Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Preparation for Death - Consideration XV

The Malice of Mortal Sin.
“I have brought up children and exalted them; but they have despised me.” – Isaias, i. 2.
The Sinner Insults God.
What does the sinner do when he commits mortal sin? He insults God, he dishonors him, he afflicts him. In the first place, mortal sin is an insult offered to God. The malice of an insult is, as St. Thomas says; estimated from the condition of the person who receives, and of the person who offers, the insult. It is sinful to offend a peasant; it is more criminal to insult a nobleman; but to treat a monarch with contempt and insolence, is a still greater crime. Who is God? He is Lord of lords, and King of kings.1 He is a being of infinite majesty, before whom all the princes of the earth and all the saints and angels are less than an atom of sand. As a drop of a bucket. . . as a little dust.2 The Prophet Osee adds, that compared with the greatness of God, all creatures are as insignificant as if they did not exist. All nations, he says, are before Him as if they had no being at all.3 Such is God; and what is man? He is, according to St. Bernard, a heap of worms, the food of worms, by which he shall be soon devoured. He is miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.4 Man is a miserable worm, that can do nothing: he is so blind that he knows nothing, and so poor and naked that he possesses nothing. And this miserable worm voluntarily insults a God! “Vile dust,” says the same St. Bernard, “dares to provoke such tremendous majesty.”5 The angelic Doctor, then, had just reason to say that the sin of man contains, as it were, an infinite malice. And St. Augustine calls sin “an infinite evil.”6 Hence, were all men and angels to offer themselves to death and annihilation, such an offering would not satisfy for a single sin. God punishes sin with the pains of hell; but all theologians teach that this chastisement is less than sin deserves.7
And what punishment can be sufficient for a worm who assails his Lord? God is the Lord of all, because he has created all. All things are in Thy power . . . Thou hast made heaven and earth and all things.8 All creatures obey God. The winds, says St. Matthew, and the sea obey Him. Fire, hail, snow, ice, stormy winds, which fulfil His will.9 But when man sins, what does he do? He says to God, Lord, I will not serve Thee. Thou hast broken My yoke; thou hast burst My bonds; thou saidst: I will not serve.10 The Lord says to him: Seek not revenge; take not that property which belongs to another; abstain from that unchaste gratification. But man answers: I will have revenge; I will take possession of that property; I will indulge in that forbidden pleasure. Like Pharaoh, when Moses, on the part of God, commanded him to allow the people to go into the desert, the sinner answers: Who is the Lord, that I should hear His voice, and let Israel go?11 The sinner says the same—Lord, I know Thee not, I will do what I please; in a word, he insults the Lord to his face, and turns his back upon him. Mortal sin is precisely a turning away from God. Of this the Lord himself complains. Thou hast forsaken me, saith the Lord; thou art gone backward.12 You have, says God, been ungrateful to me; you have turned back upon me; you are gone backward. God has declared that he hates sin. Hence, he cannot but hate the sinner who commits it. But to God the wicked and his wickedness are hateful alike.13 In committing sin, man dares to declare himself the enemy Of God, and to contend single-handed with the Lord. He hath, says Job, strengthened himself against the Almighty.14 What would you say if you saw an insect attack an armed soldier? God is the Omnipotent Being, who, by a nod, has created heaven and earth out of nothing. And if he wishes, he can, by another act of his will, destroy all creatures. The Almighty Lord, who, at a beck, can utterly destroy . . . the whole world.15 In consenting to sin, the sinner stretches out his arms against the Lord. He hath, says Job, stretched out his hand against God. He hath run against Him with his neck raised up and is armed with a fat neck.16 He raises his neck, that is, he swells with pride, and runs to insult God; he arms himself with a fat neck, that is, with ignorance; for a fat neck is the symbol of ignorance—of that ignorance which makes the sinner say, What harm have I done? What great evil is that sin which I have committed? God is merciful—he pardons sinners. What an insult! What temerity! What blindness!
Affections and Prayers.
