“…your soul is My Heaven…”

These beautiful words (“your soul is My Heaven”) were spoken by Our Lord to Sr. Josefa Menendez, in relation to her (and our) soul after receiving Holy Communion. Jesus evidently takes delight in living in and working through us. Here are some more words of Our Lord which express this profound truth:

“My kingdom on earth is my life in the human soul.” – Jesus to St. Faustina (Diary, 1784) 

“My dearest secretary, write that I want to pour out My divine life into human souls and to sanctify them, if only they are willing to accept My grace. … My delight is to act in a human soul and to fill it with My mercy.” – Jesus to St. Faustina (Diary, 1784) 

I delight to work in a soul.” – Jesus to Sr. Consolata Betrone 

“My happiness is to reproduce Myself in the souls that I created through love. The more a soul allows me to reproduce Myself truly in itself, the more happiness and repose I feel in it. The greatest joy a soul can give Me is to let Me raise it to the Divinity. Yes, My little spouse, I feel an immense pleasure in transforming a soul into Myself, in deifying it, in absorbing it entirely in the Divinity.” Jesus to Bl. Dina Belanger (p. 307) 

“If you only knew what joy it gives Me to sanctify a soul! Everybody ought to become holy in order to procure Me this pleasure! Would you like to have a faint idea of it? Then think of the joy which a mother feels when she sees her son return radiant with his well-earned diploma; the happiness of that mother is indescribable! Well, My felicity in seeing a soul attain sanctity vastly exceeds that faint comparison!” – Jesus to Sr. Consolata Betrone

“Ah, if souls only understood how ardently I desire to communicate Myself to them! But how few do understand….and how deeply this wounds My Heart.” – Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez

“I wish each soul to understand that she has her special place in My Heart which awaits her; that her love is necessary to Me, and her cooperation necessary– that I need to see her happy and perfect– because I have loved her even to dying on the Cross for her– yes, each soul.” – Jesus to Sr. Mary of the Trinity

A Prayer Before Bed…

**(This post was previously about a book competition, but it is now over. Congratulations to those who won!)

“Eternal Father, I desire to rest in Your Heart this night. I make the intention of offering to You every beat of my heart, joining to them as many acts of love and desire. I pray that even while I am sleeping, I will bring back to You souls that offend You. I ask forgiveness for the whole world, especially for those who know You and yet sin. I offer to You every breath and heartbeat as a prayer of reparation.” (Taken from ‘Prayers and Heavenly Promises’ by Joan Carroll Cruz).

Now consider the power of this simple little prayer, by meditating on the words of Jesus to His dear child, Sr. Josefa Menendez:

“During the night you will rest in My Heart! My Heart will listen to the beats of yours, which will be so many acts of love and desire. Thus even while you are sleeping, you will bring back to Me souls that so offend Me… Ask forgiveness for the whole world, especially for those that know Me and yet sin; offer yourself in reparation!”

Once we are aware of its power, how could we fail to neglect saying this prayer (or a similar prayer) every night? (If you have doubts about the power of prayer, you might benefit from reading an earlier post of mine- ‘The Immense Value of an Act of Love!’)


“Come to Me… Do Not Be Afraid!”

(This image would have been helpful for my previous post!)

Jesus said to Bl. Charles de Foucald: “In my unimaginable goodness, I did not merely give myself to you at my birth for a few hours or years: I am still in your hands, and shall be henceforth until the end of the world. Think of the unending good fortune I brought you in my birth: the ability to serve me—to serve me by serving your neighbour, to serve me myself, living there near you in the tabernacle. Not only can you serve me, you can also console me… How happy you should be to be able to console me at every moment of your lives! By becoming so small, so gentle a child, I was crying out to you: Have trust! Come close to me! Do not be afraid of me, come to me, give me what children need: loving embraces. Do not be afraid, do not be so frightened in the presence of such a gentle baby, smiling at you and holding out his arms to you. He is your God, but he is all smiles and gentleness. Do not be afraid!


‘Persona Christi’


Though this image represents the Sacrament of the Sick (‘Extreme Unction’), we can easily relate it to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Jesus said to St. Faustina:

“Daughter, when you go to confession, to this fountain of My mercy, the Blood* and Water which came forth from My Heart always flows down upon your soul and ennobles it. Every time you go to confession, immerse yourself entirely in My mercy, with great trust, so that I may pour the bounty of My grace upon your soul. When you approach the confessional, know this, that I Myself am waiting there for you. I am only hidden by the priest, but I myself act in your soul. Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy. Tell souls that from this fount of mercy souls draw graces solely with the vessel of trust. If their trust is great, there is no limit to My generosity. The torrents of grace inundate humble souls.”

… And to Sr. Josefa Menendez:

“For love of souls, I instituted the Sacrament of Penance, that I might forgive them, not once or twice, but as often as they need it to recover grace. There I wait for them, longing to wash away their sins, not in water, but in My Blood.”

*“Lord Jesus, loving Pelican of Heaven, cleanse me a sinner with Your blood, for a single drop can save the whole world from all its sin.” – St. Thomas (The Precious Blood of Jesus is of infinite value and therefore merits for us, infinite mercy!)

A “Love Letter” from God to YOU!

Here I have created a “Love letter” from God to all sinners, by combining the words of various private revelations (without changing their true meaning) of Jesus to: St. Faustina, Sr. Josefa Menendez, Sr. Mary of the Trinity and Sr. Benigna Consolata Ferrero (all revelations have been taken from reliable Catholic books with an imprimatur):

