Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Second Week of Lent. "Divine Intimacy" by Fr Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen OCD
On 'Venial sin'
PRESENCE OF GOD - O Lord, inflame me with Your holy zeal, so that I will no longer be able to tolerate in myself the slightest thing which is displeasing to You.

1. Venial sin, like mortal sin, goes counter to God's will, although with less serious deviation. While it does not destroy charity, it is opposed to it and therefore diminishes its fervour and vigour, hindering its development. This is the disastrous effect of deliberate venial sin committed with the realisation that it is displeasing to God. Once venial sins of this kind become habitual, they increase the soul's tendency toward self-satisfaction and creatures. Thus, little by little the soul loses its fervour, its sense of sin, and falls into tepidity, which is characterised by a certain indifference to venial sin. This puts it in danger of offending God in serious matters also. In this sense, venial sin may be compared to a disease of insidious languor, a kind of spiritual tuberculosis, which undermines the organism slowly but fatally. It is not unusual to meet souls who having at first surrendered themselves to God with sincere fervour, afterwards let themselves fall into continual carelessness, indifference, voluntary omissions, and laziness, because they have given in to selfishness and sought their own comfort. They become incapable of making the generous efforts required to advance on the way they have started. Their spiritual life is reduced to a kind of lethargy which is not yet death, but which has none of the freshness and vigour of a strong, healthy life. It lacks the fervour of charity, for this is continually being lessened by deliberate concessions to venial sin. To put us on our guard against such a state, St. Teresa of Jesus declares, "Always be fearful if you do not feel sorry for the faults you commit, for even venial sin ought to fill you with sorrow to the very depths of your soul.....For the love of God, take care not to commit any deliberate venial sin, even the smallest....And can anything be small if it offends God?" (Con 2 - Way 41).
2. Quite different are the venial sins which we commit through frailty or inadvertence. Very often the soul is determined not to give in at any price; due to its weakness, however, it falls when temptation comes, especially if the attack is unexpected. Nevertheless, once aware of it, the soul feels sincere sorrow, repents at once, asks God's pardon, rise, and sets out again. Such sins cause no great harm to the soul; they are signs of frailty and show that it has not yet reached spiritual maturity. Moreover, if the soul sincerely humbles itself after these falls, it will draw profit from them and a more profound knowledge of its own misery, which will make it mistrust its own strength entirely and place all its confidence in God alone. It will experience in a practical way the profound truth of the words of Jesus, "Without Me you can do nothing" (Jn 15,5). It is not unusual for God to permit these falls, and he does so precisely to give the soul this practical knowledge of its nothingness, and to anchor it firmly in humility, the foundation of all our spiritual life. In regard to faults of this kind, St. Therese of the Child Jesus felt that we can be sure "they do not grieve the good God," because they are not caused by a will intent on sin, b y indifference or by coldness; they spring from the weakness of human nature. If because of our weakness it is impossible for us to avoid these little daily venial faults of inadvertence or frailty, it is important to know how to detest them and to make generous reparation. As to deliberate venial sins, we should be firmly resolved not to commit them for anything in the world.

"Paccavi, Domine, miserere mei! Pardon, Father, pardon me a miserable ingrate. I owe it to Your goodness that I am still Your spouse, even though I am unfaithful to You by my falls. Paccavi, Domine, miserere mei. O my soul, what are you doing? Are you not aware that God sees you always? You can never hide yourself from His sight, for noting is hidden from Him....O eternal God, Father of all goodness and mercy, have pity on us becuase we are blind and in darkness, and I, more than anyone else, am miserable and to be pitied....O true Sun, enter my soul and illumine it with Your brightness. Drive out the darkness and give me light; melt the ice of my self-love and kindle in me the fire of Your charity. Paccavi, Domine, miserere mei" (St. Catherine of Siena).....Because of my weakness, I often fall. "Often I lose sight of what is my only care, and straying from Your side, allow my wings to be draggled in the muddy pools of this world. Then 'I cry like a young swallow,' and my cry tells You all, and You remember, O infinite Mercy, that You 'did not come to call the just but sinners'" (T.C.J. St, 13).