Blaise Pascal, the 17th century mathematician, philosopher, and theologian, died on this date in 1662. Probably best known for Pascal’s Wager regarding the existence of God, Pascal also left writings on quite a wide range of subjects. So, in his honor, this morning’s prayer comes from his pen.
O God, before whom I must render an exact account of all my actions at the end of my life and at the end of the world!
O God, who lettest the world and all the things of the world subsist but to train thy elect or to punish sinners!
O God, who allowest sinners hardened in the pleasurable and criminal use of the world!
O God, who makest our bodies to die, and who at the hour of death separatest our soul from all that it loved in the world!
O God, who wilt snatch me, at this last moment of my life, from all the things to which I am attached and on which I have set my heart!
O God, who wilt consume at the last day the heavens and the earth with all the creatures they contain, to show to all mankind that nothing subsists save thee, and that thus nothing is worthy of love save thee, since nothing is durable save thee!
O God, who wilt destroy all these vain idols and all these fatal objects of our passions! I praise thee, my God, and I will bless thee all the days of my life, that it has pleased thee to anticipate in my favor this terrible day, by destroying all things in respect to me through the weakness to which thou hast reduced me. I praise thee, my God, and I will bless thee all the days of my life, that it has pleased thee to reduce me to the incapacity of enjoying the sweets of health and the pleasures of the world, and that thou hast destroyed in some sort, for my advantage, the deceitful idols that thou wilt destroy effectively, for the confusion of the wicked, in the day of thy wrath. Grant, Lord, that I may judge myself, after the destruction that thou hast made with respect to me, that thou mayest not judge me thyself, after the entire destruction that thou wilt make of my life and of the world. For, Lord, as at the instant of my death I shall find myself separated from the world, stripped of all things, alone in thy presence, to answer to thy justice for all the emotions of my heart, grant that I may consider myself in this sickness as in a species of death, separated from the world, stripped of all the objects of my attachment, alone in thy presence, to implore of thy mercy the conversion of my heart; and that thus I may have extreme consolation in knowing that thou sendest me now a partial death in order to exercise thy mercy, before thou sendest me death effectively in order to exercise thy judgment. Grant then, O my God, that as thou hast anticipated my death, I may anticipate the rigor of thy sentence, and that I may examine myself before thy judgment, so that I may find mercy in thy presence.