“You know that it is the property of fire to destroy and to enkindle. In the same way, My Heart’s property is to pardon, love, and purify. Never think that I shall cease to love you because of your miseries… No, My Heart loves you and will never forsake you… Each soul is a matchless treasure to Me!… My love has no limits… My mercy is more abundant for sinners than the just… they have a right before others to trust in the abyss of My mercy… I pursue sinners as justice pursues criminals. But justice seeks them in order to punish, I, in order to forgive… My Heart takes comfort in forgiving. I have no greater desire, no greater joy, than when I can pardon a soul… I want to forgive them. It rests me to forgive… I am consumed with desire to pardon… Yes, to pardon these poor souls for whom I shed My Blood… At the least sign of repentance, My Heart is aflame with joy, and I wait with inexpressible love for the sinner to turn towards Me… When a soul returns to Me after a fall, the comfort she gives Me is a gain for her, for I regard her with very great love… Never does My Heart refuse to forgive a soul that humbles itself, especially when it asks with confidence… The mercy of My Heart is inexhaustible… A person’s sins may be enormous and numerous, but provided they repent, I am always ready to forgive all, to forget all… My mercy is greater than your sins and those of the entire world… I seek nothing so much as to exercise mercy continually… Sooner would Heaven and earth turn to nothingness than would My mercy fail to embrace a trusting soul… Come, then, with trust to draw graces from this Fountain (…My Heart)… I never reject a contrite heart… For to Me the sight of a humble and contrite soul is irresistible… You honour Me more by the confidence you show Me than by all that you could give Me… The greatest gift a soul can make Me is to receive Me… place no limits on your confidence in Me, then I will place no limits on My graces for you! … I delight to work in a soul. You see, I love to do everything Myself; and from this soul I ask only that she love Me… You must not grieve overmuch at your falls. Why, I could make a saint of you without more ado.”

More helpful tips for the scrupulous.

“Whenever… the scrupulous person finds, after confession, no firm conviction of complete forgiveness, and therefore, no real peace of mind, he must reach this conclusion- “It is not the sacrament which is at fault, but myself; confession is not wrong in relation to me; but somehow I am wrong in my relation to confession.” UNTIL THIS ADMISSION IS MADE, THERE CAN BE NO LASTING CURE FOR SCRUPLES.” – Fr. Hubert McEvoy, SJ.

“All Our Lord’s dealings with sinners- and they are frequent enough- show that He required for full forgiveness nothing more than the simplest, undetailed expression of guilt and regret. The publican struck his breast: “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” and went down to his house justified. Mary Magdalene at His feet spoke no word… The scrupulous must, then, first realise that nowhere in the Gospels is there any sign that Our Lord wants the kind of confession they want to make. Moreover, the Church, through which God makes His wishes known, does not expect it either, having said clearly that the only sin one is bound to tell in confession is mortal sin, and about which we are certain… The word bound is important. We may in confession speak of details, of the attendant circumstances of a sin, to relieve our minds, to secure guidance, to increase humility… But once we insist on doing so with the idea of making forgiveness more certain, we are guilty of devising a special “sacrament of penance” for our own private use which is not that of Our Lord, nor of the Church, and will never bring peace, simply because it is not Our Lord’s sacrament…” – Fr. Hubert McEvoy, SJ.

“The little that he wants—only the recognition that I have sinned. Not what you have done or how often you have done it, but are you sorry that you did it?… The devil tries to throw a veil over the face of Christ, by making us dwell on the enormity of our sin and nothing else. God wants of us the approach of confidence, not fear (except in the sense of reverence), and that we should know that there is no limit to the forbearance of God. He is longing only that His own should come to him, or if they have strayed, come back. Fear is lack of confidence, of trust, it even amounts to doubt. We fear we have exhausted the mercy of God [it is inexhaustible]; we must call up in front of our vision the figure of Christ.” – Fr. Steuart, SJ.

“No sin is a true sin if we have not willfully consented.” – St. Padre Pio

“When a scrupulous person has once made up his mind that he has not consented to a temptation, he must not reason the matter over again to see whether he has really consented or not, for the same temptations often return by making this sort of reflections.” – St. Philip Neri

“When scrupulosity centres upon venial sins, mental anxiety is a pure waste of energy since their confession is optional because they do not separate us from God.” – Fr. Hubert McEvoy, SJ.

“The scrupulous person should say firmly: “God knows my sin; He doesn’t want to tell it to myself, which is what I’m really trying to do. He only wants me to be sorry for what it is. Even if God did let me see my guilt as He sees it, would I then have God’s view of myself? Would I have any real conception of His pity for my weakness, of the gladness with which He pardons me, of the generous grace He wants to give me? Yet these are the things it would profit me most to know. Why cannot I trust Him and tell Him simply?” – Fr. Hubert McEvoy, SJ.

“Is it likely that God, having created us as we are and given us the nature that we have, would call upon us to do things which are too difficult for that nature, which was against it? That is nonsense; He has made us to harmonize and it is only we who have distorted it… God doesn’t ask me to play the game and not teach me the rules.” – Fr. Steuart, SJ.

“The scrupulous would cure themselves if, instead of this detective inquiry, which only deepens their worry without increasing their sorrow, they would ask simply: “What made me do this? [What was my intention?]” – Fr. Hubert McEvoy, SJ.

“If you want to note down every thought, every interior movement, even if unexpected, every tendency, every fantasy and rebellion of the passions at their source, you will be irresolute and you will never find a confessor ready to listen to you. My daughter, be merciful with yourself and do not tyrannize yourself. Who forces and condemns you to such trifles? No-one. Catholic doctrine teaches us that the sins that have to be confessed are only mortal sins that are certain. We can expose our doubts, whatever they may be, should we so wish, otherwise we are dispensed. As for venial sins, it is certain they are forgiven, even if there were thousands of them, through an act of love, or contrition, or a devout sign of the cross, etc. As if all the trifles you mentioned were necessary for an integral confession. It is good for humility, for contrition and for general perfection to confess doubtful mortal sins and venial sins we are certain of, but we are not obliged to and therefore you can see for yourself if your scruples are not excessive. Less anguish and more enthusiasm.” – St. Padre Pio

“Contradiction, sickness, scruples, spiritual aridity, and all the inner and outward torments are the chisel with which God carves His statues for Paradise.” – St Alphonsus Liguori

“For you, it is not good to scrutinize the lowest depths of your soul. If during prayer, God throws His light into your soul and in this light reveals to you, your misery and baseness, it is a signal grace. But your are not in a state to examine and analyze your soul in a natural light.” – Bl. Dom Columba Marmion

“Go to your confessor; open your heart to him; display to him all the recesses of your soul; take the advice that he will give you with the utmost humility and simplicity. For God, Who has an infinite love for obedience, frequently renders profitable the counsels we take from others, but especially from those who are the guides of our souls.” – St. Francis de Sales

“Understand that the mercy of the Saviour is so measureless that it accepts the least ill, the smallest trouble, in payment for the most disquieting of your debts. Nothing, not even a headache, is lost.” – St. Lydwine of Schiedam

Visiting a criminal condemned to death, St. Michael Garicoits insisted: “My friend, you are in a good situation. Cast yourself upon the bosom of Divine Mercy with utter confidence. Say, ‘My God, have pity on me!’ and you will be saved!” He added: “If, one day, I found myself in danger of losing my life between Betharram and Igon, and if I saw myself burdened with mortal sins, without help, without a confessor, I would throw myself heart and soul into the arms of Divine Mercy and would believe myself to be in a very good situation.”

