The brisk December dawn had arrived like a clown after a dreary day, and as he looked out the dark square window of the classroom, his stomach ached for food. He expected there to be stew for dinner, beetroot and carrots and mashed potatoes and fat chunks of mutton to be tucked into a thick, peppery, flour-fed gravy. Fill it up, her belly advised.
It would be a dark and secret night. After dark, here and there yellow lamps illuminated the squalid brothel quarters. He followed a circuitous route up and down the streets, circling closer and closer in a shudder of fear and joy, until suddenly his feet brought him to a dark corner. The prostitutes were just emerging from their homes, settling in for the night, yawning lazily after their sleep and tying bobby pins to tufts of hair. He passed them calmly, waiting for a sudden movement of his own will or a sudden call from his sin-loving soul from her soft, fragrant flesh. But as he wandered in search of that calling, his senses, numbed only by his desire, keenly noted anything that hurt or embarrassed them; your eyes, a ring of beer foam on an bare table, or a photograph of two soldiers standing at attention, or a colorful poster; your ears, the slow greeting jargon:
'Hello, Bertie, do you have something good in mind?'
– Is that you, pigeon?
-Number ten. Fresh Nelly is waiting for you.
- Good night, man! Will you stop here?
The equation on his scribe's page began to spread out an ever-growing tail, with eyes and stars like a peacock's; and when the eyes and stars of its indexes were eliminated, it slowly began to bend again. The emerging and disappearing indices were eyes that opened and closed; the eyes that opened and closed were stars that were born and went out. The mighty cycle of starry life took her weary mind out to the edge and in to the center, distant music accompanying it out and in. Which song? The music came closer and he remembered the words, the words of Shelley's fragment on the moon, wandering unattended, pale with weariness. The stars began to collapse and a cloud of fine stardust fell into space.
The dim light grew fainter on the side where another equation slowly began to unfold and spread its ever-expanding tail. It was his own soul that went out to try, revealing sin by sin, spreading the evil fire of his blazing stars and folding in on itself, slowly fading and extinguishing its own lights and fires. They were extinguished: and cold darkness filled the chaos.
A cold, clear indifference reigned in his soul. In his first violent sin, he felt a rush of life force rush out of him and feared to find his body or soul maimed by the abundance. Rather, the wave of life carried him out and back in its bosom as it withdrew: and no part of body or soul was maimed, but a grim peace was established between them. The chaos in which its embers died was a cold, indifferent knowledge of itself. He had sinned mortally not once but many times, and he knew that while the first sin alone threatened eternal damnation, through each succeeding sin it multiplied its guilt and punishment. His days, works, and thoughts could not atone for him, for the springs of sanctifying grace had ceased to refresh his soul. At the most, through an alms given to a beggar whose blessing he was evading, he could hope to obtain some measure of real mercy. Devotion had lost the board. What was the use of praying if he knew his soul lusted after its own destruction? A certain pride, a certain reverence, kept him from offering a single night's prayer to God, knowing that it was in God's power to take his life while he slept and cast his soul into Hell before he could beg for mercy. His pride in his own sin, his unloving reverence for God, told him that his transgression was too grievous to be expiated, in whole or in part, by false homage to the All-Seeing and All-Knowing.
- Well, Ennis, I declare you have a head and my cane too! Are you saying you can't tell me what a deaf person is?
The clumsy response stoked the embers of his contempt for his fellow man. He was neither ashamed nor afraid of others. As he passed through the church door on Sunday morning, he cast a cold stare at the bareheaded worshipers, four deep, standing in front of the church, morally present at Mass whom they could neither see nor hear. Their dull piety and the loathsome smell of the cheap hair oil they had anointed their heads with repelled him from the altar where they prayed. He was prone to the evil of hypocrisy towards others, skeptical of their innocence which he could so easily flatter.
On the wall of his room hung an illuminated scroll, the letter of his prefecture in the College of the Congregation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. On Saturday mornings, when the brotherhood gathered in the chapel to recite the Little Office, their place was at a padded desk to the right of the altar, from which they led their ward of boys during responses. The falsity of his position did not harm him. If there were moments when he felt like rising from his post of honor and confessing his utter unworthiness to leave the chapel, one look at their faces stopped him. The image of prophetic psalms soothed their barren pride. Mary's glories held her soul captive: the spikenard, myrrh, and frankincense symbolized her royal lineage, her emblems, the late-flowering plant and tree, symbolized the gradual growth of her cult among men over the centuries. When it fell to him to read the lesson at the end of the service, he read it in a low voice and eased his conscience with his music.
I was lifted up like a cedar in Lebanon and like a cypress on Mount Zion. I am exalted like a palm tree in Gads and like a rosebush in Jericho. I am exalted like a beautiful olive tree in the fields and like a plane tree beside the waters in the streets. I gave it a smell of cinnamon and balsam, and I gave it a sweet smell of myrrh.
His sin, which had hidden him from the sight of God, had brought him near to the refuge of sinners. His eyes seemed to regard him with mild pity; His holiness, a strange light shimmering faintly in her frail flesh, did not humble the sinner who approached her. If ever he was impelled to reject sin and do penance, the impulse that moved him was to be its knight. If ever your soul, timidly returning to her abode after the frenzy of its physical lust was exhausted, turned to her, whose emblem is the morning star, "bright and musical, history of heaven and instilling peace," it was with their Names were whispered softly from lips on which filthy and shameful words still lingered, the taste even of a lascivious kiss.
That was weird. He tried to think of how that could be, but the twilight deepening in the classroom blocked out thoughts from him. The bell rang. The Master set the totals and cuts for the next hour and left. Heron began humming melodiously beside Stephen.
My excellent friend Bombados.
Ennis, who had gone to the backyard, came back and said:
- The boy in the house comes to the director.
A tall boy behind Stephen rubbed his hands and said:
- This is a cue ball. We can breathe all the time. He doesn't come until after one-thirty. Then you can ask him about the catechism, Dedalus.
Stephen, leaning back and drawing idly on his scribe, listened to the talk about him, which Heron checked from time to time, saying:
- Shut up, yeah. Don't make so much noise!
It was also odd that he found ironic pleasure in following the strict lines of the Church's teaching to the end, penetrating dark silences only to hear and feel his own condemnation even more deeply. The phrase of St. James, which says that he who breaks a commandment is guilty of everything, at first seemed to him a turgid phrase, until he began to grope in the darkness of his own state. From the evil seed of lust sprang all other mortal sins: pride in self and contempt for others, greed for money to buy illicit pleasures, envy of those whose vices he could not reach, and slanderous murmuring against the godly, gluttony of food, dark anger. and dark, in which he brooded over his yearnings, the swamp of mental and physical inertia into which his whole being had sunk.
As he sat on his bench and looked calmly into the dean's sly, hard face, his mind twisted in and out of the curious questions being asked of him. If a man stole a pound in his youth, and used that pound to amass a vast fortune, how much would he have to return, the stolen pound alone, or the pound with compound interest, or all his wealth? If a layman at baptism spills the water before saying the words, is the child baptized? Is baptism with mineral water valid? How is it that while the first beatitude promises the poor the kingdom of heaven, the second beatitude also promises the meek that they will inherit the earth? Why was the sacrament of the Eucharist instituted under the two kinds of bread and wine, when Jesus Christ is present in body and blood, soul and divinity only in bread and wine? Does a small particle of consecrated bread contain the whole body and blood of Jesus Christ, or only part of the body and blood? If, after consecration, the wine turns into vinegar and the host decays into corruption, is Jesus Christ still present among your species as God and as man?
-Here he is! Here he is!
A boy from his post at the window saw the director leave the house. All catechisms were opened and all heads bowed in silence. The dean entered and took his place on the dais. A gentle kick from the tall boy on the bench behind him prompted Stephen to ask a difficult question.
The dean did not ask for a catechism to listen to the lesson. He clasped his hands on the table and said:
— The retreat begins on Wednesday afternoon in honor of Saint Francis Xavier, whose feast is on Saturday. The retreat takes place from Wednesday to Friday. On Friday, the confession is heard all afternoon after the pearl necklace. If any boys have special confessors, it might be better for them not to change. Mass is celebrated at nine o'clock on Saturday morning and there is general communion for the whole college. Saturday is a day off. But since Saturday and Sunday are days off, some boys might be inclined to think that Monday is also a day off. Be careful not to make this mistake. I think you, Lawless, are likely to make that mistake.
- Me, sir? Why sir
From the principal's grim smile, a small wave of quiet joy erupted in the boys' class. Stephen's heart slowly began to fold and wither with fear like a dying flower.
