St. Francis de Sales on Dealing with the Sins of Others February 1, 2017Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, reading, Restoration, sanctity, Spiritual Warfare, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
Another excerpt from Finding God’s Will for You, a collection of letters sent by the great Doctor of the Church over the course of his exceptional apostolate. This one deals with how to deal with the sins of others, and not falling into despair because we can’t “save” all we would like to see saved. From pp. 102-5:
God has supreme hatred for sin, and yet He most wisely permits it. This is to allow rational creatures to act according to their natural condition; it is also to render the good more worthy of commendation when they do not violate the law, even though they are able to violate it. Let us therefore adore and bless this holy permission. [I have heard priests describe the gift of free will as “strange,” even hard or cruel, because why didn’t God just create everyone as mindless followers of His Will and thus to be saved. St. Francis informs us as to why: because He didn’t, we should not have been made in His image if we did not have free will, and because he wanted us to freely choose Him and His Love from among all the enticements and pleasures of the flesh.]
However, since the same Providence that permits sin has infinite hatred for it, let us together with Providence detest and hate it, desiring with all our power that sin permitted may never become sin committed. As a result of this desire, let us use all possible remedies to prevent the birth, growth, and domination of sin. In this let us imitate our Lord, who never ceases to exhort, promise, threaten, prohibit, command, and inspire us in order to turn our will away from sin as far as possible without depriving us of liberty.
But when a sin has been committed, we must do all in our power to have it wiped away. We should be like our Lord, who assured Carpus, as has already been noted, that if it were needful, He would submit to death a second time in order to deliver a single soul from sin. But if the sinner is obstinate…..in company with the Savior of our souls, let us weep, sigh, and pray for him………
……Meanwhile, no matter how obstinate sinners may be, we must never lose courage in aiding and serving them. How do we know whether perhaps they will do penance and be saved? Happy is he who, like St. Paul, can say to his neighbor, “day and night I did not cease with tears to admonish every one of you. Therefore I am innocent of the blood of all, for i have not shrunk from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” As long as we are within the limits of hope that the sinner can amend, and they are always of the same extent as those of his life, we must never reject him, but rather pray for him and help him as far as his misfortune will permit. [Thus, many of our corrections and blandishments of those many lost in sin and error in the Church must continue, so long as there is hope that they may repent.]
But at the very end, after we have wept over the obstinate and have rendered them our duty in charity of trying to reclaim them from perdition, we must imitate our Lord and the apostles. That is, we must turn our mind from them and place it on other objects and tasks more useful to God’s glory. “It was necessary that the word of God should be first spoken to you,” said the Apostles to the Jews, “but since you reject it and judge yourselves unworthy,” of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, “behold, we turn to the Gentiles.” [A true and hard saying, but one that must be borne in mind. There are many fields for the spread of the Gospel, if not turns out to be sterile, we must move onto another. That is incredibly sad, especially when it involves someone we love, but if we tried and prayed and wept for years over loved ones no progress, our efforts may be put to better use elsewhere.]
“The Kingdom of God,” says the Savior, “shall be taken from you and shall be given to a nation yielding its fruits.” We cannot spend too much time weeping over some men without losing time suitable and necessary to procure the salvation of others. True, the Apostle says that he has a “continuous sorrow” over the loss of the Jews, but this is the same as when we say that we bless God at all times, which means simply that we bless Him very frequently and on every occasion. In the same manner, the glorious St. Paul has a continuous sorrow in his heart because of the reprobation of the Jews, since on every occasion he lamented their misfortune.
For the rest, we must always adore, love, and praise God’s avenging and punitive justice, just as we love His mercy, since both are daughters of His goodness. [Well now, isn’t that contrary to the church of infinite mercy and zero justice we hear preached today. In point of fact, mercy cannot be separated from justice. If it is, it becomes mere weakness and sentimentality. Those who wish to replace justice with a false sense of mercy will get neither, but will only gather a harvest of rank indifference and moral decline – which may well be what the purveyors of the church of infinite mercy want in the end, anyway] By His Grace, He wills to make us good, for He is good, yes, supremely good. By his justice, He wills to punish sin because He hates it, and He hates it because, being supremely good, He hates that supreme evil which is iniquity.
In conclusion, note that God never withdraws His mercy from us except by the most equitable vengeance of His punitive justice, and that we never escape the rigor of His justice except by His justifying mercy. Always, whether He punishes or gives grace, His good pleasure is worthy of adoration, love, and everlasting blessing. Always, whether He punishes or gives grace, His good pleasure is worthy of adoration, love, and everlasting blessing. Hence, “the just man” who sings the praises of God’s mercy over such as shall be saved likewise “shall rejoice when he shall see vengeance.” With joy the blessed shall approve the judgment of damnation passed on the reprobate as well as that of salvation on the elect.
Since the angels have exercised their charity toward the men they had in their keeping, they shall remain in peace when they see them obstinate or even damned. Therefore, we must acquiesce in God’s will and kiss the right hand of His mercy and the left hand of His justice with equal tenderness and reverence.
Now this is a Francis I can really get behind. Too bad there aren’t more like him around these days.