Thursday, August 31, 2017

Quotes & Life of Fr. Paul of Moll (Francis Luyckx 1824-1896): A Benedictine Priest and Miracle Worker

Father Paul of Moll (, Belgium (Francis Luyckx 1824-1896), a Benedictine priest, received from God some very extraordinary mystical graces during his lifetime, after being miraculously cured of a grave illness at the time he was ordained a priest. He worked many miracles, especially through the use of the medal of St. Benedict, the founder of the religious order that he belonged to.

Quotes by Fr. Paul of Moll (Francis Luyckx 1824-1896)

-To a servant girl in Antwerp Father Paul said,
“Before eating, sleeping, opening or closing a door or any other action, always have the intention of doing all for the love of Jesus. In this way you will continually reap a rich harvest for heaven.”

-Very early one morning, Father Paul seeing a peasant who had come a long distance through a snowstorm to hear Mass in the church at Steenbrugge, said to him: “If you could see the immense merits which your courage has procured for you, you would be astonished, and you might yet increase them in a incredible measure, by saying, ‘All for the love of Jesus.’”

“God will not ask, ‘Have you done much?’ but, ‘have you worked for the love of God?’ Quantity is not sufficient, it is quality that is necessary.”

-One day Father Paul was seen with a large wound on his forehead. He explained that it was the effect of a blow which the devil had given him.

-“When a demon suggests a bad thought, It is easy to resist the temptation; but if one does not immediately repel it, a second demon comes at once to help the first. Afterwards, in proportion as resistance is delayed, still other demons come and combine their efforts, and when one has to battle against seven devils all at once, it is very difficult not to succumb.”

-A lady acquaintance from Knesselaere paid a visit to Father Paul and found him very ill, his head, and left arm and leg were much swollen. Father Paul explained the cause of his condition in these terms: -
“I had great pains in my head and suffered so intensely from them that I complained to Jesus. He replied to me, ‘How insignificant your sufferings are, compared with the martyrdom I suffered, when crowned with thorns!’
“Then I asked Him that I might experience the pain of only one of those thorns and, at the same instant, the torture became so great that I fainted.”

“God is infinitely good and wise. He shows His goodness towards you by sending you crosses. The more bitter your pains, the more meritorious they are. Every cross is a blessing from Heaven, a blessing which surpasses all the suffering of the world. If one were able to understand the full value of crosses, it would be a terrible torment to be deprived of them.”

“If one could understand the value of an act of love for God in suffering, one would experience the greatest grief at being obliged to pass a single moment without being able to make this meritorious act. Happy is he who, in suffering, makes acts of love!

-“When making the Way of the Cross, try to have compassion for the sufferings of Christ; for all those who took part in His sorrows became saints as, for example, Simon of Cyrene, Veronica, the good thief, the holy women and so many others.”

A young girl inquired if the misfortunes that befell her family were divine punishments. “No,” replied Father Paul, “they are trials which the good God sends in order to make you a little more like Him.” Thereupon the girl asked what would come of her. “An angel in Heaven,” he said.

-Father Paul related one of his visions to a person from Knesselaere in the following manner:-
“The Blessed Virgin appeared to me, holding the Divine Infant in her arms; he was crying bitterly and did not cease to complain. I asked Mary what was the cause of the sorrows of the little Jesus, and she replied, ‘It is because priests do not remind the faithful sufficiently of the love of God for man, and of the passion of our Savior.’
“Thereupon I promised to treat of these two subjects in my next sermon, and immediately the sadness of the Infant Jesus was changed into great joy. He threw His little arms round the neck of His Mother, and embraced her tenderly.”

-“Jesus of infinite love, I feel pity for You, for every blow, every wound, every drop of blood.”

-“Oh love, oh infinite love of Jesus, I ask You for a heart to love You more and more; to love only You!”

-An unnatural Mother, as she advanced in years, having become blind, begged Father Paul to restore her sight. The Rev. Father held a small mirror before the woman’s eyes and asked her, “Do you see now?” Oh yes,” she replied, “and oh, what a beautiful little angel.”
“Is it not the child which you killed when you were young? You must bear your misfortune in expiation of your crime.”
And she again became blind for Father Paul invariably refused to intercede in behalf of those whose affliction was the effect of sin.

-A Nun happened to be in the Benedictine church of the abbey, and saw a woman lamenting and entreating Father Paul to come to her assistance; but he abruptly turned away from her. The religious Sister was greatly affected so she followed Father Paul and ventured to ask why he acted so strangely. He replied, “It is indeed very sad, but in her youth she destroyed her child, she is now suffering the penalty of her crime, and I cannot help her.

-A poor girl in Antwerp who had become blind, desired to obtain her recovery through Father Paul; but having no funds for the journey to Termonde, she applied to a young lady of Antwerp who was well known for her works of charity. The lady was kind enough to accompany the girl to Termonde. Great, however, was her astonishment, when she heard Father Paul say to the blind girl, “Suffer your affliction in expiation of your crime; for you put your new-born infant to death.”

-A sick woman came and asked Father Paul to cure her. She had brought a friend with her. The Rev. Father prescribed a novena and gave her the assurance of a cure. Then turning to the other woman, he asked her if she were not ill. “No,” she said, “I come only to accompany my friend.”
“Nevertheless, you are very sick,” and she replied “Father, I am not sick, I feel fine.”
“It is your soul that is sick,” said Father Paul, “it is as is as black as soot.”
“Why” the woman asked.
“Did you not drown your child?”
“Oh, no! I never did such a thing!”
“Certainly you did so, eleven years ago, at such place (indicating the exact spot) and you never confessed your crime.” The unnatural mother burst into tears and then made her confession to Father Paul.

-From a letter to the Mother Superior of a convent: “It is by love that one can overcome Almighty God; He is so sensitive to love that He can refuse us nothing.”

-“Imagine all the love of one hundred thousand mothers for their children. It is nothing in comparison with the infinite love of God.”

-“The perfections of God are infinite. In Heaven the saints will see the divine perfections succeed each other without ceasing: every moment a new perfection will be revealed to them, and so it will be through all eternity.”

-“Man finds his greatest consolation in faithfully keeping the commandments of God and the holy Church, and in having a great devotion to Mary.”

-“The more a man loves God, the more beautiful he grows in the eyes of God.”

-“God being infinite love, we can always love Him more and more.”

-“God is astonishing in His love. The more we love Him, the more He loves us. He pays us back in tenfold love, the love which we have for Him.”

-Father Paul once said to a person in Antwerp,
“I never cease saying, O love! O great love! O infinite love of God! If men knew how pleasing this is to God, they would repeat it without ceasing; several persons have become saints in this way.”

-“Ask Jesus everything in the name of his infinite love, but especially remembering his crown of thorns.”

“If it were permitted to one of the elect to live again in this world, he would submit with joy to all the sufferings that men have ever endured here below, in order to add to his merits that which he would acquire by the recital of one Ave Maria.”

This last quote is supported by an anecdote taken from ‘The Secret of the Rosary’ by St. Louis de Montfort:

Blessed Alan also relates that a nun who had always had a great devotion to the Rosary appeared after her death to one of her sisters in religion and said to her, “If I were able to return in my body to have the chance of saying just a single Hail Mary, even without great fervour, I would gladly go through the sufferings that I had during my last illness all over again, in order to gain the merit of this prayer.”[*] It is to be noted that she had been bed-ridden and suffered agonizing pains for several years before she died.

[*]Related articles:


Say often during the day: “All that I shall do today, or tonight, I shall do for the love of God, so that all my actions may be actions of love. I unite myself today, or tonight, with all the acts of love made to God, both in heaven and on earth.”

Say quite often during the day, when you commence to do something, were it only moving a chair, opening or shutting a door, or any other action, “For love of Thee, Jesus and Mary.” When you have to suffer anything say, “I want to suffer it for the love of Jesus and Mary, just as Jesus and Mary has suffered all for love of me.”

Related article:

Fr. Paul of Moll advices us to say these short but fervent prayers everyday:

“Unite yourself often with God through love, at your morning and evening prayer, and say, ‘I shall do everything for the love of God that all my actions may be acts of love.’ Ask for that love through the intercession of Mary. Suffer and endure everything for the love of Jesus, as Jesus has suffered everything for love of us.
“I wish you an ardent love for God, it is the richest and most beautiful treasure you can wish or desire. All other treasures will disappear like smoke; but the treasure of love shall remain forever in heaven.
“Ask God for this beautiful treasure, for it must come from Him; men cannot procure it for you. For this reason often ask God for a heart of love that you may love Him ever more and more, and like a child of love. Add to your morning and evening prayers, “All that I shall do today, or tonight, I shall do for the love of God, so that all my actions may be actions of love. I unite myself today, or tonight, with all the acts of love made to God, both in heaven and on earth.”
“Say quite often during the day, when you commence to do something, were it only moving a chair, opening or shutting a door, or any other action, “For love of Thee, Jesus.”
When you have to suffer anything say, “I want to suffer it for the love of Jesus, just as Jesus has suffered all for love of me.” (Fr. Paul of Moll, Letters of Fr. Paul of Moll (Part 3):

He also said: “A good means of avoiding a long stay in purgatory is to die entirely resigned to the holy will of God. … A lady had met her death in a terrible railway collision near Ghent. Father Paul said that her soul has gone straight to heaven because, at the last moment, the lady cried out, “Lord, may Thy will be done.”