The dean continued gravely:
- You all know the story of the life of St. Francis Xavier, I presume, patron saint of your college. He came from an old and famous Spanish family and you may remember that he was one of the first followers of St. Ignatius. They met in Paris, where Francis Xavier was professor of philosophy at the university. This brilliant young nobleman and man of letters put his heart and soul into the ideas of our glorious Founder, and you know he was sent by St. Ignatius of his own free will to preach to the Indians. As you know, he is called the Apostle of India. He went from country to country in the East, from Africa to India, from India to Japan and baptized the people. He is said to have baptized up to ten thousand idolaters in one month. It is said that his right arm fainted from being raised so many times over the heads of those he baptized. He then wanted to go to China to win more souls for God, but he died of fever on Sancian Island. A great saint, Saint Francis Xavier! A great soldier of God!
The dean paused and continued, waving his clasped hands in front of him:
— He had faith in him that moves mountains. Ten thousand souls won to God in a single month! This is a true conqueror, true to the motto of our order:for the greater glory of God!A Saint who has great power in heaven, remember: Power to intercede for us in our pains; power to obtain whatever we ask if it is for the good of our souls; Above all, power to obtain for us grace to repent when we are in sin. A great saint, Saint Francis Xavier! A great fisherman of souls!
He stopped squeezing his clasped hands, placed them on his forehead and looked left and right at the audience with his dark, stern eyes.
In the silence, his dark fire lit the twilight to a tawny glow. Stephen's heart withered like a desert flower sensing the Simum from afar.
—Just remember your last things and you will never sin— Words taken, my dear little brothers in Christ, from the book of Ecclesiastes, chapter seven, verse forty, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Stephen sat in the first pew of the chapel. Father Arnall was seated at a table to the left of the altar. He wore a heavy cloak over his shoulders; his pale face was drawn and his voice choked with rheumatism. The form of his former master, so strangely resurrected, reminded Stephen of his life at Clongowes: the wide playgrounds full of boys, the square moat, the little churchyard in the main avenue of lime trees where he had dreamed of being buried, the firelight in the wall of the infirmary where lay the sick, sad face of Brother Michael. When those memories came back to him, his soul became a child's soul again.
– We are gathered here today, my dear little brothers in Christ, for a brief moment away from the hustle and bustle of the outside world, to celebrate and honor one of the greatest saints, the Apostle of India and also the Patron of your Quorum, Saint Francis Xavier. Year after year, for far longer than any of you, my dear boys, can remember, or can remember, the boys of this college have gathered in this very chapel for their annual retreat before the feast of their patron saint. . Time passed and brought its changes with it. What changes in recent years do most of you not remember? Many of the boys who sat in those front pews a few years ago may now be in distant lands, in the hot tropics, or absorbed in professional duties, or in seminars, or traveling the depths, or they may already be called by the great God to another life. and for the abandonment of his stewardship. And even as the years pass, bringing changes for good and ill, the memory of the great saint is honored by the boys of this quorum, who each year make their annual retreat in the days before the feast designated by our saint has become. Mother of the Church to transmit forever the name and glory of one of the greatest sons of Catholic Spain.
- What does that word mean?withdrawaland why is it permitted everywhere to be a highly salutary practice for all who would lead a truly Christian life before God and in the eyes of men? A retreat, my dear boys, means a retreat for a while from the cares of our lives, from the cares of this everyday world, to examine the state of our consciousness, to ponder the mysteries of sacred religion, and to better understand why we are here in this world. . In these few days, I intend to offer you some reflections on the last four things. You are, as you know from your catechism, death, judgment, hell and heaven. We will try to understand them fully in these few days, that we may derive lasting benefit to our souls from their understanding. And remember, my dear boys, that we were sent into this world for one reason only: to do God's holy will and save our immortal souls. Everything else is useless. Only one thing is needed, the salvation of one's own soul. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world if he suffers the loss of his immortal soul? Ah, my dear boys, believe me, there is nothing in this miserable world that can make up for such a loss.
— I beseech you, my dear children, that in these few days, remove from your minds all worldly thoughts, whether of study, pleasure or ambition, and give all your attention to the state of your soul. I need not remind you that during retreat days all boys are expected to maintain a quiet and devout demeanor and to avoid all noisy and inappropriate amusements. Older boys will, of course, be careful not to violate this custom, and I particularly hope that the prefects and officers of the Congregation of Our Lady and the Congregation of the Holy Angels will set a good example for their fellow students.
– So let's try to do this retreat in honor of San Francisco with all our hearts and minds. God's blessings will then be on all your college years. But most of all, this retreat is meant to be a retreat to look back on after years, perhaps away from this faculty and in a very different environment, to look back with joy and gratitude and thank God for giving you this opportunity to launch the first foundation of a godly, honorable, zealous Christian life. And if, as may happen, there is some poor soul in these pews at this time who has had the unspeakable misfortune of losing God's holy grace and falling into grievous sin, I trust and pray earnestly that this retreat will be the turning point as in life. of this soul. I pray to God through the merits of his zealous servant Francis Xavier that such a soul may be brought to sincere penance and that Holy Communion on Saint Francis' Day this year may be a lasting alliance between God and that soul. May this retreat be unforgettable for the just and the unjust, saints and sinners.
– Help me, my dear little brothers in Christ. Help me with your pious attention, with your own devotion, with your appearance. Eliminate all worldly thoughts from your mind and think only of the last things, death, judgment, hell and heaven. Those who remember these things, Ecclesiastes says, will not sin forever. Those who remember the last things will always act and think with them before their eyes. He will live a good life and die a good death because he believes and knows that he has sacrificed much in this life on earth, he will be a hundred and a thousand times more in the life to come, in the kingdom without end - a Blessing, my dear boys, that I wish you all in the world. bottom of my heart in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!
As he walked home with his mute companions, a thick fog seemed to envelop his thoughts. Stunned, he waited for her to rise and reveal what he had hidden. He ate with a coarse appetite, and when the meal was over and the greasy dishes were on the table, he got up and went to the window, wiping the thick foam from his mouth with his tongue and licking it from his mouth. her lips. Then he fell into the state of an animal licking his children to eat. This was the end; and a faint glimmer of fear began to penetrate the fog of his mind. He pressed his face against the glass and looked out into the darkening street. Figures paced back and forth in the gloom. And that was life. The letters of Dublin's name weighed heavily on his mind, moving sullenly back and forth with slow, coarse insistence. His soul grew fat and congealed into gross fat, plunging deeper and deeper into a gloomy twilight and menacing in its monotonous fear, while the body that was his lay listless and dishonored, looking with dark eyes helplessly, troubled and human at an ox-god. . staring at
The next day brought death and judgment, slowly pulling his soul out of its listless despair. The faint glimmer of fear became a terror of the spirit as the preacher's hoarse voice breathed death into his soul. He suffered its torment, he felt the cold of death touch his extremities and crawl into his heart, the film of death veiled his eyes, the luminous centers of his brain went out one by one like light bulbs, the last sweat trickled down his skin, the faintness of his dying limbs, his speech thick and rambling and broken, his heart beating ever softer, almost defeated, his breathing, his bad breath, his poor, helpless human spirit, his sobs and sighs , the gurgling and noise in the throat. No help! No help! He - himself - his body he gave himself to was dying. To the grave with him. Nail it to a wooden box, the corpse. Carry it on the shoulders of mercenaries out of the house. Throw it down a long hole in the ground, out of sight of humans, into the grave, to rot, feed the mass of your crawling worms, and be devoured by scurrying potbellied rats.
And while the friends wept by the bedside, the sinner's soul was judged. In the last moment of consciousness, all earthly life flashed before the soul's vision, and before it had time to think, the body had died and the soul was terrified before the judgment seat. God, who has long been merciful, would then be just. He had long been patient, pleading with the sinful soul, giving her time to repent, and sparing her a little while longer. But that time is over. A time to sin and enjoy, a time to mock God and the warnings of his holy church, a time to defy his majesty, disobey his commandments, deceive others, commit sin after sin, and hide his corruption before the eyes of the people. . But that time is over. Now it was God's turn: and He was not to be deceived or allowed to be deceived. It would then come out of its hiding place every sin, the most rebellious against the divine will and the most degrading to our poor corrupt nature, the smallest imperfection and the most hideous abomination. What was the use, then, of being a great emperor, a great general, a wonderful inventor, the most learned of scholars? All were as one before the judgment seat of God. He would reward the good and punish the bad. A single moment was enough to examine a man's soul. A single moment after the death of the body, the soul was weighed in the balance. The special judgment ended, and the soul passed into the abode of bliss, or into the prison of purgatory, or howling into hell.
