Hoping for More Than We Deserve

St Francis of Assisi, Ectasy by Giotto di Bondone

Father Frassinetti asks: “Are you only to expect from our Lord what you deserve to have? Is this to be our hope—that God will treat us according to our own merits? . . . If God were to treat us as we deserve, should we not be all lost?”

“We ought to hope after the manner in which we ought to pray. . . . To pray to God that He would treat us according to our deserts is equivalent to praying that He would abandon us to our own wickedness, and precipitate us into the infernal abyss. . . . Such a hope would not be hope, but despair. Even the greatest saints in paradise, if they had been dealt with according to their own merits—what would have become of them? Where would they be? God treated them according to the infinite merits of Jesus Christ, who redeemed them by His Precious Blood; and in this way they have come to be great saints in heaven. We in like manner ought to hope, and steadfastly to hope, that He will deign to treat us also according to these infinite merits, which are greater than the magnitude of our sins—greater than all our ingratitude and unfaithfulness.”

“Be truly penitent for your many sins, your ingratitude, and your unfaithfulness, keeping strict watch over yourself for the future; and then these sins and imperfections will not hinder Almighty God from granting you the grace of the sanctity you desire, which was merited for you by the infinite merits of His Incarnate Son, who died for you on the cross.”

“As a matter of fact, how many great saints, now venerated on our altars, were at first great sinners? What the mercy and grace of God has accomplished in them can He not accomplish in you?”

“We come to this conclusion—that for no one—absolutely for no one—is the attainment of Christian perfection too difficult; such perfection, as we have already said, consisting in the perfect union of our wills with the Will of God.”

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

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