Is there a Problem with the Divine Mercy Devotion?
by Servus Immaculatae
“The earth is full of the mercy of the Lord, alleluia: by the word of the Lord were the heavens made, alleluia, alleluia. Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous: praise is comely for the upright.” -Introit for Good Shepherd Sunday (Psalm 32:1, 5-6)
On the Sunday after Easter each year we celebrate the Octave Day of Easter, which is known by a number of different names. Traditionally it was known as Dominica in Albis, which referred to the white garments worn by the newly baptized Neophytes. It has also long been known as “Low Sunday”, but most recently it has become known as “Divine Mercy Sunday” because of the request Our Lord made to Saint Faustina of the Most Blessed Sacrament. This appellation being applied to the Sunday after Easter is by no means new, however, as Saint Augustine writing in the late 4th or early 5th Century called this Sunday the “compendium of the days of mercy”. And this only make sense for what else but the incredible mercy of God are we celebrating in Easter? That the Son of God, the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, came down to earth and became a man who lived, died, and rose again so that we might have life eternal. And the Sunday after being the Octave Day and thus the culmination of the Feast this makes sense.
Many Traditionalist Catholics, however, take issue with the Divine Mercy Devotion. These same people are also often completely outside the Church through schism or the heresy of Sedevacantism (which suggests that there hasn’t been a true Catholic Pope since the death of Venerable Pope Pius XII in 1958). But there is a wide range of feeling on the matter among those who have a problem with the devotion. Some simply don’t pay any attention to it (and if they are a Priest don’t preach about it) while others go to the extreme of calling it diabolical and not a true apparition of our Lord at all.
First then a word about private revelation. No private revelation, even one approved by the Church, is required to attain salvation. So those who reject the Divine Mercy Devotion, or simply do not practice it for one reason or another, do not sin nor are they in error per say unless they reject particular teachings of the Church which are contained in the private revelation. Now that being said, for those revelations that have been approved by the Church and have attained the highest status of acceptance by the Church by having it commemorated in the Sacred Liturgy (ie Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Fatima, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, etc) it would generally be foolish for a Catholic to completely ignore them and their very important messages.
But it is also important to remember that there is nothing new in any of these revelations. If they are true they can only be repeating the One Truth Faith as it has always been, and if it contradicts the faith then that is an infallible sign of it’s diabolical origin. Our Lord and our Lady come to certain chosen souls periodically to remind us of what we have forgotten or neglected. When our Lord revealed his Sacred Heart to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque it was because the man’s love for God had grown cold and He sought to kindle it once again. It is certainly not that the devotion to the Sacred Heart never existed before that time, on the contrary we find it in the sacred scriptures themselves when in the gospels we find Saint John, the Beloved Disciple, resting his head upon our Lord’ chest during the last supper, and who cannot think that one who loved our Lord so much was not seeking to be as close as he could to the Sacred Heart?
So what’s the problem with the Divine Mercy Devotion? Many cite the fact that after it was approved by the local Bishop in Poland, who oversaw the Diocese in which the Convent Saint Faustina lived in was situated, it was later condemned by the Holy Office (now called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), which read as follows:
Canon Law Digest, 1959
Sister Faustina Kowalska: Writings (Holy Office, 6 March, 1959) AAS 51-271.
A Notification by the Holy Office:
The Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, having examined the alleged visions and revelations of Sister Faustina Kowalska of the Institute of Our Lady of Mercy, who died in 1938 near Cracow, has decreed as follows:
1. The distribution of pictures and writings which present the devotion to the Divine Mercy in the forms proposed by this Sister Faustina, should be forbidden;
2. It is left to the prudent discretion of the Bishops to remove such pictures which may have been already exposed for worship.
From the Holy Office, 6 March, 1959.
AAS 51-271; Holy Office, Notification, 6 March, 1959.