That wasn't all. The justice of God had not yet been defended before men: after the particular there remained the general judgment. The last day had arrived. The end of the world was imminent. The stars of heaven fell to earth like figs dropped from a fig tree shaken by the wind. The sun, the great lamp of the universe, has become like a sack full of hair. The moon was red as blood. The firmament was like an unrolled scroll. The Archangel Michael, prince of the heavenly hosts, appeared glorious and terrible before heaven. With one foot on the sea and the other on land, he blew from the archangel's trumpet the brazen death of time. The three angel blasts filled the entire universe. Time is, time was, but time will be no more. In the final stroke, the souls of universal humanity are rushing towards the Jehoshaphat Valley, rich and poor, kind and simple, wise and foolish, good and bad. The souls of all people who ever were, the souls of all who are yet to be born, all the sons and daughters of Adam will all be gathered together on that supreme day. Behold, the supreme judge is coming! No longer the humble Lamb of God, no longer the meek Jesus of Nazareth, no longer the Man of Sorrows, no longer the Good Shepherd, He is now seen coming on the clouds with great power and majesty, accompanied by nine choirs of angels, angels and archangels, principalities, powers and virtues, thrones and dominions, cherubim and seraphim, Almighty God, eternal God. He speaks: and his voice is heard to the ends of space, to the bottomless abyss. Chief Justice, his judgment will not and cannot be appealed. He calls the righteous to his side and bids them enter the kingdom, the eternity of happiness in store for them. He casts out the unjust and cries out in his offended majesty:Depart from me, cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.Oh, what torment then for miserable sinners! Friend is separated from friend, children from their fathers, husbands from their wives. The poor sinner stretches out his arms to those dear to him in this mortal world, to those whose simple piety he may have scoffed at, to those who have counseled him and tried to lead him in the right way, to a kind brother, to a dear one. Sister, to the mother and father who loved him so much. But it is too late: the righteous turn their backs on the wretched convicts who now appear before everyone's eyes in their hideous and evil character. O hypocrites, O white tombs, O you who present to the world a smiling and mild face, while your soul is a putrid swamp of sin within, how will you fare in that dreadful day?
And that day will come, will come, must come; the day of death and the day of judgment. Death is destined for man, and after death judgment. Death is certain. Time and manner are uncertain, whether because of a long illness or an unexpected accident: the Son of God comes at an hour when you little expect it. So be ready at any moment as you can die at any moment. Death is the end of us all. The death and judgment brought into the world by the sin of our first parents are the dark gates that close our earthly existence, the gates that open to the unknown and unseen, gates through which every soul must pass, alone, unaided, except by his good works, without friend or brother or father or master to help him, alone and trembling. Let this thought always be at the forefront of our thoughts, so we cannot sin. Death, a cause of terror for the sinner, is a blessed moment for him who has walked the right path, fulfills the duties of his stage of life, says his morning and evening prayers, frequently approaches the Holy Sacrament and does good and good. the good. good to do works of mercy. For the pious and believing Catholic, for the righteous, death is not a reason for terror. Was it not Addison, the great English writer, who on his deathbed sent for the wicked young Earl of Warwick to see how a Christian can meet his end? It is he and he alone, the godly, believing Christian, who can say in his heart:
O grave, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?
Every word was for him. All of God's wrath was directed against his secret and evil sin. The preacher's knife had pierced deep into his exposed conscience, and he now felt his soul rotting in sin. Yes, the preacher was right. It was God's turn. Like a beast in its hole, his soul lay in its own filth, but the angel's trumpet had awakened him from the darkness of sin to light. The angel's dying words instantly shattered her smug peace. The wind of the last day blew into his head; his sins, the bright-eyed whores of his imagination, fled the hurricane, squealing like fearful mice and cowering under a mane of hair.
As she crossed the square on her way home, a soft girlish laugh reached her burning ears. The light cheery note struck his heart with more force than a trumpet call and, not daring to look up, he turned sideways, looking into the shadows of the tangled bushes as he went. Shame rose from his beating heart and flooded his entire being. Emma's image appeared before him, and under her eyes shame spilled from his heart again. If only she knew what her mind had overwhelmed her with, or how her brutal lust tore and trampled on her innocence! Was this boy love? Was that chivalry? Was that poetry? The sordid details of his orgies stank in her nostrils. The sooty bundle of pictures he had hidden in the chimney and before whose shameless or timid exuberance he sinned for hours in thought and action; her monstrous dreams inhabited by ape-like creatures and whores with jeweled eyes; the long, nasty letters he wrote in the joy of a guilty plea and carried secretly for days, only to throw them under the cover of night in the grass in a corner of a field, or under an unhinged door in a niche in the hedges where a girl might find them in passing and secretly read them. Crazy! Crazy! Was it possible that he had done these things? A cold sweat broke out on his forehead as bad memories settled in his brain.
When the pain of shame left him, he tried to lift his soul from its miserable impotence. God and the Blessed Virgin were very far from him: God was too great and austere, and the Blessed Virgin was too pure and holy. But he imagined himself beside Emma in a vast land, and humbly and tearfully he leaned down and kissed her sleeve.
In the vast land under a delicate clear sky at dusk, a cloud drifting westward in a pale green sea of sky, they stood together, children who had erred. Their mistake, though it was the mistake of two children, deeply wounded the Majesty of God; but he did not offend her, whose beauty "is not like earthly beauty, dangerous to behold, but like the morning star, which is her emblem, bright and musical." The eyes she turned to him were neither offended nor disapproving. She joined her hands and said to her heart:
- Join hands, Stephen and Emma. It's a beautiful night in the sky right now. You made a mistake, but you will always be my children. It's a heart that loves another heart. Hold hands, little children, and you will be happy together and your hearts will love each other.
The chapel was bathed in the dull scarlet light that filtered through the closed shutters; and through the gap between the last shutter and the sash, a faint ray of light came like a spear and touched the embossed brass of the candelabra on the altar, which gleamed like the mail worn by angels.
The rain fell on the chapel, on the garden, on the school. It would rain forever, silently. The water rose inch by inch, covering the grass and bushes, covering the trees and houses, covering the monuments and mountain peaks. All life would be silently suffocated: birds, humans, elephants, pigs, children: corpses floating silently among the rubble of the world. For forty days and forty nights the rain would fall until the water covered the face of the earth.
It could be. Why not?
—Hell expanded its soul and opened its boundless mouth– Words taken, my dear little brothers in Christ Jesus, from the book of Isaiah, chapter five, verse 14. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The preacher took a watch without a chain from his cassock pocket and, after looking at it for a moment in silence, placed it on the table in front of him.
He started to speak in a calm tone.
– Adam and Eve, my dear boys, as you know, were our first parents, and you must remember that they were created by God so that the seats in heaven left empty by the fall of Lucifer and his rebellious angels could be filled again. . Lucifer, we are told, was a son of the morning, a radiant and powerful angel; but he fell: he fell, and a third part of the heavenly host fell with him: he fell, and was cast down to hell with his rebellious angels. What was his sin we cannot say. Theologians hold that it was the sin of pride, the sinful thought conceived in a moment:non serviam: I will not serve.That moment was his undoing.
He offended the majesty of God by one moment of sinful thinking, and God cast him from heaven to hell forever.
– Adam and Eve were then created by God and placed in Eden, on the plains of Damascus, that beautiful garden resplendent with sunlight and colorful and full of lush vegetation. The fertile land gave them its bounty: beasts and birds were their willing servants: they knew not the evils our flesh will inherit, sickness, poverty, and death: all that a great and bountiful God could do for them was done. But there was one condition that God imposed on them: obedience to his Word. They were not allowed to eat from the forbidden tree.
“Ah, my dear boys, they too have fallen. The devil, once a radiant angel, a son of the dawn, now came as a loathsome devil in the form of a serpent, the subtlest of the beasts of the field. He envied her. He, the great fallen one, could not bear the thought that man, a being of clay, should inherit the inheritance that his sin had lost forever. He went to the woman, the weakest vessel, and poured the poison of his eloquence into her ear, and promised her—oh, what a blasphemy of that promise! - that they would become like gods if they and Adam ate of the forbidden fruit like God himself. Eve yielded to the wiles of the arch-tempter. She ate the apple and also gave it to Adam, who lacked the moral courage to resist her. Satan's poisonous tongue had done her work. They fell.
- And then the voice of God rang out in that garden, calling His human creature to account: and Michael, prince of the heavenly host, with a flaming sword in his hand, appeared before the guilty couple, and cast them out of Eden into the world, the world of sickness and struggle, of cruelty and disappointment, of toil and toil to earn bread by the sweat of his brow. But how merciful God was even then! He took pity on our poor and lowly parents, and promised that in the fullness of time he would send him from heaven who would redeem them and make them children of God and heirs of the kingdom of heaven again: and this, that Redeemer of fallen man, was to be the only begotten Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Eternal Word.