St. Alphonsus Liguori (c. 1760): “Say also, every day, three ‘Our Fathers’ and three ‘Hail Marys’ in honor of the Most Holy Trinity, for the graces bestowed upon Mary. The Blessed Virgin once revealed that this devotion is very pleasing to her.”

“A young girl from Scheepsdaele complained to Father Paul that she had very little time for her devotions, and even the few prayers she did say were said with many distractions. “Oh! in that case,” Father Paul replied, “you can remedy the matter by saying, in the evening, May all my imperfections of this day be changed into perfections!’”

Affectionate Salutations to Mary By Fr. Paul of Moll

I greet thee, Mary, Daughter of God the Father.
I greet thee, Mary, Mother of the Son of God.
I greet thee, Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit.
I greet thee, Mary, Temple of the Blessed Trinity.
I greet thee, Mary, white Lily of the resplendent Trinity.
I greet thee, Mary, fragrant Rose of the heavenly court.
I greet thee, Mary, Virgin full of meekness and humility, of whom the King of heaven willed to be born and nourished by thy milk.
I greet thee, Mary, Virgin of virgins.
I greet thee, Mary, Queen of martyrs, whose soul was pierced by the sword of sorrows.
I greet thee, Mary, Lady and Mistress, to whom all power has been given in heaven and on earth.
I greet thee, Mary, Queen of my heart, my sweetness, my life and all my hope.
I greet thee, Mary, Mother most amiable.
I greet thee, Mary, Mother most admirable.
I greet thee, Mary, Mother of beautiful love.
I greet thee, Mary, conceived without sin.
I greet thee, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women, and blessed be the fruit of thy womb.
Blessed be thy spouse Saint Joseph.
Blessed be thy father Saint Joachim.
Blessed be thy mother Saint Ann.
Blessed be thy angel Saint Gabriel.
Blessed be the Eternal Father who hath chosen thee.
Blessed be thy Son who hath loved thee.
Blessed be the Holy Ghost who hath espoused thee.
May all those who love thee bless thee.
O Blessed Virgin, bless us all in the name of thy dear Son. Amen.

The venerable Father Paul assured one of his friends, that those who devoutly venerate Mary with these affectionate salutations may rely on her powerful protection and blessing.

Once, whilst giving a copy of these Salutations to a girl from Eecloo, Father Paul said to her, "These Salutations are so beautiful! Say them every morning. From on high, in heaven, the Blessed Virgin will then give you her blessing. "Yes, yes, would to God that you could see her! The Blessed Virgin blesses you then; I know it quite well." He said further that it is impossible not to be heard favorably when we recite these Salutations to Mary for the conversion of sinners. 

Prayer for All Things Necessary for Salvation

O My God, I believe in Thee; Do Thou strengthen my faith. All my hopes are in Thee; Do Thou secure them. I love Thee with my whole heart; teach me to love Thee daily more and more. I am sorry that I have offended Thee, do Thou increase my sorrow.
I adore Thee as my first beginning, I aspire after Thee as my last end. I give Thee thanks as my constant benefactor; I call upon Thee as my sovereign protector.
Vouchsafe, O my God, to conduct me by Thy wisdom, to restrain me by Thy justice, to comfort me by Thy mercy, to defend me by Thy power.
To Thee, I desire to consecrate all my thoughts, words, actions and sufferings; that henceforward I may think only of Thee, speak of Thee, refer all my actions to Thy greater glory, and suffer willingly, whatever Thou shall appoint.
Lord, I desire that in all things, Thy will may be done, because it is Thy will, and the manner that Thou willest.
I beg of Thee, to enlighten my understanding, To inflame my heart, to purify my body, and to sanctify my soul.
Give me strength, O my God, to expiate my offenses, to overcome my temptations, to subdue my passions, and to acquire the virtues proper in my state of life.
Fill my heart, with tender affection, for Thy goodness, hatred of my faults, love of my neighbour, and contempt of the world.
Let me always, remember to be submissive to my superiors, condescending to my inferiors, faithful to my friends and charitable to my enemies.
Assist me to overcome sensuality by mortification, avarice by alms deeds, anger by meekness, and tepidity by devotion.
O my God, make me prudent in my undertakings, courageous in dangers, patient in affliction, and humble in prosperity.
Grant that I may be ever attentive at my prayers, temperate at my meals, diligent at my employments, and constant in my resolutions.
Let my conscience be ever upright, and pure, my exterior modest, my conversation edifying and my comportment regular.
Assist me, that I may continually labour to overcome nature, to correspond with Thy grace, to keep Thy commandments, and to work out my salvation.
Discover to me, O my God, the nothingness of this world, the greatness of heaven, the shortness of time, and the length of eternity.
Grant that I may prepare for death, that I may fear Thy judgment, escape hell and in the end obtain Heaven, through Jesus Christ, my Lord.


Life and Biographies of Fr. Paul of Moll (Francis Luyckx 1824-1896):

St Gemma Galgani: Rev Father Paul of Moll

The Very Rev. Father Paul Of Moll: A Flemish Benedictine And Wonder-Worker Of The Nineteenth Century, 1824-1896

Thursday, August 24, 2017

St. Alphonsus, Moral Theology, Book 2: Requirements For Mortal Sin

In this article:

53. What things are required for a mortal sin?
54. From what causes can a mortal sin become venial? I. from imperfect notice.
55. II. From imperfect consent.
56. III. From the unimportance of the matter.
59. How venial sin becomes mortal, I. on account of the end attached to it.
60. II. On account of the final end that was intended.
61. III. On account of contempt.
62. IV. On account of scandal.
63. V. On account of the danger of falling into mortal sin.
64. Whether someone would be in the state of mortal sin who purposes to commit all venial sins?

52. How many different ways can a sin be mortal? Notable advertence must be made for those who condemn facile things as mortal sins.

52.—Resp. 2. A mortal sin is twofold, on the one hand it is deadly by its genus; on the other hand from its accident. It is deadly by its genus because in itself it wounds the charity of God, or of our neighbor in regard to his person, things or rights, or gravely corrupts our very person (Azor, l. 4, c. 9, Sanchez, l. 1, mor. c 3).

For that reason, the following are resolved:

1. Sins committed against someone’s good, as are venial by their genus, such as uselessness, vain concupiscence, vain delight, prodigality, curiosity, and superfluous worship or clothing, or trifles, laziness, excess in food, drink, sleep, laughter, marital relations, fear, sadness, appetite for money, praise, etc.

2. Sins against the theological virtues are mortal by their nature, because they harm some internal good of God, e.g. veracity, mercy, charity. Likewise, nearly all the things which are done against the Decalogue, because those which are committed against the first three precepts similarly harm the Godhead, knowledge, divine omnipotence, and His external or internal honor, which are done against some precepts, harm the person, good or right of their neighbor.

3. Those sins against the seven virtues, which are called capital sins, are not all mortal sins by their genus, because they do not all gravely wound God or neighbor, or corrupt our selves. Resp. 3. It is called mortal from its accident when some act is venial or indifferent, it becomes mortal per accidens, on which we will treat more below.

Here we must rightly notice what Roncaglia says (tract. 2. q. 1, c. 1, reg. 1, in practice) namely, “Where it is clear that something is not a mortal sin, the confessor would be far amiss in judging such a transgression to be grave, and to pronounce his judgment of such a sin on the penitent.” Still, it is very dangerous for confessors to condemn something as a grave sin, where certitude is not manifest, as St. Thomas teaches. “Every question in which it is sought on mortal sin, unless the truth were expressly held, a determination is dangerous.” (Quodlib. 9, art. 15). He adduces the reasoning of this doctrine a little later, namely that “an error, in which something is believed to be mortal that is not, binds to mortal sin by conscience.” This is why St. Antoninus says: “Unless one were to have express authority of Sacred Scripture, or a canon, or a determination of the Church, or at least evident reason, something will be determined to be a mortal sin only with very great danger. ... For if something were determined to be mortal, and it were not mortal, acting against it he will sin because everything that is against conscience paves the road to hell.” Next, we learn in such a distinction that those following rigid doctrines insert themselves, and easily condemn men for mortal sin in those things in which grave malice does not appear from evident reason, and so expose them to the danger of eternal damnation; the same thing must be said about those, who easily impress the mark of laxity on opinions which clearly do not seem improbable. (see what was said in book 1, n. 89).

