Wednesday, July 25, 2007


1. We must recognise that we are all poor sinners in the sight of God.

Sacred Scripture warns us that the just man falls seven times. (Prov. 24:16) If we say that we have no sin, says St. John, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8) Sin is the greatest evil because it offends God, our highest good and happiness. It only needs our own malice for us to commit sin, but in order to make reparation for it and to redeem us from slavery it was necessary for God to become man and to offer Himself as a victim of expiation for our sins. Only a God-Man could have fully satisfied our debt by offering Himself as a victim of reparation for His adopted brothers.

Jesus desires us to be associated with Him in His Passion, however. (Cf. Col. 1:24) Our justification cannot be something extrinsic to ourselves, but should transform us and make us holy. Our cooperation with divine grace is necessary for this purpose. (1 Cor. 15:10) If we are in sin we should not only repent, but should purify ourselves by acts of penance. Jesus Himself commands this. Unless you repent, you will all perish. (Luke 13:5) Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. (Mt. 3:2; 4:17)

We must make satisfaction for our sins, therefore, by voluntary co-operation with the grace of God. Although God is infinitely good and merciful, He will not purify us without this cooperation on our part. We can be purified by accepting the unavoidable tribulations of life with perfect resignation and by offering to God our own voluntary mortifications and sacrifices.

Are we prepared to follow the example of the Saints in this matter?

2. God has given us two supernatural means of purifying ourselves after we have sinned-the Sacrament of Penance and Indulgences. The Sacrament of Penance is the plank of salvation to which we can cling when we have been shipwrecked by sin, and by means of Indulgences we can draw on the infinite treasury of the merits of Christ, the Blessed Virgin Marv, and the Saints in order to make partial or total satisfaction for the temporal punishment due to our sins. In this way we can shorten our purgatory in this life and escape it in the next.

We should make good use of the Sacrament of Penance. If we fall into mortal sin, let us have recourse at once to this fount of grace. Even when we are not in mortal sin, let us be faithful to the practice of weekly or at least fortnightly Confession.

We should not abuse this great gift simply because it seems such a simple method of obtaining pardon. God is infinitely just, we must remember, and He expects us to co-operate with His graces.

3. We should also value Indulgences as a means of spiritual purification. They ought not to be treated lightly. Jesus gave His Church the power of loosing and binding every bond of sin. As long as we have the necessary dispositions, therefore, it can draw on the merits of Christ and of the Saints to release us from the temporal punishment due to the sins which have already been forgiven us. It achieves this by the concession of Indulgences. These require on our part the fulfilment of certain conditions, a sincere sorrow for sin, and a strong resolution never to offend God again.