-He came. He was born of a pure virgin, Mary, the virgin mother. Born in a poor Judean stable, he lived as a humble carpenter for thirty years, until the time of his mission came. And then, full of love for the people, He went out and called the people to hear the new gospel.
- You heard? Yes, they heard, but they didn't want to listen. He was seized and bound like a common criminal, ridiculed as a fool, made a public thief, flogged with five thousand lashes, crowned with a crown of thorns, chased through the streets by mobs of Jews and Roman soldiers, stripped naked and hanged a gallows, and his side was pierced by a spear, and water and blood continued to flow from our Lord's wounded body.
– But even then, in this hour of greatest torment, Our Merciful Redeemer pitied mankind. However, even there, on the hill of Calvary, He established the holy Catholic Church, against which it is promised that the gates of hell will not prevail. He founded them on the rock of time, and endowed them with His grace, with sacraments and sacrifices, and promised that if men would obey the word of His church, they would still enter into eternal life; but if, after all they had done for them, they still persisted in their wickedness, they were left with an eternity of torment: hell.
The preacher's voice lowered. He paused, pressed his palms together for a moment, then spread them apart. Then he continued:
Let us try for a moment to visualize as fully as possible the nature of that abode for the damned, which the justice of an offended God created for the eternal punishment of sinners. Hell is a narrow, dark, smelly prison, abode of demons and lost souls, full of fire and smoke. The narrowness of this prison was expressly designed by God to punish those who refused to be bound by his laws. In earthly prisons the poor prisoner has at least some freedom of movement, whether within the four walls of his cell or in the gloomy prison yard. Not so in hell. There, on account of the great number of the convicts, the captives are crowded into their dreadful prison, the walls of which are said to be four thousand miles thick, and the convicts are so bound and helpless that they are like a blessed saint, St. Anselm writes in his book on Parables, they can't even get a worm out of their eye that gnaws at it.
“They lie in outer darkness. For remember, the fires of Hell do not emit light. Just as, by God's command, the fire of the Babylonian furnace lost its heat but not its light, so, by God's command, the fire of hell, while retaining the intensity of its heat, burns eternally in darkness. It is an endless storm of darkness, dark flames and dark smoke from burning sulfur, in the midst of which bodies are piled on top of each other without even smelling the air. Of all the plagues that afflicted the land of the Pharaohs, only one plague, that of darkness, was called terrible. What name, then, shall we give to the darkness of hell, which is to last not three days only, but for all eternity?
— The terror of this narrow, dark prison is heightened by its horrible stench. All the filth of the world, all the refuse and dross of the world, we are told, will flow there like a great stinking cesspool when the terrible conflagration of the last day has cleansed the world. Sulphur, too, which burns there in such great quantity, fills all hell with its intolerable stench; and the very bodies of the damned give off such a pestilential odor that, as St. Bonaventure says, one of them would be enough to infect the whole world. The very air of this world, this pure element, becomes impure and unbreathable when confined too long. Then consider what the hellish air plague must be. Imagine a putrid, putrid corpse that lay rotting and festering in the grave, a gelatinous mass of liquid corruption. Imagine such a corpse as a victim of the flames, consumed by the burning brimstone fire, giving off thick, suffocating smoke of loathsome and hideous decomposition. And then imagine that disgusting stench multiplied a million times and millions more by the millions and millions of stinking carcasses curled up in the fetid darkness, a huge rotting human fungus. Imagine all this and you get an idea of the horror of the stink of hell.
“But that stench, horrible as it is, is not the greatest physical torment convicts are subjected to. The agony of fire is the greatest torment to which the tyrant has ever subjected his fellow men. Place your finger in a candle flame for a moment and you will feel the pain of the fire. But our earthly fire was created by God for the good of man, to keep the spark of life in him and help him in useful arts, while the fire of hell is of another quality and was created by God to torment the impenitent and to punish the sinners. Our terrestrial fire is also consumed more or less quickly depending on the object it attacks is more or less combustible, so that human ingenuity has come to invent chemical preparations to prevent or impede its action. But the sulphurous sulfur that burns in Hell is a substance destined to burn with indescribable fury forever and ever. Furthermore, our earthly fire annihilates at the same time as it burns, so that the more intense it is, the less it lasts; but hellfire has this quality of preserving what burns, and though it burns with incredible intensity, it burns forever.
— Our earthly fire, however fierce or vast it may be, is always of limited extent: but the lake of fire in Hell is boundless, illimitable, and bottomless. It is said that when the question was put to him by a certain soldier, the devil himself had to confess that if an entire mountain were thrown into the fiery ocean of hell, it would burn like a piece of wax in an instant. And this terrible fire will not only haunt the bodies of the damned from without, but every lost soul will be an inferno in itself, the limitless fire burning within its bowels. Oh, how terrible is the lot of these miserable beings! The blood boils and boils in the veins, the brain boils in the skull, the heart burns and explodes in the chest, the entrails a gleaming mass of fiery pulp, the delicate eyes burn like molten bullets.
- And yet, what I said about the strength, quality and immensity of this fire is nothing compared to its intensity, an intensity that it has as God's chosen instrument to punish both soul and body. It is a fire that emanates directly from the wrath of God and does not act by itself, but as an instrument of divine vengeance. Just as the waters of baptism purify the soul with the body, the fires of chastisement torment the spirit with the flesh. Every sense of the flesh is tormented, and every faculty of the soul with it: the eyes with impenetrable darkness, the nose with fetid smells, the ears with screams and howls and curses, the palate with putrid matter, leprous decay, nameless suffocating filth, the touch of red-hot spikes and spikes, with cruel tongues of fire. And through the various torments of the senses, the immortal soul is eternally tormented in its being amidst leagues upon leagues of blazing fires kindled in the abyss by the offended majesty of Almighty God, and fanned by breath to a perpetual and ever-increasing fury. . from wrath to divinity.
Finally, consider that the torment of this hellish prison is heightened by the company of the damned themselves. Bad company on earth is so injurious that plants instinctively shun the company of anything fatal or harmful to them. In Hell all laws are suspended - there is no thought of family or country, of ties, of relationships. The damned howl and scream at one another, their torture and rage heightened by the presence of beings like themselves tortured and angry. Any sense of humanity is forgotten. The cries of suffering sinners fill the farthest corners of the vast abyss. The mouths of the damned are full of blasphemies against God and hatred of their fellow sufferers and curses against those souls who were their accomplices in sin. In ancient times it was customary to punish the parricide, the man who had raised a murderous hand against the father, by throwing him into the depths of the sea in a bag containing a rooster, a monkey and a thrown snake. The intention of the legislators who framed such a law, which seems cruel in our time, was to punish the criminal by means of the company of harmful and hateful beasts. But what is the fury of these dumb beasts compared with the fury of the curse that erupts from the parched lips and sore throats of the damned in hell, when they see in their miserable fellows those who aided and abetted them in consummate sin, those whose words sowed the first germs of evil thought and evil that live in their minds, those whose immodest proposals led them to sin, those whose eyes tempted them and led them astray from the path of virtue. They turn on these accomplices and blame and curse them. But they are helpless and hopeless: it is too late for repentance now.
— Consider, lastly, the dreadful torment to these damned souls, tempting and tempted, from the company of devils. These demons will torment the damned in two ways, by their presence and by their reproaches. We cannot imagine how terrible these demons are. Saint Catherine of Siena once saw a demon and wrote that she would rather walk on a trail of red coals for the rest of her life than look for a single moment at such a terrible monster. These demons, who were once beautiful angels, became as hideous and ugly as they were beautiful. They mock and taunt the lost souls who led to ruin. They, the evil demons, will be made voices of conscience in Hell. why did you sin Why did you listen to the temptations of friends? Why did you turn away from your godly practices and good works? Why didn't you avoid the occasions of sin? Why didn't you leave that evil fellow? Why didn't you give up this wicked habit, this impure habit? Why didn't you listen to your confessor's advice? Why, even after falling for the first, second, third, fourth or hundredth time, did you not repent of your evil ways and turn to God, who was just waiting for your repentance to absolve you of your sins? Now the time for repentance is over. Time is, time was, but time will be no more! It was time to sin in secret, to give in to this sloth and pride, to covet what is unlawful, to give in to the whisperings of your lower nature, to live like the beasts of the field, no worse than the beasts of the field. field to them, at least, they are but beasts, and they have no reason to drive them: time was, but time shall be no more. God spoke to you in so many voices, but you wouldn't listen. Would you not crush that pride and anger in your heart, would you not return those ill-gotten goods, would you not obey the commandments of your holy church, would you not fulfill your religious duties, would you not forsake these evil companions, would you not avoid these dangerous temptations? This is the language of these fiendish tormentors, words of scorn and reproach, hatred and revulsion. With disgust, yes! For even they, the devils themselves, when they sinned, sinned by such a sin, which was the only one compatible with such angelic natures, a rebellion of the intellect: and they, even they, the evil devils, must turn away from it with indignation and disgust at contemplation of those unspeakable sins by which humbled man rebels and defiles the temple of the Holy Ghost, defiles and defiles himself.