53. What things are required for a mortal sin?

53.—Resp. 1: Three things are required for a mortal sin and if one of these is lacking, it becomes venial, but otherwise, it is mortal of itself. 1) On the side of the intellect, full knowledge and deliberation. 2) On the side of the will, perfect consent. 3) Gravity of the matter at least as much as possible. The reasoning of the first and second part is, because when one considers human frailty, it does not seem fitting to divine goodness to punish man with eternal punishments without full consideration and consent. The reasoning of the third part is, where the matter is of little moment, there a moderate offense is morally considered as much as possible.

54. From what causes can a mortal sin become venial? I. from imperfect notice.

54.—Resp. 2: A sin that is mortal by its genus, can become venial from three causes, as is clear from the aforesaid. The first is, if on the side of the intellect there was not perfect knowledge of the malice or perfect perfect deliberation. The signs of imperfect deliberation are: a) If one weakly apprehended that it is evil as if half-asleep. b) If after, where he might better consider, he would judge that he was not going to do it if he could have so apprehended it. c) If one labors with vehement passion, apprehension or distraction, or was exceedingly disturbed, so that it was almost as if he did not know what he did. (See what was said in n. 4).

55. II. From imperfect consent.

55.—The second cause is on the side of the will, if there was not perfect consent (as St. Thomas teaches 1.2. q. 88, art. 6. See the aforesaid on consensus n. 5). Moreover, the sins of imperfect consent are: a) If one was so disposed that, although he could easily carry out the sin, still he would not carry it out. b) If someone were hesitant whether he should consent, especially if he is a devout man. c) If someone usually is so affected that he prefers to die than expressly commit a mortal sin, because such does nor easily consent. d) If anyone were extremely fearful and anxious to recall what appeared. e) If one was half in a dream and not sufficiently composed, etc., and will judge that he would not have done it if he were fully awake. (See Sanchez, 1, mor. c. 10, Baldell., l. 10, d. 8)

56. III. From the unimportance of the matter.

56.—The third cause is on the side of the matter, if this would be of little moment. Moreover, when it is such, it must be discerned by a moral judgment of the prudent, for which the following rules will serve: 1) that it will be judged on the matter, not only itself secundum se must absolutely be considered, but also respectively to the end intended, for which if he does a little thing, it is light, but grave, if he does much, as Vasquez teaches, 1.2. d. 158. (The rule is, the smallness of the matter where on account of the smallness the reasoning of the offense is not excused, as happens in infidelity, hatred of God, simony, perjury, venereal matters and blasphemy.) 2. The circumstances must be attended to, because it often happens that a matter that is of itself light, with attention given to the circumstances of the common good to avoid scandal, etc., it may become grave. 3. Whether some part of the matter commanded is grave, these must be considered both absolutely and secundum se, and even in order to the whole. 4. In repeated transgressions, if a great many small matters, either secundum se or according to the effects produced by themselves, were morally joined the matter becomes grave, because then all are morally reputed as one. But on the other hand, then grave matter is not censed if the small matters, neither secundum se nor according to the effects left behind were united among themselves.

59. How venial sin becomes mortal, I. on account of the end attached to it.

59.—There are five modes in which a venial sin becomes a mortal sin, as the doctors in common, and particularly Sanchez, teach: 1. By reason of the enjoined end. 2. By reason of the final end. 3. By reason of contempt. 4. By reason of scandal. 5. By reason of danger. I shall speak briefly on each of these.

Resp. 1. A venial sin crosses over into mortal sin by reason of the enjoined end, that if someone would lie in a small way, but to extort carnal relations: because when the end is a mortal sin, it is also mortal. Still, it is not necessary to explain that lie in confession, but only the desire for fornication; because without the malice of mortal sin, it remains venial.

60. II. On account of the final end that was intended.

60.—Resp. 2. It also crosses into mortal sin, by reason of an excessive affect in some matter: e.g. one would constitute the last end in it. For this purpose it does not suffice to be imposed very intensely and vehemently in the object, but it is required that appreciatively one should virtually so esteem it that he will be prepared for his sake of transgressing the precept obliging under mortal sin, that if anyone would be so inordinately affected to stories, play, person, that he would prefer a feast and omit mass, etc., than be deprived of them. (In the case of one who omits Mass for the sake of games, it suffices for him to confess that he had omitted Mass. See what was said in number 10. If someone, however, by the love of games was prepared to commit any mortal sin, it would be a sin of temerity and indeed very serious, but without a species. The Salamancans tr. 20, c. 12, p. 2, n. 12, and 13, with Palaus, Azor, Bonacina, Reg.). Moreover, Bonacina notes this affect is not only habitual, but ought to be actual, so that sin is contracted because it is not imputed to that fault, to which he was prepared to commit by habit.

61. III. On account of contempt.

61.—Resp. 3. Venial sin becomes mortal by reason of absolute and formal contempt. I say, however, absolute and formal contempt, namely when a precept is violated formally and absolutely, because he refuses to be subject to it or a higher one, which is a sin of consummate pride: or when he does not wish to obey a precept because there is a precept, and it is a sin of formal disobedience, each of which is gravely opposed to charity due to a superior. (Therefore, it is one thing to scorn a law, or a legislator, even a human one, not quâ such a person, but quâ the legislator, which is a mortal sin, and another to scorn a matter commanded, which is venial if the matter is light. The Salamancans ibid., n. 18, and more profusely in tr. 11, c. 2, p. 2, §4 per totum. See also what is going to be said in book 5, n. 161, v. Quarta.)

From which the following are resolved:

1. It is not a mortal sin if you indeed meant to obey and be subject absolutely, but here and now refused in a modest matter; or if you would admit the authority of the law or the one that commands, but here and now pay no heed to the execution. The reason is, because it is not absolute contempt and simpliciter, but only secundum quid.

2. If a precept were abruptly violated from indignation, malice, bad custom, or another cause, and not from contempt of the power of the superior, it is not mortal because it is not formal contempt, but only interpretative.

3. It is a mortal sin to do or omit something from the contempt of a just human law. Likewise, from contempt of God the lawgiver, or even the counselor (which, for that reason, contains a tacit blasphemy, as if God commanded useless things, or merely gave advice); and then to do something from the contempt of a prelate, such a one having authority from God, but not such as a man, unlearned, imprudent, imperfect, because this by and by is not to scorn absolutely and simply, but only secundum quid. (See Sanchez, 1. mor. c. 5; Bonacina, de peccat. d. 2, q. 3, p. 5).

62. IV. On account of scandal.

62.—Resp. 4. Venial sin, or an indifferent work having a species of evil, crosses over per accidens into mortal sin, if the ruin through it that were caused to a neighbor were mortal. The reason is, because in such a work something gravely opposed to charity is superadded. (See what is going to be said on scandal, as well as Filliuci, t. 21, c. 5, q. 10, n. 212).

63. V. On account of the danger of falling into mortal sin.

63.—Resp. 5. A venial sin, or an indifferent work, crosses over into mortal sin by reason of the danger of falling into mortal sin when someone, without sufficient caution, does something from necessity through which he may come into moral and proximate danger of sinning mortally, because he has such contempt for his eternal salvation that he would expose himself rashly to such probable danger. For this reason, in confession the species of the sin must be explained, by the danger of which he opposes himself, because he sinned in the same genus of sin. Moreover, proximate danger is supposed because frequently men of a similar condition lead him into mortal sin.

Question: Whether one sins mortally who exposes himself to a merely probable danger of sinning mortally?

The first opinion with Sporer (de poen. cap. 2, n. 342), and Gob., Hozes, Lumbier, Murc., etc. all cited by Croix (l. 5, n. 257, etc.), rejects this, because (as they say), when in that case it is also probable that there is no danger of sinning, he does not act rashly who commits a sin on such an occasion; for where the danger is not certain, there cannot be present a certain obligation to avoid it. But the opposite must altogether be held, with Busembaum (as above), whom Croix (loc. cit.) follows, with Carden., Eliz., and others. The convincing reason is that if it is illicit to use probable opinion without a just cause with the danger of loss of another’s spiritual or temporal goods, it is also certain among all, how much more it will not be lawful where the danger threatens his own soul? Nor is it opposed to say that where the danger is probable, there also it is probable that there is no danger: for the response is made that in that case, although the sin will be uncertain, whether it were or were not committed, still it is certain that there is danger of sinning. We said without a just cause, for where a just cause is present, there is no obligation of avoiding such a danger, unless the fall into sin were morally foreseen as a certainty. (See what is going to be said in book 3, n. 26, v. Pariter). And so physicians are excused, if they expose themselves to the danger of death to heal women ... so also a parish priest...

The reason is because the danger that is proximate of itself both becomes remote by reason of the circumstance of necessity, and at the same time by reason of means to beware of, which the person proposes (as is held) to apply namely, diligently by adverting the mind from foul delectation or from another passion, and moreover by fortifying himself with pious thoughts, prayers and frequent use of the sacraments. Which means, although they do not suffice to excuse, where the just cause is not present, to the extent that God does not help rashly exposing himself to danger, still he furnishes his aid to one who, from a just cause does not forsake, while in that case he did not remain from affect to sin, but from a certain necessity in that occasion. Otherwise, it must be said about simple confessors who fell a great many times in hearing confessions, because they are held to abstain from such exercise... But indeed, if someone in those occasions had lapsed and did not show off hope of emendation? See what is going to be said in the same place, n. 438, where we will say this must be held with each lost occasion to desert and save his soul. (See also what is going to be said in book 6, n. 453.)