Behold, O my God! at Thy feet the rash and daring rebel who has had the temerity and the audacity to insult Thee so often to Thy very face, and to turn his back upon Thee. Thou hast said: Cry to me, and I will hear.17 Hell is too little for me; this I already know. But, remember, O Lord! that I am more sorry for having offended Thee, who art infinite goodness, than I would be for the loss of all my property and of my life. Ah, Lord! pardon me, and do not permit me ever to offend Thee more. Thou hast waited for me that I may forever bless Thy mercy and love Thee. Yes, I bless Thee, I love Thee, and I hope, through the merits of Jesus Christ, that I shall never again be separated from Thy love; Thy love has rescued me from hell: it is by Thy love that I am to be preserved from sin for the future. I thank Thee, my Lord! for the light And the desire Thou givest me to love Thee forever. Ah! take possession of my whole being—of my soul and body—of my powers and senses—of my will and liberty. I am Thine—save me. Thou art my only good; Thou art alone amiable: may Thou also be my only love. Give me fervor in loving Thee. I have offended Thee grievously. Hence, it is not enough for me to love Thee. I wish to love Thee ardently, in order to compensate for the injuries I have done Thee. From Thee, who art omnipotent, I hope for this love. I also hope for it through thy prayers, O Mary! which are powerful before God.
The Sinner Dishonors God.
The sinner not only insults, but he also dishonors God. By the transgression of the law thou dishonorest God.18 Yes; for he renounces God’s grace, and for a miserable pleasure he tramples on the friendship of God. Were man to forfeit the divine friendship in order to gain a kingdom, or even the entire world, he should do a great evil; for the friendship of God is more valuable than the world and even a thousand worlds. But for what does the sinner insult the Lord? Wherefore hath the wicked provoked God?19 For a little earth, for the gratification of revenge, for a beastly pleasure, for the indulgence of vanity or caprice. They violated Me among My people for a handful of barley and a piece of bread.20 When the sinner deliberates whether he will give or refuse his consent to sin, he, as it were, takes in his hand a balance and examines whether the grace of God has more or less weight than the indulgence of his passion, vanity, or pleasure; and when he consents to sin, he declares that his passion, vanity, or pleasure is of greater value than the friendship of God. Behold the Lord covered with shame by the sinner!
Contemplating the greatness and majesty of God, David said, Lord, who is like to Thee?21 But seeing sinners compare and prefer a miserable gratification to his friendship, the Lord exclaimed, To whom have you likened Me, or made Me equal?22 Then, he says, was that vile pleasure of greater value than my grace?—Thou hast cast Me of behind thy back.23 Were you to forfeit a hand, or ten dollars, or even a much smaller sum, you would not have committed that sin. Then, says Salvian, is God alone so contemptible in your eyes, that he deserves to be despised for the indulgence of a passion, or for a miserable gratification?
Moreover, by offending God for the sake of his pleasure, the sinner makes that pleasure his god, by making it his last end. St. Jerome says: “What a person desires, if he worships it, is to him a god. A vice in the heart is an idol on the altar.”24 Hence St. Thomas says: “If you love delights, delights are your god.”25 And according to St. Cyprian, “Whatever man prefers to God, that he makes a god to himself.”26 When Jeroboam rebelled against the Lord, he endeavored to draw the people with him into idolatry. Hence, he placed before them his idols, saying: Behold thy gods, O Israel.27 It is thus the devil acts; he represents a certain pleasure to the sinner, and says: “Make this your god: behold this pleasure, this revenge is your god: adhere to them and forsake the Lord.” And in consenting to sin, the sinner obeys the devil, and in his heart adores as his god the pleasure in which he indulges.28
If the sinner dishonors God he surely does not dishonor him in his presence! Oh! he insults and dishonors God to his very face; for God is present in all places. Do I not fill heaven and earth, saith the Lord?29 This, sinners know, and still they dare to provoke God before his eyes. They provoke Me to anger before My face.30
Affections and Prayers.
Thou, then, my God! art an infinite good, and I have frequently exchanged Thee for a miserable pleasure, which I had scarcely indulged when it vanished. But Thou, though despised by me, now offerest me pardon if I wish for it, and Thou promisest to give me Thy grace, if I repent of having offended Thee. Yes, my Lord! I repent with my whole heart of having outraged Thee so grievously: I detest my sins above all things. Behold! I already return to Thee, as I hope, and Thou already receivest me, and embracest me as Thy child. I thank Thee, O infinite Goodness! but assist me now, and do not permit me ever again to banish Thee from my heart. Hell will not cease to tempt me; but Thou art more powerful than hell. I know that I shall never more abandon Thee, if I always recommend myself to Thee. The grace, then, which I ask is, that I may always recommend myself to Thee, and that I may always say to Thee, as I now do, Lord, assist me; give me light, give me strength, give me perseverance, give me paradise; but above all, give me Thy love, which is the true paradise of souls. I love Thee, O infinite Goodness! and I wish always to love Thee. Hear me for the love of Jesus Christ. Mary, thou art the refuge of sinners: assist, by thy prayers, a sinner who wishes to love thy God.
