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XII

Of the Soul after her Separation from the Body.

O GOOD God, what is it that I behold? Lo, there cometh fear upon fear, sorrow upon sorrow. After she is separated from the body, the soul shall be beset by a multitude of evil spirits, who shall hasten to meet her and shall magnify their accusations against her. And inquisition shall be made concerning all things whereof they accuse her, even to the least of the negligences that she hath committed. There shall come the prince of this world with his companions, raging with fury, cunning in deceit, skilful in lying, malignant in accusing, bringing forth against the soul all that he can of the evils that she hath done, and devising falsely many beside that she hath not done. O terrible hour, O severe judgment! On the one hand will be a Judge most strict in judgment; on the other adversaries most wanton in accusing. The soul shall stand alone with none to comfort her, except she be defended by the consciousness of good works. But in that great severity of judgment, wherein all things shall be laid open, who shall boast that his heart is clean?118118   Cp. Prov. xx. 9.If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?119119   1 Pet. iv. 18.86Then shall idle gladness depart, the pomp of place shall be put to flight, the pursuit of worldly greatness shall be proved deceitful.

Blessed is the soul, which in that judgment a good conscience defendeth, and the remembrance of a holy life protecteth; which, while she was yet in the flesh, was often cleansed by the water of repentance, adorned with earnestness of confession, enlightened by meditation on God’s holy law; which humility made gentle, and patience quiet, and obedience free from seeking her own will, and charity fervent in the performance of every virtue. Such a soul shall not fear that dreadful hour, and shall not be ashamed when she speaketh with her enemies in the gate.120120   Ps. cxxvii. 6. For she will have fellowship with them, of whom the Scripture saith: When He hath given His beloved sleep, behold the inheritance of the Lord.121121   Ps. cxxvii. 3, 4. This in the Vulgate reads thus: When He hath given His beloved sleep, behold the inheritance of the Lord, even children, a reward, the fruit of the womb. This is interpreted by St Jerome of the saints at rest. His beloved are the saints, who after the slumber of this present life, seem to sleep here, that they may be counted worthy in the resurrection to come to life eternal. When the saints have departed out of this world and obtained their rest, then shall they be made the inheritance of the Lord, because they are no longer subject to temptations.

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