptation of this nature unlikely in a priest? If he should surrender to the tyranny of concupiscence he would feel it sooner than anyone else, for the simple reason that he has to struggle against a better-enlightened conscience and against a more continual reminder of God's Judgement; therefore, either the fear of God will win him over to the bridling of his passions, or, if he continues to sin, he will end up by silencing all fear of the Judgement, smothering it or denying its very existence.
And they perverted their own mind and turned away their eyes that they might not look unto heaven nor remember just judgements. (Dan. xiii, 9)Do not these words apply to the bad priest?
On the other hand, a lively faith in this great truth would leave in us the same impression that was left in St. Augustine, who tells us:
"Nothing called me back from the deep abyss of carnal pleasures except the fear of death and of Thy Judgements, which never wholly departed from my breast." (Confessions vi, 16)Resolutions
1. I shall dread sin, especially sins of the flesh which, according to St. Thomas, cause faith to grow cold or to be lost.
2. I shall repeat acts of faith in the dogma of the Judgements to come, particularly when I fall into grievous sin.
3. I shall meditate frequendy and deeply on this Last Thing, keeping in mind the fact that it is coming to me: instat dies Domini.
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!