64. Whether someone would be in the state of mortal sin who purposes to commit all venial sins?

64.—Whether, however, there were in the state of mortal sin, one who proposed to commit all venial sins? See what must be said in book 5, n. 12, vers. Quaeriutur autem.

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Thursday, August 17, 2017


Nothing is easier to man than love, because the heart has neither enjoyment nor life without it; this we have already seen and proved, and everyone is a witness of this to himself. Moreover, it is the same thing to see, to contemplate a good and amiable object, and to love it, because we feel ourselves carried away, and borne almost towards it. Now, if Mary be that object so amiable, that a more amiable may not be found among creatures, what obstacle or impediment shall delay, hold back, and detain our heart from running and flying to her? Even a little knowledge of her, such as may be obtained by reading, by hearing, and by meditating on her incomparable perfections, her benefits and her love, suffices to set us on fire, and make us melt towards her.

Even when she was in this world, in a most advanced age, the people crowded to see her. "Great is the concourse of people desiring to see and hear the Queen of Heaven" (S. Ign. apud Joann, Viguer, 75, 4), wrote the blessed martyr Ignatius to the Evangelist Saint John; and Saint Denis the Areopagite considered himself most happy to be presented to her by the same holy Evangelist. [Extract from chapter 6: Now, indeed, I no longer wonder that Saint Denis the Areopagite, at the first sight of this Great Lady, although still clothed with mortal flesh, would have fallen at her feet to adore her as God, had he not been withheld by faith, as he himself testifies. (Nieremb. Trop. Mar., l. 5, c. 2. Boz., l. 9, c. 9. Locr., l. 3, c. 1. Revil. in Paternica apud. Sogneri. Devot. Mariae, p. 1, c. 4). The Apostles and the first Christians were right to erect magnificent temples to her while still living, as did Saint James in Caesaraugusta, Saint John in Asia, Saint Peter in Rome, the disciples of the Prophet Elias upon Mount Carmel, Saint Martha in Marseilles, the holy Magi in Cranagor, and Queen Candace in Ethiopia.] What attractions, then, must she now possess from that glory, from which the great endowments of her most beautiful body, and of her most innocent soul, have received the last consummation of perfection? Let those fortunate souls instruct you, whose hearts, after contemplating for a short time this Most Luminous Sun, were so inflamed and consumed by its celestial fire, that to give vent to their seraphic ardor, one calls her "Captivator of Hearts," as Saint Bernard; another, like Saint Bonaventure, "My Heart, My Soul," and Saint Ephraim of Syria, "The Strong and Sweet Hope of My Soul." Saint Anselm, beside himself with love, exclaims: "O Most Beautiful and Lovely Mary, where dost thou hide thyself from the eyes of my heart? Wait for a poor, weak soul which follows after thee, and hide not thyself from a heart which seeks thee, and sees thee but little."

You cannot believe that she is deaf to these voices, or that, with haughty greatness, she sees not, or heeds not the prayers and tears of those who love her and seek her. She knows all, she sees all, even the least motions of our soul; and oh! How pleasing and acceptable they are to her! She knows well how to return our love with equal love—with equal love? Ay, with a love inestimably greater; with a love which cannot be surpassed, cannot be equalled. "I know, My Lady," said Saint Peter Damian to her, "I know that thou art most kind, and that thou lovest us with an invincible love." (Serm. de Nativ. B. V.). In a transport of love, the blessed Alphonsus Rodriguez, of the Society of Jesus, thus addressed her: "O My Most Amiable Lady, I love thee more than I love myself; but alas! Thou dost not love me as I love thee." "Not so, my Alphonsus," she answered; "I love thee more than thou canst love me; and know," she continued, "that thy love is as far from mine, as is earth from Heaven." "Oh, sweet contest of love!" adds the author who relates it, "in which to be conquered or to conquer, is equally desirable and glorious; but in which she must conquer, who is the most powerful in loving, whose love is not only more tender, but also stronger and more effectual." (Burghes, in Societ. Mar.).

But this Most Loving Queen not only is pleased with and returns our love, but she ardently desires and solicits it, most sweetly inviting and powerfully drawing us to her love. To her are well applied those words of Wisdom: "She is easily seen by them that love her, and is found by them that seek her. She preventeth them that covet her, so that she first showeth herself unto them. He that awaketh early to seek her, shall not labor, for he shall find her sitting at his door. . . . For she goeth about seeking such as are worthy of her; and she showeth herself to them cheerfully in the ways, and meeteth them with all providence." (Wisdom 6:13, 17). "I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope." (Ecclus. 24:24). "Put me as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thy arm." (Cant. 8:6). "Give me thy heart," she says to you, "give me thy heart, and I will give thee mine." You will not lose by the exchange; but oh! How much you will gain!

But she complains, that she calls on those that are deaf, that her love is not returned, that it is contemned, that she is rejected for the most unworthy objects. "Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this!" she cries out with Jeremiah; "they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and have digged to themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water." (Jerem. 2:12, 13).

But yet, you will say, it is those chosen souls, immaculate and holy, those chaste and innocent doves, and high-soaring eagles, that have wings to fly; but can I, a wretch, full of misery and sin, can I hope that this Sublime Queen will deign, I will not say, to love me, but even to cast an eye upon me? Yes, Parthenius, she goes about seeking for lovers; and the further we are from her, the more she approaches us in seeking us; the more wretched we are, the more she pities us, and our very miseries force that loving heart to relieve us, and to love us still more tenderly. She would not be the Queen of Mercy, if in her kingdom there were no objects of mercy; and to such, more than to any others, she says: "Come to me, all ye that are burdened, and I will refresh you." "Come to her," says Saint Bonaventure, "ye that labor and are burdened, and she will refresh your souls. 'Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits.'" (Ecclus. 24:26). "Approach unto me, all you who desire my love, and I will not reject you, I will not despise you, but will heap upon you those goods with which I abound through my greatness and my noble generation, which made me to be the Mother, Daughter, and Spouse of God. And happy is the soul that yields himself to such sweet invitations, and, from an ungrateful enemy, becomes a faithful friend; from a stranger, becomes a servant; and from an unfaithful one, becomes a most dear and faithful spouse." (S. Laurent. Justin, de cast, con. verb. et anim. c. xxi).

"However great may be a man's sins," said this Most Amiable Lady to Saint Bridget, "if he return to me with his whole heart, and with true amendment, I am immediately ready to receive him; neither do I consider how much he has sinned, but with what intention and will he returns. I am called by all the Mother of Mercy, and truly the mercy of my Son hath made me merciful; and he is miserable, who will not, when he can, approach mercy." (Sta. Brigit. in Revelat. lib. 2. c. 23).

What say you now, Parthenius? Are you yet convinced that it is very easy to love Mary, that your love pleases her above all things, that she desires, ardently desires it, and goes diligently in search of it? Are you persuaded that she keenly feels, that it pains her not to be loved, and that she regards not, cares not for the past vileness, misery, faithlessness, and ingratitude of him who sincerely wishes and resolves to love her? Yes, certainly you are convinced; you are persuaded of this. Take courage, then, and strong resolution. Let us love her who so greatly loves us, so greatly desires our love, our good. Oh! Ungrateful and foolish that we are; we have perhaps been lost in the pursuit of one who fled from us, who despised us, and sometimes even hated us; and shall we not yield ourselves to the love of her who has so long sought for, and so highly prizes our poor heart? "O Great Virgin, singularly chosen by God, and elevated above all in Heaven, how admirable and how lovely are thy eyes, and their most pleasing rays! Turn them upon us. Attract and draw us to thee, and obtain for us amendment of life, increase of grace, and the possession of eternal glory." (S. Bonavent)

Extracts taken from the book "The Love of Mary", Chapter "Third Day", by Roberto D., Hermit.

Please contact me if you want to receive a free 1 page copy (or copies) of this article in leaflet form for your own use and/or for the distribution to others in order to spread the Love of Mary and the knowledge of Her Greatness. Included in the leaflet is Chapter "Third Day"; Chapter "Second Day"; and Chapter "Fourth Day".

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017


"HOW SWEET THE LOVE OF MARY IS - Hear Saint Bernard, who exclaims, "O Great, O Merciful, O Most Amiable Mary, thou canst not be named without enkindling love; the thought of thee consoles the affections of those who love thee: Thou never returnest to our memory without that sweetness that is natural to thee." (S. Bernardus apud Liguori. Glor. Mar.). Listen to Saint Anthony of Padua, who says, "She is joy to the heart, honey to the mouth, and sweet melody to the ear." (Anton. Pav. apud Bonav. Spec. c. viii). Blessed Henry Suso cries out, "O Mary, what must thou thyself be, since thy name alone is so sweet!"