“They [souls] have not understood My Heart. For it is their very destitution and failings that incline My goodness toward them. And when acknowledging their helplessness and weakness, they humble themselves and have recourse to Me trustfully, then indeed they give me more glory than before their fault.” – Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez

Are you scrupulous?… Some helpful tips for confession.

From the book ‘Pardon and Peace’ by Fr. Alfred Wilson (with Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat, 1946):

“The Confession you dread is the Confession you don’t know. Many fear Confession not for what it is, but for what they think it is, most of their difficulties being homemade. Let us consider a few of the bogeys which often scare people as they approach the Sacrament of Penance.


Many penitents are tormented by doubtful sins. At the first onset of temptation, they become panic-stricken and confuse the sensing of the attraction of temptation with consent, so that every temptation becomes for them prospective matter for confession. About the past, too, they are always uncertain; uncertain if they confessed the sin at all, uncertain if they confessed it sufficiently, uncertain if they made the sin black enough, uncertain if the priest understood, uncertain if they were really sorry, uncertain until they are driven to distraction — if not to drink. Here is a specimen worry.

Remember that night some years ago when you were going home from a party. The sky seemed crammed with dancing stars as merry as yourself. The lampposts were obviously up to tricks and never seemed to be there when you tried to lean against them. Somehow you don’t remember much more about it except that you woke up next morning with a bad head and got a terrible scolding from your wife. Unfortunately, there is no doubt about the incident, but you are not sure whether you realized at the time what was happening or was likely to happen, nor whether you have already confessed what did happen. Two problems worry you:

1. Was your lapse deliberate or indeliberate?
2. Have you ever confessed the incident; and if not, must you confess it now?

There is no obligation to confess doubtful sins. The catechism for the Diocese of Rome, approved by Pope Pius X, has this question: “If a person is not sure of having committed a sin, must he confess it?”

And the answer is: “If a person is not sure of having committed a sin, he is not obliged to confess it; but if he wishes to, he must add that he is not sure of having committed it.”

The Council of Trent tells us that we are bound to confess all mortal sins of which we are conscious. In this case you are conscious, not of sin, but of a doubt about sin; and you cannot simultaneously be conscious of doubt about sin and of sin, any more than you can be conscious simultaneously of certainty and uncertainty in the same matter.

Common sense tells us that a doubt cannot create a certain obligation, any more than uncertainty can, of itself, produce certainty. If there were an obligation to confess every sin of which we are not quite certain, Confession would become a bugbear, especially to people with a bad memory. Doubts are, therefore, matter for solution rather than absolution, and are to be solved not absolved.

Many people will be inclined to object to this: “Yes, that’s all very well in theory, but in practice, is it not far better to tell doubtful sins? In fact, would it not be unwise to omit them?”

It all depends. If very occasionally you remember such sins and do not make a habit of it, nor “get in a state” about it, then it is better to confess them just as they are, and have done with them. But if, on the other hand, you do make a habit of it and are constantly afraid of having omitted sins, then it is far better not to confess.

Experience ought to have taught you that you will not remedy things by repeating confessions. Be honest with yourself — has the repetition of confessions brought you any nearer to lasting peace of mind? If you are obsessed by doubts about past sins, you will not rid yourself of the obsession until you find and remove its cause. You are definitely in the scrupulous class and should employ the technique suggested in Chapters IX and X [Fuddle and Fif, Fears and Phobias]; and above all, you should contemplate assiduously the infinite mercy of God.

In all probability you are much more concerned about the damage and danger to yourself than about the injury done to God, so your scruples have no kinship with true contrition. Moreover, you are making the mistake, elsewhere indicated, of trying to make yourself secure by your own devices. You will never obtain the mathematical certainty which you desire, not even if you go on repeating confessions until Doomsday; so the sooner you give up trying and trust the mercy of God, the better for yourself. Behind all this worry there is probably a subtle worship of the “Great-I- Am.” You are so surprised and indignant that the “Great-I- Am” should have failed so badly that you can’t get over it, and turn in fierce indignation against yourself. The remedy for this fierce vindictiveness is humility.


A scrupulous person will still feel inclined to object: “But suppose I did omit a serious sin! You must admit that I may have left something out!” Granted. It is possible, though unlikely, that you may have omitted a serious sin in confession; but even if you did, provided the omission was not deliberate nor due to gross negligence, the sin was covered by the absolution. The sin is forgiven, you have satisfied the law of confession as far as you can; therefore, no further obligation can arise unless a certain unconfessed mortal sin comes spontaneously to mind.

The next move is with the Lord. If there is still a serious outstanding sin which He wishes you to confess, it is up to Him to bring it to your mind; and if He does not trouble to do so, it is safe to conclude that He wishes bygones to be bygones. If He does not recall the sin to your mind, He has no one to blame but Himself. Of one thing we can be certain and it is this: He will not half-do anything; whatever He does, He will do thoroughly and well. If He chooses to recall a sin to your mind, He will recall it with clarity and certainty, and not in a vague, foggy, disturbing way. His inspirations never destroy our peace of mind.

It should be easy to see that the Lot’s wife obsession is a grievous temptation of the devil, who hopes by it to destroy your concentration on the present. Your concentration on the present, and the graces of the present, must suffer if you are always thinking of the past. Walking backwards, like walking blindfold, may be great fun in household games, but it is grave folly elsewhere. You cannot be always thinking of the past without being spiritually blear-eyed. If you would give as much time to finding and correcting your predominant fault as you give to worrying about the past, you would soon become a Saint.
Before there can be any obligation to go back on the past, three things must be certain:

1. That what you did was a mortal sin in itself.
2. That it was a mortal sin to you.
3. That you have not already confessed it.

Consider the conditions carefully:

A Mortal Sin in Itself — Doubts about the objective seriousness of the sin can be solved easily and quickly by inquiry or study.

