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Thoughts on Penance by Dom Lorenzo Scupoli July 24, 2014

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, catachesis, Four Last Things, General Catholic, Grace, Holy suffering, Interior Life, mortification, priests, sanctity, Spiritual Warfare, Tradition, Victory, Virtue.

Continuing with excerpts from Dom Lorenzo Scupoli’s exegesis on the Four Last Things, some thoughts on penance from St. Francis de Sales’ mentor:

Penance is the only pathway to God, once we have been separated from Him in sin.  By penance I mean either penance of heart or an active penance. The one is effective, the other affective, and both must be united as the several circumstances of our condition require.

An active or effective penance is to be utilized when sickness or any voluntary affliction befalls us, or when through a penitential spirit, we discipline ourselves.

In afflictions we practice active penitence in the following situations:

1. As often as we receive crosses with the intention of receiving them as just punishments from a tender parent solicitous for our reform; or as the sentence of a merciful judge who inflicts a penalty in this life in order to spare us in the next. 

2. As often as we confess our sins with true repentance, and receive the punishment with due submission. That these two interior acts may make a deep impression on our hearts they may be accompanied by the following reflections:

a. If the crimes for which we are punished were to be weighted against our sufferings, how light would the atonement be in comparison with our  guilt.  [Boy that’s the truth.  And I worry at times about how I tend to confess the same sins over and over.  Thus I question my true repentance?]

b. All that we endure has been decreed in the Providence of God.

c. All our sufferings are to our ultimate advantage, as they satisfy for our offenses. [And yet how I complain and try to escape most sufferings!]

d. We suffer too that we may come to a realization of our own wickedness, for we seldom advert to this subject before we feel the hand of God.

e.  If by the Sacrament of Penance we are already in the State of Grace, affliction is sent as a means of satisfying the Divine Justice for the temporal punishment due to our sins. [Do we consider that when we suffer?]

f.  The punishment due to mortal sin is eternal damnation, and irrevocable banishment from the sight of God if one is not repentant. [And that makes our willingness to suffer worth everything]

g. Millions have perished who perhaps were guilty of but one mortal sin after Baptism, and many of them were surprised by death the moment it was committed.  In order to apply these rules to our own case when any affliction befalls us, we ought to retire into the depths of our hearts, and reason thus with ourselves. [If  you have committed a mortal sin, get to Confession as soon as humanly possible.  Mortal sin is distressingly frequent in these days.  Yet Confession is distressingly rare.  The correspondence of these two facts points to unimaginable disaster and suffering]

Is it not an article of faith that when I first sinned mortally after Baptism, I made myself unworthy of all but the reprobates in Hell?  O my God, if such were actually my fate, how many years should I have already passed in that place of horror!  If I consider my first mortal sin, what must I not have suffered in that fiery furnace to this time, and what might I not expect to suffer for all eternity!”

“It is through Thy mercy alone, O my God, that I was not in Hell from that first moment I deserved it, that I am not there at this moment, that I may still hope never to go there; and it is through Thy mercy that Thou hast dealt with me as Thou hast with those miserable wretches who now burn there for all eternity.

“Instead of those horrible unending torments, from which Thou hast graciously exempted me, Thou art pleased to send this affliction; and yet I murmur, am impatient and rebellious. What I now suffer cannot possibly last long: what I deserved is eternal!”

An active penitence is exercised by depriving ourselves of any satisfaction of body or mind, with the intention of making some atonement to the Divine Justice by bearing patiently any contempt or injury, and offering it to the Almighty in expiation of our offenses.

———-End Quote———–

Mortal sin, Confession, death, judgment, repentance, salvation……this is what it is all about. We have but one life to live and one death.  There is nothing more important than to die in the state of Grace.  How many souls are being lost as I type this!  Oh Lord, have mercy on us all!


1. Baseballmom - July 24, 2014

“The Saying was hard, and many walked away…”. This passage from Scripture refers to the Eucharist – but I think it holds true for the Church’s teaching on the Four last things as well.

So many souls have bought into the idea of universal salvation, the great heresy of our times.

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