Today’s ✠Challoner Meditation: February 1st On not making light of venial sins

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by
✠Challoner Meditation February 1st



Consider first, that although there be no manner of comparison between the guilt of a mortal sin and that of a venial sin, as there is no manner of comparison between a mote and a beam, Matt. vii. 3, yet the guilt even of the venial sin, considering that it is an offence to a God infinitely great and infinitely good, is so displeasing in his sight that no soul that is stained with it can ever be admitted into his presence till this guilt is purged away, and no man living can be allowed, by any power in heaven or on earth, to commit any one venial sin, no, not to save a kingdom, or even to save the whole world; because the offence to God is a greater evil than the loss of the whole world; and we are not to do anything that is evil to save the whole world. Christians, do you think of this when, upon every trifling apprehension of incurring the displeasure of man, you take refuge in a lie, which is sure to displease your God? Do you think of this when you go on with so little concern, indulging yourselves in vanity, curiosity, sensuality, loss of your precious time, anger, impatience, and other sinful habits, upon the notion that these are but venial sins, and therefore need not be regarded? Oh! you will find one day to your cost how much you have been deceived if you do not correct in time this dangerous and pernicious error.

Consider 2ndly, the danger to which the soul exposes herself when she makes light of venial sins; even the danger of the very worst of evils, that is, of mortals in, and of all its dreadful consequences, both for time and eternity: according to that of the wise man, Ecclus. xix., ‘He that contemneth small things shall fall by little and little.’ It is true, venial sin does not of itself immediately destroy, or drive away from the soul, the grace and love of God, and therefore does not of itself bring present death to the soul, as mortal sin does; but then it weakens and cools the fervour of divine love; it lessens devotion; it hinders the inspirations of the Holy Ghost from working effectually in the soul; it leaves the soul feeble and drowsy, sick and languishing; so that upon the coming of a greater temptation she easily yields, and quickly falls into mortal sin. and how can we expect it should be otherwise when we have so little regard for God, or his friendship and love, as not to care how much we displease him, provided we can but escape his avenging justice? Or how can the fire of the love of God be kept alive for any long time in the soul when, instead of being nourished with its proper fuel, it is continually losing ground by a diminution of its heat and strength? 

Consider 3rdly, that this danger of falling quickly into mortals sin, by making little or no account of venial sins, is the greater because of the difficulty there often is in distinguishing between what is mortal sin and what is only venial; since even the best divines are often at a loss to find the limits between the one and the other. So that all such as are in the unhappy disposition of venturing, without scruple, as far as the utmost limit of venial sin can be extended, are daily exposed to an evident danger of slipping beyond the bounds, and falling into the pit of mortal sin; the more because of the manifold subtleties and deceits of self-love, which is ever ready to favour and to excuse the inclinations of corrupt nature, and in all such cases to make that appear slight which is really grievous; and the more so when persons give themselves up to a tepid, negligent life, as they generally do who make light of venial sins; for this negligence takes the soul off her guard, disarms her, and lays her interior open to the spiritual sins of pride, envy, and such like disorders, which are mortal sins, and which easily prevail over careless souls, and are seldom thoroughly cured.

Conclude with a sincere resolution of never wilfully, and with full deliberation, consenting to anyone known sin, how venial soever it may seem to be, and much more, of never indulging any habit or custom of any such sin. ‘Tis hard to reconcile the indulging such habits as these with the great commandment of the love of God above all things; at least it cannot be expected that divine love should abide to dwell for any long time in a heart where God is so often slighted.

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