First Point - The fear of death is intensified by the thought of the judgment that is to follow. You will be examined concerning the sins you have committed, the good you have neglected to do, and the good that you have done amiss. The soul will be separated from the body and will stand before its Judge. It will see its sins no longer in the false light of the senses, but in the light of truth it will see them as God sees them. It will see them as they really are - distinct, individual and clothed with all their circumstances. But what are these circumstances? The abuse of God's manifold graces; the sanctity of the religious or lay state to which God has called it, and which it has profaned; the patience with which God has borne with its sin, and which it has abused. All these circumstances will augment the sin and terrify the sinner.
Second Point - You will be examined not only concerning the evil you have done, but also concerning the good you have neglected to do. Many will be condemned in the judgment not because of the sins they have committed, but because of the good works they have omitted. But if they have done no evil, why should they be condemned? But again, if they have done no good why should they be recompensed? Does one merit a recompense because one has done nothing? Moreover, is it not a great evil to do nothing for God, since He has done so much, and suffered so much for us? Is it not great evil to do nothing, when God commands us to labor? Is not a slothful servant culpable? Is he justified in doing nothing when he has been hired to serve?
Third Point - You will be examined in the judgment not only concerning the good you have neglected to do, but also concerning the good that you have done amiss. It is not enough to do good, it is necessary to do it well. For an action to be good, it must lack nothing either in its beginning or in its end. How many actions that appear good in the eyes of men will be found wanting when weighed on the scales of the temple! One circumstance alone, one selfish motive, can corrupt an entire action, and make an action, in itself meritorious, the cause of our condemnation. Holy Job feared even for his holiest actions, because it was God who was to judge them. If so great a saint feared, how can we be so tranquil?
Foresee the severity of the judgment, and examine yourself daily.
I will judge justices. - Psalm 74:3
Woe to the most virtuous soul, if Thou, O Lord, examine it with rigor. - Saint Augustine of Hippo
- text taken from , by Father François Nepveu