       "But, above all, give ear to Saint Bonaventure, whose enamored heart, at every moment transported with love, breaks forth in a thousand ways: "How great is the multitude of thy sweetness, O Lady, which thou hast prepared for them that love thee and hope in thee!" (S. Bonav. Stim. Amor. p. 3. c. xvi). "How amiable are thy words to them that love thee, how sweet are the drops of thy graces!" (Idem in Psal. Domine in virtute). "Thy spirit is sweeter than honey, and thy inheritance is sweeter than honey and the honeycomb." (St. Bona. in Ps. Verba mea). "Her memory is sweeter than honey and the honeycomb, and her love is sweeter than all spices." (Id. in Ps Notus in Judaea). "She has taken from my heart all sadness and grief, and has inundated it with her sweetness." (Id. in Ps. Voce mea). "O My Sweet Lady, the mere thought of whom sweetens every affection, whose beauty rejoices the eye of my mind! O Lady, who ravishest hearts by thy sweetness, hast thou not stolen my heart? Where, I pray thee, hast thou placed it? Tell me, that I may be able to find it. Hast thou placed it in thy bosom? Perhaps thou hast placed it there that thou mightest warm and inflame it. O Ravisher of Hearts, when wilt thou restore me my heart? Wherefore dost thou steal the hearts of the simple? Why dost thou do violence to thy friends?" (Id. in Stim. Amor. p. 5. c. xix).

       "Oh, he indeed had felt how sweet is the love of Mary; but you shall also experience this, and so shall I, if we but make a trial, however slight it may be.

       "God, the provident Author of Nature, most attentive to whatever conduces to our good, has given all things a special natural inclination to all that is necessary and proper for them, and therefore has placed a singular pleasure and delight in the actions necessary for the sustenance of the individual, or the conservation of the species. In the same manner has He acted in the order of grace, which is much more necessary for us. He knows what great good and advantage the love of Mary, His Most Holy Mother, is to us, and has therefore instilled into us, even from our most tender years, a particular confidence, tenderness, and inclination towards her, and has infused into her devotion, service, and love, I know not what sweetness and delight, which ravishes us towards her, and which goes on, ever increasing more and more, as our confidence and love towards her increase. I shall bring no other proof of this than yourself and your own experience, and I am sure that, if you do not wish falsely to deceive yourself, you will frankly confess that you have felt in yourself, even from the cradle, if I may say so, a special tenderness towards this Amiable Lady, and so great sweetness of affection and piety in her service, that it dilates your heart, and fills you with consolation, much more than all the delights and pleasures you have ever felt on this earth.

       "Nor is this special providence of grace without a reason, since, as I have before said, the service and love of Mary are of much more importance to the life of the soul, than any external action to the preservation of the life of the body; and therefore God has willed that the interior delight of her devotion should be much greater than any pleasure of the senses. Or, rather, Mary, according to Richard of Saint Victor, makes her servants feel all sweetness and delight, even sensibly. "In Mary," he says, "each sense finds its own pleasure, its own delight." It is her thought and her care to render happy and contented those who love her, and to compensate them a hundred and a thousandfold for the pleasures of which they deprive themselves for love of her."

Extracts taken from the book "The Love of Mary", Chapter "Fourth Day", by Roberto D., Hermit.

Please contact me if you want to receive a free 1 page copy (or copies) of this article in leaflet form for your own use and/or for the distribution to others in order to spread the Love of Mary and the knowledge of Her Greatness. Included in the leaflet is Chapter "Third Day"; Chapter "Second Day"; and Chapter "Fourth Day".

St. Alphonsus, Moral Theology, Book 3: On the Precept of Hope. (Also Sermon "On the Number of Sins Beyond which God Pardons no More")

TREATISE II: On the Precept of Hope

20.—By hope, which is the second theological virtue, love longing for God is understood, in which we long for God more than all other desirable things so that we are prepared to lose all things rather than God, and divine things. It is often asked on this, when does its precept oblige?

Resp. 1. It is probable the precept of hope obliges per se, when man first attains the use of reason, God and beatitude, as an end, to which he ought to tend, has been sufficiently proposed so that in such a notable time he would not put it off. So Becan., c. 17, quaest. 7, n. 2; Turr. and others in common. And the reason is, because in the act of hope one is neither justified nor persists in divine justice, nor do we act in a meritorious matter. Schol.

Resp. 2. The precept of hope per accidens obliges 1) when an act of prayer, penance, charity, etc. are in a precept, which, without preceding an act of hope cannot be exercised. So think the cited authorities, and Filliuci, tr. 22, c. 8, n. 255. 2) When someone is so tempted that there would be danger of consent, unless the mind raised itself in hope. See Filliuci, loc. cit. 2., Laymann l. 2, t. 2, c. 2; Bonacina, d. 5, quest. 3.

Thus the following cases are resolved:

1. It is a mortal sin to hope in or to love (with the love of desire) earthly things more than heavenly ones, e.g. if anyone were so composed to desire to perpetually abide in this life and leave heaven to God if he would [or could] stay behind on earth.

2. It is likewise a mortal sin to despair of attaining God, or salvation and forgiveness of sins or the necessary means to obtain them, e.g. to despair of the divine assistance, and emendation emendation of life. Yet it cannot be a venial sin by reason of the smallness of the matter, since it would be injurious to the mercy of God. St. Thomas, q. 20, a. 3, Laymann, l. 2 t. 2. c. 2. n. 3.

3. It is also a mortal sin to presume upon the mercy of God, e.g. since someone hopes for that which is impossible according to the ordinary law; that if he were to hope for the remission of sins and salvation without penance, or through his own merits and natural strength [i.e., trusting in his own strength and merit rather than relying on God, who is the giver of all good and hence the ultimate cause of all our merits], or even if someone were to determine to persevere in sins as long as he would will, and yet hope that he was going to do penance before death. St. Th., q. 21, art. 1; Laymann, loc. cit.

4. Lastly, it is a mortal sin to hate God (viz. with a hatred of abomination or aversion), e.g. if God would displease us, so to speak, as hostile on account of the vengeance against sinners. See Laymann, loc. cit., Bonacina, disp. 3, q. 3. [Comment: It is not a sin to be tempted to hate God and complain against Him provided we resist such inclinations and they displease us, since our rebellious flesh, the devil and our concupiscence always will tempt us to do evil – and this is especially more true when we try to mortify this body of death of ours and try to better our life!]

21.—Hope is defined more briefly and fittingly as: “The virtue through which we place certain trust in the coming beatitude and expect the means to attain it through the help of God.” The primary material object of hope (namely, that which we hope for), is eternal beatitude, which is to enjoy God himself; the secondary object, however is divine grace and our good works obtained by the divine assistance. Yet, the formal object (or the motive on account of which we are held to hope) some say is the mercy of God, others the divine omnipotence, exactly as the Thomists hold in common; others say the divine promise, just as Jeuninus thinks; others, at length, say it is the divine goodness, inasmuch as he communicates the graces themselves to us to obtain salvation, and according to this understanding goodness is the same thing as divine mercy; if anyone would will the formal object of faith to be the goodness of God, inasmuch as he is the thing hoped for, the Continuator of Tournely rightly says that he would not speak correctly. (de praecept. Decal. cap. 1, art. 2, sect. 2, concl. 2).

Since we have posited these, I think it must be concluded that the first three aforementioned motives would constitute the formal object of hope, namely, mercy, divine omnipotence, whereby God bestows assistance upon us to conquer the enemies of our salvation and these two motives are expressly taught by St. Thomas in Quaestionibus disputatis, qu. un. de Spe, where he says: “So the formal object of hope is the assistance of divine piety and power, on account of which the movements of hope tend in goods hoped for, which are the material object of hope.” I think, in addition to these two, a third must be added, namely the divine promise, just as Jeuninus rightly thinks, or divine fidelity in regard to the promise which he showed to save us on account of the merits of Christ; otherwise, without this promise we would not avail to hope for salvation with certain trust.

The vices opposed to hope, however, as we said above, are despair and presumption. In regard to presumption it must be noted that one would sin by presumption who hopes for salvation either merely due to his own merits or due to the merits of Christ without any cooperation of their good works.

Busembaum says here (n. 3) that one sins gravely that wishes to persevere in sin until death, hoping perhaps that he will be sorry before death, and he cites St. Thomas and Laymann, but neither say this; rather St. Thomas merely says in 2.2. q. 21, a. 1, that presumption is, “to hope for forgiveness without repentance, or glory without merits.” Furthermore, he adds in a. 2, ad 3, that “to sin with a purpose to persevere in sin under the hope of forgiveness is presumption and increases the sin. But to sin under the hope of receiving forgiveness at some time with the purpose to stop sinning and do penance for sin would not be presumption [to the same degree] and decreases the sin [against hope as compared to the former] because by this it seems the will is less established in sin.”

