On Those Who Prefer to Follow the Devil, Rather than Christ
by Fr. Francis Hunolt, 1740
Subject: During these days especially, each one has to choose between following the devil with the children of the world, and following Jesus Christ with the children of God; therefore each one should make up his mind as to which he will follow.
Text: Ecce ascendimus Jerosolymam, et consummabuntur omnia, qua scripta sunt per prophetas de Filio hominis.–Luke xviii.
“Behold we go up to Jerusalem, and all things shall be accomplished which were written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man.”
Introduction: How do those two things harmonize, the gospel of to-day, and the present season? The change in the ceremonies of the Church, and the change in the manners of the world during these days? Jesus, as we read in the Gospel, goes up to Jerusalem, and speaks of nothing but the bitter torments and death that await him, “For He shall be delivered to the gentiles, and shall be mocked, and scourged and spit upon; and after they have scourged Him they will put Him to death;” but the perverse world speaks of nothing but the amusements of Shrove-tide. A fort night ago the Catholic Church showed her grief by suspending the recitation of the joyful Te Deum, and the Alleluia; but the world now, more than ever, indulges in dissipation and revelry. How do these things harmonize, I ask again. Does not the Holy Ghost say by the wise Ecclesiasticus: “A tale out of time is like music in mourning.” Singing and music on one side, silence and weeping on the other; there is surely little harmony there. My dear brethren, not without reason does the Catholic Church in her sorrowful silence, and omitting the usual signs of joy, appoint for this day the gospel that I have read for you; for her object is, partly to show the sorrow that afflicts her motherly heart at seeing so many of her children following the customs of the vain world, nay, the abuses of the godless heathens, and thus taking sides with the devil during these days, and partly to exhort and encourage her faithful children to remain true to their crucified Redeemer during these days, by living in a pious and holy manner. Such, too, is the object I aim at today, and I say:
Plan of Discourse.
During these days especially each one has to choose between following the devil with the children of the world, and following Jesus Christ with the children of God. Christians, consider well what choice you intend making! Such is the subject of this exhortation. Sincere Christians, are we not determined to remain faithful to Jesus Christ? Such shall be the conclusion.
And do Thou, God, give us grace to practise it; we ask this of Thee through the intercession of Mary and the holy angels guardian.
Our holy Father, St. Ignatius, in his golden book of the “Spiritual Exercises,” a book which owes its origin more to God Himself than to human understanding, and which has hitherto had such wonderful effect and influence on numbers of souls, (would to God that all Christians made a habit of using this powerful means of salvation once a year, and, laying aside all other concerns, spent three days or a week in silence, meditating on divine things and attending solely to their eternal salvation. Oh how many souls would then be rescued from the infernal serpent! How the number of the elect would then be increased!) in this book, I say, there is one meditation in which St. Ignatius represents on the one side the standard of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and on the other, that of Lucifer, the prince of darkness. Lucifer is represented as sitting on a high throne in a large plain near Babylon, with a terrible countenance and eyes darting fire, and surrounded by smoke and flames and great numbers of devils and human beings, holding in his hands a standard, on which are painted the vain pomps of the world, the lusts of the flesh, the greed of riches and the pride of life. Jesus Christ is represented as standing modestly and humbly on the ground, in a large plain near Jerusalem, with a mild and friendly countenance, holding the standard of the Cross and accompanied by His angels, Apostles and those who work for the salvation of souls. Mark the different circumstances here, my dear brethren. Lucifer is near Babylon, a word which signifies confusion; Jesus Christ is near Jerusalem, the city of peace and rest; thus showing how the wicked, who take sides with the devil, are full of uneasiness and trouble, while the just, who follow the example of Christ, enjoy eternal peace and consolation. Lucifer appears with a terrible, Christ with a friendly countenance, in order to distinguish between the cruel slavery of the devil, and the sweet yoke of Christ. Lucifer sits on a lofty throne as a sign of pride; Jesus stands on the ground as a sign of humility.
Then the Saint goes on to consider how those two opposing generals invite men to join them. “Come to me all you that labor and are burdened,” says Christ in winning accents, ” and I will refresh you. Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek and humble of heart; and you shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is sweet and my burden light.” Go, my Apostles and servants, throughout the world; try to win over souls to My side; persuade them to enlist under my standard, to obey My law, and to imitate Me; preach to them contempt of the world and of all temporal and perishable things, and impress on them the necessity of meekness and humility, of temperance and sobriety, of mortification of the flesh and its desires. The daily pay that I will give in this life to those who serve Me truly, will be spiritual consolation and a sweet joy of conscience; and if they are faithful to Me for a short time, their reward will be eternal joys with Me in the kingdom of Heaven. Go, ye devils, cries out Lucifer, in a terrible voice, go through the world and compel souls to enter my service, to enroll themselves under my banner; leave them neither rest nor peace by day or night, until they yield to you; attack them by your evil suggestions and temptations; make use of wicked men to help you to corrupt and lead the innocent into sin by their bad teaching and example; inspire them with the love of worldly honors, of money and riches and of sensual pleasures, promise them, in my name, if they serve me truly, a comfortable, luxurious, pleasant and happy life; but when I have once got them safely under my yoke, I will make them pay dearly enough for the little pleasure I will give them; say nothing to them of that, however, and after they have thus enjoyed themselves for a short time, they will receive their reward from me in the eternal flames of hell; but this latter you must drive out of their thoughts for the present, and persuade them to look on it as a mere fable that is not worth a moment’s serious consideration.
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