What Is Not Sin

Father Frassinetti offers advice to “souls that accuse themselves of their natural weaknesses as if they were sins, and mourn over them, and believe themselves to be through them in a bad state before God.”

He writes: “These persons fancy they find sin where there is not a shadow of it, nay even where there actually is merit. If it happens that they feel a momentary impatience, or envy, or sensuality, they immediately think they have sinned, although they endeavoured to repress those feelings when as yet they were scarcely aware of them. These persons, then, have not sinned in this matter, for they cannot avoid such feelings: nay, indeed, by combating them the moment they become aware of the same they obtain merit.”

St. John of the Cross teaches: “If you do not give your consent, but rather experience displeasure and abhorrence of them, and with patience endure them, they purify your will as fire does gold. These weaknesses, these miseries, are the necessary consequence of original sin, in the same way as diseases and other temporal ills are evils to which all the children of Adam are subject, and from which no one could pretend to be entirely free without pretending to a privilege which God does not grant.”

Accordingly, Father Frassinetti advises: “Do not be terrified by these miserable sensations, which are compatible with the most perfect sanctity that is to be found in the world. . . . And if there be any saint who did not experience any perverse inclination against any given virtue, it was only a special privilege, which is by no means a necessary part of sanctity.”

“The venial sins which hinder our perfect union with the Will of God, and which consequently hinder the progress of Christian perfection, are those of which we are fully aware—that is to say, those which we commit with our eyes open. The other venial sins, of which we are not fully aware, do not hinder the progress of Christian perfection.”

Quotations from Joseph Frassinetti, The Consolation of the Devout Soul, trans. Georgiana Lady Chatterton (London: Burns and Oates, 1876).

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