On the Vanity of the Hope of Heaven
in those who do not keep
the Commandments of God.
(by Rev. Francis Hunolt 1694 -1746)


1. Many men desire and hope to go to heaven, but they do not keep the commandments of God; 2. A still greater number desire and hope to go to heaven, but they do not keep all the commandments of God, or else they do not keep them constantly. In both cases the hope is a delusive one.

Si quis diligit me, sermonem meum servabit.--John xiv. 23. "If any one love Me, he will keep My word."

This is the real proof of the genuineness of the love we bear to God; it is the only way in which we can show that love, namely, by keeping God's word, that is, His commandments. This is the sole foundation of our hopes of heaven, the keeping the commandments. Vainly should I hope for salvation, relying on the goodness and mercy of God, if I do not keep His commandments inviolably, as I showed on the last occasion. Vainly should I hope and desire salvation, relying on anything else, no matter what it is, if I do not keep the commandments, and indeed all of them. And yet what a number of people there are in the world who delude themselves with that false hope! as I shall now prove by way of paternal admonition to them, and of exhortation to all to persevere in the service of God.


Plan of Discourse.

Many men desire and hope to go to heaven, but they do not keep the commandments of God. This is a fake and deceitful hope; as we shall see in the first part. A still greater number desire and hope to go to heaven, but they do not keep all the commandments, or do not keep them constantly. Also a false and deceitful hope; as we shall see in the second part.

O Holy Ghost! do Thou enlighten us and move us all by Thy light and grace, that we may act more reasonably and make our salvation more certain, by building our hopes of it on the faithful observance of all Thy commandments. This we ask of Thee through the intercession of Thy virginal spouse, Mary, and of our holy guardian angels.

If nothing more were required to gain heaven but the mere wish and hope, oh, then indeed would all men be saved, and the terrible saying, "few are chosen," which causes such fear and anxiety, might be erased from the Sacred Scripture! O sinners! no matter how wicked and godless you are; blasphemers, profane swearers, adulterers, detractors, unjust, unchaste men, murderers, drunkards, and all the rest of you from whom St. Paul has taken away all hope of heaven, then indeed might you be of good heart, for heaven would be yours. For there is no one among you so blind and so perverse, if he has a little spark of faith and reason left, as not to feel pleasure at the thought of being saved eternally. There is no one so hardened in guilt as not to be terrified at the thought of the everlasting fire of hell; no one so forgetful of his own welfare as not to wish to go to heaven; no one so despairing as not to desire to escape hell. Is that not the case? But wishing and desiring alone will not do here.

To enter a town it is not enough to look at it from a distance, and to send forward your desires in its direction; you must stir yourself and move forward. Are you hungry? Then it is not enough for you to wish to see the table laid and to eat; you must sit down and take the food prepared for you. The peasant would have to wait a long time for his harvest if he trusted merely to his wishes and desires; he must put his hands to the work, and plough and sow his field. In these and similar parables does Our Lord represent heaven to us. Heaven is a city that comes to no one of itself. We read in Holy Writ that it once descended to one man, the holy Evangelist St. John: "I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem," he writes in the Apocalypse, "coming down out of heaven." But where did he see that? The angel "took me up in spirit to a great and high mountain (Apoc. xxi. 2, 10)." Why not on the level plain, which would have been a much more convenient place for the aged and decrepit apostle? No; he as well as all other men must climb up thither with great toil and exertion: the way to it is rough and narrow, the gate small and low, and one has to force his way through it by violence, as it were.

