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IT is very difficult to feel as we ought to do about eternal things. We are surrounded by the sights and sounds of this short earthly life. We judge of things, if not by appearances, at least by their earthly importance. We cannot disentangle ourselves from the impressions which earth makes upon us. We are forced to measure things by a standard which we know to be untrue, but which we are so accustomed to that we cannot even think by any other standard. Eternity is simply a word to us; and it is exceedingly hard to make it more than a word. Thus, when we try to bring home to ourselves or to others the immense importance of eternal things, and the extreme triviality of all temporal things which are not simply made to minister to eternal things, we find ourselves in a difficulty. If we speak of them in common words, we convey false ideas. If we use high-sounding language and deal in superlatives, a sense of unreality comes upon ourselves, and still more upon our hearers; and we seem to be exaggerating, even when what we say is far below the mark. Time alone enables us in some degree to realize the importance of eternal things. A striking expression may rouse our attention. But eternal things, in order to be fruitful and practical, must grow into us by frequent prayer and long familiarity. Even then we fall far short of the mark. Even then we get false ideas, and, becoming used to them, are unable to substitute true ones in their place. It is almost impossible for us truly to realize the fact that lifelong pain or exuberant health, ample riches or bitter poverty, unintermitting success or incessant failure, are matters of perfect unimportance and of absolute. indifference, except so far as they concern the salvation of our souls. We recognize the impossibility by seeing how men who talk and believe rightly fall far short both of their faith and their words, even when they are acting up to the highest standard in their power. We are placed in the same difficulty now, when we want to realize truly the necessity of the Precious Blood. It is more necessary than we can say or think. What would come of being without it is inconceivable by us. When we have said that, we have said all we can say. So, as time alone will make it familiar to us, we must say it in many different ways, and look at it from many different points of view, and repeat it to ourselves as if we were learning a lesson. This will enable us to gain time, and will answer better than big words or unusual metaphors.

The most recollected Saint and the most thoughtful theologian, do what they will, live in the world all day without being able to realize how much, and in what ways, they are indebted to God, receiving from Him, living upon Him, using Him, and immersed in Him, nor how indispensable He is to us. So is it in the spiritual world with Jesus. It is a wonder that He ever came among us. Yet He is simply indispensable to us. We could in no wise do without Him. We want Him at every turn, at every moment. It is the wisdom of life, as well as its joy, to be always feeling this great need of Jesus. A true Christian feels that he could no more live for an hour without Jesus, than he could live for an hour without air or under the water. There is something delightful in this sense of utter dependence upon Jesus. It is our only rest, our only liberty in the world. It is the bondage of our imperfection that we cannot be directly and actually thinking of Jesus all day and night. Yet it is astonishing how near we may come to this. Our very sleep at last becomes subject to the thought of Jesus, and saturated with it. It is part of the gladness of growing older, not only that we are thereby drawing nearer to our first sight of Him, but that we feel our dependence upon Him more and more. We have learned more about Him. We have had a longer and more varied experience of Him. Our love of Him has become more of a passion, which, by a little effort, promises at some not very distant day to be dominant and supreme. The love of Jesus never can be an ungrowing love. It must grow, if it does not die out. In our physical life, as we grow older, we become more sensible to cold and wind, to changes of place and to alterations of the weather. So, as we grow older in our spiritual life, we become more sensitive to the presence of Jesus, to the necessity of Him, and to His indispensable sweetness. A constantly increasing sensible love of our dearest Lord is the safest mark of our growth in holiness, and the most tranquillizing prophecy of our final perseverance.

What would the world be without Jesus? We may perhaps have sometimes made pictures to ourselves of the day of judgment. We may have imagined the storms above and the earthquakes underneath, the sun and the moon darkened, and the stars falling from Heaven, the fire raging over the face of the earth, men crying to the mountains and rocks to fall upon them and hide them, and in the masses of the eastern clouds Jesus coming to judge the world. We think it appropriate to add to the picture every feature of physical tumult and desolation, every wildest unchaining of the elements, although doubtless the catastrophe of that day of horrors will follow the grand uniformity of a natural law, even amidst the impetuosity of its convulsions. Yet the misery and confusion of earth at that day will have less of real horror in it than the earth without Jesus would have, even though the sun were shining, and the flowers blooming, and the birds singing. An earth without hope or happiness, without love or peace, the past a burden, the present a weariness, the future a shapeless terror - such would the earth be, if by impossibility there were no Jesus. Indeed, it is only in such a general way that we can conceive what the world would be without Him. We can make no picture to ourselves of the real horror. His Five Wounds are pleading forever at the Right Hand of the Father. They are holding back the Divine indignation. They are satisfying the Divine justice. They are moving the Divine compassion. Even temporal blessings come from Them. They are bridling the earthquake and the storm, the pestilence and the famine, and a thousand other temporal consequences of sin, which we do not know of, or so much as suspect. Besides this, Jesus is bound up with our innermost lives. He is more to us than the blood in our veins. We know that He is indispensable to us; but we do not dream how indispensable He is.

