I was involved in a car accident today and died not long afterwards. The surgeon who attempted to save me recorded the time of death as precisely 2.05pm. I immediately found myself in a dreadful setting. I was being judged. My entire life was under the microscope. There were as far as I could ascertain four persons present.
Firstly the Judge – Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, the source of all authority. He was not there as the Good Shepherd but as the Judge of terrifying majesty with accusing holes in His side, hands and feet, put there by me. Then there was the prosecutor. A humourless, compassionless character, highly skilled in this process. While he had an air of crushed ambition he also displayed bored complacency given his high success rate in these matters. One witness was present – my Guardian Angel. The fourth person was me the accused.
The Judge was there to thoroughly consider every bit of evidence put to this tribunal and make an irrevocable judgement – heaven or hell for eternity. Every sin, every offence, every negligence was to be carefully weighed against the good I have done by the grace of God.
In beholding the unfathomable majesty of Our Lord it became instantly clear to me that the slightest negligence has an element of the infinite about it because it is an affront to the infinitely good God. No negligence is a small thing. What of my innumerable negligences? I felt myself becoming more agitated and nervous. The prosecutor reminded the Judge of my time wasting on computer games, trawling the internet for no good reason, looking for entertainments, excessive and dangerous TV watching, avoiding sacrificial acts, shirking responsibilities, indolence, grasping for money and position, good deeds left undone, neglecting spiritual reading and study of the faith, tepidity, even idle words. He called my guardian angel as a witness. My guardian angel who has throughout my life tried to steer me in the right direction and away from dangers, who has never left me even for an instant, who prayed unceasingly for me, and offered God all of my good and pure actions, thoughts, and desires, sadly had to attest to all these offences.
The scales were already tipping against me and the prosecutor was just getting warmed up.
Then he brought to the attention of the Judge my venial sins. It was a mountain of sin. I was utterly shocked and grew ever more fearful. He recalled lies told, inattentiveness at mass, neglecting prayers, pitiful efforts to maintain custody of my eyes, uncharitable thoughts and acts, rash judging and discussing other people’s failings and weaknesses, unrestrained ambition, hurtful words, and the list went on. Again the testimony of my guardian angel supported the prosecutor’s case.
Then to my great horror and unsurprised dread he turned to my mortal sins, tabling a comprehensive list. It was a hefty document. He dissected each and every one of them individually. The Judge who had no need of the prosecutor’s help saw all of them in all their malice, even the most secret ones. My shame was overwhelming. The sins kept on coming: the time I deliberately missed mass on a Sunday, sacrilegious communions, disdaining the precepts of the Church, impure thoughts, desires and acts consented to and compounded by not avoiding those occasions; drunkenness, unrestrained anger, calumnies, enticing others into sin, overreaching in business and so much more – it was all there. I turned to my guardian angel who sadly turned his gaze to the Judge. Here I was, alone before the Creator with all my putrid sins. The prosecutor questioned the sincerity of my confessions since I so often reoffended. He asked for the sentence of eternal death. Justice demanded it.
My confusion was complete. I was unable to utter a syllable in my own defense or even look at my Judge. When questioned by the Judge my guardian angel mentioned my good deeds done in the state of grace: almsgiving, holy movements of my heart, my sincere intentions of living for God, sacraments worthily received, charitable acts and prayers for others including little penances offered for the souls in purgatory; but he also noted resolutions not carried through and other failings. His testimony was supportive and sincere but seemed so inadequate in the face of all the evidence piled up against me. At this point the prosecutor had the look of victory with an air of complacency for another job well done. Till now he had been putting his arguments to the Judge. Now he turned to me. Before he was merely humourless and compassionless, now he had the look of unmitigated hatred. In spite of this, and in spite of my chilling dread of hell, when he beckoned me to follow him I was tempted to go, preempting the decision of the Judge because being in the presence of Almighty God, the innocent victim, the loving Savior in the person of Our Lord Jesus Christ, while owning and wearing the malice of all these sins was unbearable. The shame and dread were indescribable.