At the time the Holy Office made this declaration it was headed up by a Cardinal Ottaviani, who is seen by Traditionalists as a great hero who fought a losing battle against the modernists in the Church in the 1960’s and 70’s until is death in 1979 (the same year incidentally that Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen died). A symbol of his “Traditionalist” stance is that he took for his Episcopal Motto: Semper Idem (Always the Same). And indeed one cannot doubt that the good Cardinal was a very holy and orthodox Bishop and Cardinal. He fought against the Modernists at Vatican II, but who simply then turned off his microphone so his protestations could not be heard. It was he who first cried out against the very problematic nature of the Novus Ordo and the actually heretical preface to the first edition to the Novus Ordo Missae (the later of which was then corrected thanks to him). Until his last days he never stopped working to combat the work of those under the power of the “synthesis of all heresies“.
But when it came to the Divine Mercy Devotion the good Cardinal did not have accurate information when he made his pronouncement. It seems that when one Cardinal Wojtyla sought to reopen the case in the 1970’s it was discovered that the interpretations were made based upon a faulty rendering from the Polish, which is in fact very difficult to render into any of the romantic languages (such as Italian). And the pronouncement was reversed in 1978 just a few months before he would become Pope John Paul II. The Pope would then later beatify and canonize Saint Faustina in 1993 and 2000 respectively, and her Feast day was set on October 5th. He would also establish the the Feast of Divine Mercy on the Sunday after Easter.
A Personal Journey with the Divine Mercy Devotion
This devotion was one that I learned about in college and which I began to practice by simply making the Divine Mercy Chaplet a regular part of my prayer life in addition to my daily Rosary. It wasn’t until a few years later when I was introduced into the world of Traditional Catholicism that I then was met with this opposition to this devotion.
I had also developed a very strong devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary through my Consecration to Jesus through Mary according to the method of Saint Louis Marie de Montfort. And when I was confronted with this opposition to the Divine Mercy and I heard about this condemnation by the Church I was somewhat disturbed, and eventually I decided that I needed to look into the matter. I sat down and actually read through the entire Diary of Saint Faustina, and so I can actually speak from full knowledge about it (at least the English translation of it which does bear its own Imprimatur for what that is worth).
Now in explaining what I discovered in my study I need to also speak about the other major objection to the Divine Mercy Devotion, and that is the fact that in all too many cases the Image of the Divine Mercy and it’s devotions have supplanted and wiped out those of the Sacred Heart and even the recitation of the Rosary has been replaced with the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. This is indeed a real problem, and one I only became aware of recently, for as I have said I have long had a deep devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Rosary and my devotion to the Divine Mercy has caused neither of these devotions to suffer on its account.
Apart from it’s former condemnation then rehabilitation the simple fact of the multiplicity of apparitions and devotions also bothered me a great deal. But it was during my reading of the Diary of Saint Faustina that it all finally clicked for me and why I no longer have any issues with this devotion personally. Because what I arrived at was that there is only one devotion to our Lord, and all of these many different devotions were merely different ways of arriving at the same goal of worshiping our Lord. There can be no contradiction between the Sacred Heart Devotion, Eucharistic Devotion, and that of the Divine Mercy for they are all the same devotion at their core. But any devotion can be twisted and misunderstood and I submit that this what has happened with the Divine Mercy Devotion and that has caused it to be used to wipe away devotion to the Sacred Heart, the Rosary, and even Eucharistic Adoration.
All three of these devotions when practiced properly draw you inexorably to the foot of the Cross there to kneel beside our Lady and Saint John. There you will adore His Most Sacred Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity and His Holy (Eucharistic) Face. There you will see Saint Longinus pierce the most Sacred Heart of our Lord, and you will see him showered with the merciful saving Blood and Water which comes forth from the pierced side of Jesus. Here we have the all of the great devotions to our Lord: to the Sacred Heart, the Precious Blood, the Eucharist, the Holy Face, and the Divine Mercy.
