Chapter 17 of the Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales
This is a Discerning Hearts recording read by Correy Webb
CHAPTER XVII. NINTH MEDITATION.
On the choice given to you between heaven and hell
1. PLACE yourself in the Presence of God.
2. Humble yourself before Him and ask His inspiration.
1. Imagine yourself alone with your good angel in an open plain, as was Tobit on his way to Rages. Suppose the Angel to set before you Paradise, full of delights and joys; and on the other hand Hell, with all its torments. Contemplate both, kneeling in imagination before your guardian Angel. Consider that you are most truly standing between Hell and Paradise, and that both the one and the other are open to receive you, according to your own choice.
2. Consider that the choice you make in this life will last forever in the next.
3. Consider too, that while both are open to receive you according to your choice, yet God, Who is prepared to give the one by reason of His Justice, the other by reason of His Mercy, all the while desires unspeakably that you should select Paradise; and your good Angel is urging you with all his might to do so, offering you countless graces on God’s part, countless helps to attain to it.
4. Consider that Jesus Christ, enthroned in Heaven, looks down upon you in loving invitation: “O beloved one, come to Me, and find joy forever in the eternal blessedness of My Love!” Behold His mother yearning over you with maternal tenderness—” Courage, my child, do not despise the Goodness of my Son, or my earnest prayers for thy salvation.” Behold the Saints, who have left you their example, the millions of holy souls who long after you, desiring earnestly that you may one day be forever joined to them in their song of praise, urging upon you that the road to Heaven is not so hard to find as the world would have you think. “Press on boldly, dear friend,”—they cry. “Whoever will ponder well the path by which we came to this place, will discover that we attained to these present delights by sweeter joys than anything this world can give.”
1. O Hell, I abhor you now and forever; I abhor your griefs and torments, your endless misery, the unceasing blasphemies and curses which you pour out upon my God;—and turning to you, O blessed Paradise, eternal glory, unfading happiness, I choose you forever as my abode, your glorious mansions, your precious and abiding tabernacles. O my God, I bless Your Mercy which gives me the power to choose—O Jesus, Savior, I accept Your Eternal Love, and praise You for the promise You have given me of a place prepared for me in that blessed New Jerusalem, where I shall love and bless You forever.
2. Dwell lovingly upon the example set before you by the Blessed Virgin and the Saints and strive to follow where they point you. Give yourself up to your guardian Angel, that he may be your guide, and gird up your courage anew to make this choice.