"Strive to enter by the narrow gate (Luke xiii. 24)." Heaven is a great banquet. " A certain man made a great supper and invited many (Ibid. xiv. 16);" but they who excused themselves on account of other occupations, and did not wish to come, were excluded and had no share in the banquet. Heaven is a field, a vineyard to which laborers are sent at different hours; but they must work therein till the evening, and bear the heat of the day. Heaven is a treasure buried deep in the earth, and one that requires hard work to dig out: "Thou shalt seek her as money," says the Holy Ghost of the true wisdom required to work out our salvation, "and shalt dig for her as for a treasure (Prov. ii. 4);" otherwise you will not find her. Heaven is a precious stone for the purchase of which one should give up all he has, and if so unfortunate as to lose it, he should give himself no rest until he has found it again. Heaven is a prize for which we must run and compete. "So run that you may obtain (Cor. ix. 24)," such is the exhortation given us by St. Paul. Heaven is a great gain that we must work for with constant diligence: "Trade till I come (Luke xix. 13)." Heaven is a crown that will not be given to any one who has not fought long enough for it: "He also that striveth for the mastery is not crowned except he strive lawfully (Tim. ii. 5)." Heaven is the promised land flowing with milk and honey, and to possess it we must go out of Egypt, and wander through the desert; that is, we must detach our hearts from the world and the love of the world, deny ourselves, and bear steadfastly the cross laid on us. Heaven is a kingdom in which an infinite God makes the happiness of His elect, but it must he stormed and taken by violence: "From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away (Matt. xi. 12)." In a word: "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments (Ibid. xix. 17);" and these words are said to all men.

Meanwhile, my dear brethren, are there not multitudes of men who content themselves with mere hopes and desires, without putting their hands to work, or moving one foot before the other to get to heaven? I trust I shall get to heaven. I will and must save my soul. God forbid that I should be lost forever; it would be better for me never to have been born! No; the salvation of my soul is the chief thing, on which everything depends. Ah, God grant that I may die a happy death! Oh, what a great good heaven is! Would that I were there! Such are the thoughts, the professions, the desires, the words of most, nay, nearly all Christians. Therefore I will strive earnestly for heaven; I will direct all my cares and occupations to that one end; I will keep exactly all the commandments of God, avoid carefully all sin and the dangers of sin, restrain the wicked passions and desires that have so often led me into sin, and diligently perform the duties of my state; therefore I will serve God zealously, candidly confess and repent of my sins, and frequently make use of the spiritual helps provided for me, hear the word of God, and often receive the sacraments; and I shall commence this very day to live in that manner, and not wait till to-morrow. Such should be our thoughts, words, and actions; but not all think and speak like that, and very few act in that way.

All parents say: I wish to go to heaven; but how many of them are careless, unchristian, reckless in the training of their children? How little they think of instructing their children in virtue? how carefully they train them to vanity? And yet this is one of the chief things that hinders them from saving their souls. I will go to heaven, say the children; but where is their obedience, and the reverence and love they owe their parents. I will go to heaven, say masters and mistresses; but what care do they take of the souls of their servants and others under their authority? I will go to heaven, say servants; but where is the fidelity and honesty they owe their masters? I will go to heaven, say superiors and persons in authority; but where are their justice, their Christian charity, their endeavors to further the glory of God? I will go to heaven, say merchants and shopkeepers; but where is their honesty in business, the care they should take of their spiritual welfare? I will go to heaven, say the rich; but where is their Christian humility, their charity and generosity towards the poor and needy? I will go to heaven, say the afflicted and oppressed; but where is their patience under adversity, their perfect resignation to the will of God? I will go to heaven, say the aged; but where is the edifying life they should lead conformably to their state? I will go to heaven, say the young; but where is their modesty, reserve, careful avoidance of sin and the occasions of sin, purity of heart and soul, and the constant mortification of the senses? Of these latter things little is thought, and still less are they put into practice. Thus we wish to enter into the beautiful city of heaven, but do not wish to tread the narrow way that leads there; we wish to receive the crown of glory, but not to take up the arms with which we should fight for it; we sigh for the promised land, and still remain among the onions and garlic of Egypt. These are the tepid Christians of whom the Holy Ghost says: "The sluggard willeth, and willeth not (Prov. viii. 4)." He wishes the end, but will not use the means of gaining it; he desires the salvation of his soul, but will not do anything to secure it.