This is why, according to St. Thomas, it is not a sin against hope to persevere in sin under the hope of being sorry at some time. But it is true that one can only with great difficulty be excused from grave sin against charity toward himself, since from the common consent of the Doctors, those who would so purpose would expose themselves to great danger of their damnation.

Hence, Bonacina and Sporer (de praec. spei c. 4, n. 17) and Croix (l. 2, n. 126) rightly say that one who delays penance under the hope of forgiveness does not sin against hope while that hope of remission stands only concomitantly in regard to the sin, but not efficaciously to him the motive or reason to sin. The same must be said about one who would sin under the hope of forgiveness. For then someone must be judged to sin against hope, when the readiness of hope for obtaining forgiveness would become his reasoning, or the motive influencing him to sin. Otherwise it must be said, that if he would sin from passion, by hoping concomitantly that sin would later be remitted. So then he would increase the sins under the pretext that God will forgive ten sins as easily as he will forgive five[*], he sins from presumption, as the Cont. of Tournely says, loc. cit. sect. 6, concl. 2, Raro.


St. Alphonsus Liguori, Moral Theology (Theologia Moralis), Book 3 - TREATISE II: On the Precept of Hope.


On the Number of Sins You Commit
by St. Alphonsus Di Liguori

Because sentence is not speedily pronounced against the evil, the children of men commit evil without fear.”–Eccl. viii. 11.


If God instantly chastised the man who insults him, we certainly should not see Him so much outraged as we do at present. But because the Lord does not instantly punish sinners, but waits for them, they are encouraged to offend Him the more. It is necessary to understand that, though God waits and bears, he does not wait and bear forever.

It is the opinion of many holy fathers – of St. Basil, St. Jerome, St. Ambrose, St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. John Chrysostom, St. Augustine, and others – that as God (according to the words of Scripture, Wis. xi. 21: “Thou hast ordered all things in measure, and number, and weight”) has fixed for each the number of his days, the degrees of health and talent which He will give to him, so He has also determined the number of sins which he will pardon; and when this number is completed, he will pardon no more. And these fathers have not spoken at random, but resting on the sacred Scriptures. In one place the Lord says that He restrained His vengeance against the Amorrhites, because the number of their sins was not as yet filled up: “For as yet the iniquities of the Amorrhites are not at the full.”–Gen. xv. 16. In another place He says, “I will not add any more to have mercy on the house of Israel.”–Osee i. 6. Again he says, “All the men who have tempted me ten times . . . . shall not see the land.”–Num. xiv. 22, 23. “Thou hast,” says Job, “sealed up my offences as it were in a bag.”–Job xiv. 17. Sinners keep no account of their sins; but God keeps an account of them, that when the harvest is ripe, – that is, when the number of sins is completed, – he may take vengeance on them. “Put ye in the sickles; for the harvest is ripe.”–Joel iii. 13. In another place he says, “Be not without fear about sin forgiven, and add not sin to sin.”–Eccl. v. 5. As if he said, O sinner! you must tremble even on account of the sins which I have forgiven you; for if you add another, it may happen that this new sin, along with those which have been pardoned, may complete the number, and then there shall be no more mercy for you. “The Lord waiteth patiently, that, when the day of judgment shall come, he may punish them in the fulness of their sins.”–2 Mach. vi. 14. God waits till the measure of iniquities is filled up, and then he chastises the sinner.

Of such chastisements there are many examples in the Scriptures. Saul disobeyed God a second time, and was abandoned. When he entreated Samuel to intercede for him, saying, “Bear, I beseech thee, my sin, and return with me that I may adore the Lord,” (1 Kings xv. 25,) Samuel answered, “I will not return with thee, because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord hath rejected thee.”–ver. 26. We have also the example of Balthassar, who, after having profaned the vessels of the temple at table, saw a hand writing on the wall, “Mane, Thecel, Phares.” Daniel came, and in explaining these words, among other things, said, “Thou art weighed in the balance, and art found wanting.”–Dan, v. 27. By these words he gave the king to understand that in the balance of divine justice the weight of his sins had made the scale descend. “The same night Balthassar, the Chaldean king, was killed.” O, how many miserable sinners meet with a similar fate! They live many years multiplying sins; but, when the number is filled up, they are struck dead, and cast into hell. “They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment they go down to hell.”–Job xxi. 13. There are some who spend their time in investigating the number of the stars, the number of the angels, or the number of years which each shall live. But who can discover the number of sins which God will pardon each individual? We should, therefore, tremble. My brother, it may be that God will pardon you no more after the first criminal pleasure which you indulge, after the first thought to which you consent, or after the first sin which you commit.

Affections and Prayers

Ah! my God, I thank thee. How many, for fewer sins than I have committed, are now in hell! For them there is no pardon – no hope. And I am still living; I am not in hell; but, if I wish, I can hope for pardon and for paradise. I am sorry above all things for all my sins, because by them I have offended thee, who art infinite goodness. Eternal Father, look on the face of thy Christ; behold Thy Son dead on the cross for my sake; and through His merits have mercy on me. I wish to die rather than offend Thee any more. When I consider the sins I have committed, and the graces Thou hast bestowed on me, I have just reason to fear that, if I commit another sin, the measure shall be completed, and that I shall be damned. Ah! assist me by Thy grace; from Thee I hope for light and strength to be faithful to Thee. And if Thou seest that I should again offend Thee, take me out of my life, now that I hope to be in a state of grace. My God, I love Thee above all things, and I feel a greater fear of incurring Thy enmity than of death. For thy mercy’s sake do not permit me ever more to become Thy enemy. Mary, my mother, have pity on me; assist me; obtain for me holy perseverance.


Some sinners say, “But God is merciful.” “Who,” I ask, “denies it?” The mercy of God is infinite; but though His mercy is infinite, how many are cast into hell every day! “The Lord hath sent me to heal the contrite of heart.”–Is. Ixi. 1. God heals those who have a good will. He pardons sins, but He cannot pardon the determination to commit sin. These sinners will also say, “I am young.” You are young; but God counts not years, but sins. The number of sins which God pardons is not the same for all; some he pardons a hundred; others a thousand sins; others he sends to hell after the second sin. How many has the Lord condemned to eternal misery after the first sin! St. Gregory relates that a child of five years, for uttering a blasphemy, was condemned to hell. The most holy Virgin revealed to that great servant of God, Benedicta of Florence, that a girl twelve years old was damned after her first sin. A boy of eight years died after his first sin, and was lost. In the Gospel of St. Matthew we find that the Lord instantly cursed the fig-tree the first time he saw it without fruit. “May no fruit grow on thee forever. And immediately the fig-tree withered away.”–Matt, xxi. 19. Another time God said, “For three crimes of Damascus, and for four, I will not convert it.”–Amos i. 3. Perhaps some daring sinner may have the temerity to demand an account of God why He pardons some three sins, but not four. In this we must adore the judgments of God, and say with the apostle, “O depth of the riches, of the wisdom, and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are His judgments, and unsearchable His ways!”–Rom. xi. 33. The Lord, says St. Augustine, knows whom He spares, and whom He does not spare. To those who receive mercy He gives it gratuitously; from those who do not receive mercy, it is justly withheld.

The obstinate sinner may say, “But I have so often offended God, and He has pardoned me; I also hope He will pardon me the sin which I intend to commit.” But, I ask, must God spare you forever, because He has not hitherto chastised you? The measure shall be filled up, and vengeance shall come. Samson continued to allow himself to be deluded by Dalila, hoping that, as on former occasions, he would escape from the Philistines. “I will go out, as I did before, and shake myself”–Judges xvi. 20. But at last he was taken, and lost his life. “Say not, I have sinned, and what harm hath befallen me?”–Eccl. v. 4. Say not, says the Lord, I have committed so many sins, and God has not chastised me; “for the Most High is a patient rewarder;” (Eccl. v. 4.) – that is, He will one day come and punish all; and the greater the mercy which He will have shown, the more severe shall be the chastisement which He will inflict. St. Chrysostom says, that God should be dreaded more when He bears with the obstinate sinner, than when He punishes him suddenly. Because, according to St Gregory, if they remain ungrateful, God punishes with the greatest rigor those whom He waits for with the greatest patience. And it often happens, adds the saint, that they whom God has borne with for a long time, die unexpectedly, and without time for repentance. And the greater the light which God will have given, the greater shall be your blindness and obstinacy in sin. “For it had been better for them not to have known the way of justice, than, after they have known it, to turn back.”–2 Pet. ii. 21. And St. Paul says, that it is morally impossible for a soul that sins after being enlightened, to be again converted. “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, have tasted the heavenly gifts, . . . . and are fallen away, to be renewed to penance.”–Heb. vi. 4, 6.