There is not a circumstance of life, in which we could do without Jesus. When sorrow comes upon us, how should we bear it without Him? What feature of consolation is there about the commonest human grief, which is not ministered by faith, or hope. or love? We cannot exaggerate the utter moral destitution of a fallen world without redeeming grace. With the apostate Angels that destitution is simply an eternal Hell. Let the child of a few weeks lie like a gathered lily, white, cold, faded, dead, before the eyes of the fond mother who bore it but a while ago; and how blank is the woe in her heart, if the waters of Baptism have not passed upon it! Yet what are those waters, but the Blood of Jesus? Now she can sit and think, and be thankful even while she is weeping, and there can be smiles through her tears, which, like the rainbows, are signs of God's covenant with His people; for she has volumes of sweet things to think, and bright visions in her mind, and the sounds of angelic music in her soul's ear; and these things are not fancies, but faiths, knowledges, infallible assurances. Even if her child were unbaptized, dismal as the thought is that it can never see God, its eternal destiny is for the sake of Jesus shorn of all the sensible pains and horrors which else would have befallen it. It owes the natural blessedness, which it will one day enjoy, to the merits of our dearest Lord. It is better even for the babes that are not His, that He Himself was once the Babe of Bethlehem.
Sorrow without Christ is not to be endured. Such a lot would be worse than that of the beasts of the field, because the possession of reason would be an additional unhappiness. The same is true of sickness and of pain. What is the meaning of pain, except the purification of our soul? Who could bear it for years, if there were no significance in it, no future for it, no real work which it was actually occupied in doing? Here also the possession of reason would act to our disadvantage; for it would render the patience of beasts impossible to us. The long, pining, languishing sick-bed, with its interminable nights and days, its wakeful memories, its keen susceptibilities, its crowded and protracted inward biography, its burdensome epochs of monotony - what would this be, if we knew not the Son of God, if Jesus never had been man, if His grace of endurance had not actually gone out of His Heart into ours that we might love even while we murmured, and believe most in mercy when it was showing Itself least merciful?

In poverty and hardship, in the accesses of temptation, in the intemperate ardors of youth or the cynical fatigue of age, in the successive failures of our plans, in the disappointments of our affections, in every crisis and revolution of life, Jesus seems so necessary to us that it appears as if he grew more necessary every year, and were more wanted today than He was yesterday, and would be still more urgently wanted on the morrow. But, if He is thus indispensable in life, how much more will He be indispensable in death! Who could dare to die without Him? What would death be, if He had not so strangely and so graciously died Himself? Yet what is death compared with judgment? Surely most of all He will be wanted then. Wanted! Oh, it is something more than a want, when so unspeakable a ruin is inevitably before us! Want is a poor word to use, when the alternative is everlasting woe. Dearest Lord! the light of the sun and the air of Heaven are not so needful to us as Thou art; and our happiness, not merely our greatest, but our only, happiness, is in this dear necessity!

