Lenten Meditation 8: The Abuse of God’s Mercy

1. There are two ways by which the devil endeavors to deceive men to their eternal ruin: after they have committed sin he tempts them to despair on account of the severity of divine justice; but before they have sinned he encourages them to do so by the hope of obtaining the divine mercy. And he effects the ruin of numberless souls as well by the second as by the first artifice. “God is merciful,” says the obstinate sinner to him who would convert him from the iniquity of his ways. “God is merciful.” But as the Mother of God expresses it in her canticle, His mercy is to them that fear Him. Yes, the Lord deals mercifully with him that fears to offend him, but not so with the man who presumes upon his mercy to offend him still more.

2. God is merciful; but he is also just. Sinners are desirous that he should be merciful only, without being just; but that is impossible, because were he only to forgive and never to chastise, he would be wanting in justice. . . . He is bound to chastise the ungrateful. He bears with them for a certain time, but after that abandons them.

Such a punishment, O God! has not as yet overtaken me, or else I had now dwelt in hell, or had been obstinate in my sins. But no: I desire to amend my life; I desire to offend Thee no more. Though I have hitherto displeased Thee, I am sorry for it with my whole soul; I desire henceforth to love Thee, and I desire to love Thee more than others do, because Thou hast not shown the same patience towards others as towards me.

3. God is not mocked [Gal 6:7]. Yet he would be mocked, if the sinner could go on continually offending him, and yet afterwards enjoy him in heaven. What things a man shall sow, those also shall he reap [Gal 6:8]. He who sows good works shall reap rewards; but he who sows iniquities shall reap chastisements. The hope of those who commit sin because God is forgiving, is an abomination in his sight: their hope, says holy Job, is an abomination [Job 11:20]. Hence the sinner, by such hope, provokes God to chastise him the sooner, as that servant would provoke his master, who, because his master was good, took advantage of his goodness to behave ill.

I confess that I have done wickedly; and I detest all the offences I have committed against Thee. Now do I love Thee more than myself, and I desire never more to displease Thee.

Text from St. Alphonsus de Liguori, The Way of Salvation and Perfection, ed. Eugene Grimm, 2d ed. (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1886).

Advertisements
Posted in Religion, Christianity, Faith, Inspiration, Prayer, Bible, Catholic, Catholicism, Theology, Wisdom, Meditation, Catholic Church | Tagged

Lenten Meditation 7: The Death of Jesus Christ

1. How is it possible to believe that the Creator should have been willing to die for us, his creatures? Yet we must believe it because faith so teaches it. Hence the Council of Nice commands us to confess: “I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who for us men and for our salvation was crucified for us, suffered, and was buried.”

And if it is true, O God of love! that Thou hast died for the love of men, can there be one who believes this, and does not love Thee, so loving a God?

2. Thou hast then, my Lord and my God, died for me; and how could I, knowing this, have so often disowned Thee and turned my back upon Thee? But Thou, my Saviour, didst come down from heaven to save that which was lost. My ingratitude, therefore, does not deprive me of the hope of pardon. Yes, O Jesus! I hope that Thou wilt pardon me all offences which I have committed against Thee, through the death which Thou didst suffer for me on Mount Calvary. . . . Make known to me, O Lord! what I must do henceforward to make amends for my ingratitude. Keep up in my mind a continual remembrance of the bitter death Thou wast pleased to suffer for me, that I may love Thee and never more offend Thee.

3. I have obliged Thee by my sins to cast me away from Thy face; but Thou hast not abandoned me forever; Thou regardest me with tender affection; Thou art about to call me to Thy love; I will no longer resist. I love Thee, my sovereign good; I love Thee, my God, who art worthy of infinite love; I love Thee, my God, who hast died for me. I love Thee, but I love Thee not enough; do Thou increase my love.

Text from St. Alphonsus de Liguori, The Way of Salvation and Perfection, ed. Eugene Grimm, 2d ed. (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1886).

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic Church, Catholicism, Christianity, Faith, Inspiration, Meditation, Prayer, Religion, Theology, Wisdom | Tagged

Venial Sins

Cardinal Manning states that mortal sins separate the soul from God, Who is the life of the soul, whereas venial sins “may be found in souls that are united with God, and are in the grace of God, and in the love of God, and in a state of habitual obedience.”

“The sins which may be found even in holy men are sins of infirmity committed through weakness; or sins of surprise committed by sudden or strong temptation; or sins of impetuosity, where passion carries a man for a moment beyond self-control; or sins of indeliberation, that is, done in haste, before as yet conscience and the reason have had time to deliberate and weigh what they are about; or lastly, they may be sins committed with some degree of deliberation.”

