The Greatest Obstacle to Union With God

“The greatest obstacle to our union with God by grace is sin. Mortal sin, as we all know, extinguishes Divine charity in our soul, and drives us from the arms of God into those of His enemy; but all sin is displeasing to God in the highest degree. To commit even a venial sin is a great misfortune.”

“St. Teresa, after commenting on sins due to inadvertency, goes on to say: ‘But from wilfully committing any sin, however small, may God deliver us! I cannot think how we could dare to set ourselves against so great a Sovereign, in however small a matter, though no offence against such majesty can be called small, because we know that He is watching us. Such a fault seems to me thoroughly premeditated. It is as if we said: Lord, although this displeases Thee, yet I shall do it. . . . Is such a misdeed a little one? To me it seems not a little sin, but a great and very great one.”

“Venial sins, it is true, do not destroy Divine charity; but, as St. Francis of Sales tells us, ‘charity is sometimes weakened and depressed in the affections, till it seems to be scarcely in exercise at all. . . . This happens when under the multitude of venial sins, as under the ashes, the fire of holy love remains covered, and its flame smothered though it is not utterly extinguished.”

“To sin is to be human, and we need never expect to be wholly free from all venial sins and imperfections as long as we abide in this mortal life. Two thoughts gathered from the teaching of the Saints may be of use to us to help us to fight against these falls which are such an obstacle to our union with God. One is that if, the moment we are conscious of committing a sin, we turn to God with a profound sense of humility and sorrow for having ‘grieved’ His Divine Spirit, whose temple we are, we gain, as St. Francis of Sales tells us, by our fall; ‘inasmuch as the profit we make by advancing in humility is a rich reparation for the damage sustained by our frailty.’ The second is the use of what an ascetical writer calls ‘the rudder of the devout life, examination of conscience.’ . . . Self-examination is the eye of a devout life. Without it we are ever groping in the dark, and shall never reach our goal, which is the union of our soul with God.”

Quotations from Alice Lady Lovat, The Marvels of Divine Grace: Meditations Based on the “Glories of Divine Grace” (Original Treatise by Fr. Nieremberg, S.J., Entitled “Del Aprecio y Estima de la Divina Gracia”) (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1917).

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