I was finally struck with this when I realized how similar the main prayers of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and that of Saint Gertrude the Great were:
“Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the World today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal Church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.” -Chaplet of Saint Gertrude
“Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.” -Divine Mercy Chaplet
And what is important to note is that Saint Gertrude and her biological sister Saint Mechtilde were the first to receive private revelations about the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus from our Lord Himself. Thus the strong connection between the two devotions seems even more evident to me. Also the fact that if you read the Life and Revelations of Saint Gertrude the Great you will be struck with the incredible similarity between how our Lord spoke to her and also to Saint Faustina as recorded in her Diary. This is what also convinced me of the authenticity and goodness of these revelations to Saint Faustina.
But what has happened is that the Divine Mercy Devotion has been separated from the Cross of Christ. It has been separated from the devotion to the Sacred Heart and of Eucharistic Adoration. And this in the particular aspect of reparation for the sins of the world, which was the clear and ardent message of Our Lady at La Salette, Lourdes, Fatima, and Akita through the 19th and 20th Centuries. Contemporary with the revelation of our Lady at La Salette, not far away in Tours, was the revelation of our Lord to a Carmelite Nun about the particular devotion of reparation to the Holy Face which so inspired Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face (so often this full part of her religious name is left off). Within a decade of the death of this great Carmelite Saint and Doctor of the Church Pope Saint Pius X would call her the “greatest Saint of modern times” and would ask that every Catholic keep an image of the Holy Face in their home. High praise indeed from the author of Pascendi Dominici Gregis.
This loss of understanding for the need of reparation is due to the strong influence of Modernism and heretical Protestant Theology becoming rife in the Church. These modernist heretics then have hijacked the Divine Mercy Devotion and have used it to preach the heresy of Universal Salvation and have diminished the importance of reparation for sin in the minds of many Catholics. And now how few go to partake of the incredible Mercy of God in the Sacrament of Penance! A tragedy indeed, and even those who do go for the most part don’t understand what is required of them to make true reparation for their sins to make up for the temporal punishment due to their sins, which left unmitigated will have to atoned for in purgatory until the last penny is paid.
Catholics have been led astray to believe that because of this “new revelation” that we are essentially protestants and believe that no matter what evil we do God will always be merciful to us and wont let us go to Hell. But we cannot obtain the Mercy of God if we do not ask for it! This is essential that we must ask for it. God’s mercy is there, but we must be open to it and accept Him into our hearts and lives not just by our words but by our actions. Our Lord said very clearly that:
“If you love me, keep my commandments.” -John 14:15
One of the most shocking paragraphs in all of the Diary of Saint Faustina to me was this one in which our Lord explains that those who love Him and make reparation to Him hold back His chastisement upon the world:
My beloved child, delight of My Heart, your words are dearer and more pleasing to me than the angelic chorus. All the treasures of My Heart are open to you. Take from this Heart all that you need for yourself and for the whole world. For the sake of your love, I withhold the just chastisements, which mankind has deserved. A single act of pure love pleases Me more than a thousand imperfect prayers. One of your sighs of love atones for many offenses with which the godless overwhelm Me. The smallest act of virtue has unlimited value in My eyes because of your great love for Me. In a soul that lives on My love alone, I reign as in heaven. I watch over it day and night. In it I find My happiness; My ear is attentive to each request of its heart; often I anticipate its requests. O child, especially beloved by Me, apple of My eye, rest a moment near My Heart and taste of the love in which you will delight for all eternity. (Diary, #1489, 8 January 1938)
Saint Faustina was imploring the Divine Mercy and holding back the chastisement of Poland for years. And shortly after her death Germany and Russia invaded Poland and the nation ceased to exist. This is just as our Lady prophesied at Fatima that “nations would be destroyed”.
Saint Peter who after being designated as the head of the Apostles and the new Church which our Lord was to establish and then actually publicly denied Him three times in his presence had this to say about how we can make reparation for sin:
“But before all things have a constant mutual charity among yourselves: for charity covereth a multitude of sins.” -I Peter 4:8
Let me propose one act of Charity we can all make right now today and every day: let us pray in a particular way for the dispensers of the mercy of God in the Sacraments: our Priests and Bishops. Let us pray for them that they will be generous with their lives and be true images of Christ. Let us pray that they will always preach and teach true charity and mercy from the pulpit as well as by the example of their lives. Let us pray that they will always been ever seeking to make reparation for sin and to inspire the souls under their care to do the same and thus they will draw down the blessed mercy of God upon themselves and upon the world.