Nobody is without Jesus in the world. Even the lost in Hell are suffering less than they should have suffered, because of the ubiquity of His powerful Blood. Yet there are some nations who are so far without Him, as to have no saving knowledge of Him. Alas! there are still heathen lands in this fair world. There are tribes and nations who worship stocks and stones, who make gods of the unseen devils, who tremble before the powers of nature as if they were at once almighty and malicious, or who live in perpetual fear of the souls of the dead. There are some, whose sweetest social relations are embittered by the terrors and panics of their own false religions; and the innocent sunshine (delightful climates is not unfrequently polluted by human sacrifices. Yet these people dwell in some of the loveliest portions of man's inheritance. Amidst the savage sylvan sublimities of th Rocky Mountains, on the eastern declivities of the magnificent Andes, in the glorious gorges of the Himalayas, in the flower coral-islands of the Pacific, or in those natural Edens laved by th warm seas of the Indian archipelago, human life is made inhuman by the horrors of a false religion. Let us take a picture from the banks of the Quango, in the interior of Africa. In speaking of the people, Dr. Livingstone says, "I have often thought, in traveling through their land, that it presents pictures of beauty which Angels might enjoy. How often have I beheld, in still mornings, scenes the very essence of beauty, and all bathed in a quiet air of delicious warmth! Yet the occasional soft motion imparted a pleasing sensation of coolness as of a fan. Green grass meadows, the cattle feeding, the goats browsing, the kids skipping; the groups of herdboys with miniature bows, arrows, and spears the women wending their way to the river with watering-pot poised jauntily on their heads; men sewing under the shady banians; and old gray-headed fathers sitting on the ground, with staff in hand, listening to the morning gossip, while others carry trees or branches to repair their hedges; and all this, flooded with the bright African sunshine, and the birds singing among the branches before the heat of the day has become intense, form pictures which can never be forgotten." [
Travels, p. 441.] Nevertheless, he tells us that they cannot "enjoy their luxurious climate," so completely and habitually do they fancy themselves to be in the remorseless power of the disembodied souls. Around our daily path, on the other hand, are strewn the memorials and blessings of Jesus. There is the morning Mass and the evening Benediction. Three times a day the Angelus brings afresh its sweet tidings of the Incarnation. Our early meditation has left a picture of Jesus on our souls to last the livelong day. Our beads have to be told, and they too tell of Jesus. When we sink to rest at night, His Own commendation of His Soul upon the Cross prompts the words which come most natural to our lips. Think of those poor heathen, wandering saviorless over their beautiful lands - what if we were like to them? And what perchance would they have been if they had had but half our grace?

There are many who call themselves after the name of Christ, who are yet outside the Church of Christ. Theirs is in every way a woeful lot. To be so near Jesus, and yet not to be of His blessed fold - to be within reach of  his unsearchable riches, and yet to miss of them, to be so blessed by His neighborhood, and yet not to be savingly united to Him - this is indeed a desolation. Their creed is words: it is not life. They know not the redeeming grace of Jesus rightly. [Emphasis in bold added.] They understand not the mysterious dispositions of His Sacred Heart. They disesteem His hidden Sacraments. They know God only wrongly and partially. Their knowledge is neither light nor love. Every thing about Jesus, the merest accessory of His Church, the faintest vestige of His benediction, the very shadow of His likeness, is of such surpassing importance, that for the least of these things the whole world would be but a paltry price to pay. The gift of being in the true Church is the greatest of all God's gifts which can be given out of Heaven. We cannot exaggerate its value. It is the pearl beyond price. Hence also the woefulness of being out of the Church is not to be told in words. I doubt if it is even to be compassed in thought. What, then, if we had so far lost Jesus, as to be out of His Church? Unbearable thought! yet not without some sweetness, as it makes us feel more keenly how indispensable He is to us, and what a merciful good fortune He has given us to enjoy.

But even inside the Church there are wandering Cains, impenitent sinners who have gone out from the presence of God and willfully abide there. They have lived years in sin, and the chains of sinful habits are heavy upon them. They have resisted grace a thousand times, and it looks as if the Divine inspirations were weary of whispering to hearts so deaf. Nothing seems to rouse them. They never advert to God at all. Their conversion must be a perfect miracle. They are obdurate. They are living portions of Hell moving up and down the earth. It is only by God's mercy, and through the merits of Jesus, that we are any better than these obdurate sinners. Yet we rightly thank God, even while we tremble at the possibility, that He has prevented our falling into such a state. What then if we were like to these? What if we were numbered among the hardened and impenitent? What if we were now even what we ourselves may have been in past years, before the strong arm of the Sacraments was held out to us, and we had the grace to lay hold of it and let it draw us safely to the shore? Yet if we were any of these, heathens, or heretics, or obdurate sinners, we should still be far better off than if there were no Jesus in the world; for all these classes of men are blessed by Jesus, are visited by His grace continually, and are for His sake surrounded by hopeful possibilities of which they themselves are not aware. How unspeakably dreadful then our life would be without Jesus, when to be a heathen or a heretic is a misery so terrible!



--------------CHRIST THE KING