A Mortal Sin to You — In your childhood or youth you may have done something gravely sinful, without realizing the sinfulness then. God will judge you according to the knowledge you had then, not according to the knowledge you have now. “No afterthought or view of a past sin can make it a sin if, through ignorance, it were not such when committed, nor can any afterthought or subsequent knowledge make a sin greater than it actually was when it was committed.” [1]

Many people in their youth practise self-abuse without knowing the seriousness of it. It would be a lie to confess such things as serious sins, because the knowledge required for serious sin was lacking. Mortal sin always presumes full knowledge of the gravity of the offence and full consent.

Not Already Confessed — If you have reason to believe that you did confess a sin, even if you have also reason to believe that you did not confess it, there is no obligation to go back. In practice this means that those who have always done their best at each confession, at least since their conversion, need never go back, because it is morally impossible that they could have omitted anything really serious. Therefore, they have no real doubt at all; or, at any rate, no doubt which cannot be solved quite easily by the application of a little calm commonsense.

Behind the worries of the Lot’s wife devotees there often lurks a false assumption. Many people imagine that what they say in the confessional must correspond exactly, and to the letter, with what they did. If such accuracy were necessary, Christ might just as well not have instituted the Sacrament of Penance at all, because it would be practically no use to us. Probably we never, or hardly ever, tell our sins exactly as they are before God. In many cases it is morally impossible, without special illumination from God, that we should achieve literally exact statement of what we have done. Take the case, not by any means unheard of, of a man who has been forty or sixty years away from the Sacrament. If he has to tell his sins with absolute accuracy, he might as well give up his soul as lost.

Had Christ required that in every circumstance, confession of past sin should be materially complete, allowing nothing for possible lapses of memory, He would have subordinated His gift, in practice, to the retentiveness of memory of the persons concerned; and as a man’s sins accumulated in the course of his life and the necessity of receiving the Sacrament became the greater, the less capable would he have been of making the necessary dispositions, since to him, this integral confession would then be morally impossible. It was imperative, therefore, that however material this integrity must be in principle, it should be reduced in practice to such an integrity as circumstances of time and persons should permit. [2]

Absolute integrity in our confessions is generally unattainable and, therefore, not required: no one is bound to the impossible. What is necessary is that we do our best (not necessarily our bestest-best) to make what we say correspond with what we did, and having done that, we have done all that Our Lord expects or demands. He has not guaranteed us infallibility in Confession and therefore He neither expects nor commands it. Let us beware of insulting Jesus by presuming that He demands more than we can possibly give.


Another worry of penitents is sometimes occasioned by the foolish conduct of those who have an unhealthy craze for making general confessions. The example of this bogus thoroughness creates in sensitive souls a suspicion and fear that, because they never go back on the past, they may be too lax and easy-going. The devil seizes the opportunity and suggests that they are too lazy and cowardly, and too concerned about their confessor’s good opinion to do anything of the kind themselves.

The craze for making general confessions is a symptom of spiritual hypochondria and is distinctly unhealthy and morbid. We should think a man morbid if he wanted a regular X-ray of his internal organs just to reassure himself that they were in good condition. This is an almost exact parallel of what the spiritual hypochondriacs want to do, and one line of conduct is as wise as the other.

General confessions should be used sparingly, like castor oil; otherwise, the remedy will cause far more damage than the disease. A general confession is useful, if one has not been made already, when we are taking some very important step, for example, joining a religious order, or getting married. “It should be made once and well, and once for all.”

Towards the close of life, or annually at retreats, it is profitable to make a simple review since the last general confession. An occasional overhaul is useful, but frequent overhauls are as useful for the soul as they are for a car.

Beware of spiritual hypochondria — it is a disease.


Worries about the past are generally the outcome of want of faith. “I should be so happy,” says the doubting Thomas, “if only I knew that my past sins are forgiven'”

These unbelievers want experimental knowledge and visible proof of forgiveness, they desire to see their souls pure after Confession, just as they see their hands clean after washing. What they need is more virile faith. The desire for proof amounts to a refusal to live by faith. “Blessed are they that have not seen and have believed,” and blessed are they who are content to take Our Lord at His word. He will not gratify the desire for the evidence of the senses, because He is too kind to deprive us of the merit of faith and trust.

Instead of following up their worries, the scrupulous would be far better employed making acts of faith, “I believe, Lord, help Thou my unbelief!” Instead of cherishing a secret notion of their own hyperprudence, let them regard themselves instead as sadly deficient in faith and humility. In all their worries there is not a particle of piety but only a considerable amount of pride, cowardice and unbelief.


It would not be surprising if the reader has already sighed with disappointment and said: “O! He’s missed the very point I thought and hoped he was going to discuss. My main difficulty is not the distant past but the immediate past. What worries me most is the question of consent to sins of the mind, to sins — of thought, especially in the matter of purity.”

This is a big question, which cannot be adequately treated here. It is hoped, however, that the few principles which follow will be sufficient to solve the majority of cases of doubt about consent.

Let us consider the question of impure thoughts. It is morally impossible for a person who is habitually careful about purity to give full consent to impure thoughts without being fairly certain of it. When the will is habitually set against impurity, full consent to impure thoughts implies a somersault of the will, a volte-face, a turning round from North to South Pole. It is impossible for such a complete change to take place in the will without the mind being pretty certain about it. Uncertainty is, therefore, a clear sign that there was no full consent. In this matter we should go by what the theologians call “the law of presumptions.” If a person regularly gives way to sins of impurity, in case of doubt it is probable that there was sin. If a person never or hardly ever gives way to sins of impurity, in case of doubt it is morally impossible that there was serious sin, for the reason just given.

In the latter case, there is no real doubt, and so no question of taking the benefit of the doubt, if we ignore the worry and, after making a short act of contrition for any partial consent there may have been, go blithely on our way.

Unless we do this, we shall fall easy victims to the devil of scrupulosity.


People often worry about the confession of sins of impurity because they imagine that they did not make them black enough.

When confessing sins of impurity, it is neither necessary nor wise to go into details unless the circumstances change the nature of the sin. All that is required is to tell the kind of sin and the number of times it was committed. “Immodest touches once” would include any number of such touches at the one session. In this matter quite a lot is taken for granted; if, for example, intercourse is confessed, it is taken for granted that there were accompaniments; and so it is unnecessary to mention the fact. The time element need not, as a rule, be mentioned; because it makes no essential difference whether the sinful acts endured for five minutes or five hours.