The Sinner Afflicts God.
The sinner insults God, he dishonors God, and fills the heart of God with grief and bitterness. There is nothing more galling than to be treated with ingratitude by a person tenderly loved and highly favored. Whom does the sinner assail? He insults a God who has created him, and has loved him so as to give his blood and his life for his salvation; and by committing mortal sin he banishes God from his heart. God comes to dwell in the soul that loves him. If any one love Me . . . My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and will make Our abode with him.31 Mark the words—We will make Our abode with him. God comes to dwell forever in the soul; he never departs from it, unless he is driven away. According to the Council of Trent, “He deserts not the soul, unless he is deserted.”32 But, O Lord! Thou knowest that the ungrateful sinner will, in a few moments, banish Thee: why dost Thou not instantly depart from him? Wilt Thou wait until he expels Thee? Abandon him; depart from him before he offers Thee this great insult. “No,” says the Lord, “I will not depart until he himself chases Me away.”
Then, in consenting to sin, the soul says to God: Lord, depart from me. The wicked, says Job, have said to God, Depart from us.33 The sinner, according to St. Gregory, says the same, not in words, but by acts. The sinner knows that God cannot dwell with sin; in yielding to sin, he sees that God must depart; hence, by his conduct he says to God: Since Thou canst not remain in me along with my sin, depart—farewell. And through the very door by which God leaves the soul, the devil enters. Then he goeth and taketh with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there.34 In baptizing an infant, the priest commands the devil to depart. “Go out from him, unclean spirit, and make room for the Holy Ghost.”35 Yes; for the soul, by receiving the grace of God, becomes his temple. Know you not, says St. Paul, that you are the temple of God?36 But, in consenting to sin, man does the very contrary: he says to God, who is in his soul: “Go out from me, O Lord, make room for the devil.”37 Of this the Lord complained to St. Bridget, saying, that he is treated by the sinner as a king expelled from his throne. “I am like a monarch banished from his own dominions: and in my place the worst of plunderers is chosen.”38
What pain should you feel if you received a grievous insult from a person on whom you had lavished favors? This is the pain which you have given to your God who laid down his life for your salvation. The Lord calls heaven and earth to pity him on account of the ingratitude of sinners. Hear, O ye heavens, and give ear, O earth. . . . I have brought up children and exalted them, but they have despised Me.39 In a word, by their iniquities sinners afflict the heart of God. But they provoked to wrath and afflicted the Spirit of the Holy One.40 God is not susceptible of pain; but were he capable of sorrow, a single mortal sin should, as Father Medina teaches, be sufficient to make him die through pure grief. “Mortal sin would, were it possible, destroy God himself, because it would be the cause of infinite sadness in God.”41 Thus, as St. Bernard says, “Sin, as far as in it lies, destroys God.”42 In committing mortal sin, the sinner, as it were, gives poison to God, and does all in his power to deprive him of life. The sinner, says David, hath provoked the Lord.43 And according to St. Paul, he tramples on the Son of God. For he despises all that Jesus Christ has done and suffered in order to take away the sins of the world.
Affections and Prayers.
Then, my Redeemer, as often as I have sinned, I have banished Thee from my soul, and have done what would, were it possible for Thee to die, have taken away Thy life. I now hear Thee ask: What evil have I done Thee? Tell Me. What displeasure have I given Thee that thou shouldst offer Me so many insults? Lord, Thou hast given me existence, and hast died for me. Behold the evil Thou hast done me. What answer then can I make? I say that I have deserved a thousand hells; Thou hast just ground for sending me to everlasting torments. But remember the love which made Thee die on the cross for my salvation: remember the blood which Thou hast shed for my sake, and have mercy on me. But I know that Thou dost not wish that I despair; on the contrary Thou makest me feel that Thou standest at the door of my heart, and that by Thine inspirations Thou knockest for admission. I stand at the gate and knock. Thou tellest me to open—Open to Me, my sister. Yes, my Jesus: I banish sin from my soul; I am sorry for it with my whole heart, and I love Thee above all things. Enter, O my love! the gate is open; enter, and never more depart from me. Bind me to Thyself by Thy love, and do not permit me to be ever separated from Thee. No, my God! we will never again be disunited; I embrace Thee and unite Thee to my heart; give me holy perseverance. “Ne permittas me separari a Te.” Mary, my Mother, assist me always; pray to Jesus for me; obtain for me this favor, that I may never more lose his grace.