"Good master," said the young man to Our Lord, as we read in the Gospel of St. Matthew, "what good shall I do that I may have life everlasting?" I know well and see that the world is not for me, and that I am not for the world; for sooner or later I must leave it and go hence; what does it cost to win heaven?

The plain answer that Our Lord gave to this question consisted in the words: "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments (Matt. xix. 16, 17).'' The first and most necessary condition is: "if thou wilt." Do you really wish it? Are you fully in earnest about it? He does not say: if thou wouldst wish; but if thou wilt. Oh, what a heap of false desires, wishes, and intentions of going to heaven we have in our hearts, that are called by theologians mere velleities! for we do not say: I will; I am fully determined, earnestly resolved; but I would wish; I should like. These velleities are nothing else but half acts of the will, slight and weak movements of the heart, fruitless and empty desires, sickly and vacillating resolutions, vain, natural longings which we have for all that is represented to us as good, pleasing, becoming, and useful. Lame and weak desires of the kind are common even with the greatest and most hardened sinners; for they well know what sin is: how detestable, dangerous, and injurious it is, and they would wish to be freed from it; they are also aware of the beauty of virtue, and would willingly practise it; they would like to be pious, God-fearing, devout, chaste, and innocent; but even while they wish to turn from evil and lead good lives they go on, in the old way and make no change.

St. Augustine gives us a vigorous sketch drawn from his own experience of this apparent or half will in his meditation on the words of the Prophet David: "As the dream of them that awake, O Lord! so in Thy city Thou shalt bring their image to nothing (Ps. lxxii. 20)." Thus the saint compares the lives of such people to the dream of a man who is just wakening and on the point of getting up out of bed. When one awakens or is aroused in the morning he knows that it is time to finish his sleep and to get up; but overcome by drowsiness he lies on still, and remains where he is; he opens his eyes and sees the sun shining through the window, but his head is still heavy and he allows it to sink on his breast, closes his eyes, and goes on as before. Bye-and-bye he raises his head again from the pillow, but it is still heavy as lead, and he lets it fall down again. That man does not wish to sleep any longer, and yet he sleeps; he wants to get up, and still remains in bed because his will is not earnest in the matter. So it is in reality with the weak desire to go to heaven. "The sluggard willeth and willeth not." That man wishes to save his soul, and at the same time does not wish, because he does not use the necessary means.

Nay, people often do quite the contrary; they run at top speed where there is no hope of salvation; they travel on the road the end of which is eternal ruin. If the Son of God had come down from heaven to announce to us a law of idleness, vanity, comfort-seeking, pleasure, dissolute living--if He had given us the days, weeks, months, years of our lives only to be spent in useless things, so that a part of them was to be devoted to sleep, another part to dressing and tricking ourselves out in vain apparel, a third to eating and drinking, a fourth to useless conversation and idle company, a fifth to gambling and other amusements, and we should pass our time in that way; if moreover He had not required of us any good works, or acts of Christian devotion, or recollection of eternity, or examen of conscience, or the reading of spiritual books, or the hearing of sermons, or alms-giving, fasting, or penance in order to gain heaven; if we were bound by the Gospel of Christ so restore the old abuses of heathenism, and publicly to practise them; if Christ had caused the images of false gods and demons to be removed from the altars, out of the churches, only so that He Himself might pose as the Protector and Defender of pride, avarice, injustice, intemperance, impurity; if, I say, God had promised His heaven only to those who pass their lives in those vices, could any other kind of life be required then but that which, as we know, is led by most people in the world, even by those who boast that they are Christians, although the Gospel of Christ teaches us quite the contrary? Is not this the mode of life of many vain men of the world who hardly recognize any other God but themselves and their bodies? Is not this the course followed by so many of both sexes who think of nothing but amusing themselves? Is it not the life of those voluptuaries whose only care is to gratify their senses? Is it not the life of so many tepid Christians, who know nothing of any pious practices beyond hearing Mass on Sundays and holy-days, abstaining from flesh-meat on forbidden days, if they do even that much, and going to confession and holy Communion at Easter? Is it not the life of so many libertines, whose luxurious habits lead them into all sorts of sin and wickedness?