Even six of the capital sins—anger, pride, gluttony, avarice, envy, and sloth—”are susceptible of degrees and shades and distinctions,” and may be committed “through infirmity, through surprise, through impetuosity, and without deliberation, and even with some degree of deliberation, without being mortal.”

“We are labourers out in the field, and the soils and stains of our toil will cleave to us. We are wayfarers in the road, and the dust will settle upon us even when we do not know it. We cannot go out of the world and the world’s evil.”

“Even the saints of God, through infirmity, and through temptation, have offended against God, and yet they have not broken their friendship, nor separated their souls from Him.”

“We have got, then, what I may call a definition of venial sin. It is a transgression of the law of God; a thought, word, or deed at variance with the will of God, through infirmity, and without deliberate malice. This will suffice to distinguish the sin which is not unto death from that which I described last time, where, with eyes open and willing consent, a sinner breaks the law of God in the face of God.”

Quotations from Henry Edward Manning, Sin and Its Consequences, 2d ed. (London: Burns and Oates, 1874).

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic Church, Catholicism, Christianity, Faith, Inspiration, Meditation, Prayer, Religion, Theology, Wisdom | Tagged

Lenten Meditation 6: The Great Thought of Eternity

1. Thus did St. Augustine designate the thought of eternity: “The great thought.” It was this thought that induced so many solitaries to retire into deserts; so many religious, even kings and queens, to shut themselves up in cloisters; and so many martyrs to sacrifice their lives in the midst of torments, in order to acquire a happy eternity in heaven, and to avoid a miserable eternity in hell.

2. Ven. John of Avila says, that he who believes in eternity and becomes not a saint should be confined as one deranged. He who builds a house for himself takes great pains to make it commodious, airy, and handsome, and says: “I labor and give myself a great deal of trouble about this house, because I shall have to live in it all my life.” And yet how little is the house of eternity thought of! When we shall have arrived at eternity there will be no question of our residing in a house more or less commodious, or more or less airy: the question will be of our dwelling in a palace overflowing with delights, or in a gulf of endless torments. And for how long a time? not for forty or fifty years, but forever, as long as God shall be God. The saints, to obtain salvation, thought it little to give their whole lives to prayer, penance, and the practice of good works. And what do we do for the same end?

O my God! many years of my life are already past, already death is near at hand, and what good have I hitherto done for Thee? Give me light, and strength, to devote the remainder of my days to Thy service. Too much, alas! have I offended Thee; I desire hence forth to love Thee.

3. With fear and trembling work out your salvation. To obtain salvation we must tremble at the thought of being lost, and tremble not so much at the thought of hell, as of sin, which alone can send us thither. He who dreads sin avoids dangerous occasions, frequently recommends himself to God, and has recourse to the means of keeping himself in the state of grace. He who acts thus will be saved; but for him who lives not in this manner it is morally impossible to be saved. Let us attend to that saying of St. Bernard: “We cannot be too secure where eternity is at stake.”

Thy blood, O Jesus, my Redeemer! is my security. I should have been already lost on account of my sins, hadst Thou not offered me Thy pardon, on condition of my repentance for having offended Thee. I am sorry therefore with my whole heart for having offended Thee, who art infinite goodness. I love Thee, O sovereign good! above every other good, I know that Thou willest my salvation, and I will endeavor to secure it by loving Thee forever. O Mary, Mother of God! pray to Jesus for me.

Text from St. Alphonsus de Liguori, The Way of Salvation and Perfection, ed. Eugene Grimm, 2d ed. (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1886).

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic Church, Catholicism, Christianity, Faith, Inspiration, Meditation, Prayer, Religion, Theology, Wisdom | Tagged

Lenten Meditation 5: The Loss of All Things in Death

1. The day of death is called the day of destruction, because then is destroyed all that man has acquired; honors, friends, riches, possessions, kingdoms all are then no more. What then doth it profit us to gain the whole world if in death we must leave all? . . . In death all is left behind. The soul enters eternity alone and unattended, except by its works.

2. Men come into the world in unequal conditions: one is born rich, another poor, one a noble, another a plebeian; but all go out of it equal and alike.

O God! while others amass the fortunes of this world, may my only fortune be Thy holy grace. Thou alone art my only good both in this life and in the next.

3. In one word, everything on earth will come to an end. All greatness will end, all misery will end, honors will end, ignominies will end; pleasures will end, sufferings will end. Blessed in death, therefore, not he who has abounded in riches, honors, and pleasures, but he who has patiently endured poverty, contempt, and sufferings! The possession of temporal goods affords no consolation at the moment of death: that alone consoles us which has been done or suffered for God.