– Oh, my dear little brothers in Christ, may it never be our destiny to hear this language! May it never be our fate, I say! On the last day of the dreadful reckoning, I fervently pray to God that not one soul of those who are in this chapel today will be found among these wretched beings whom the Great Judge will command to depart from His sight forever, not one of them is that we can hear the terrible phrase of rejection ringing in their ears:Depart from me, cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels!
He walked down the chapel aisle, his legs trembling and his scalp quivering as if ghostly fingers had touched him. He went upstairs and into the hallway, the walls of which hung coats and raincoats like galloping, headless, dripping, misshapen malefactors. And with every step he feared that he was already dead, that his soul had been ripped from the shell of his body, that he would fall headlong into space.
Unable to put his feet on the floor, he sat heavily at his desk, randomly opening one of his books and leaning over it. every word to him. it was true God was omnipotent. God could call him now, call him while he was at his desk, before he had time to carry out the subpoena. God had called him. Yes? What? Yes? His flesh shrank as he felt the approach of the voracious tongues of fire and withered as he felt the vortex of suffocating air around him. He had died. Yes. He was judged. A wave of fire ran through his body: the first. Another wave. His brain started to glow. Other. His brain seethed and seethed in the cracked tenement of his skull. Flames erupt like a crown from its skull and scream like voices:
-Hell! Hell! Hell! Hell! Hell!
Voices spoke beside him:
- To hell.
“I assume he rubbed you well.
- You can bet on it. He got us all into a blue funk.
- That's what you want: and a lot to work with.
He leaned back weakly on his desk. He hadn't died. God spared him. He was still in the familiar world of school. Mr. Tate and Vincent Heron were at the window, talking, joking, looking out at the dark rain and shaking their heads.
– I would like that cleared up. I had arranged to go for a bike ride with some people in Malahide. But the streets should be knee-deep.
'Perhaps it will get better, sir.'
The voices he knew so well, the common words, the stillness of the classroom when the voices fell silent and the stillness filled with the sound of cattle gently grazing while the other boys silently munched their lunch, soothed his aching soul.
There was still time. O Mary, refuge of sinners, intercede for him! O Immaculate Virgin, save him from the abyss of death!
English class started by listening to the story. Royal figures, favourites, conspirators, bishops passed like mute ghosts behind their veils of names. All died: all were judged. What does it profit a man to gain the whole world if he loses his soul? At last he understood: and human life was all around him, a plane of peace where antlike men worked in brotherhood and their dead slept under silent hills. His companion's elbow touched him, and his heart was touched: and as he spoke to answer his Lord's question, he heard his own voice filled with the stillness of humility and repentance.
His soul sank further into the depths of contrite peace, could no longer bear the pain of fear, and sent out a feeble prayer as it sank. Oh yes, he would still be spared; he would repent in his heart and be forgiven; and then those above, those in the sky, would see what he would do to make amends for the past: a lifetime, every hour of life. Just wait.
- Everything, God! All in all!
A messenger came to the door to say that confessions would be heard in the chapel. Four boys left the room; and he heard others walking down the hall. A shivering chill blew across his heart, no stronger than a light breeze, but as he listened and suffered in silence he seemed to hear the muscle of his own heart, feel it close and quiver, hear its heaving ventricle.
No escape. He had to confess, put into words what he had done and thought, sin after sin. As? As?
The thought slipped into her tender flesh like a cold, glittering rapier: Confession. But not back in the quorum chapel. He would sincerely confess everything, every sin of deed and thought; but not among your schoolmates. Far away, in a dark place, he mumbled his own shame; and he humbly begged God not to be offended if he did not dare to confess in the college chapel, and, in utter dismay, silently implored pardon from the youthful hearts around him.
He sat down again in the first pew of the chapel. Outside, the daylight was already fading, and as it slowly filtered through the opaque red shutters, it felt like the sun of the last day was setting and all souls were being gathered for judgment.
—I am rejected by the sight of your eyes:Words taken, my dear little brothers in Christ, from the book of Psalms, chapter thirty, verse twenty-three. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The preacher began to speak in a calm, friendly tone. His face was kind and he gently connected the fingers of each hand, forming a delicate cage by joining their tips.
— We endeavored this morning in our reflection on Hell to do what our holy Founder calls the composition of place in his workbook. Indeed, we try to imagine, with the senses of the mind, in our imagination, the material character of this horrible place and the physical torments that all who are in Hell must endure. Tonight we will consider for a few moments the nature of the spiritual torments of hell.
— Sin, remember, is a double monstrosity. It is a low assent to the promptings of our corrupt nature, to the baser instincts, to what is coarse and bestial; and it is also a departure from the counsel of our higher nature, of all that is pure and holy, of the holy God himself. For this reason, mortal sin is punished in Hell with two different forms of punishment, physical and spiritual.
Now, of all these emotional pains, the pain of loss is by far the greatest, so great that it is in itself an agony greater than any other. St. Thomas, the greatest Doctor of the Church, the Doctor of Angels, as he is called, says that the worst condemnation consists in man's mind being wholly deprived of the divine light, and his affections obstinately turning away from the goodness of God. Remember that God is an infinitely good being, and therefore the loss of such a being must be an infinitely painful loss. In this life we do not have a very clear idea of what such a loss must be, but the damned in Hell, to their greatest torment, have a full understanding of what they have lost and understand that it is through their own loss that they have lost sin and lost it forever. At the moment of death, the ties of the flesh are severed and the soul flies immediately to God as the center of its existence. Remember, my dear little boys, our souls yearn to be with God. We come from God, we live from God, we belong to God: we are his, inalienable. God loves every human soul with a divine love and every human soul lives in this love. How could it be otherwise? Every breath, every thought in our brain, every moment of life springs from the inexhaustible goodness of God. And if it is painful for a mother to be separated from her child, for a man banished from hearth and hearth, for a friend separated from a friend, oh, consider what a pain, what an agony it is for the poor soul to be rejected by the presence of the Extremely good and loving Creator who called that soul into existence out of nothing and kept it alive and loved it with immeasurable love. To be forever separated from your highest good, God, and to feel the torment of that separation, knowing full well that it is immutable: this is the greatest torment the created soul can endure,loss penalty, the pain of loss.
The second pang that will haunt the souls of the damned in Hell is the pang of conscience. As worms break out in corpses from rot, so in the souls of the lost a continual remorse from the rot of sin, the sting of conscience, the worm, as Pope Innocent III did. name, of the triple sting. The first sting of this cruel worm will be the memory of past pleasures. Oh, what a terrible memory it will be! In the all-consuming lake of flames, the proud king remembers the splendor of his court, the wise but wicked man his libraries and research instruments, the lover of artistic delights his marbles, pictures, and other treasures. artistic, he who delights in the delights of it at the table delighted in its sumptuous feasts, its dishes prepared with so much delicacy, its fine wines; the covetous man shall remember his hoard of gold, the thief of his ill-gotten wealth, the wrathful, vengeful, and pitiless murderers, the blood and violence in which they delighted, the impure and adulterers, the unspeakable and filthy pleasures in which they delighted. They will remember all this and be disgusted with themselves and their sins. For how miserable all these delights will seem to the soul condemned to suffer forever in Hell. How they will rage and see when they think they have lost the happiness of heaven for the ashes of the earth, for a few pieces of metal, for vain honors, for bodily comforts, for a tingling of nerves. They will indeed repent: and this is the second pang of conscience, a belated and fruitless repentance for sins committed. Divine justice insists that the understanding of these wretched wretches be constantly directed to the sins of which they are guilty, and moreover, as St. Augustine points out, God will give them His own knowledge of sin, that sin may manifest all the their abominable wickedness as it appears in the eyes of God himself. They will see their sins in all their filth and will repent, but it will be too late and then they will regret the good opportunities they missed. This is the last and deepest and cruelest sting of the worm of conscience. Conscience will say: you had time and opportunity to repent and did not want to. You were raised religiously by your parents. You had the Church's sacraments, grace, and indulgences to help you. You had God's servant preaching to you, calling you back when you strayed, forgiving your sins, no matter how many, how heinous, if you had confessed and repented. No. You would not do that. You have mocked the servants of holy religion, you have turned your back on the confessional, you have plunged deeper and deeper into the swamp of sin. God appealed to you, threatened you, pleaded with you to return to Him. Oh, what a shame, what a misery! The ruler of the universe implored you, a creature of clay, to love the one who created you and fulfill his law. No. You would not do that. And now, even if you flooded Hell with your tears if you could still cry, this whole sea of regret would not bring you what a single tear of true regret shed during your mortal life has gained for you. Now you are begging for a moment of earthly life when you must repent: in vain. That time is over: gone forever.