In confessing sins of impurity, the rule is “No unnecessary circumstances, please!” In other words, there is no need to make them black — which statement can be taken in two ways with equal truth.


Do not confess doubtful sins as certain, to be on the safe side; because if you do, there won’t be any doubt about your lie. It is a lie to confess as certain what you know to be uncertain; and such a surrender to unreasoning fear and timidity weakens both character and spirituality. Tell the truth and be simple and terse about it. If you think it more likely that you consented to sin, say so; if you think it less likely, say so — and don’t waste a lot of time about it.

If you are doubtful about a sin, do not spend much time trying to solve the doubt, because the longer you analyse yourself, the more confused you will become, and you may even renew the temptation.


…The penitent has neglected to tell the number of times he has committed a certain sin, probably a venial sin. The confessor asks: “About how many times have you committed this sin?” The penitent is confused, his mind suddenly goes blank and he blurts out an answer, which is, of course, nothing more than an honest guess. On reflection, he realizes that his guess was very wide of the mark and, possibly, a considerable understatement. He is paralysed by fear that he has committed a sacrilege.

Sacrileges are not so easily committed. An indeliberate misstatement or error is not a lie. An honest guess is not a lie. The priest knew that a considered answer was impossible and, therefore, to safeguard the penitent, asked for an approximate number, “about how many times?” An approximate number was all that could be given in the circumstances and all that was asked.

What is the penitent to do when he discovers his mistake?

1. Learn wisdom. If sins are worth confessing, they are worth confessing accurately.
2. If there was a question of mortal sins, the penitent must confess the surplus at his next confession, which he need not anticipate.
3. If there was question of venial sins, he need do no more about it except learn wisdom.

You may ask: “If there was question only of venial sins, why did the priest ask about the number of times?” Probably to teach you to be more workmanlike and less slipshod in your accusations. More probably because he wanted to find out if the fault was inveterate or just a casual one. This knowledge might make a considerable difference to the advice he would give you. Dismiss your worry but learn from your experience.


Another worry which bothers many people is often expressed like this: “Father, I am sure I shall do the same thing again, so my contrition cannot be genuine.”

This very real worry is worth careful analysis. It originates in this way. First of all, the mind reviews the spiritual situation and surveys the past, the present and the future. Looking back, it sees many falls and considerable evidence of weakness of will. Looking to the future, it sees difficulties ahead, the same stale irritating difficulties; it takes into account the weakness of human nature, the difficulty of sustained effort, the monotony of routine, the effect of bad example, and so on. Having considered all this, the mind turns very cynically to the will and says: “It’s all right for you to make your fine resolutions now. At the moment you are all keyed up, but tomorrow you will slacken off and then down you will go again.”

The point is: Are you keyed up now? If you are, that is enough. All God asks is a firm resolution here and now; He does not demand a guarantee that your resolution will remain firm until the crack of doom. No one could give such a guarantee. “If anyone thinketh himself to stand, let him beware lest he fall.” If here and now you are determined to try not to fall again, it is waste of time to speculate about the future. If you want contrition, you have it.

It is never wise nor humble to be cocksure of our resolution. Cocksureness is as disastrous and odious in the spiritual life as in ordinary life, and its root is pride, not strength. There are some who, after a good confession and after working themselves up to sensible sorrow, seem to imagine that they are quite changed beings, who will never be in danger of falling again. As a result of this delusion, they confide in their own imaginary strength. Their cry is very like that of St. Peter: “Lord, though all should deny Thee, I will never deny Thee!,” and very unlike that of St. Philip Neri: “Lord, beware of this Philip or he will betray Thee! Lay Thy Hand upon my head, for without Thee there is not a sin I may not commit this day!”

When the presumptuous fall into sin again, they are surprised and indignant and become almost bitter and spiteful with God, as though He had let them down. It does not seem to strike them that they hardly deigned to ask God’s help, and that since, in their hard-headed presumption, they tackled the task single-handed, they have no one to blame for their failure but themselves.

One strong resolution is not going to make us Saints. The coalition of Satan, the “old Adam,” the world and the flesh is not so easily broken. It is neither wise nor humble to persuade ourselves that we shall never sin again. “He that thinketh himself to stand, let him beware lest he fall. … We carry our treasure in frail vessels.” “We must reckon with possibilities of sin and even probabilities, if there is question either of venial sins or of mortal sins by which we have long been enslaved.” [5]

Moral re-integration requires an uphill and tedious struggle and is hard to achieve, “the kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away.” The wise man says: “I shall most likely fall again, but I am going to do my very best not to fall.” The proud man says: “I shall never sin again.”

As you are making your purpose of amendment, the devil may insinuate into your mind something like this: “Don’t flatter yourself! Do you fancy that you are going to avoid all sin? Why! you are still the same person, the same old two-and-sixpence, and always will be.” The way to answer him is: “Yes, I know that I am the same person, the same old two-and-sixpence, and always will be. I know that I shall never be strong enough to vanquish you by myself. Of myself I can do nothing, but I can do all things in Him Who strengtheneth me.” “Power is made perfect in infirmity.” Spiritual strength comes from the recognition of our weakness and impotence, the strength of Divine Omnipotence.

Most worries about Confession would cease if all cultivated a spirit of trust in our Divine Saviour. Father Dignam, S.J., was once accused of treating a penitent with too much kindness. He replied, as a look of indescribable sweetness suffused his face: “Ah, you don’t understand what a priest’s heart is.” Those who approach Confession with unending misgivings and torturing scruples do not understand the Heart of the Great High Priest, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

In the confessional, the priest feels an enormous compassion and a boundless desire to help. Add together the compassion of all priests who have ever been or ever will be and you have garnered nothing comparable to the Infinite Compassion Incarnate which broods over you whenever you present yourself at the confessional.

His compassion is more than maternal. If you were confessing a fault to your mother, you would be quite certain that she would make allowances for your confusion and shame and defective memory. The compassion of Christ is infinitely greater than the combined compassion of all mothers of all time. If you believe that, you must not treat Our Lord as if He were a proud, stony-hearted tyrant. We are missing the whole point of the Sacrament of Penance unless we approach it in a spirit of deep trust.

1. Walshe, op. cit., p. 8.
2. Galtier, op. cit., p. 170.
3. Considine, op. cit., p. 102.
4. Cf. Ibid.
5. Scharsch, op. cit.