The threats of the Lord against those who are deaf to His calls, are truly alarming. “Because I have called, and you have refused, . . . . I also will laugh in your destruction, and will mock when that shall come to you which you feared.”–Prov. i. 24. Mark the words – I also: they mean that, as the sinner has mocked God by his confessions, by promising fidelity, and afterwards betraying him, so the Lord will mock him at the hour of death. The wise man says, “As a dog that returned to the vomit, so is the fool that repeateth his folly.”–Prov. xxvi. 11. In explaining this text, Denis the Carthusian says, that as a dog that eats what he has just vomited, is an object of disgust and abomination, so the sinner who relapses into sins which he has detested in the tribunal of penance, renders himself hateful in the sight of God.

Affections and Prayers

Behold me, O my God, at Thy feet. I am that disgusting dog that has so often eaten the forbidden apples, which I before detested. I do not deserve mercy; but, O my Redeemer, the blood which Thou hast shed for me encourages and obliges me to hope for it. How often have I offended Thee, and Thou hast pardoned me! I promised never more to offend Thee, and I have afterwards returned to the vomit; and Thou hast again pardoned me! What do I wait for? Is it that Thou mayst send me to hell, or that Thou mayst abandon me into the hand of my sins, which would be a greater punishment than hell? No, my God, I wish to amend; and in order to be faithful to Thee, I will put all my confidence in Thee. I will, whenever I shall be tempted, always and instantly have recourse to Thee. Hitherto, I have trusted in my promises and resolutions, and have neglected to recommend myself to Thee in my temptations; this has been the cause of my ruin. Henceforth Thou shalt be my hope and my strength, and thus I shall be able to do all things. “I can do all things in Him that strengtheneth me.”–Philip, iv. 13. Give me grace, then, O my Jesus, through Thy merits, to recommend myself to Thee, and to ask Thy aid in my wants. I love thee, O Sovereign Good, amiable above every good; I wish to love Thee alone; but it is from Thee I must receive aid to love Thee. O Mary, my mother, do Thou also assist me by Thy intercession; keep me under Thy protection, and make me always invoke Thee when I shall be tempted. Thy name shall be my defence.


“My son, hast thou sinned? do so no more; but, for thy former sins, pray that they may be forgiven thee.”–Eccl. xxi. 1. Behold, dear Christian, the advice which your good Lord gives you because He desires your salvation. Son, offend me no more; but from this day forward be careful to ask pardon for your past transgressions. My brother, the more you have offended God, the more you should tremble at the thought of offending Him again; for the next sin which you commit shall make the balance of divine justice descend, and you shall be lost. I do not say absolutely that after another sin there shall be no more forgiveness for you; for this I do not know; but I say that it may happen. Hence, when you shall be tempted, say within yourself, “Perhaps God will pardon me no more, and I shall be lost!” Tell me; were it probable that certain food contained poison, would you eat it? If you had reason to think that on a certain road your enemies lay in wait to take away your life, would you pass that way as long as you could find another more free from danger? And what security, or even what probability, have you that, if you relapse into sin, you shall afterwards repent sincerely of it, and that you will not return again to the vomit? What just reason have you to believe that God will not strike you dead in the very act of sin, or that, after your sin, He will not abandon you?

O God! If you purchase a house, you spare no pains to get all the securities necessary to guard against the loss of your money; if you take medicine, you are careful to assure yourself that it cannot injure you; if you pass over a torrent, you cautiously avoid all danger of falling into it; and for a miserable gratification, for a beastly pleasure, you will risk your eternal salvation, saying, “I expect to go to confession after this sin.” But when, I ask, will you go to confession? “Perhaps on Sunday.” And who has promised that you will live till Sunday? Perhaps you intend to go to confession to-morrow. But who promises you to-morrow. How can you promise yourself that you shall go to confession to-morrow, when you know not whether you shall be among the living in another hour? “He,” continues the saint (St. Augustine), “who has promised pardon to penitents, has not promised to-morrow to sinners; perhaps He will give it, and perhaps He will not.” If you now commit sin, God, perhaps, will give you time for repentance, and perhaps He will not; and should He not give it, what shall become of you for all eternity? In the mean time, by consenting to sin, you lose your soul for the sake of a miserable pleasure, and expose yourself to the risk of being lost forever. Would you, for that vile gratification, risk a sum of one thousand ducats? Would you, for that momentary pleasure, expose to danger your all – your money, your houses, your possessions, your liberty and life? Surely you would not. Will you, then, for that wretched delight, lose all – your soul, heaven, and God? Do you believe that heaven, hell, and eternity, are truths of faith, or that they are fables? Do you believe that, if death overtake you in sin, you shall be lost forever? O, what temerity! what folly! to condemn yourself, by your own free act, to an eternity of torments, with the hope of afterwards reversing the sentence of your condemnation. No one is as foolish as to take poison with the hope of being preserved from death; and will you condemn yourself to eternal death, saying, I will, perhaps, be hereafter delivered from it? O folly which has brought, and brings, so many souls to hell! “Thou hast,” says the Lord, “trusted in thy wickedness . . . Evil shall come upon thee, and thou shalt not know the rising thereof.”–Isa. xlvii. 10, 11. You have sinned through a rash confidence in the divine mercy; vengeance shall unexpectedly fall upon you, and you shall not know whence it comes.

Affections and Prayers

Behold, O Lord, one of those fools who have so often lost their souls and Thy grace with the hope of afterwards recovering them. And hadst Thou struck me dead in those nights in which I was in sin, what would have become of me? I thank Thee for Thy mercy, which has waited for me, and which now makes me sensible of my folly. I see that Thou desirest my salvation; and I too wish to save my soul. I am sorry, O infinite Goodness, for having so often turned my back upon Thee. I love Thee with my whole heart. And I hope in the merits of Thy passion, O my Jesus, that I will never again be one of those fools. Pardon me at this moment, and give me the gift of Thy grace. I will never leave Thee again. “In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped; let me never be confounded.” Ah no; I hope, O my Redeemer, never more to suffer the misfortune and confusion of seeing myself deprived of Thy grace and love. Grant me holy perseverance, and give me the grace always to ask it of Thee by invoking Thy holy name and the name of Thy mother, and by saying, “Jesus, assist me; most holy Mary, pray for me.” Yes, my queen, if I have recourse to thee, I shall never be conquered. And when the temptation continues, obtain for me the grace not to cease to invoke thy aid.


"Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God" – Matt., 4:7

A sermon by St. Alphonsus Mary De Ligouri (1696-1787), Bishop and Doctor of the Church. St. Francis Jerome, when he visited the parents of St. Alphonsus shortly after his birth, made this prophecy: "This child will be blessed with length of days; he shall not see death before his ninetieth year; he will be a bishop and will do great things for Jesus Christ." This prophecy certainly came true. One of the most accomplished of all the saints is Alphonsus Liguori. He was a lawyer in both civil and Church law before he dedicated his whole life to serving God. He was founder of a religious order, author of more than a hundred books, originator of modern moral theology, renowned preacher and confessor, bishop, musical composer and painter. For all of his 91 years on earth, he was also a man of prayer and deep personal holiness. He gives an example of true Christian living that all of us would do well to follow. Now his sermon:

In this day's Gospel we read that having gone into the desert, Jesus Christ permitted the Devil to set Him on the pinnacle of the temple and say to Him: "If Thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down"; for the angels shall preserve Thee from all injury. But the Lord answered that in the Sacred Scriptures it is written: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. The sinner who abandons himself to sin without striving to resist temptations, or without at least asking God's help to conquer them, and hopes that the Lord will one day draw him from the precipice, tempts God to work miracles, or rather to show to him an extraordinary mercy not extended to the generality of Christians.

God, as the Apostle says, "will have all men to be saved" – I Tim. 2:4; but He also wishes us all to labor for our own salvation, at least by adopting the means of overcoming our enemies, and of obeying Him when He calls us to repentance. Sinners hear the calls of God, but they forget them, and continue to offend Him. But God does not forget them. He numbers the graces which He dispenses, as well as the sins which we commit. Hence, when the time which He has fixed arrives, God deprives us of His graces, and begins to inflict chastisement. I intend to show in this discourse that when sins reach a certain number, God pardons no more. Be attentive.

1. St. Basil, St. Jerome, St. John Chrysostom, St. Augustine and other fathers, teach, that as God according to the words of Scripture, "Thou hast ordered all things in measure, and number, and weight" – Wis. 11:21 has fixed for each person the number of the days of his life, and the degrees of health and talent which He will give him, so He has also determined for each the number of sins which He will pardon; and when this number is completed, He will pardon no more.