- This is the triple sting of conscience, the viper, which gnaws at the hearts of the wretched in hell, so that in hellish rage they curse themselves for their madness, and curse their evil companions, who have so much ruined them, and who curse demons, who tempted them in life and now mock them in eternity, even insulting and cursing the Supreme Being, whose goodness and patience they despised and offended, but whose justice and power they could not escape.
— The next mental pain that the damned undergo is the pain of expansion. Though man is capable of many evils in this earthly life, he is not capable of them all at once, for one evil cures and neutralizes another, just as one poison often cures another. In hell, on the contrary, one torment, instead of opposing another, endows it with even greater power, and, moreover, the more perfect the inner faculties are than the outer senses, the more susceptible they are to suffering. As every sense is visited by a suitable torment, so is every mental faculty; the imagination with horrible images, the sensibility with alternate longing and anger, the mind and understanding with an inner darkness even more horrible than the outer darkness that reigns in this horrible prison. The evil, however impotent, which possessed these demonic souls is an evil of unlimited scope, of unlimited duration, a terrible state of evil that we can scarcely recognize unless we face the monstrosity of sin and hatred and are aware of what God brings to pass. she.
— In opposition to this pain of stretching, and yet living with it, is the pain of intensity. Hell is the center of evil and, as you know, things are more intense at its centers than at its furthest points. There are no opposites or mixtures of any kind to mitigate or assuage the pains of Hell in the least. No, the things that are good in themselves become bad in hell. Society, elsewhere a source of comfort to the afflicted, will be a constant torment: the knowledge so desired as the chief good of the intellect, hated more than ignorance: the light so desired by all creatures, from the Lord of creation, even the humblest plant in the forest, is fiercely despised. In this life our sorrows are either not very long or very great, because nature overcomes them by habit or ends them by sinking under her burden. But in Hell torments cannot be overcome by habit, for though of terrible intensity they are at the same time of constant variety, yet each pain, as it were, takes away the fire from the other, and endows that which kindled it with a still more violent Flame. . Nor can nature escape these intense and varied torments by succumbing to them, for the soul is sustained and maintained in evil so that its suffering may be the greater. Unlimited expanse of torments, unbelievable intensity of suffering, incessant variety of torments - this is what the divine majesty, so indignant at sinners, demands; This is what the holiness of heaven requires, which has been degraded and reserved for the lustful and vile pleasures of the corrupt flesh. on this insists the blood of the innocent Lamb of God, shed for the redemption of sinners and trampled underfoot by the vilest of villains.
- The last and crowning torture of all the torments of this terrible place is the eternity of hell. Eternity! O terror and evil word. Eternity! What mind of man can understand it? And remember, it's an eternity of pain. Even if the torments of hell were not as terrible as they are, they would be infinite, for they are destined to last forever. But while they are eternal, as you know, they are at once unbearably intense, unbearably vast. Enduring the bite of an insect for all eternity would be a terrible torment, so what must it be like to endure the manifold torments of hell forever? Forever! For all eternity! Not for a year or an eternity, but forever. Try to imagine the terrible meaning of this. Many times you have seen the sand on the sea beach. How fine are its tiny grains! And how many of those tiny grains make up the tiny handful a child picks up while playing? Now imagine a mountain of that sand, a million miles high, stretching from the earth to the furthest heavens, and a million miles wide, stretching to the furthest space, and a million miles thick. ; and imagine such an enormous mass of innumerable particles of sand, multiplying as often as there are leaves in the forest, drops of water in the mighty ocean, feathers of birds, scales of fish, hairs of animals, atoms in the immensity of the air: and imagine that at the end of every million years a little bird would come to this mountain and carry a tiny grain of sand in its beak. How many millions and millions of centuries would it take before that bird would have taken even one square meter of this mountain, how many ages and ages of ages before it would have taken it all? But at the end of that immense span of time, not a single moment of eternity can be said to have ended. At the end of all those billions and trillions of years, eternity would hardly have begun. What if that mountain rose again after everything was taken away, and if the bird came back and carried it away grain by grain again, and if it rose and fell as many times as there are stars in the sky, atoms in the air, drops of water in the sea, leaves on trees, feathers on birds, scales on fish, hair on animals, at the end of all these innumerable ascents and descents of this immensely powerful mountain, not a single moment of eternity could have ended; yet at the end of such a period, after that aeon of time, the mere thought of which makes our brains dizzy, eternity would scarcely have begun.
– A holy saint (I believe it was one of our fathers) once had a vision of Hell. It seemed to him that he was standing in the middle of a great hall, dark and silent except for the ticking of a great clock. The ticking continued incessantly; and it seemed to this saint that the ticking sound was the incessant repetition of the words: always, never; always never. May he always be in hell, never in heaven; always excluded from the presence of God, never enjoying the beatific vision; always eaten by flames, gnawed by worms, driven by burning spikes, he will never be free from these pains; ever blaming the conscience, raging the memory, filling the mind with darkness and despair, never escaping; ever to curse and taunt the filthy devils, who devilishly rejoice in the misery of their deceived ones, never to see the shining garments of the blessed spirits; always cry to God from the fiery abyss, for a moment, just a moment, of rest from such terrible torments, never, not even for a moment, to receive forgiveness from God; he suffers always, never enjoys; always be damned, never be saved; always never; always never. Oh, what a terrible punishment! An eternity of endless torment, endless physical and mental torment, without a glimmer of hope, without a moment's cessation, a torment of boundless intensity, a torment of infinite variety, a torment that lasts forever, what forever devours him, of torments forever haunting the Spirit while torturing the flesh, an eternity of which every moment is in itself an eternity of suffering. This is the terrible punishment that an almighty and just God has decreed for those who die in mortal sin.
– Yes, a just God! People who always discuss how people marvel that God would inflict an eternal, never-ending penalty in the flames of hell for a single grievous sin. They reason this because, blinded by the gross delusion of the flesh and the darkness of the human mind, they are unable to comprehend the heinous malice of mortal sin. They argue this way because they fail to understand that even venial sins are of such a heinous and abominable nature that, even if the Almighty Creator were to remove all evil and misery from the world, wars, diseases, robberies, could put an end to with the crimes, the deaths, the murders, on the condition of leaving one venial sin unpunished, one venial sin, one lie, one angry look, one moment of arbitrary inertia, He the great Almighty God could not, because sin, whether in thought or deed, is a transgression of His law, and God would not be God if He did not punish the transgressor.
“One sin, one moment of rebellious spiritual pride, caused Lucifer and a third of the angelic host to fall from their glory. One sin, one moment of folly and weakness, drove Adam and Eve out of Eden and brought death and suffering into the world. To atone for the consequences of that sin, God's only begotten Son came to earth, lived, suffered, and died a most painful death by hanging on the cross for three hours.
— O my dear little brethren in Christ Jesus, shall we then offend this good Redeemer, and provoke his wrath? Are we going to step on this torn and mangled corpse again? Are we going to spit in this face of sadness and love? Like the cruel Jews and brutal soldiers, must we also mock that gentle and merciful Redeemer, who entered the terrible winepress of sorrow just for our sakes? Every word of sin is a wound in your sensitive side. Every sinful act is a thorn piercing his head. Every impure thought you consciously indulge in is a sharp spear piercing that sacred and loving heart. No no. It is not possible for any man to do that which so offends the divine majesty, that he is punished with eternal torment, that crucifies again and mocks the Son of God.
— I pray to God that my poor words for today may have been useful to strengthen in holiness those who are in a state of grace, strengthening in a state of grace the poor vacillating soul that has gone astray, if any of them are attributed to you. I plead with God and I pray with myself that we repent of our sins. Now I ask everyone to repeat the act of repentance after me, kneeling here in this humble chapel in the presence of God. He is there in the tabernacle, burning with love for humanity, ready to console the afflicted. Do not be afraid. It doesn't matter how many or how bad the sins are, if you just repent, they will be forgiven. Let no worldly shame stop you. God remains the merciful Lord who does not want the sinner's eternal death, but his conversion and life.
