Preserving Spiritual Tranquility – Part 3 of 5

St Teresa of Avila by François Gérard

Continuing his discussion of spiritual tranquility, Father Frassinetti writes: “Neither should we lose this tranquillity from a dread of hidden mortal sin. . . . Sin cannot be mortal unless it be deliberate, either in itself or in the cause of it. That ignorance which is seriously culpable must also be a deliberate and conscious ignorance. If the sin be deliberate, and the person who commits it be fully conscious of it, it can no longer be a hidden sin. . . . Courage, then; banish for ever this spectre of hidden mortal sin. St. Francis of Sales, St. Theresa, St. Alphonsus, and all the good masters of spirituality teach you that mortal sin is a horrible monster, which cannot enter into a soul that fears God without that soul being clearly aware of it.”

“Souls that fear God have so great an abhorrence of sin that, when they are tempted, the mere possibility of committing sin throws them at times into such a state of agitation, and hence into such apprehension of having committed it, that they are seized with an overwhelming terror of being lost; and if they cannot have palpable proofs of having resisted the temptation, they cannot find any peace. In one respect, happy are these souls that have such a tender love of God! If the mere possibility of sinning makes them tremble, they are very far indeed from falling into it. But, on the other hand, their excessive fears are unreasonable, do not please God, and in many ways may hinder their spiritual advancement.”

“Excessive fear produces such a state of confusion in your soul that you mistake temptation for consent. . . . . Temptation of itself, as such, has never injured any soul, even as the poison, while it remains shut up in the vial, injures nobody. In order to sin, the consent of the will is necessary, and in order to sin mortally we must give our full and deliberate consent to something that is gravely prohibited by the law of God. Be satisfied and tranquil. If you abstain from evil deeds you may feel certain that you do not willingly or wilfully commit sins of thought, even though a hundred—a thousand doubts should arise in your heart.”

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

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