Firstly, let us imitate the confidence of the saints! You will come to realise that many of these revelations are remarkably similar! These quotes are taken mainly from ‘Consoling the Heart of Jesus’ by Fr. Gaitley, and ‘Words of Love’ by Bartholomew Gottemoller.

“God does not reject sinners and he will not reject you!” – Padre Pio

“If someone, at the Devil’s prompting, had committed every sin against God and then, with true contrition and the intention of amendment, truly repented these sins and humbly, with burning love, asked God for mercy, there is no doubt that the kind and merciful God Himself would immediately be as ready to receive that person back into His grace with great joy and happiness as would be a loving father who saw returning to him his only, dearly beloved son, now freed from a great scandal and a most shameful death.” – St. Bridget of Sweden

“God is such an inexhaustible wellspring of boundless mercy and natural goodness that never was there a devoted mother who as willingly stretched out her hand to her own child that she had carried under her heart, seeing it in a raging fire, as God does to the penitent, even if it were possible that he had the sins of all men himself and committed them a thousand times every day.” – Bl. Henry Suso

“I’m certain of this – that if my conscience were burdened with all the sins it’s possible to commit, I would still go and throw myself into our Lord’s arms, my heart all broken up with contrition; I know what tenderness He has for any prodigal son of His who comes back to Him.” – St. Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church

“Even if I had the sins of the whole world on my conscience, as well as the sins of all the condemned souls weighing on my conscience, I would not have doubted God’s goodness but, without hesitation, would have thrown myself into the abyss of the Divine Mercy, which is always open to us…” – St. Faustina (Diary, 1552)

“Even if you had committed all the sins of this world, Jesus repeats to you, “Many sins are forgiven thee because thou hast loved much!” – St. Padre Pio

“The greater your sins, the greater still the triumph of the goodness, charity, and clemency of this God Who is infinitely rich in mercy.” – St. Leonard of Port Maurice

“Infinite Mercy is exercised on our behalf in the measure that it finds us miserable and unworthy.” – Bl. Dina Belanger

“As the fire is fed with combustibles, and increases according as they are supplied, so My mercy is nourished with the miseries it consumes, and the more it receives the more it increases.” – Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata Ferrero

“There is no misery that could be a match for My mercy, neither will misery exhaust it, because as it is being granted- it increases. The soul that trusts in My mercy is most fortunate because I Myself take care of it.” (Diary, 1273)

My love is fed by consuming miseries; the soul that brings Me the most, if the heart is contrite and humble, is the one that pleases Me the most, because she gives Me an opportunity of exercising more fully My office of Saviour.” – Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata Ferrero

Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata Ferrero (taken from the ‘Decalogue of Mercy’ which he dictated to her):

“8. The more evil the state to which the soul is reduced by the sins of the past, by her disorders and passions, so much the more pleased is Love to have so much to accomplish in her.

9. Souls the most miserable, the most weak, the most infirm, are the best clients of Love, the most desired by the Divine Mercy.

10. These souls, thus become, as it were, the predilette [favourite] of God, will, like so many living monuments, exalt and magnify the multitude of His mercies, sending up to God the reflections of living light, His own light, which they have received from Him during their mortal life,- the multitude of kindnesses God has made use of to conduct them to eternal salvation. These souls will shine like previous gems, and will form the crown of the Divine Mercy.”

“My daughter, write that the greater the misery of a soul, the greater its right to My mercy” (Diary, 1182).

“Our Lord had promised that whoever looked upon His Cross, no matter how sinful he might be, even if he did so only at the end of his life, as did the good thief, would receive salvation.” – St. Francis de Sales’ sermon on Good Friday, 1622

Various words of Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata Ferrero: “My Heart is full of mercy, not only for thee, but for all… Imperfections cannot displease Me, unless the soul loves them… Provided I find good will in a soul, I am never weary of looking upon its miseries… the soul ought never to be afraid of God because God is all-merciful… Trusting souls are the robbers of My graces. Write that the pleasure I take in the trusting soul is inexpressible.”

“God hates sin infinitely, but He loves His creatures infinitely. As soon as the soul repents of its sin, it recovers the love of God. If all sinners wished to return to God with contrite and humble hearts, all would be saved. This infinite kindness desires that all men reach Heaven… A mother would be less eager to rescue her child who fell into a fire than God would be to embrace the repentant sinner.” – St. Leonard of Port Maurice

“Look at this amazing friendship Our Lord offers us! God’s tenderness protects us while we’re sinning, and He even pats us secretly and shows us our sins by the gentle light of His sweet mercy and grace. When we see ourselves so soul-dirty, we think God’s mad at us, and we’re encouraged by the Holy Spirit to feel godly sorrow and to pray. At that point, we want nothing more than to change ourselves and make God happy. We hope God has forgiven us and of course God has. Then our considerate Lord shows Himself to the soul. God is happy. The Lord’s face is the most cheerful one you’ll ever see. He welcomes the soul as a friend. God welcomes our souls as if they had been in pain and prison, which they have. Our considerate Lord then says, “Sweetheart, I’m glad you came to Me when you were hurting so. Know I’ve always been with you. Now you see Me. Now you see how much I love you. Now we are made one in bliss.” – Julian of Norwich

“My daughter, write about My mercy towards tormented souls. Souls that make an appeal to My mercy delight Me. To such souls I grant even more graces than they ask. (Diary, 1146)

“There are souls who thwart My efforts, but I have not given up on them; as often as they turn to Me, I hurry to their aid, shielding them with My mercy, and I give them the first place in My compassionate Heart.” (Diary, 1682)

“Write, My daughter, that I am mercy itself for the contrite soul. A soul’s great wretchedness does not enkindle Me with wrath; but rather, My Heart is moved towards it with great mercy.” (Diary, 1739)

“How very much I desire the salvation of souls!” (Diary, 1784)

“My secretary, write that I am more generous towards sinners than the just. It was for their sake that I came down from Heaven; it was for their sake that My Blood was spilled. Let them not fear to approach Me; they are most in need of My mercy.” (Diary, 1275)

“O my Jesus, Your goodness surpasses all understanding, and no one will exhaust Your mercy. Damnation is for the soul who wants to be damned; but for the one who desires salvation, there is the inexhaustible ocean of the Lord’s mercy to draw from.” (Diary, 631)

