St. Katharine Drexel on the Fall of Empires

As she was considering the religious life, St. Katharine Drexel wrote a very reflective and poignant passage on the vanities of the world. Though written in the late 1800s, it is a good reminder to us today.
“European travel brings vividly before the mind how cities have risen and fallen, and risen and fallen; and the same of empires and kingdoms and nations. And the billions and billions who lived their common everyday life in these nations and kingdoms and empires and cities – where are they?
The ashes of the kings and mighty of this earth are mingled with the dust of the meanest slave. The handsome sculptured sepulchres, the exquisitely finished Etruscan vases, the tombs of Egyptian mummies are exposed in museums, the dust of the great which these sepulchres and vases were intended to preserve are scattered to the winds, unless perhaps with the exception of the mummy whose face grins from without his winding-sheet upon every idle eyes who chooses to gaze within the gilded case once so reverently respected.
Day succeeds day and when, as Byron so beautifully expressed it, when the heavens grow red in the western sky “the day joins the past eternity.” How long before the sun and moon, and stars continue to give forth light? Who can tell?
Of one thing we are sure. In God’s own time – then shall come the Son of Man in great power and majesty to render to each according to his works. The reward and punishment for these will not pass away, nor does the day – Eternity – then open before us.
An eternity of happiness infinite, or an eternity of misery infinite. The question alone is important to me and the solution of which depends upon how I have spent my life and the state of my soul and the moment of death. Infinity misery or infinite happiness! …
God in His mercy has opened my eyes to the fact of the vanitas vanitatis, and as He has made me see the vile stark emptiness of this earth I look to Him – the God of Love – in hope. He will not leave me to despair because of the dreariness of all the joys which cannot satisfy my heart. . . .
 I hope that God may place me in a state of life where I can best know Him, love Him, serve Him for whom alone I am created.”

–St. Katharine Drexel

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