- He's calling you. you are his He made you out of nothing. He loved you as only a god can love. His arms are open to receive you, even if you have sinned against him. Come to him, poor sinner, poor vain, wandering sinner. Now is the acceptable time. Now is the time.
Rising, the priest turned to the altar and knelt on the step of the tabernacle in the fallen darkness. He waited until everyone in the chapel had knelt and all sounds had ceased. Then he lifted his head and repeated the act of remorse, phrase after phrase, with fervor. The boys answered him sentence by sentence. Stephen, tongue glued to the roof of his mouth, bowed his head and prayed from his heart.
-Oh my God!-
-Oh my God!-
-I am really sorry-
-I am really sorry-
– because I insulted you –
– because I insulted you –
– and I abhor my sins –
– and I abhor my sins –
—above all evil—
—above all evil—
– because you don’t like them, my God –
– because you don’t like them, my God –
—Who is worth so much—
—Who is worth so much—
- with all my love -
- with all my love -
– and I firmly intend –
– and I firmly intend –
– by your holy grace –
– by your holy grace –
- never insult you again -
- never insult you again -
– and to change my life –
– and to change my life –
After dinner he went to his room to be alone with his soul, and at every step his soul seemed to sigh; with each step his soul lifted his feet, sighing as he climbed through a region of sticky darkness.
He stopped on the landing outside the door, then grabbed the china handle and quickly opened the door. He waited in fear, his soul aching within him, and he prayed silently that death would not touch his forehead as he crossed the threshold, that the demons that dwell in darkness would not gain power over him. He waited in the doorway as at the entrance to a dark cave. faces were there; Eyes: they waited and watched.
- We knew very well, of course, that although he had to leave, he would have considerable difficulty if he tried to persuade himself to try to identify the spiritual director, so of course we knew very well -
Grumbling faces waited and watched; murmuring voices filled the dark shell of the cave. He was terrified in spirit and in flesh, but bravely raising his head he walked resolutely into space. A door, a room, the same room, the same window. He told himself calmly that those words made absolutely no sense, which seemed to come out of the dark. He told himself it was just his room with the door open.
He closed the door and walked quickly to the bed, kneeling beside her and covering his face with his hands. His hands were cold and clammy and his limbs ached with the cold. Physical restlessness, cold, and weariness attack you and direct your thoughts. Why was he kneeling there like a child saying his nightly prayers? To be alone with one's soul, to examine one's conscience, to meet one's sins face to face, to remember one's times, customs and circumstances, to weep over them. He couldn't cry. He couldn't bring her to mind. He only felt mental and physical pain, his whole being, memory, will, mind, flesh, numb and tired.
This was the work of the demons, to scatter his thoughts and darken his conscience, to assail him at the gates of cowardly, sin-corrupted flesh, and timidly asking God to forgive his weakness, he crawled into bed and wrapped her in his arms. a blanket. tightly around him, he covered his face with his hands again. He had sinned. He had sinned so deeply against heaven and before God that he was not worthy to be called a son of God.
Did he, Stephen Dedalus, do these things? His conscience sighed in response. Yea, he had done it secretly, filthy, again and again, and, hardened in sinful impenitence, he had dared to wear the mask of holiness before the tabernacle itself, while his soul lay there as a living mass of corruption. How did God not kill him? The leprous company of his sins enveloped him, breathed on him, and bent over him on every side. Striving to forget her in an act of prayer, he clasped his limbs more tightly and closed his eyelids: but the senses of his soul would not be bound, and though his eyes were tightly closed, he saw the places where he had sinned. and though his ears were tightly closed, he heard. He wished with all his will not to hear or see anything. He wanted until his body shook with the tension of his desire and until the senses of his soul shut down. They closed for a moment and then opened. He saw.
A field of stiff weeds and thistles and tufts of nettles. Crumpled cans and chunks and chunks of solid excrement lay thickly among the tufts of wild, stiff growth. A dim swamp light struggling through the gray-green weeds of all the manure. A fetid odor, faint and fetid as light, lazily wavered from the cans and old, caked manure.
The creatures were in the field; one, three, six: Creatures moved across the field, hither and thither. Goat creatures with human faces, horn eyebrows, slightly bearded and rubbery gray. Evil malice gleamed in their hard eyes as they swayed, dragging their long tails. A rite of cruel malice grayed their old bony faces. One held a torn flannel waistcoat around his ribs, another complained monotonously as his beard stuck in tufts of weeds. Soft words fell from their unspitting lips as they darted across the field in slow circles, snaking back and forth among the weeds, dragging their long tails among the clattering canisters. They moved in slow circles, circling closer and closer to lock, to lock, soft talk falling from their lips, their long fluttering tails smeared with rancid shit, and pushing their hideous faces up...
He threw the blankets off him madly to free his face and neck. This was his hell. God allowed him to see the hell reserved for his sins: fetid, bestial, cruel, a hell of lustful and stubborn demons. For him! For him!
He jumped out of bed, the reeking smell going down his throat, clogged and sick in his intestines. Air! The air of heaven! He staggered to the window, groaning and almost passed out with nausea. At the washstand, he felt an internal spasm; and clutching his cold forehead wildly, he violently retched in pain.
When the attack passed, he walked weakly to the window, lifted the sash, sat down in a corner of the gap, and rested his elbow on the sill. The rain had stopped; and among the vapors that moved from one point of light to another, the city revolved around itself like a soft cocoon with a yellowish veil. The sky was still and faintly luminous, and the air sweet to breathe, as in a rain-soaked thicket; and amid peace, twinkling lights, and still fragrance, he made an alliance with his heart.
—He had intended to come to earth in heavenly glory, but we had sinned: and then He could not safely visit us, except with veiled majesty and dark splendour, for He was God. So he himself came in weakness, not in power, and he sent you, a creature in his stead, with the grace and splendor of a creature befitting our station. And now your face and your form, dear mother, speak to us of the Eternal; not like earthly beauty, dangerous to behold, but like the morning star that is your emblem, bright and musical, breathing purity, speaking from heaven and instilling peace. O harbinger of the day! O pilgrim's light! Still lead us as you did. Lead us in the dark night across the desolate desert to our Lord Jesus, lead us home.
His eyes were dark with tears and he humbly looked up to the sky, weeping for the innocence he had lost.
At dusk he left the house, and the first touch of the damp, dark air and the sound of the door closing behind him made his conscience ache again, lulled by prayers and tears. to confess! to confess! It was not enough to calm the conscience with a tear and a prayer. He had to kneel before the servant of the Holy Spirit and truly and repentantly confess his hidden sins. He would have knelt and risen to his feet before he heard the front door frame scrape against the threshold again as it opened to let him in, before he saw the kitchen table set for dinner again. It was easy.
The pangs of conscience stopped and he quickly continued through the dark streets. There were so many stone slabs on the sidewalk of this street and so many streets in this city and in so many cities around the world. But eternity had no end. He was in mortal sin. Once upon a time there was a mortal sin. It can happen instantly. But how so fast? Seeing or thinking of seeing. The eyes see the thing without wanting to see it first. Then all of a sudden this happens. But does this part of the body understand or what? The serpent, the subtlest animal in the field. He must understand when he desires one moment and then sinfully prolong his own desire moment after moment. He feels, understands and desires. What a terrible thing! Who made him like this, a bestial part of the body that can bestially understand and bestially desire? Was it him or some inhuman thing moved by an inferior soul? He felt sick at the thought of the life of a lazy serpent, feeding on the tender marrow of his life and growing fat on the slime of lust. Oh why was that? Oh why?
He crouched in the shadow of thought and humbled himself in the fear of God, who created all things and all people. Craziness. Who could think such a thought? And cowering in darkness and submission, he silently prayed to his guardian angel to use his sword to cast out the demon that was whispering in his brain.
The whispering stopped and he now knew clearly that in thought, word and deed his own soul had willfully sinned through his own body. to confess! He had to confess every sin. How could he tell the priest in words what he had done? Must, must. Or how to explain without dying of shame? Or how could he have done such things without shame? A crazy! to confess! Oh, he would like to be free and sinless again! Maybe the priest knew. Oh dear God!
He walked endlessly through dimly lit streets, afraid to stand still for a moment, lest he appear to be holding on to what awaited him, and afraid to reach what he still aspired to, turned to desire. How beautiful must be a soul in a state of grace when God looks at it with love!
Scruffy girls sat on the sidewalk in front of their baskets. Her damp hair fell over her eyebrows. It wasn't pretty to see them huddled together in the mud. But their souls were seen by God; and when their souls were in a state of grace, they were radiant to see: and God loved them to see them.