We must always be very careful not abuse or presume upon the mercy of God. There are few sins so terrible than this presumption which leads one to sin and often very terribly because they believe that no matter what God will be there afterward to forgive them. Saint Alphonsus Ligouri, that great Bishop and Moral Doctor of the Universal Church, wrote an entire discourse on this subject which which we all ought to prayerfully consideration.
Abuse of Divine Mercy
by Saint Alphonsus Maria de Ligouri, Bishop of Saint Agatha of the Goths and Doctor of the Church
“Knowest thou not that the benignity of God leadeth thee to penance?” -Romans 2:4
God is Merciful, but He is also Just.
We read in the parable of the cockle, that the servants of the good man of the house, seeing that it had grown up in the field along with the wheat, wished to pluck it up. Wilt thou, said they, that we go and gather it up? (Matt. xiii, 24). No, replied the master; suffer it to grow up, and then it shall be gathered and cast into the fire. In the time of the, harvest I will say to the reapers: Gather up first the cockle, and bind it in bundles to burn (Ibid. 30). In this parable we see, on the one hand, the patience with which the Lord treats sinners; and on the other, the rigor with which he chastises the obstinate. St. Augustine says that the devil deludes men in two ways, by despair and hope. After the sinner has offended God, the enemy, by placing before his eyes the terror of divine justice, tempts him to despair; but before he sins, the devil encourages him to sin with the hope of divine mercy. Hence the Saint gives to all the following advice: ” After sin, hope for mercy; before sin, fear justice.”‘ He who abuses God’s mercy to offend him, is undeserving of mercy. God shows mercy to those who fear him, but not to those who avail themselves of his mercy to banish the fear of God from their hearts. Abulensis says that he who offends justice may have recourse to mercy; but to whom can he have recourse, who offends mercy itself? It is hard to find a sinner so sunk in despair as to wish for his own damnation. Sinners wish to sin, without losing the hope of salvation. They sin and say: God is merciful, I will commit this sin, and will afterward confess it. They say, observes St. Augustine, ” God is good, I will do what I please.” (In Jo. Tr. 33). Behold, the language of sinners: but, O God, such too was the language of so many who are now in hell.
Say not, says the Lord, that the mercies of God are great; that however enormous your sins may be, you will obtain pardon by an act of contrition. And say not: The mercy of the Lord is great: He will have mercy on the multitude of my sins (Ecclus. v, 6). Say it not, says the Lord; and why? For mercy and wrath quickly come from Him, and His wrath looketh upon sinners (Ibid.). The mercy of God is infinite; but the acts of his mercy, or his mercies are finite. God is merciful, but he is also just. ” I am just and merciful,” said our Lord to St. Bridget; ” but sinners regard me only as merciful.” (Rev. 1, 1, c. 5). St. Basil writes that sinners wish to consider God only as good and merciful. To bear with those who avail themselves of the mercy of God to offend him, would not, says Father M. Avila, be mercy, but a want of justice. Mercy is promised, not to those who abuse it, but those who fear God. And His mercy, said the divine mother, to those that fear Him (Luke, I, 50). Against the obstinate, threats of just retribution have been pronounced; and, says St. Augustine, as God is not unfaithful to his promises, so he is not a liar in his threats (De vera Poenit. c. 7). Beware, says St. John Chrysostom, when the devil, not God, promises you divine mercy, that he may induce you to commit sin. ” Never attend to that dog that promises to you the mercy of God.” (Scal. Spir. Gr. 6). “Woe,” says St. Augustine, “to him who hopes in order to sin.” (In Ps. 144). Oh! how many, says the Saint, has this vain hope deluded and brought to perdition! “They who have been deceived by this shadow of vain hope cannot be numbered.” (Serm. 154, E.B. app.). Miserable the man who abuses the mercy of God to offer new insults to his majesty! St. Bernard says that Lucifer’s chastisement was accelerated, because he rebelled against God with the hope of escaping punishment. King Manasses sinned; he afterward repented, and obtained pardon. His son Ammon, seeing that his father’s sins were so easily forgiven, abandoned himself to a wicked life with the hope of pardon: but for Ammon there was no mercy. Hence, St. John Chrysostom asserts that Judas was lost because he sinned through confidence in the benignity of Jesus Christ (In Mat. Hom. 83). In fine, God bears, but he does not bear forever. Were God to bear forever with sinners, no one would be damned: but the most common opinion is that the greater part of adults, even among Christians, are lost. Wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are that go in thereat (Matt. vii, 13).
