Monday, 1 September 2014
RENOUNCE SIN FOR GOOD AND ALL - From A Sermon By St John Vianney
All that is very true, you will tell me, but what will people say about me after seeing me go to Confession several times and then not make my Easter duty?
People are going to believe that I am leading a bad life; besides, I know plenty of others who are worse sinners than I who have been given absolution; you have received So-and-So well, and he has broken the law of abstinence with me; and So-and-So, who has been out on Sundays, as well as I have, at..[sentence incomplete - Trans.]
The conscience of another person is not yours. If he does wrong, it is not for you to listen to accounts of it. Or do you want, just in order to keep up appearances, to damn your soul by committing sacrilege? Would not that be the greatest of all evils? You think that people will notice you because they have seen you going to Confession several times and yet you have not been to Holy Communion. Ah, my poor friend, fear rather the eyes of God, before which you have done the wrong, and pay no attention to all the others. You say that you know of some, more guilty than you, who have been given Absolution.
What do you know of them? Did an angel come to you to tell you that God had not changed or converted them? And even if they should not have been converted, should you therefore do wrong because they do wrong? Would you want to be damned because others are damning themselves? Dear God, what frightful talk!
But, these penitents still protest, these penitents who not only have not been converted, but who indeed do not want to be converted at all but only to save their faces in public.... When will it be the right time then to come for Holy Communion?
When will it be time to come for Holy Communion? Listen to St. John Chrysostom. He himself is going to tell us when it will be time for Holy Communion. Is it at Easter, at Pentecost, at Christmas? No, he tells us. Is it at the point of death? No, he tells us again. When is it then? It is, he says to us, when we have renounced sin for good and all, and are fully resolved, with the help of God's grace, not to fall into it again. When you have paid back that which is not yours, when you have become reconciled with your enemy -- that is when you are genuinely converted.
Other sinners will tell us: "If you are going to be so difficult, we will go to those who will allow us to go to Holy Communion. Look at how many times I have come. I have other things to do than to be walking the roads. I am not coming back for a long time, for I can see quite plainly that you are angry with me. What great harm have I done, then?"
You will go to find another, my friend? You are entirely free to go to anyone who seems good to you. But do you think that another would wish, any more than I would, to damn himself?
No, I am sure you do not. If he receives you, it is because he does not know you well enough. Do you want to know what sort of a person talks like that, and who goes in search of Absolution elsewhere? Listen, and tremble. He leaves his guide, who can lead him surely, to look for a passport to go straight to Hell.
But, you will say to me, look at how many times I keep coming.
Very well, my friend! Change your ways and you will be allowed Absolution the very first time you return.
I am not coming back, you say, for a very long time.
So much the worse for you alone, my poor friend. In not coming back you are taking a big step in the direction of Hell.
There are some who are so blind that they will go so far as to believe that the confessor is angry with them because he does not give them Absolution.
Undoubtedly, my friends, he is vexed with you, but it is because he desires the salvation of your poor souls. It is for that reason that he does not want to give you an Absolution which, very far from saving you, would damn you for all eternity.
But, you say, what have I done that is so bad? I have not killed, or stolen....
You say not killed, not stolen, you say? But, my friend, Hell is full of other people who have not killed or stolen. There are more than two sins which drag souls into Hell. But if we were so lax as to give you Absolution when you do not merit it, we would be playing the part of executioner of your poor soul, which caused so much suffering to Jesus Christ.