1“Dominus dominorum est, et Rex regum.” – Apoc. xvii. 14.
2“Quasi stilla situlæ . . . pulvis exiguus.” – Isa. xl. 15.
3“Omnes gentes, quasi non sint, sic sunt coram eo.” – Isa. xl. 17.
4“Miser, et pauper, et cæcus, et nudus.” – Apoc. iii. 17.
5“Tam tremendam majestatem audet irritare pulvisculus.” – In Cant. s. 16.
6“Peccatum quamdam infinitatem habet ex infinitate divinæ majestatis.” – P. 3. q. 1, a. 2.
7Citra condignum.
8“In ditione tua cuncta sunt posita. . . . Tu fecisti cœlum et terram.” – Esth. xiii. 9.
9“Venti et mare obediunt ei.” – Matt. viii. 27. “Ignis, grando, nix, glacies . . . faciunt verbum ejus.” – Ps. cxlviii. 8.
10“Confregisti jugum meum . . et dixisti: non serviam.” – Jer. ii. 20.
11“Quis est Dominus, ut audiam vocem ejus? . . . Nescio Dominum.” – Exod. v. 2.
12“Tu dereliquisti me, dicit Dominus; retrorsum abiisti.” – Jer. xv. 6.
13“Similiter autem odio sunt Deo impius et impietas ejus.” – Wis. xiv. 9.
14“Contra Omnipotentem roboratus est.” – Job, xv. 25.
15“Ex nihilo fecit illa Deus.” – 2 Mach. vii. 28. “Potest . . . et universum mundum uno nutu delere.” – Ibid. viii. 18.
16“Tetendit adversus Deum manum suam. . . . Cucurrit adversus eun erecto collo et pingui cervice armatus est.” – Job, xv. 25.
17“Clama ad me, et exaudiam te.” – Jer. xxxiii. 3.
18“Per prævaricationem legis Deum inhonoras.” – Rom. ii. 23.
19“Propter quid irritavit impius Deum?” – Ps. x. 13.
20“Violabant me . . . propter pugillum hordei et fragmen panis.” – Ezek. xiii. 19.
21“Domine, quis similis tibi?” – Ps. xxxiv. 10.
22“Cui assimilastis me, et adæquastis? dicit Sanctus.” – Isa. xl. 25.
23“Projecisti me post corpus tuum.” – Ezek. xxiii. 35.
24“Unusquisque quod cupit et veneratur, hoc illi deus est.” – In Ps. lxxx.
25Si amas delicias. deliciæ dicuntur deus tuus.
26“Quidquid homo Deo anteponit, sibi deum facit.” – De Dup. Mart.
27“Ecce dii tui, Israel.” – 3 Kings, xii. 28.
28Vitium in corde, est idolum in altari.
29“Cœlum et terram ego impleo.” – Jer. xxiii. 24.
30“Ad iracundiam provocat me ante faciem meam semper.” – Isa. lxv. 3.
31“Si quis diligit me . . . Pater meus diliget eum, et ad eum veniemus, et mansionem apud eum faciemus.” – John, xiv. 23.
32“Non deserit, nisi deseratur.” – Sess. 6, cap. 11.
33“Dixerunt Deo: Recede a nobis.” – Job, xxi. 14.
34“Tunc vadit, et assumit septem alios spiritus secum nequiores se, et intrantes habitant ibi.” – Matt. xii. 45.
35Exi ab eo, immunde spiritus, et da locum Spiritui Sancto.
36“Nescitis quia templum Dei estis?” – 1 Cor. iii. 16.
37Exi a me, Domine, da locum diabolo.
38“Sum tamquam rex a proprio regno expulsus, in cujus loco latro pessimus electus est.” – Rev. l. 1. c. 1.
39“Audite, cœli; auribus percipe, terra: Filios enutrivi, et exaltavi; ipsi autem spreverunt me.” – Isa. i. 2.
40“Ipsi autem ad iracundiam provocaverunt, et afflixerunt spiritum Sancti ejus.” – Isa. lxiii. 10.
41“Peccatum mortale, si possibile esset, destrueret ipsum Deum, eo quod causa esset tristitiæ in Deo infinitæ.” – De Satisf. q. 1.
42“Peccatum, quantum in se est Deum perimit.” – In temp. Pasch. s. 3.
43“Exacerbavit Dominum peccator.” – Ps. x. 4. “Qui Filium Dei conculcaverit.” – Heb. x. 29.

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