2. "The Lord hath sent me to heal the contrite of heart" – Isa. 61:1 God is ready to heal those who sincerely wish to amend their lives, but cannot take pity on the obstinate sinner. The Lord pardons sins, but He cannot pardon those who are determined to offend Him. Nor can we demand from God a reason why He pardons one a hundred sins, and takes others out of life and sends them to Hell, after three or four sins. By His Prophet Amos, God has said: "For three crimes of Damascus, and for four, I will not convert it" – 1:3. In this we must adore the judgments of God, and say with the Apostle: "O the depth of the riches, of the wisdom, and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are His judgments" – Rom. 11:33. He who receives pardon, says St. Augustine, is pardoned through the pure mercy of God; and they who are chastised, are justly punished. How many has God sent to Hell for the first offense? St. Gregory relates, that a child of five years, who had arrived at the use of reason, for having uttered a blasphemy, was seized by the Devil and carried to Hell. The divine Mother revealed to that great servant of God, Benedicta of Florence, that a boy of twelve years was damned after the first sin. Another boy of eight years died after his first sin, and was lost. You say: I am young; there are many who have committed more sins than I have. But is God on that account obliged to wait for your repentance if you offend Him? In the Gospel of St. Matthew (21:19), we read that the Savior cursed a fig tree the first time He saw it without fruit. "May no fruit grow on thee henceforward forever. And immediately the fig tree withered away." You must, then tremble at the thought of committing a single mortal sin, particularly if you have already been guilty of mortal sins.

3. "Be not without fear about sin forgiven, and add not sin to sin" – Eccl. 5:5. Say not then, O sinner: "As God has forgiven me other sins, so He will pardon me this one if I commit it." Say not this; for, if to the sin which has been forgiven you add another, you have reason to fear that this new sin shall be united to your former guilt, and that thus the number will be completed, and that you shall be abandoned. Behold how the Scripture unfolds this truth more clearly in another place. "The Lord patiently expecteth, that when the day of judgment shall come, He may punish them in the fullness of sins" – II. Mac. 6:14. God waits with patience until a certain number of sins is committed but, when the measure of guilt is filled up, He waits no longer, but chastises the sinner. "Thou hast sealed up my offenses as it were in a bag" – Job 14:17. Sinners multiply their sins without keeping any account of them; but God numbers them, that, when the harvest is ripe, that is, when the number of sins is completed, He may take vengeance on them. "Put ye in the sickles, for the harvest is ripe" Joel 3:13.

4. Of this there are many examples in the Scriptures. Speaking of the Hebrews, the Lord in one place says: "All the men that have tempted Me now ten times. . . . shall not see the land" – Num. 14:22, 23. In another place, He says, that He restrained His vengeance against the Amorrhites, because the number of their sins was not completed. "For as yet the iniquities of the Amorrhites are not at the full" – Gen. 15:16. We have again the example of Saul who, after having disobeyed God a second time, was abandoned. He entreated Samuel to interpose before the Lord in his behalf. "Bear, I beseech thee, my sin, and return with me, that I may adore the Lord" – I Kings 15:25. But, knowing that God had abandoned Saul, Samuel answered: "I will not return with thee, because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord hath rejected thee," etc. – 5:26. Saul, you have abandoned God, and He has abandoned you. We have another example in Balthassar, who, after having profaned the vessels of the Temple, saw a hand writing on the wall, Mane, Thecel, Phares. Daniel was requested to expound the meaning of these words. In explaining the word Thecel, he said to the king: "Thou art weighed in the balance, and art found wanting" – Dan. 5:27. By this explanation, he gave the king to understand that the weight of his sins in the balance of divine justice, had made the scale descend." The same night Balthassar, the Chaldean king, was killed" – Dan. 5:30. Oh! how many sinners have met with a similar fate! Continuing to offend God till their sins amounted to a certain number, they have been struck dead and sent to Hell! "They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment they go down to Hell" – Job 21:13. Tremble, brethren, lest if you commit another mortal sin, God should cast you into Hell.

5. If God chastised sinners the moment they insult Him, we should not see Him so much despised. But, because He does not instantly punish their transgressions, and because through mercy He restrains His anger and waits for their return, they are encouraged to continue to offend Him. "For, because sentence is not speedily pronounced against the evil, the children of men commit evil without any fear" – Eccles. 8:11. But it is necessary to be persuaded, that though God bears with us, He does not wait, nor bear with us forever. Expecting, as on former occasions, to escape from the snares of the Philistines, Samson continued to allow himself to be deluded by Delilah. "I will go out as I did before, and shake myself" – Judges 16:20. But "the Lord departed from him." Samson was at length taken by his enemies, and lost his life. The Lord warns you not to say: I have committed so many sins, and God has not chastised me. "Say not: I have sinned, and what harm hath befallen me; for the Most High is a patient rewarder" – Eccl. 5:4. God has patience for a certain term, after which He punishes the first and last sins. And the greater has been His patience, the more severe His vengeance.

6. Hence, according to St. Chrysostom, God is more to be feared when He bears with sinners, than when He instantly punishes their sin. And why? Because, says St. Gregory, they to whom God has shown most mercy shall, if they do not cease to offend Him, be chastised with the greatest rigor. The saint adds that God often punishes such sinners with a sudden death, and does not allow them time for repentance. And the greater the light which God gives to certain sinners for their correction, the greater is their blindness and obstinacy in sin. "For it had been better for them not to have known the way of justice, than, after they had known it, to turn back" – II Pet. 2:21. Miserable the sinners, who, after having been enlightened, return to the vomit. St. Paul says, that it is morally impossible for them to be again converted. "For it is impossible for those who were once illuminated, have tasted also the Heavenly gifts. . . and are fallen away, to be renewed again to penance" – Heb. 6:4, 6.

7. Listen, then, O sinner, to the admonition of the Lord: "My son, hast thou sinned? Do so no more, but for thy former sins pray that they may be forgiven thee" – Eccl. 21:1. Son, add not sins to those which you have already committed, but be careful to pray for the pardon of your past transgressions; otherwise, if you commit another mortal sin, the gates of divine mercy may be closed against you, and your soul may be lost forever. When then, beloved brethren, the devil tempts you again to yield to sin, say to yourself: “If God pardons me no more, what shall become of me for all eternity?” Should the Devil in reply, say: “fear not, God is merciful;” answer him by saying: “What certainty or what probability have I that, if I return again to sin, God will show me mercy or grant me pardon?” Behold the threat of the Lord against all who despise His calls: "Because I have called and you refused,...I also will laugh in your destruction, and will mock when that shall come to you which you feared" – Prov. 1:24, 26. Mark the words "I also"; they mean that, as you have mocked the Lord by betraying Him again after your confession and promises of amendment, so He will mock you at the hour of death. I will laugh and will mock. But, "God is not mocked" – Gal. 6:7. "As a dog," says the Wise Man, "that returneth to his vomit, so is the fool that repeateth his folly" – Prov. 26:11. Bl. Denis the Carthusian gives an excellent exposition of this text. He says that, as a dog that eats what he has just vomited, is an object of disgust and abomination, so the sinner who returns to the sins which he has detested and confessed, becomes hateful in the sight of God.

8. O folly of sinners! If you purchase a house, you spare no pains to get all the securities necessary to guard against the loss of your money; if you take medicine, you are careful to assure yourself that it cannot injure you; if you pass over a river, you cautiously avoid all danger of falling into it: and for a transitory enjoyment, for the gratification of revenge, for a beastly pleasure, which lasts but a moment, you risk your eternal salvation, saying: I will go to confession after I commit this sin. And when, I ask, are you to go to confession? You say: On tomorrow. But who promises you tomorrow? Who assures you that you shall have time for confession, and that God will not deprive you of life as He has deprived so many others, in the act of sin? "Diem tenes" says St. Augustine, "qui horam non tenes." You cannot be certain of living for another hour, and you say: I will go to confession tomorrow. Listen to the words of St. Gregory: "He who has promised pardon to penitents, has not promised tomorrow to sinners" – Hom. 12 in Evan. God has promised pardon to all who repent; but He has not promised to wait until tomorrow for those who insult Him. Perhaps God will give you time for repentance, perhaps He will not. But, should He not give it, what shall become of your soul? In the meantime, for the sake of a miserable pleasure, you lose the grace of God and expose yourself to the danger of being lost forever.

9. Would you, for such transient enjoyments, risk your money, your honor, your possessions, your liberty, and your life? No, you would not. How then does it happen that, for a miserable gratification, you lose your soul, Heaven, and God? Tell me: do you believe that Heaven, Hell, eternity, are truths of faith? Do you believe that, if you die in sin, you are lost forever? Oh! what temerity, what folly is it, to condemn yourself voluntarily to an eternity of torments with the hope of afterwards reversing the sentence of your condemnation! "Nemo," says St. Augustine, "sub spe salutis vult aegrotare." No one can be found so foolish as to take poison with the hope of preventing its deadly effects by adopting the ordinary remedies. And you will condemn yourself to Hell, saying that you expect to be afterwards preserved from it. O folly! which, in conformity with the divine threats, has brought, and brings every day, so many to Hell. "Thou hast trusted in thy wickedness, and evil shall come upon thee, and thou shalt not know the rising thereof" – Isa. 47:10, 11. You have sinned, trusting rashly in the divine mercy: the punishment of your guilt shall fall suddenly upon you, and you shall not know from whence it comes. What do you say? What resolution do you make? If, after this sermon, you do not firmly resolve to give yourself to God, I weep over you and regard you as lost.