Thursday, 28 June 2018

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 259.


"May the Lord afflict thee with miserable want, with the fever and with cold, with burning and with heat, and with corrupted air and with blasting, and pursue thee till thou perish. Be the heaven that is over thee of brass, and the ground thou treadest on of iron. The Lord give thee dust for rain upon thy land, and let ashes come down from heaven upon thee till thou be consumed. The Lord make thee fall down before thy enemies; one way mayst thou go out against them, and flee seven ways, and be scattered throughout all the kingdoms of the earth. And be thy carcass meat for all the fowls of the air and the beasts of the earth, and be there none to drive them away. The Lord strike thee with madness and blindness, and fury of mind. And mayst thou grope at midday as the blind is wont to grope in the dark, and not make straight thy ways. And mayst thou at all times suffer wrong, and be oppressed with violence, and mayest thou have no one to deliver thee. May thy sons and thy daughters be given to another people, thy eyes looking on, and languishing at the sight of them all the day, and may there be no strength in thy hand. "May a people which thou knowest not eat the fruits of thy land, and all thy labors, and mayst thou always suffer oppression, and be crushed at all times. May the Lord strike thee with a very sore ulcer in the knees and in the legs, and be thou incurable from the sole of thy foot to the top of thy head. … And all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue and overtake thee, till thou perish; because thou heardst not the voice of the Lord thy God, and didst not keep his commandments. Because thou didst not serve the Lord thy God with joy and gladness of heart for the abundance of all things, thou shalt serve thy enemy whom the Lord will send upon thee, in hunger, in thirst, and nakedness, and in want of all things; and he shall put an iron yoke upon thy neck till he consume thee. The Lord will bring upon thee a nation from afar, and from the uttermost ends of the earth, a most insolent nation, that will show no regard to the ancient, nor have pity on the infant, and will devour the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruits of thy land, until thou be destroyed, and will leave thee no wheat, nor wine, nor oil, nor herds of oxen, nor flocks of sheep, till he consume thee in all thy cities, and thy strong and high walls be brought down, wherein thou trustedst in all thy land. Thou shalt be besieged within thy gates, and thou shalt eat the fruit of thy womb, and the flesh of thy sons and thy daughters, in the distress and extremity wherewith thy enemies shall oppress thee." Let us not forget that these maledictions are recorded in Holy Scripture, with many others, equally terrible, which we have not cited. Learn from them the rigor with which Divine Justice pursues the wicked, and the hatred God must bear to sin, which He punishes with such severity in this life and with still greater torments in the next. Think not these were idle menaces. No; they were words of prophecy, and were terribly verified in the Jewish nation. For we read that during the reign of Achab, King of Israel, his people were besieged by the army of the King of Syria, and reduced to such straits that they fed upon pigeons' dung, which sold at a high price, and that a mother devoured her own child. (Cf. 4Kg. 6). And these scenes the historian Josephus tells us, were repeated during the siege of Jerusalem. The captivity of this people and the complete destruction of their kingdom and power are well-known to all. Think not that these calamities were reserved for the Jewish people only. All the nations that have known God's law and despised it have been the objects of His just and terrible anger. "Did not I bring up Israel out of the land of Egypt, and the Philistines out of Cappadocia, and the Syrians out of Cyrene? Behold the eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the face of the earth." (Amos 9:7-8). From this we can understand that wars and revolutions, the downfall of some kingdoms and the rise of others, are due to the sins of men. Read the annals of the early ages of the Church, and you will find that God has dealt in like manner with the wicked, especially with those who were once enlightened by His law, and who afterwards rejected it. See how He has punished infidelity in Christian nations. Vast portions of Europe, Asia, and Africa, formerly filled with Christian churches are now in the hands of infidels and barbarians. Behold the ravages wrought in Christian nations by the Goths, the Huns, and the Vandals! In the time of St. Augustine they laid waste all the countries of Africa, sparing none of the inhabitants, not even women and children. At the same time Dalmatia and the neighboring towns were so devastated by the barbarians that St. Jerome, who was a native of that kingdom, said that a traveler passing through the country would find only earth and sky, so universal was the desolation. Is it not evident, therefore, that virtue not only helps us attain the joys of eternity, but that it also secures for us the blessings of this life? Let, then, the consideration of this privilege, with the others which we have mentioned, excite you to renewed ardor in the practice of virtue, which is able to save you from so many miseries and procure you so many blessings.