THE FOUR LAST THINGS ---- DEATH, JUDGMENT, HELL and HEAVEN
FATHER MARTIN VON COCHEM, O.S.F.C.
Father Martin von Cochem was born at Cochem, on the Moselle,
in the year 1625, and died at Waghausel in 1712.
“Remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin.”
HOLY REDEEMER LIBRARY
Nihil Obstat: Thomas L Kinkead, Censor Liborium
Imprimatur: Michael Augustine --- Archbishop of New York (New York October 5, 1899)
Copyright, 1899, by Benziger Brothers
PART II. THE LAST JUDGMENT.
III. On the Manner in which the Good and the Wicked
will be Conducted to the Place of Judgment.
ACCORDING to the generally-received opinion the final judgment will be held in the valley of Josaphat, at no great distance from Jerusalem. This opinion rests upon the words of the prophet Joel: "I will gather together all nations, and bring them down into the valley of Josaphat, and I will plead with them there." And again: "Let the nations come up into the valley of Josaphat, for there will I sit to judge all nations round about" (Joel iii. 2, 12).
It is not difficult to allege a reason why Christ should hold the final judgment there, for it is in the neighbourhood of the spot where He suffered, and is it not just that in the same place He should appear as our Judge? Mount Olivet, the scene of His agony, was also that of His glorious Ascension.
It may, however, be objected, that the valley of Josaphat could not contain the millions and millions of human beings who will be gathered together for judgment. But when a spot is indicated as the probable theatre of the Last Judgment, it does not necessarily follow that all mankind will be crowded into that narrow space.
We will now consider in what manner we shall be assembled for the final judgment. If the good and the evil are found together in the graveyards and elsewhere, that will come to pass which Our Lord predicted: "So shall it be at the end of the world: the Angels shall go out, and shall separate the wicked from among the just" (Matt. xiii. 49). For since the good are laid to rest amongst the wicked, it follows that at the resurrection they will be found amongst the wicked. Accordingly, after the General Resurrection the holy Angels will come and separate the elect from the reprobate. St. Paul, speaking of this, says: "For the Lord Himself shall come down from Heaven with commandment, and with the voice of an archAngel and with the trumpet of God; and the dead who are in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive who are left, shall be taken up together with them in the clouds to meet Christ into the air" (i Thess. iv. 15, 16). All the good, that is to say, will be carried on the clouds with splendour and great glory by the Angels to the place of judgment.
Now imagine to thyself what a beautiful sight it will be, when the Saints with their glorified bodies, shining like burnished gold in the sunlight, will be transported through the air, escorted by their guardian Angels! With what exultation and rejoicing will they pass on their triumphal way!
And when they all come together in the valley of Josaphat, they will greet one another lovingly, and embrace one another with mutual joy. Think for a moment, O Christian, how thou wouldst rejoice if thou wert so fortunate as to find thyself amongst the number of the blessed. This happiness is yet within thy reach; if thou dost really desire it with all the strength of thy will, thou wilt be counted in this happy company. Bestir thyself to fulfill all thy duties well and faithfully, and thou too shalt one day join in that glorious and triumphant procession.
We will now consider how the wicked shall be transported to the valley of Josaphat, and what will await them there. Alas! their doom is so sorrowful, that I can scarcely venture to describe it in detail. What will these unhappy sinners think, what will they say, when they see the holy Angels taking the elect from their midst and carrying them with glory and splendour through the air? The Wise Man gives us an insight into their thoughts when he tells us: "These, seeing it, shall be troubled with terrible fear and shall be amazed at the suddenness of the unexpected salvation of the just; saying within themselves, repenting and groaning for anguish of spirit: These are they whom we had sometime in derision, and for a parable of reproach. We fools esteemed their life madness and their end without honour. Behold how they are numbered among the children of God, and their lot is among the Saints" (Wisd. v. 2-5). How it will grieve them to behold those whom they formerly despised so utterly now honoured and beloved by the Angels of God, and conducted by them in glory and triumph to meet Christ. And they who once made such a display of their riches, who despised all their fellow creatures in their arrogant pride, now stand amongst the fallen Angels, poor, miserable, contemned.
When the Angels have escorted all the elect to the valley of Josaphat, they will proceed to drive all the reprobate thither, with the evil spirits that are mingled with them. They will cry with a loud voice: "Away with you, away to judgment! The Judge of the living and the dead commands you to appear before Him."
What a piercing cry of anguish these unhappy creatures will utter ! They will do their utmost to resist the behest of the Angels, but they will struggle in vain; they must obey the command of God s messengers. Together with the evil spirits the damned will be forcibly driven to the place of judgment. What an awful journey! The air is rent with cries of rage. The spirits of darkness, with diabolical malice and cruelty, already vent their spite in tormenting the hapless creatures whom sin has made their victims. Hear the shriek of despair wrung from the wretched beings: "Fools that we were! thoughtless fools! Whither has the path of transgression led us? Alas! it has brought us to the severe, the terribly severe tribunal of God!"
Listen, O sinner, to the sorrowful lamentations and self-accusations of these poor creatures. Beware lest thou too shouldst be of their number. Pray God to preserve you from so shocking a doom, and say: "Most merciful God, remember at how great a price Thou didst purchase me, and how much Thou didst suffer for me. For the sake of that inestimable price do not permit me to be lost, rescue me, number me amongst the sheep of Thy fold. With them I will then praise and magnify Thy loving kindness to all eternity."