O Jesus! separate my heart from this world, before death entirely takes me from it. Help me with Thy grace; Thou indeed knowest how great is my weakness. Permit me not to be any more unfaithful to Thee, as I have hitherto been. I am sorry, O Lord! for having so often despised Thee. Now will I love Thee above every good, and will die a thousand times rather than forfeit Thy grace. But the infernal one ceases not to tempt me; in mercy abandon me not, leave me not to myself, permit me not to be any more separated from Thy love. O Mary, my hope! obtain for me the grace of perseverance.

Text from St. Alphonsus de Liguori, The Way of Salvation and Perfection, ed. Eugene Grimm, 2d ed. (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1886).

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic Church, Catholicism, Christianity, Faith, Inspiration, Meditation, Prayer, Religion, Theology, Wisdom | Tagged

Lenten Meditation 4: The Certainty of Death

1. It is appointed for all men once to die [Heb 9:27]. Thou art a man and thou must die. St. Cyprian says that we are born with a rope around our necks, and as long as we live on earth we hourly approach the gallows, that is, the sickness that puts an end to our life. It would be madness for any one to delude himself with the idea that he shall not die. A poor man may flatter himself that he may become rich, or a vassal that he may be a king; but who can ever hope to escape death? One dies old, another young, but all at last must come to the grave.

I therefore must one day die and enter eternity. But what will be my lot for eternity? happy or miserable? My Saviour Jesus, be Thou a Saviour to me!

2. Make me, O God! more and more sensible of the folly of loving the goods of this world, and for the sake of them renouncing Thee, my sovereign and infinite good. What folly have I not been guilty of; and how much it grieves me! I give Thee thanks for having made me sensible of it.

3. A hundred years hence, at most, and neither you nor I will be any longer in this world; both will have gone into the house of eternity. A day, an hour, a moment, is approaching which will be the last both for you and me; and this hour, this moment, is already fixed by Almighty God; how then can we think of anything else but of loving God, who will then be our judge?

Alas! what will my death be? O my Jesus and my judge! what will become of me when I shall have to appear before Thee to give an account of my whole life? Pardon me, I beseech Thee, before that moment arrives which will decide my happiness or misery for eternity. I am sorry for having offended Thee, my sovereign good. Hitherto I have not loved Thee; but now I will love Thee with my whole soul. Grant me the grace of perseverance. O Mary, refuge of sinners, have pity on me!

Text from St. Alphonsus de Liguori, The Way of Salvation and Perfection, ed. Eugene Grimm, 2d ed. (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1886).

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic Church, Catholicism, Christianity, Faith, Inspiration, Meditation, Prayer, Religion, Theology, Wisdom | Tagged

Lenten Meditation 3: The Patience of God in Waiting for Sinners

1. Who in this world has so much patience with his equals as God with us his creatures, in bearing with us, and waiting for our repentance, after the many offences we have committed against him?

2. Thou hast mercy, says the wise man, upon all, because Thou canst do all things, and overlookest the sins of men for the sake of repentance. Men conceal their sense of the injuries which they receive, either because they are good, and know that it belongs not to themselves to punish those who offend them; or because they are unable, and have not the power to revenge themselves. But to Thee, my God, it does belong to take revenge of the offences which are committed against Thy infinite majesty; and thou indeed art able to avenge Thyself, whenever Thou pleaseth.

My God, my infinite good, I will no longer despise Thee, I will no longer provoke Thee to chastise me. And why should I delay until Thou abandonest me in reality and condemnest me to hell? I am truly sorry for all my offences against Thee. I would that I had died rather than offend Thee! Thou art my Lord, Thou hast created me, and Thou hast redeemed me by Thy death; Thou alone hast loved, Thou alone deservest to be loved, and Thou alone shall be the sole object of my love.

3. My soul, how could you be so ungrateful and so daring against your God? When you offended him, could he not have suddenly called you out of life and punished you with hell? And yet he waited for you; instead of chastising you, he preserved your life and gave you good things. But you, instead of being grateful to him and loving him for such excessive goodness, you continued to offend him!

My Lord, since Thou hast waited for me with so great mercy, I give Thee thanks. I am sorry for having offended Thee. I love Thee. I might at this hour have dwelt in hell, where I could not have repented, nor have loved Thee. But now that I can repent, I grieve with my whole heart for having offended Thy infinite goodness; and I love Thee above all things, more than I love myself. Forgive me, and grant that from this day I may love no other but Thee, who hast so loved me. May I live for Thee alone, my Redeemer, who for me didst die upon the cross! All my hopes are in Thy bitter Passion. O Mary, Mother of God! assist me by thy holy intercession.

Text from St. Alphonsus de Liguori, The Way of Salvation and Perfection, ed. Eugene Grimm, 2d ed. (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1886).

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic Church, Catholicism, Christianity, Faith, Inspiration, Meditation, Prayer, Religion, Theology, Wisdom | Tagged