Just when all seemed lost a fifth person, a strikingly regal lady approached from the back of the chamber seeking leave to address the Judge. It was granted. She gratuitously interceded on my behalf. The prosecutor was speechless and his expression reverted in an instant from malicious victory to an air of defeat. He had seen her before and knew that invariably when she pleads a case the Judge mitigates his justice with mercy. On my behalf she put to the Judge what my guardian angel had presented earlier. She mentioned my good actions performed in the state of grace – masses attended reverently, good confessions, acts of charity, fervent prayers, penances performed, compassion for others, humility, patience in humiliations and adversity, forgiving others’ offences against me. She mentioned a particular mass I fervently attended and the holy communion most humbly received. She emphasized the unfathomable value of that particular mass well heard, how it on its own atoned for much of my sinful life. She mentioned tears shed out of sorrow for having offended so loving a creator. She reminded the Judge of what He endured to save me in particular. Those same wounds were now my hope.
Her words appeared to carry great weight with the Judge and breathed further holy hope into my heart. She continued:
On behalf of the accused I ask that you consider the masses and prayers to be offered by relatives and friends for the repose of his soul, the sufferings being offered by the handful of souls in Purgatory who he remembered in his prayers when on earth and by the prayers of his relatives, friends and patrons in Paradise”.
At this point I shot a pleading glance at my Judge. His countenance had softened. He appeared to be more the Good Shepherd than the severe Judge now. The lady continued:
Finally I wish to join my own plea to theirs. Notwithstanding his sinfulness he was devoted to me in life and I always picked him up when he fell. With Thy indulgence Lord and through the infinite merits of Thy passion and death I desire to claim him for my own”.
The Judge was moved to pity by her words and by her supernatural love and that of those relatives, friends and patrons, both living and dead. The awful moment had arrived for the judgement.
“This day, at the request of My and your beloved Mother I have taken you from your earthly life in the state of grace. All your sins are forgiven and forgotten. Never more will you offend Me. Forever I will love you. Your name is written in the book of life. After a little time you will join Me, the Father and the Holy Ghost, the most Blessed Virgin Mary our Mother and the heavenly court in eternal happiness and pure love”. I knelt down and bowed tearfully, overwhelmed with unspeakable relief and love at the feet of my Mother.
At the pronouncement of my salvation the hateful prosecutor returned to his home of eternal torment, enraged and empty handed. I who had been willing to go to Hell in life through indifference to God’s love and at my judgement through shame thanked my Lord with unspoken words and freely presented myself to the angel to be led to purgatory, eager to suffer those purifying torments for a time for the love of God and in the certainty of eternal salvation thanks to the intercession of my dearest Mother and the mercy of my Savior.
The time on earth where my body lay was still 2.05 PM. The surgeon had not yet put down the chart on which he recorded the time of death. The drama deciding my eternal fate had been played out in an instant.
Now dear reader, listen to someone who has been judged. Do well what I did so poorly. Enter into yourself. Hate your principal faults and work at eliminating them. Study and know your faith especially in these dark days. Attend mass as often and as recollected and fervently as you can. Communicate often. Confess your sins often with a thorough examination of conscience. Practice charity, perform penances – the smallest charitable acts and penances have great worth. Talk to, become familiar with your guardian angel to avoid occasions of sin and avail yourself of the helps he offers. Pray the holy Rosary daily. Pray, pray, pray to Our Lady. Make sure she knows you well so she can intercede for you at that terrible tribunal that each and every one of us must eventually face. Without the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the co-redeemer, who can face the avenging God? Hail Holy Queen Mother of mercy, hail our life, our sweetness and our hope. Hope, never abandon that supernatural virtue no matter how sinful you have been. Please pray for us souls in Purgatory.
This article is a preview of the November 15th Remnant Newspaper.