A consuming sigh of humiliation blew darkly over his soul as he thought of how he had fallen to feel that those souls were dearer to God than his own. The wind blew over him and went to the myriads and myriads of other souls upon whom God's favor shone less and less, stars now shining and now fading, lingering and dimming. And the shining souls passed by, worn out and failing, merging in one exhilarating breath. A soul was lost; a tiny soul: his. It blinked once and went out, forgotten, lost. The end: black garbage, cold and empty.
Awareness of the place slowly returned to him, dimmed, unfelt, unlived for a vast period of time. The dirty scene was forming around him; the usual accents, the gas burners in the stores, smells of fish and booze and wet sawdust, men and women on the move. An old woman was going to cross the street with a can of oil in her hand. He bent down and asked if there was a chapel nearby.
- A chapel, sir? Yes indeed. Chapel on Rua da Igreja.
She shoved the can into her other hand and steered him; and as she stretched out her fetid, withered right hand under the edge of her shawl, he leaned toward her, saddened and soothed by her voice.
-Thank you very much.
- With pleasure, sir.
The candles on the high altar had gone out, but the smell of incense still filled the gloomy nave. Bearded workmen with pious faces led a canopy through a side door, the sexton assisted them with quiet gestures and words. Some of the faithful were praying in front of one of the side altars or kneeling on the benches next to the confessionals. He approached timidly and knelt in the last pew of the body, grateful for the peace and quiet and the fragrant shade of the church. The board he knelt on was narrow and worn, and those who knelt beside him were humble followers of Jesus. Jesus was also born into poverty and worked in a carpentry shop, cutting and planing boards, and first he spoke to poor fishermen about the kingdom of God and taught all people to be meek and lowly in heart.
He bowed his head in his hands and asked his heart to be meek and humble so he could be like those who knelt beside him and his prayer would be as acceptable as theirs. He prayed alongside them, but it was difficult. His soul was stained with sin, and he dared not ask pardon with the simple confidence of those whom Jesus first called to his side in the mysterious ways of God, the carpenters, the fishermen, the poor, and the common, which a servant does business with, handling and shaping the wood of the trees, mending their hammocks with patience.
A tall figure came down the hall and the penitents stirred; and at the last moment, looking quickly up, saw a long gray beard and the brown cloak of a capuchin. The priest entered the box and stayed hidden. Two penitents rose and entered the confessional on either side. The wooden chute was pulled back and the low murmur of a voice broke the silence.
His blood began to murmur in his veins, murmuring like a sinful city called from its sleep to hear its doom. Small flakes of fire fell and powdered ash gently fell on people's homes. They stirred, waking from sleep, disturbed by the warm air.
The sheet was thrown back. The penitent appeared at the side of the box. The other side has been drawn. A woman silently and deftly entered where the first penitent had knelt. The soft murmur began again.
He could still leave the chapel. He could get up, put one foot in front of the other and walk silently away, and then run, run, run fast through the dark streets. He could still escape the shame. If it were some terrible crime but that sin! If it was murder! Little flakes of fire fell and touched him everywhere, shameful thoughts, shameful words, shameful actions. Shame covered him all over, like fine, glittering ashes that keep falling. To put into words! His soul, suffocating and helpless, would cease to exist.
The sheet was thrown back. A penitent appeared on the other side of the box. The next slide has been drawn. One penitent entered where the other penitent exited. A soft whisper floated out of the box in steamy clouds. It was the woman: clouds whispering softly, steam whispering softly, whispering and disappearing.
He humbly pounded his chest with his fist, secretly into the shelter of the wooden armrest. He would be one with others and with God. He would love his neighbor. He would love the God who created him and loved him. He would kneel and pray with others and be happy. God would look upon him and them and would love them all.
It was easy to be good. God's yoke was sweet and light. It was better never to have sinned than to have always been a child, for God loved children and allowed them to come to Him. It was a terrible and sad thing to sin. But God was merciful to poor sinners who were truly repentant. How true! That was really good.
The parachute was suddenly closed. The penitent left. He was next. He got up, startled, and went blindly into the box.
Finally the time has come. He knelt in the silent darkness and looked up at the white crucifix hanging above him. God could see he was sorry. He would count all his sins. His confession would be long, long. Everyone in the chapel would then know what sinners they had been. Let them know it was true But God had promised to forgive him if he repented. He was sorry. He clasped his hands together and raised them to the white figure, he prayed with darkened eyes, he prayed with his whole body trembling, he shook his head like a lost creature, he prayed with whimpering lips.
-Forgiveness! Forgiveness! Oh sorry!
The slider backed up and her heart leapt in her chest. The face of an old priest was standing on the railings, his back to him, leaning on one hand. He made the sign of the cross and asked the priest to bless him because he had sinned. Then, inclining his head, he repeatedI admitas a result of fear. by the wordsmy worst faultOut of breath, he stopped.
– How long has it been since you confessed, my son?
- A long time ago, father.
– A month, my son?
- More, Dad.
- Three months, my son?
- More, Dad.
- Six months?
- Eight months, Dad.
He had started. The parish priest asked:
– And what do you remember since then?
He began to confess his sins: missed masses, unspoken prayers, lies.
"Anything else, my son?"
Sins of anger, envy of others, gluttony, vanity, disobedience.
"Anything else, my son?"
There was no help. He muttered:
"I... committed sins of impurity, Father."
The priest did not turn his head.
- With you, my son?
"And... with others."
- With women, my son?
- Were they married women, my son?
He did not know. Sins of him flowed from his lips, one by one, oozing from his soul in shameful drops, festering and oozing like a wound, a filthy stream of vice. The last sins drained away, slow, filthy. There was nothing more to say. Overwhelmed, he lowered his head.
The priest said nothing. Then he asked:
– How old are you, my son?
- Sixteen, Dad.
The priest ran his hand over his face several times. Then he rested his forehead on his hand, leaned against the bars and spoke slowly, averting his eyes. His voice was tired and old.
- You are very young, my son, he said, and I would like to ask you to abandon this sin. It is a terrible sin. It kills the body and it kills the soul. It is the cause of many crimes and misfortunes. Give it up, my son, for God's sake. It's dishonorable and unmanly. You have no way of knowing where this miserable habit will lead you or where it will work against you. As long as you commit this sin, my poor child, you will never be worth a penny to God. Ask our Mother Mary for help. She will help you, my son. Pray to Our Lady when this sin comes to mind. I'm sure you will, aren't you? You repent of all these sins. I'm sure yes. And now you will promise God that, by His holy grace, you will never again offend Him with this wicked sin. You're going to make that solemn promise to God, aren't you?
The old, tired voice fell like sweet rain on his quivering, parched heart. How sweet and sad!
– Do it, my poor son. The devil deceived him. Take him back to hell when he tries to dishonor his body in this way - the evil spirit that hates our Lord. Now promise God that you will give up this sin, this wretched wretched sin.
Blinded by tears and the light of God's mercy, he bowed his head and heard the solemn words of absolution pronounced and saw the priest's hand raised over him in forgiveness.
– God bless you, my son. Pray for me.
He knelt down to do his penance and prayed in a corner of the darkened nave; and his prayers ascended from his purified heart to heaven like perfume rising from a white rose's heart.
The muddy streets were gay. He walked home, aware of an unseen grace that penetrated and lit his limbs. Despite everything, he made it. He confessed and God forgave him. His soul again became beautiful and holy, holy and happy.
It would be good to die if God wanted it that way. It was beautiful to gracefully lead a life of peace, virtue, and tolerance for others.
He sat by the fire in the kitchen, not daring to speak of happiness. Until that moment he didn't know how beautiful and peaceful life could be. The green square of paper clipped around the lamp cast a delicate shadow. There was a plate of sausages and veal sausages on the dresser and eggs on the shelf. They would be at the college chapel for breakfast after communion. White pudding and eggs and sausages and cups of tea. How simple and beautiful life was! And life was before him.
In a dream he fell asleep. In a dream he got up and saw that it was morning. In a waking dream, he walked towards the college in the silent morning.
The boys were all there, kneeling in their seats. He knelt between them, happy and shy. The altar was filled with fragrant masses of white flowers; and in the morning light the pale candle flames among the white flowers were clear and silent as her own soul.
He knelt in front of the altar with his colleagues and held the altar cloth with them over a living hand splint. His hands trembled and his soul trembled as he heard the priest go from communicant to communicant with the ciborium.
—Our Lord's body.
It could be? He knelt there without sin and shy; and he would hold the host on his tongue and God would enter his purified body.
—in eternal life. Amen.
A different life! A life full of grace, virtue and happiness! it was true It wasn't a dream he would wake up from. The past is over.
—Our Lord's body.
The ciborium had come for him.