And yet all these people hope and desire to go to heaven. Ask them if they would not be glad to save their souls, if they have any intention and hope of doing that; there is no doubt, they will answer: we must go to heaven; we must save our souls. But you may wish and desire a long time before you save them in that way. Otherwise the good and pious would be badly off, and would have just reason for complaint, seeing that they must work so hard for the reward that the others carry off so easily and comfortably. No, that will not do; your wish is a mere empty desire that exists only in the imagination; it is not a firm, earnest determination of the will. Hell is full of souls that have wished to be eternally happy; not one of them wanted to be damned, but they did not wish earnestly; they were disposed in the matter just as you are. He who desires to attain the end must use the means necessary thereto. "If any one love Me he will keep My word." He who desires to gain heaven must keep the commandments of God, otherwise his hope is a false and deceitful one. And he must keep all the commandments, and that constantly, otherwise his hope is again deceitful and false; and yet it is entertained by most men, as we shall see in the Second Part.



Second Part:

Our holy Founder, St. Ignatius, in his celebrated Book of the Spiritual Exercises, compares those who keep some but not all the commandments to those sick people who wish to get well, and to that end take the medicines that please their taste, but reject those that are prescribed by the doctors because they are too bitter or insipid, although the latter are far better for them. Who could believe that those people are in earnest about wishing for health? Consider now the will and the hope that we flatter ourselves we have of going to heaven; is it not of that kind in most cases? It is rare to find even among the most perverse one who is resolved to break all the commandments; seldom do you find a man who is not disgusted with some vice or other, or who does not find pleasure in an inclination for some virtue, or who does not endeavor to practise some work of devotion. We see, thanks be to God, many Christians who interrupt their temporal duties almost daily to hear holy Mass, and who attend sermons on Sundays and holy-days, and go frequently in the month to confession and holy Communion. Such is the case, my dear brethren. But what are we to conclude from this? That all those people are earnestly desirous of getting to heaven? Ah, I am afraid the contrary is the case; they do not wish, and they will not go to heaven. Why? Because they wish only in part; they consult their own caprices in the choice of the means they use, while they reject others that do not jump with their inclination and humor, although the latter are necessary and useful to their salvation.


Jesus and the Rich young Ruler

Preach to some, for instance, about mortification, fasting, abstinence from forbidden food, moderation in drinking--oh, in those things they find no difficulty; they think and say with the young man in the Gospel, whom Christ exhorted to keep the commandments: "All these things I have observed from my youth." Thank God! I am no drunkard or reveller; I keep the fast days prescribed by the Church as a Catholic Christian should keep them. And so they go home from the sermon comforted, with a sure pledge of their eternal salvation. But preach to them about abstaining from forbidden carnal pleasures, about guarding the eyes and other senses so as not to wound purity by look or thought, and what happens? Even what happened with that young man when Our Lord said to him: "Go, sell whatsoever thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come, follow Me." At these words he went away sad, without making answer: "Who being struck sad at that saying, went away sorrowful (Mark x. 20 - 22)." That did not suit him.