According to St. Augustine, he who offends God with the hope of pardon ” is a scoffer, not a penitent.” (Ad Frat. In er. s. 11). But St. Paul tells us that “God does not allow himself to be mocked.” (Gal. vi, 7). To continue to offend God as often and as long as the sinner pleases, and afterward to gain heaven, would be to mock God. For what things a man shall sow, those also shall he reap (Ibid. 8). He that sows sin, has no reason to hope for anything else than chastisement and hell. The net with which the devil drags to hell almost all Christians who are damned, is the delusion by which he leads them into sin with the hope of pardon. Sin freely, he says to them; for, after all your iniquities, you will be saved. But God curses the man that sins with the hope of mercy. The hope of sinners after sin is pleasing to God, when it is accompanied with repentance; but the hope of the obstinate is an abomination to the Lord (Job, xi, 20). As the conduct of a servant who insults his master because he is good and merciful, irritates the master, so such hope provokes God to inflict vengeance.
Affections and Prayer;
Ah, my God ! I have been one of those who have offended Thee because Thou wert bountiful to me. Ah, Lord ! wait for me, do not abandon me. I am sorry, O infinite Goodness! for having offended Thee, and for having so much abused Thy patience. I thank Thee for having waited for me till now. Henceforth I will never more betray Thee, as I have hitherto done. Thou hast borne with me so long, that Thou mightest one day see me a lover of Thy goodness. Behold, this day has, I hope, arrived : I love Thee above all things, and esteem Thy grace more than all the kingdoms of the world : rather than lose it, I am ready to forfeit life a thousand times. My God ! for the love of Jesus Christ, give me holy perseverance till death, along with Thy holy love. Do not permit roe ever again to betray Thee, or to cease to love Thee. Mary ! thou art my hope: obtain for me this gift of perseverance, and I ask nothing more.
The Sinner Abandoned by God.
Some will say: God has hitherto shown me so many mercies, I hope he will treat me with the same mercy for the future. But I answer: And will you insult God again, because he has been so merciful to you ? Then, says St. Paul, do you thus despise the mercy and patience of God ? Do you not know that the Lord has borne with you to this moment, not that you may continue to offend him, but that you may weep over the evil you have done? Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and patience and long-suffering? Knowest thou not that the benignity of God leadeth thee to penance? (Rom. ii, 4). If through confidence in the divine mercy you continue to sin, the Lord will cease to show mercy. Except you be converted, says David, he will brandish his sword (Ps. vii, 13). Revenge is mine, and I will repay thee in due time (Deut. xxxii, 35). God waits; but when the time of chastisement arrives, he waits no longer, but executes vengeance.
Therefore the Lord waiteth, that he may have mercy on you (Isa. xxx, 18). God waits for sinners, that they may amend: but when he sees that the time given to bewail their sins is employed in multiplying crimes, he then calls the very time to judge them. He hath called against me the time (Lam. 1, 15). “The very time,” says Gregory, “comes to judge.” Thus the very time given, and the very mercies shown to sinners, will serve to make God chastise them with greater rigor, and abandon them sooner. We would have cured Babylon, but she is not healed: let us forsake her (Jer. li, 9). And how does God abandon sinners? He either sends them a sudden death, and makes them die in sin, or he deprives them of his abundant graces, and leaves them with the sufficient grace, with which they can, but will not, save their souls. The blindness of their understanding, the hardness of their heart, the evil habits which they have contracted, will render their salvation morally impossible; and thus they will be, if not absolutely, at least morally abandoned. I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be wasted (Isa. v, 5). Oh! what a chastisement! When the master of the vineyard takes away its hedges, and leaves it open to men and to beasts, does he not show that he abandons it? It is thus that God acts when he abandons the soul: he takes away the hedge of holy fear, and of remorse of conscience, and leaves it in darkness. And then all the monsters of crime will enter the soul. Thou hast appointed darkness, and it is night: in it shall all the beasts of the wood go about (Ps. ciii, 20). And the sinner, abandoned in that obscurity, will despise the grace of God, heaven, admonitions, and excommunications; and will make a jest of his own damnation. The wicked man, when he is come into the depth of sins, contemneth (Prov. xviii, 3).
