At last Gerontius’ soul traverses the threshold of God’s throne.
A fifth choir of angels praises God’s plan of redemption accomplished through the Incarnation:
“Praise to the Holiest in the height
And in the depth be praise:
In all His words most wonderful;
Most sure in all His ways!
O loving wisdom of our God!
When all was sin and shame,
A second Adam to the fight
And to the rescue came.
O wisest love! that flesh and blood
Which did in Adam fail,
Should strive afresh against the foe,
Should strive and should prevail;
And that a higher gift than grace
Should flesh and blood refine,
God’s Presence and His very Self,
And Essence all-divine.
O generous love! that He who smote
In man for man the foe,
The double agony in man
For man should undergo;
And in the garden secretly,
And on the cross on high,
Should teach His brethren and inspire
To suffer and to die.”
The angel explains to the soul that its judgement is near; they have come
“Into the veilèd presence of our God.”
Before his throne we hear the Angel of the Agony, who having witnessed the Lord’s agony, can best plead for all:
“Jesu! by that shuddering dread which fell on Thee;
Jesu! by that cold dismay which sicken’d Thee….
Jesu! by that sanctity which reign’d in Thee;
Jesu! by that Godhead which was one with Thee;
Jesu! spare these souls which are so dear to Thee;
Souls, who in prison, calm and patient, wait for
Hasten, Lord, their hour, and bid them come to
To that glorious Home, where they shall ever gaze
At these words the soul goes before the Judge. His angel describes the judgement:
“…. Praise to His Name!
The eager spirit has darted from my hold,
And, with the intemperate energy of love,
Flies to the dear feet of Emmanuel;
But, ere it reach them, the keen sanctity,
Which with its effluence, like a glory, clothes
And circles round the Crucified, has seized,
And scorch’d, and shrivell’d it; and now it lies
Passive and still before the awful Throne.
O happy, suffering soul! for it is safe,
Consumed, yet quicken’d, by the glance of God.”
The soul seared by love cries for purgatory:
“Take me away, and in the lowest deep
There let me be,
And there in hope the lone night-watches keep,
Told out for me.
There, motionless and happy in my pain,
Lone, not forlorn,—
There will I sing my sad perpetual strain,
Until the morn.
There will I sing, and soothe my stricken breast,
Which ne’er can cease
To throb, and pine, and languish, till possest
Of its Sole Peace.
There will I sing my absent Lord and Love:—
Take me away,
That sooner I may rise, and go above,
And see Him in the truth of everlasting day.”
The angel entreats other angelic beings:
“Angels of Purgatory, receive from me
My charge, a precious soul, until the day,
When, from all bond and forfeiture released,
I shall reclaim it for the courts of light.”
And the souls in Purgatory sing a litany of praise and petition for God’s mercy
“Lord, Thou hast been our refuge: in every
A thousand years before Thine eyes are but as
yesterday: and as a watch of the night which
is come and gone….
Look, O Lord, upon Thy servants and on Thy
work: and direct their children.
Then the guardian angel bids the soul good bye:
“Softly and gently, dearly-ransom’d soul,
In my most loving arms I now enfold thee,
And, o’er the penal waters, as they roll,
I poise thee, and I lower thee, and hold thee.
And carefully I dip thee in the lake,
And thou, without a sob or a resistance,
Dost through the flood thy rapid passage take,
Sinking deep, deeper, into the dim distance.
The angel entrusts his charge to other angels and to the prayers of those on earth and again says to the soul:
“Farewell, but not for ever! brother dear,
Be brave and patient on thy bed of sorrow;
Swiftly shall pass thy night of trial here,
And I will come and wake thee on the morrow.”
The judgment by the Just and loving God has taken place. The “happy suffering soul,” now safe for ever, enters Purgatory, one day to be united with God. And through the readings of parts of this long poem by Blessed Newman we have hopefully entered more deeply into the mystery of God’s loving plan for man’s redemption, his judgment and reward, and the blessed communion of the saints.