If I say to a man: he who wishes to go to heaven must lead a chaste life, he is pleased with that, because he is not inclined to the vice of impurity, or lives happy in the married state; "all these things I have observed," he will answer. But if I add: he who wishes to go to heaven must make restitution of ill-gotten goods and give them back to their lawful owner, even to the last farthing, and if he has any doubt about his lawful claim to anything in his possession he must carefully set to work to solve the doubt as soon as possible, then he goes away sad; that does not suit him. The third thinks: so far I am all right; I do not remember having injured anyone in my whole life; "all these things I have observed;" but if I say to him: he who wishes to go to heaven must lay aside hatred and ill-will, and live in peace with his neighbor, and forgive his enemy from his heart, that does not please him at all; he goes away sad. A fourth thinks: that is not for me; I have not an enemy on the face of the earth, and I wish well to every one as I do to myself; " all these things I have observed." But if I say: you must also give up that intimacy, that company and occasion which is the radical cause of so many sins to you; you must renounce that vanity and love of dress that is a cause of scandal to others, and leads them into sin, then he goes away sad. A fifth thinks: this is not for me; "all these things I have observed." But if I say: you must from day to day earnestly try to lessen and altogether give up your habit of cursing and swearing, then he shrugs his shoulders, and goes away sad. The sixth thinks: "all these things I have observed; " I do not curse or swear. But you must keep your unruly tongue in check, and give up that habit of fault-finding, abusing, and talking uncharitably of others and injuring their reputation, thus sinning against charity; that is not at all to his taste; he goes away sad.

In a word, if piety and wickedness, virtue and vice, innocence and devotion, and guilt and transgression, the law of the Gospel of Christ and the laws and customs of the vain world, could be all mixed up and united together, then most people would have no difficulty, and would find courage and strength enough to tread the path to heaven. But you have to know that it is with the Christian life as with faith. If I refuse to believe a single article of faith I am an unbeliever; if I fail to observe one point of the law I am wicked and deserve hell-fire. "Whosoever shall keep the whole law, but offend in one point, is become guilty of all (James ii. 10)." It is not enough to keep one or several points of the commandments, to fulfil one or several of our Christian duties; they must all be fulfilled. When you are on a journey, does it help you to have three good and sound wheels on your carriage if the fourth is broken so that you cannot proceed? What does it avail your health to be free from fever if consumption chains you to your bed? What difference does it make to your life to be pierced with a sword or shot with a bullet? In the same way, how could it help your salvation to go with one foot towards heaven and with the other towards hell?

You say: I am not a thief or an unjust man; that is all right; robbery and injustice will not keep you out of heaven; but you are puffed up and proud on account of your wealth, and you despise others, so that it is your pride that will send you to hell. You are not guilty of adultery or incest; that is right; but you are Impure in your thoughts and desires; you are a cause of sin to others by your extravagance in dress, by your caresses and allurements; it is this latter vice and not the former that will condemn you. You are meek, charitable, merciful; a beautiful virtue! but you are addicted to an idle, comfort-seeking, and intemperate mode of life; the cause of your damnation will not be vindictiveness, harshness, or cruelty, but your intemperance and sloth in the divine service. You are not one of those who seek quarrels, and foment discord and disunion; but you are apt to rash-judge and speak ill of your neighbor. It is not a revengeful spirit, but rash-judging and an unbridled tongue that will be the cause of your ruin. You are not a public, notorious, scandalous, and abandoned sinner; but you are addicted to a secret sin known to yourself alone, and that will be reason enough for God to reject you. No matter what good works you perform, as long as you do not renounce all vices, you are, as Tertullian says, only half a Christian; you are divided between God and the devil; you have only half a wish to go to heaven. God does not allow that; He must have all or nothing. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind (Matt. xxii. 37)." Such is the command given to us. We are not told to love Him with half of our heart, soul, or mind, but with our whole heart, etc. He who does not give himself altogether to God, and keeps back something for himself, acts against God: "He that is not with Me is against Me (Ibid. xii. 30)."

Nay, I might almost say that although every sin is an abomination in the sight of God, yet it would be better for many a one and more advantageous to his salvation, to be altogether and evidently vicious than to be as we have described, and only half devout. Why? Because a great and wicked sinner has a clearer perception of his unhappy and miserable state, and is more likely to free himself from it by sincere repentance and amendment through the fear of hell, while the half-Christian, since he is not conscious of grievous or very enormous sins, and actually does some apparently good works every day, flatters himself that his devotion is all right, and lives assured of salvation without fear or anxiety, nor does he find out his mistake until he has actually entered on an unhappy eternity. It was the public sinner who stood humbly at the door of the temple, and, striking his breast, with contrite heart acknowledged his guilt: "O, God! be merciful to me a sinner (Luke xviii. 13)." On the other hand, the Pharisee boasted of his fasting, alms-giving, and other works, and thought he was a saint; but, according to the testimony of Our Lord, it was not he, but the publican who went home justified. And this is the meaning of the divine words of the Apocalypse: "I would thou wert cold, or hot: but because thou art lukewarm," half fish, half flesh, belonging half to Me and half to the devil, ". . . I will begin to vomit thee out of My mouth (Apoc. iii. 15, 16)." One cannot gain heaven with those cold-hearted wishes and empty desires.