God will not chastise the sinner in this life; but, not to be punished in this world will be the greatest chastisement of the wicked. Let us have pity on the wicked, but he will not learn justice (Isa. xxvi, 10). On this passage St. Bernard says, ” This mercy I do not wish for: it is above all wrath.” (In Cant. s. 42). Oh! what a chastisement is it when God abandons the sinner into the hands of his sins, and appears not to demand any further account of them! Acording to the multitude of his wrath he will not seek him. (Ps. ix, 4). God appears not to be enraged against sinners. My jealousy shall depart from you, and I will cease and be angry no more.(Ezek. xvi, 42).—He appears to allow them all that they desire in this life. I let them go according to the desires of their heart (Ps. lxxx, 13). Miserable the sinner that prospers in this life! His prosperity is a sign that God waits to make him a victim of his justice for eternity. Why, said Jeremias, doth the way of the wicked prosper ? He answers: Gather them together as sheep for a sacrifice (Jer. xii, 1). There is no punishment greater than that which God inflicts, when he permits a sinner to add sin to sin. Add thou iniquity upon their iniquity … let them be blotted out of the book of the living (Ps. lxviii, 28). In explaining these words, Bellarmine says that” there is no punishment greater than when sin is the punishment of sin.” It would be a smaller punishment to be struck dead by the Lord after their first sin; for, by dying afterward they will suffer as many hells as they have committed sins.
Affections and Prayers.
My God! I know that in my miserable state I have deserved to be deprived of Thy grace and light: but seeing the light which Thou now givest me, and feeling that Thou now callest me to repentance, I have just reason to hope that Thou hast not as yet abandoned me. And since, O Lord ! Thou hast not abandoned me, multiply Thy mercies on my soul, increase Thy light, increase my desire to serve and love Thee. Change me, O omnipotent God! and from being a traitor and rebel, make me a great lover of Thy goodness, that I may one day enter heaven to praise Thy mercies for all eternity. Thou dost then wish to pardon me, and I desire nothing but the pardon of my sins and the gift of Thy love.
I am sorry O infinite Goodness! for having so often offended Thee. I love Thee, O Sovereign Good ! because Thou commandest me to love Thee; I love Thee, because Thou well deservest my love. Ah, my Redeemer, through the merits of Thy blood, give Thy love to a sinner whom Thou hast loved so ardently, and whom Thou hast borne with so patiently for so many years: I hope for every grace from Thy mercy. I hope to love Thee always till death; and for eternity. The mercies of the Lord I will sing forever (Ps. lxxxviii, 2). I will praise Thy mercy, O my Jesus. I will forever praise thy mercy, O Mary! who hast obtained for me so many graces ; I acknowledge that I have received them all through thy intercession. Continue, O my Mother! to assist me by thy prayers, and to obtain for me holy perseverance.
Unfortunate is he who allows the Time of Mercy to pass by.
