Wednesday, 13 August 2014

HOW DEATH WILL REVEAL THIEVES! - From A Sermon By St John Vianney

I do not wish to speak to you, my dear brethren, about those who lend at seven, eight, nine, and ten per cent. Let us leave such people to one side. To make them feel the enormity and the heinousness of their injustice and their cruelty, it would be necessary that one of those early usurers, who has been burning in Hell for the past three or four thousand years, should come back and give them a description of all the torments he is enduring and of the many injustices he committed which are the cause of what he suffers. No, these people are not part of my plan of instruction for you. They know very well that they are doing evil and that God will never pardon them unless they make restitution to those whom they have wronged. All that I could say to them would only serve to make them more guilty. So we will go carefully into something which involves an even greater number of people.

I tell you that wealth unjustly acquired will never enrich him who possesses it.

On the contrary, it will become a source of trouble and evil for all his family.

Oh, dear God, how blind man is! He is perfectly well aware that he is in the world for a brief space of time only. At every moment he sees people younger and stronger than himself passing out of it. It is all to no purpose: it does not help him to open his eyes. The Holy Ghost has told him plainly, through the mouth of the holy man Job, that he came into this world deprived of everything and that he will leave it the same way, that all the possessions he has cultivated will be taken from him at the moment when he least expects it: none of this serves to halt his progress. St. Paul affirms plainly that it will not be long before anyone who becomes rich through unjust means goes well astray onto the road of sin. And what is more, he will never see the face of God.

That is so true that, without a miracle of grace, a miser, or if you prefer, a person who has acquired some wealth by fraud or cunning, will hardly ever be converted, so greatly does this sin blind anyone who commits it.

Listen to what St. Augustine says to those who have money which belongs to others. You can, he tells them, go to Confession, you can perform all the penance you like, you can weep for your sins, but unless you make restitution, whenever you can, God will never pardon you.... Either give back what is not yours, or you will have to make up your mind to go to Hell. The Holy Ghost does not stop at merely forbidding us to take and to covet the wealth of our neighbour -- He does not wish us even to consider it or dwell upon it, lest we should want to lay our hands upon it. The prophet Zacharias tells us that the curse of the Lord will remain on the house of the thief until he is destroyed. And I am telling you that wealth acquired by fraud or by cunning will not only be of no profit but it will cause whatever you acquire legitimately to wither away and your days to be shortened.

My dear brethren, if I wanted to go into the conduct of all those who are present, I might perhaps find that I had only thieves. Does that amaze you?

Just listen to me for a moment and you will realise that it is true....

The most common thefts are those committed in the course of buying and selling. Let us examine this more closely so that you may recognise the wrong that you do and, at the same time, see how you can set about correcting it.

When you bring along your produce to sell it, people ask you if your eggs and your butter are fresh. You hasten to answer in the affirmative, even though you know that the opposite is the truth. Why do you say that, unless it is to rob two or three pennies from some poor person who has had, perhaps, to borrow them to keep her house going? Another time it will be in the selling of a crop. You will take the precaution of putting the smallest and the poorest specimens in the midst of the bunch. You will possibly say: "But if I didn't do that, I wouldn't sell so much."

To put it another way, if you conducted yourself like a good Christian, you would not rob as you do. On another occasion, when counting your money, you will have noticed that you have been given too much, but you have said nothing: "So much the worse for the person concerned. It's not my fault."

Ah, my dear children, a day will come when you will possibly be told, and with more reason, "So much the worse for you! "

Someone wants to buy corn, or wine, or animals from you.

He asks you if this corn is from a good year's crop. Without hesitation, you assure him that it is. You have mixed your wine with another of poorer quality, yet you sell it as a good and unadulterated wine. If people show signs of not believing you, you will swear that it is good, and it is not once but twenty times that you thus give your soul over to the Devil. Ah, my children, there is no need for you to be overanxious to give yourselves to him -- you have been his for a long time now! "What about this animal?" someone else will ask you." Has it any defects? Don't cheat me now. I have only borrowed this money and if you do I will be in terrible difficulties."

"Oh, indeed no!" you will break in." This is a very good animal. In fact, I am very sorry to be selling it. If I could do anything else I would not sell it at all."

In fact, of course, you are selling it because it is worth nothing at all and is no longer of any use to you.

"I do the same as everyone else. So much the worse for anyone who is taken in. I have been cheated; I try to cheat in my own turn; otherwise I would lose too much."

Is it, my children, that if others are damning themselves, then you must needs damn yourselves also? They are going to Hell -- must you then go along with them? You would prefer to have a few extra pennies and go to Hell for all eternity? Very well.

I am telling you, though, that if you have sold an animal with hidden faults, you are obliged to compensate the buyer for the loss which these defects have caused him; otherwise you will be damned.

"Ah, if you were in our place you would do the very same as we do."

Yes, my dear children, without any doubt I would do the very same as you do if, as you do, I wanted to be damned. But since I want to be saved, I would do the exact opposite of that.