instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Nothing remains but sorrow and displeasure

St. John Fisher's "A Spiritual Consolation" is written from the point of view of someone of indifferent virtue who has died unexpectedly in his sleep. He's not sure where he's going to wind up, but he doesn't like the odds.

His friends aren't the sort who will pray for him –- and why should they?
If I, who was most bound to have done good for myself, forgot my own good in my lifetime, no marvel therefore if others forget me after my departing from here.
The sort who will pray for him, the saints in heaven, he hadn't quite gotten around to making his friends:
My purpose was good, but it lacked execution. My will was straight, but it was not effectual. My mind well intended, but no fruit came of it. All because I delayed so often and never put it in effect, that which I had proposed.
I think my favorite bit in the treatise comes after the man bemoans all the time and care he had spent during his life meeting the fickle desires of his body (or, as he calls it, "o satchel full of dung!"), only to realize his body won't even be there for his particular judgment:
And yet now you forsake me at my greatest need, when account and reckoning of all our misdeeds must be given before the throne of the most terrible Judge. Now you will refuse me and leave me to jeopardy in this matter.
And when you think about it, the world and the devil won't be there to share the blame when we have to answer for our lives, either.

So why do we let them get us into trouble, when we know they won't pay the price with us later?