And if there is a great number of men who, through the desire of going to heaven, resolve to employ the proper means without excepting any of them, yet even amongst those the greater number have a very weak will and resolution, so that they are easily overcome by the least difficulty, and all their intentions come to nothing. The prophet Osee compares those people to birds, when he says of Ephraim: "As for Ephraim, their glory hath flown away like a bird (Osee ix. 11)." Have you ever seen a heap of corn in an open barn during harvest time? How gladly the birds come and fly around it, and how eagerly they feed on it! But go and merely clap your hands together, or pick up a stone from the ground, nay, simply put a straw man at the door with a few rugs about him, so that the wind can blow him about, and the birds fly away at once. Silly things! why do you leave the good food? Has any one beaten you? No. There was only a noise made with the hand, or the shadow of a man, or the rustling of a rag of cloth. But why should we wonder at this, my dear brethren? They are only birds that have not reason. Let us rather be surprised at ourselves; for we often seem to fly up in desires and longings to heaven that stands open before us, but like the birds we fly off at the least shadow of difficulty, and forget all our good resolutions. "Their glory hath flown away like a bird."

Pilate was a bird of that kind. How anxious he was to save Christ from death! He was well aware of the innocence of Our Lord, and, in spite of the shouts and clamors of the ferocious rabble, he protested openly that he could find no proof of guilt in Him. He tried everything to acquit Him and let Him go free; and yet a mere breath of wind, the mere mention of the emperor's name, whose friendship he feared to lose, was enough to cause him to change his mind. Against his conscience and better knowledge "he delivered Jesus up to their will (Luke xxiii. 25)."


Salome Presenting the Head of St John the Baptist to King Herod

Herod was a bird of that kind; as the Scripture says, he had a great esteem for St. John the Baptist; he was disgusted at the cruel request for his head; a hundred times he cursed in his own mind the oath he had taken, and his only wish was to save John's life; but what sort of a resolution could you expect from such an effeminate king? As soon as Herodias began to speak he was no longer master of himself; he granted everything she asked for, although against his will: "He sent, and beheaded John in the prison (Matt. xiv. 10)."

Most Christians are inconstant, timorous birds of that kind, in the affair of their eternal salvation. If a man's sleeping faith begins to awake; if he is enlightened by a ray of inward grace; if his conscience is moved by hearing the word of God, oh, what salutary movements he experiences in his heart! what sighs and desires for heaven are sent forth by his will! what beautiful resolutions he makes! He condemns his former wicked, slothful, lazy life; now all shall be changed for the better; he will always think of his soul and its salvation; he will turn to God and occupy himself with and care for nothing but heaven; he will begin to live as a good Christian should; he avoid all sin, and strive for virtue with all his strength. What a rapid flight he takes towards heaven! How quickly, too, that woman changes! She resolves to lead a more Christian life, to make a better use of her time, to receive the sacraments more frequently, to be more regular in appearing at public devotions, to work for a future life more diligently, and to give for her salvation what she hitherto for such a long time squandered on vanity and luxury, on idleness, and on dangerous parties and company. Eh! what a beautiful and eager flight towards heaven! But what is required to interrupt this flight, to turn the bird back again? Nothing more than the name of an emperor, human respect, a threat, or a promise; nothing more than the dancing girl, a bad example, dangerous company, an alluring demeanor, a word of flattery, an attraction in the least occasion that offers, and there is an end to all the good resolutions, because they are weak, and the former mode of life is resumed. Meanwhile the years of their lives pass away, and they have nothing better than those changeable desires and weak resolutions, those daily purposes and intentions of doing everything, although in reality nothing whatever is done.

