SECOND WEEK OF LENT: MONDAY
Motives for penance derived from the Thought of the Evil which Sin has wrought
1st Prelude. Imagine you see St. Peter saying to the people of Jerusalem “Be penitent therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.”
2nd Prelude. Beg for a strong impulse of the will to comply with the Apostle’s precept.
POINT I. Multitude of our sins
CONSIDERATION. Go over the past years of your life in spirit — before and after your First Communion, before and after your entrance into religion, the places where you have lived, the sins you have committed; run rapidly over the Commandments of God and the Church, the obligations attached to your vows, the offices and employments that have been confided to you; and you will be surprised and terrified at the sight of your innumerable sins. What would it be if you saw them as God sees them!
APPLICATION. For a single mortal sin, Adam and his posterity were condemned to death and eternal torments; for a single venial sin, those great friends of God, Moses, David and Ezechias, were severely punished — a feeble shadow only, however, of the punishment in the next world for the smallest sin. What ought I, then, to expect, who have committed so many sins? I have nearly forgotten them, but God forgets nothing. He will leave nothing unpunished, not even the slight fault of an idle word. Our Lord, Himself, has told us so. We have many motives, then, to induce us to do real and continued penance; and in this holy time we shall receive special graces, which will make the practice of it easier. “Behold, now is the acceptable time.”
AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.
POINT II. The injury that sin is to God.
CONSIDERATION. Each mortal sin is a threefold injury to God, and its malice is infinite because His Majesty is infinite. We injure Him by insubordination and rebellion: God commands, and we do not obey. We injure Him by contempt: we prefer a transitory and vile enjoyment, sometimes a disgraceful one, to God and His laws. We injure Him by ingratitude: we make use of His very gifts to offend and insult Him. Each venial sin is also a threefold injury; it is certainly of a slighter kind, but still its malice is so great that if by a single venial sin we could change all the lost souls into saints who should praise God eternally in Heaven, we might not commit it, because the praises of all the human race could not compensate to God for the injury done to Him by one venial sin. And the sins which you have committed against the Lord your God have contained malice such as this, and both faith and reason teach us that this malice increases in proportion to the light and grace we have received. What ought we, then, to think about our venial sins? Who can count them? What an additional motive for penance during these chosen days, of which the Divine Office says “The days of penance are come, to reclaim us from our sins”!
AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.
POINT III. The injury done to our Lord by sin.
CONSIDERATION. Our sins have been an injury to our Lord Jesus Christ. The prophet Isaias speaks of our Lord as the Man of Sorrows above all other men; and it was our sins that made Him so; the sins of the whole world were laid on Him; and God beheld Him as the guilty one, on whom the weight of Divine Justice was to fall. “He was bruised for our sins,” says the Holy Ghost. Attritus est propter scelera nostra. They were our sins which scourged Him, which crowned Him with thorns, which struck Him, spat upon Him, nailed Him to the cross, and made Him die upon it.
APPLICATION. This thought ought to overwhelm us with shame: there were times in my life when, in union with the cruel Jews, I cried out “Let Him be crucified,” and “Not this man, but Barabbas — not this man, but my passion.” There have been times when, in union with the murderers, I ran the nails into my Saviour’s hands and feet. I have done this, as far as I could, every time I committed a mortal sin. And every time I have committed a venial sin I have added fresh suffering to the open wounds of Jesus. Thoughts like these armed the holy penitents of the desert against themselves. Imitate them during these holy days of universal penance and expiation.
COLLOQUY with our Divine Saviour.