Lenten Meditation 21: The Unhappy Life of the Sinner.

1. There is no peace for the wicked? The devil deceives poor sinners by making them believe that if they gratify their sensual desires, revenge themselves, or take what belongs to another, they will gain satisfaction and obtain peace: but no, for the reverse will always be their portion; the soul after sin becomes more than ever disquieted and afflicted. The brutes alone, who are created for the earth, can gain contentment from the enjoyments of the earth; but man, who is created to enjoy God, cannot derive satisfaction from any or all of God’s creatures; his only source of happiness is God.

My God! what, of all the delights by which I have offended Thee, now remains but bitterness and sorrow to torment me? I do not regret the bitterness which they now cause me; but only the displeasure which they have given Thee, who hast so much loved me.

2. The wicked are like the raging sea, which cannot rest? What is a soul in disgrace with God but a tempestuous sea, always in agitation–one wave rises and another succeeds, and all are waves of pain and anguish. No one in the world can have all things according to his will. He who loves God, when adversity comes resigns himself to God’s blessed will, and thus secures peace to his soul; but how can the sinner, if he is an enemy of God, pacify himself by resignation to God’s holy appointments? Besides, sin always brings with it the dread of divine vengeance. The wicked man fleeth, when no man pursueth [Prov 28:1]. Yes, for his own sin followeth after him, and by the remorse with which it preys upon his soul, makes him suffer an anticipated hell.

O my Lord and my God! I am exceedingly sorry for having forsaken Thee; do Thou forgive me, and suffer me not to lose Thee any more.

3. Delight in the Lord, and He will give thee the requests of thy heart [Ps 36:4]. Man, whither goest thou in search of content? Seek after God, and he will satisfy all the desires of thy soul. “Seek,” says St. Augustine, the one only good, in whom are all other goods.” Behold a St. Francis, who when stripped of all worldly goods, being still united with God, found in this a heaven even here upon earth, and could not often enough exclaim, “My God! my God and my all!” Happy the soul that leaves all for God, for in him it finds all.

Jesus! instead of abandoning me, as I have deserved, Thou offerest me pardon, and callest me to Thy love. Behold, I return to Thee overwhelmed with sorrow for the evil which I have done, and deeply affected at seeing that even still Thou lovest me after the many offences I have committed against Thee. Thou lovest me, and I also love Thee and love Thee more than my self. Receive me into Thy favor, and do with me what Thou pleasest: only do not deprive me of Thy love. Mary, Mother, 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).

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