It is related in the life of Father Louis La Nusa, that in Palermo there were two friends, who went one day to take a walk. One of them, called Caesar, who was a comedian, seeing the other oppressed with melancholy, said: How long is it since you were at confession? Is it on account of your long absence from the sacraments that you are so much troubled ? Listen to me: ” Father La Nusa told me one day that God gave me twelve years to live, and that if, within that period, I did not amend, I should die an unhappy death. I have since traveled through so many parts of the world; I have had many attacks of sickness, one of which brought me to the brink of death; but, in this month the twelve years will be completed, and I now feel better than in any part of my past life.” He then invited his friend to hear, on Saturday, a new comedy, which he had composed. But what happened ? On Saturday, the 24th of November, 1688, as he was going on the stage, he was seized with apoplexy, and died suddenly. He expired in the arms of a female comedian, and thus the comedy ended. But let us make the application to ourselves. Brother, when the devil tempts you again to sin, if you wish to be lost, you have it in your power to commit sin: but do not then say that you wish to be saved. As long as you wish to sin, regard yourself as damned, and imagine that God writes the sentence of your damnation, and that he says to you: What is there that I ought to do more for my vineyard, that I have not done to it? (Isa. v, 4). Ungrateful soul, what more ought I to do for you, that I have not done? But, since you wish to be lost, go into eternal fire; the fault is your own.
But you will say, Where then is the mercy of God? Ah, unhappy soul? do you not feel that God has shown you mercy in bearing with you for so many years, after so many sins ? You should remain forever prostrate on the earth, thanking him for his mercy, and saying: The mercies of the Lord that we are not consumed (Lam. iii, 22). By committing a single mortal sin, you have been guilty of a greater crime than if you had trampled under foot the first monarch in the world. You have been guilty of so many mortal sins, that if you had committed against your brother the injuries which you have offered to God, he would not have borne with you. God has not only waited for you, but he has so often called you and invited you to pardon. What is there that I ought to have done more? If God had stood in need of you, or if you had conferred a great favor upon him, could he show you greater mercy? If, then, you offend him again, you will change his mercy into wrath and vengeance. If, after the master had given it another year to produce fruit, the fruitless fig-tree still remained barren, who could expect that the Lord would have allowed it more time, or would not have cut it down? Listen, then, to the admonition of St. Augustine: ” O fruitless tree! the axe is deferred; be not secure: you will be cut down. (Serm. 110, E.B.). Your punishment, says the Saint, has been delayed, but not taken away; if you abuse any longer the divine mercy, You shall be cut down: in the end vengeance will fall upon you. What do you wait for? Will you wait till God sends you to hell ? But should he send you there, you already know that your ruin is irreparable! The Lord is silent, but he is not silent forever: when the time of vengeance arrives he no longer holds his peace. These things hast thou done, and I was silent. Thou thoughtest unjustly that I should be like to thee. I will reprove thee, and set before thy face (Ps. xlix, 21). I will place before your eyes the mercies I have shown you, and will make these very mercies judge and condemn you.
Affections and Prayers.
Ah, my God! unhappy me, should I henceforth be unfaithful to Thee, and betray Thee again after the light Thou now givest me. This light is a sign that Thou wishest to pardon me. I repent, O Sovereign Good! of all the injuries I have done Thee because they have offended Thee, who art infinite goodness. In Thy blood I hope for pardon, and I hope for it with certainty; but should I again turn my back upon Thee, I would deserve a hell created on purpose for myself. And what makes me tremble, O God of my soul! is, that I may again lose Thy grace. I have so often promised to be faithful to Thee, and have afterward rebelled against Thee. Ah, Lord! do not permit it; do not ever abandon me to the great misfortune of seeing myself again Thy enemy. Send me any chastisement, but not this. Do not permit me to be separated from Thee. Shouldst Thou see that I shall again offend Thee, strike me dead, rather than permit so great an evil. I am content to suffer the most cruel death, sooner than have to weep over the misery of being again deprived of Thy grace. Do not permit me to be separated from Thee. I repeat this prayer, O my God : grant that I may repeat it always. Do not permit me to be separated from Thee. I love Thee, my dear Redeemer! I do not wish to be separated from Thee. Through the merits of Thy death, give me an ardent love, which will bind me so closely to Thee, that I may never more be able to dissolve the union. O Mary, my mother! I fear that if I again offend God, thou too wilt abandon me. Assist me, then, by thy prayers; obtain for me holy perseverance and the love of Jesus Christ.