Now, my dear brethren, let each one of you ask himself by way of conclusion: have I hitherto wished to go to heaven? Do I still wish it? Have I wished it earnestly and in truth? Am I determined to carry this into effect? What have I hitherto done to this end? What am I doing now? Have I not perhaps been content with mere desires and empty longings, not using the proper means of fulfilling them? But how can such wishes or desires help me? Of what good is this weak determination of mine? Do you wish to do me a service? is a question often asked in the world; then show that you are in earnest by doing it. The ordinary compliments that people make through politeness, offering their services, do not count for much; they are empty words that one cannot depend on. If I wish to go to heaven I must show that my wish is real by keeping the commandments of God, by zeal in the practice of virtue, and indeed by keeping all the commandments, not one excepted; by fulfilling all the obligations of my state and condition, not one excepted, and by diligence and constancy in the practice of virtue. Do I do as much for heaven as I am wont to do for health's sake, or to make some temporal profit? to secure success in my domestic affairs? to get a good situation? to please a mere mortal? to satisfy my senses and love of comfort? Nay, do I do as much for the sake of gaining heaven as I have often done to commit sin? to avenge myself on my enemy? to enjoy the forbidden love of a creature? to get possession unjustly of another's property? to lose my soul for all eternity?

How many thoughts, considerations, cares, labors, journeys! how much running here and there, chagrin, and expense I have endured to gain those ends! And shall I now refuse to take the least trouble, to make the slightest effort to gain an indescribable, eternal good in heaven? To accomplish my will in those other things, I was not satisfied with using one or the other means; I did everything that lay in my power; I ventured on everything that offered the slightest chance of success; and to get to heaven shall I only do a little, and not all that is necessary? To gain those objects no watching, fasting, expense in money, begging, humbling myself seemed too much for me; nay, they were easy and pleasing; and even those very means seem difficult to me now and intolerable, and not to be endured, when there is question of using them to gain eternal happiness. What a shameful and degrading weakness!

Ah, my dear brethren, do we wish to go to heaven? If so, why do we take such little trouble about it? Do we not wish to go to heaven? What have we to seek or desire in this world? What do we hope, or fear, or love? Why do we live if all our hopes, fears, desires, longings, lives, labors, and love are not directed to that one necessary business for the sake of which alone we are on this earth, and that is the business of our eternal salvation? If we do not gain heaven, what good will all other things be to us? And must we then hear that terrible reproof from the lips of the divine Judge: (How often would I have gathered together . . . and thou wonldst not (Matt. xxiii. 37)?" How often have I desired to make you happy forever, and you would not accept My offer? O my Lord and my God! before it comes to that I will at once change my will. A hundred times have I said to Thee that I hope for heaven, but I see now that my hope was a deceitful one. A hundred times have I said that I wish to go to heaven, but I see now that my will was weak, nerveless, and half-hearted, a will that led me farther and farther from heaven. One good desire have I had after the other, but without effect; one good resolution after the other, but without fulfilment; the eyes of the mind were opened and looked towards heaven, but the feet remained fixed to the earth; my heart was attached to the world and its vanities. Now I say once for all: O my God! I will go to heaven; this is my earnest determination, and I will work for its fulfilment constantly by carefully avoiding all sin and the occasions of sin, and by diligently performing all my duties through a true, zealous love for Thee. And what is wanting to my weak will do Thou supply by Thy powerful grace, O Holy Ghost! who on this day didst so wonderfully change the apostles; that thus strengthened by Thy almighty power, I may hope with childlike confidence one day to enter heaven, where I shall see, love, and praise Thee with the heavenly Father, and His blessed Son, my Saviour, Jesus Christ, for all eternity. Amen.




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