“God will not deny His mercy to anyone. Heaven and earth may change, but God’s mercy will never be exhausted.” (Diary, 72)

“Only that soul who wants it will be damned for God condemns no one.” (Diary, 1452)

“I cannot punish even the greatest sinner if he makes an appeal to My compassion, but on the contrary, I justify him in my unfathomable and inscrutable mercy.” (Diary, 1146)

“My daughter, write that the greater the misery of a soul, the greater its right to My mercy; urge all souls to trust in the unfathomable abyss of My mercy, because I want to save them all. On the Cross, the fountain of My mercy was opened wide by the lance for all souls- no one have I excluded!” (Diary, 1182)

“Do not lose heart in coming for pardon, for I am always ready to forgive you.” (Diary, 1488)

“The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to My mercy… He who trusts in My mercy will not perish, for all his affairs are mine, and his enemies will be shattered at the base of My footstool.” (Diary, 1059)

“Let the weak, sinful soul have no fear to approach Me, for even if it had more sins than there are grains of sand in the world, all would be drowned in the unmeasurable depths of My mercy.” (Diary, 1059)

“You are dealing with the God of mercy, which your misery cannot exhaust. Remember, I did not allot only a certain number of pardons.” (Diary, 1488)

“I am mercy itself; therefore I ask you to offer Me your misery and this very helplessness of yours and, in this way, you will delight My Heart.” (Diary, 1775)

The demon suggested to Adolphe Rette, a great sinner: “If God allows you to be walled up in distress, it’s to show you that you no longer have anything to hope for from Him… Sinners of your calibre cannot be redeemed… Take up your old ways again… Since God rejects you, since your existence has become a continual torment, you had best escape in death. So be a man—admit that everything is finished for you, jump into the darkness.” His good angel consoled him, saying: “The mercy of God is infinite towards him who repents. Hope and pray… Accept this trial with perseverance, for it is necessary… Go, humble yourself, fear nothing, you will be heard.”

“In the Sacrament of Penance, God shows us and shares with us His mercy even unto infinity… You have seen my candle at night: early in the morning it burned out. Where is it? It no longer exists, it is gone: in the same way, the sins for which one has received absolution no longer exist: they are gone.” – St. John Vianney

“There is no sinner in the world, however much at enmity with God, who cannot recover God’s grace by recourse to Mary, and by asking her assistance.” – St. Bridget of Sweden

“I was given mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Jesus Christ could show that he has patience without limit as an example to those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.” – 1 Timothy 1:16

“Divine goodness not only does not reject the repentant soul, but always seeks to find even the obstinate.” – St Padre Pio

“Should it happen that you have spent the greater part of your life in impiety and indifference, and that the sudden approach of the hour of death fills you with blinding despair . . . Oh! do not let yourself be deceived, for there is still time for pardon. If only one second of life remains to you, in that one second you can buy back eternal life!” – Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez

“We can hope. We are precisely the ones that Jesus came to save, for we are being lost. Yes, without Him we are perishing at every moment. We can hope, for whatever we may be guilty of, Jesus wants to save us. The more sinful we are, the closer to death, the deeper our state of despair for our body and our soul, the more it can be said that Jesus wants to save us, for He came to save what was about to be lost. We must never be discouraged, but always hope. We are on the edge of a gulf, we are about to sink…we are sinking. We are just the ones Jesus came to save. He wants to save us because we are sinking. He is infinitely good and infinitely powerful. To the very last, as long as there is a breath of life left, all can hope in Him.” – Bl. Charles de Foucauld

“If you are still young, if already the scandals of   your life have lowered you in the eyes of the world, do not be afraid. . . .   Even if there is reason to treat you as a criminal, to insult and cast you   off . . . your God has no wish to see you fall into the flames of hell. …   On the contrary He ardently desires you to come to Him so that He may forgive   you. If you dare not speak to Him, at least look at Him and let the sighs of   your heart reach Him, and at once you will find His kind and fatherly hand   stretched out to lead you to the springs of pardon and life.” – Jesus to Sr.   Josefa Menendez“Come all of you to Me and fear not, for I Love you all…   I will wash you in My Blood and you shall be made whiter than snow. All of   your offences will be submerged in the waters in which I myself shall wash   you, nor shall anything whatsoever be able to tear from My Heart its Love for   you.” – Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez“I will teach sinners that the Mercy of My   Heart is inexhaustible.” – Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez

“God cannot turn away his face from   those who cast themselves at his feet with a humble and contrite heart.”   – St. Alphonsus Liguori

“Christ’s love is greater than anyone can ever know but I pray that you will be able to know that love.”
– Ephesians 3:19

“God loved us before he made us; and his love has never diminished and never shall.”- Julian of Norwich

“…the love of God can be exhausted by no human iniquity” – Catechism of the Council of Trent

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His compassions NEVER fail; they are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness.” –   Lamentations 3:22-23

“Jesus Christ   is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

“Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to   separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans   8:39).

“Now, I want   something more, for if I long for love in response to My own, this is not the   only return I desire from souls: I want them all to have confidence in My   mercy, to expect all from My clemency, and never to doubt My readiness to   forgive. I am God, but a God of love! I am a Father, but a Father full of   compassion and never harsh. My Heart is infinitely holy but also infinitely   wise, and knowing human frailty and infirmity, stoops to poor sinners with   infinite mercy. I love those who after a first fall come to Me for pardon . .   . I love them still more when they beg pardon for their second sin, and   should this happen again, I do not say a million times but a million million   times, I still love them and pardon them, and I will wash in My Blood their   last as fully as their first sin. Never shall I weary of repentant sinners,   nor cease from hoping for their return, and the greater their distress, the   greater My welcome. Does not a father love a sick child with special   affection? Are not his care and solicitude greater? So is the tenderness and   compassion of My Heart more abundant for sinners than for the just. This is   what I wish all to know. I will teach sinners that the mercy of My Heart is   inexhaustible.” – Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez

“I will make   it known that My work rests on nothingness and misery—such is the first link   in the chain of love that I have prepared for souls from eternity. I will use   you to show that I love misery, littleness and absolute nothingness. I will   reveal to souls the excess of My love and how far I will go in forgiveness,   and how even their faults will be used by Me with blind indulgence . . . yes,   write . . . with blind indulgence. I see depths, the very depths of souls, I   see how they fain would please, console and glorify Me, and the act of humility they are obliged to make when they see themselves so feeble, is   solace and glory to My Heart. What does their helplessness matter? Cannot I   supply all their deficiencies? I will show how My Heart uses their very   weakness to give life to many souls that have lost it. I will make known that   the measure of My love and mercy for fallen souls is limitless. I want to   forgive them. It rests Me to forgive. I am ever there, waiting, with boundless love till souls come to Me. Let them come, nor be discouraged. Let   them fearlessly throw themselves into My arms! I am their Father.” – Jesus to   Sr. Josefa Menendez

“In our thoughts and in confession, we must not dwell on sins that were previously confessed. Because of our contrition,   Jesus forgave them at the tribunal of penitence. It was there that He faced   us and our destitution, like a creditor standing before an insolvent debtor.   With a gesture of infinite generosity, He tore up and destroyed the   promissory notes which we signed with our sins, and which we would certainly   not have been able to pay without the help of His Divine clemency.” – St. Padre Pio

“When disturbed by passions and misfortunes, may the sweet hope of His inexhaustible mercy sustain us. Let us hasten   confidently to the tribunal of penance where He awaits us at every instant   with the anxiety of a father; and even though we are aware of our inability   to repay Him, let us have no doubts about the solemn pardon pronounced over   our errors. Let us place a tombstone over them, just as the Lord has done.” –   St. Padre Pio

“The mercy of God is so great that he abandons no one.” – St. Padre Pio

“God’s mercy, my son, is infinitely   greater than your malice.” St. Padre Pio

“God, at the moment of absolution, throws our sins   over His shoulder. He forgets them; He annihilates them; they shall never reappear.” – St. John Vianney

“Our Redeemer longs to pardon and forget. He often awaits only a gesture or a thought of love on our part to grant an extraordinary grace to some sinner.” – Bl. Dina Belanger

“Love transforms and divinizes everything and mercy pardons all.” – Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez (December 5, 1922).

God’s Mercy: Always “Open” to us!

“Write: before I come as a just Judge, I first open wide the door of My mercy.” – Jesus to St. Faustina (Diary, 1146)

The door of My mercy is never closed; it is always ajar… anyone can open it.” – Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata

“My kitchen is My divine Heart. The kitchen is a public room open to all, to slaves and to free. So My Heart is open always to all and disposed to grant to all what they desire.” – Jesus to St. Mechtilde

“Knock and the door shall be opened.” – Matthew 7:7 (Today’s reading for Holy Mass)

“All grace flows from mercy, and the last hour abounds with mercy for us. Let no one doubt concerning the goodness of God; even if a person’s sins were as dark as night, God’s mercy is stronger than our misery. One thing alone is necessary: that the sinner set ajar the door of his heart, be it ever so little, to let in a ray of God’s merciful grace, and then God will do the rest.” St. Faustina (Diary, 1057)

“I stand at the door and knock.” – Jesus, Revelation 3:20

The SEEMINGLY unforgivable sin.

“The mercy of God is infinite and never refuses to forgive sinners.”

– Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez

No crime, however heinous, can be committed or even conceived which the Church has not power to forgive, just as there is no sinner, however abandoned, however depraved, who should not confidently hope for pardon, provided he sincerely repent of his past transgressions.”

– Catechism of the Council of Trent

“God promised His mercy to all, and granted to His priests the license of forgiving sins without any exception.”

– St. Ambrose of Milan (c. 340-397)

Firstly, to quote an old Catholic Encyclopaedia: “any and every sin can be forgiven” (if we sincerely ask for God’s forgiveness). God’s mercy is inexhaustible. You cannot have, nor can you ever exhaust the inexhaustible. It is impossible. Don’t fear to approach your loving Father with complete confidence. Fear is useless. The sooner you trust in God’s promises and the infallible teachings of His Church, the better.

The only way we can render ourselves unforgivable is if we become so hardened in sin, and so blind to God’s goodness, that we do not respond to God’s grace, and therefore do not ask for forgiveness. The ‘unforgivable’ sin is therefore best described/summarised as “obduracy”, which is more commonly referred to as “final impenitence” or “final unrepentance.” This simply means that our hearts are so hard and blind that we will never repent. When God grants us the grace of a sincere repentance, we should always thank Him immensely because “hope does not deceive.” It is impossible to repent without God’s grace. Numerous Church teachings (based on various Scripture passages) confirm this. This should console us greatly. God draws sinners to Himself by the sweet attractions of divine grace.

“… think about the mercy of God, because there are NONE who are such sinners that their sin is not forgiven them, if only they pray with a resolution to improve and with contrition.” – Mary to St. Bridget (Book 1, Ch 2) *Many revelations of God’s mercy can be found on this site that are essentially the same.

Here are some more authentic Catholic writings/teachings on the topic:

(Taken from ‘The Douay Catechism of 1649’)

Q. 923. What is final impenitence?
A. To die without either confession or contrition for our sins, as those do of whom it is said, “With a hard neck, and with uncircumcised hearts and ears, you always resist the Holy Ghost.” Acts vii. 51. And in the person of whom Job speaks, saying, “Depart thou from us, and we will not have the knowledge of thy ways.” Job xxi. 14.

(Taken from pp. 422-433 of ‘The Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma’ by Dr. Ludwig Ott)

§ 6. The Universality of the Church’s Power to Forgive Sins
The Church’s power to forgive sins extends to all sin without exception. (De fide.)

The attempts of the Montanists and the Novatianists to limit the scope of the Church’s power to forgive sins, were rejected as heretical by the Church. According to the teaching of the Council of Trent, Penance was instituted as a reconciliation of the faithful with God “as often as they fall into sin after Baptism” (quoties post baptismum in peccata labuntur). D 911; cf. 895, 4.30. It follows from this that Penance can be repeated at will, and that all sins without exception committed after Baptism can be remitted by the Church’s power to forgive sins.

Christ promised to His Church and transmitted to His Church the power to forgive sins without limitation. The expressions quodcumque solveris (Mt. 16, 19), quaecumque solveritis (Mt. 18, 18), quorum remiseritis peccata (John 20, 23) show that the power in question is conceived to be as inclusive and as general as possible. In addition to this Christ transferred His mission, in which the unlimited power to forgive sins is contained, to the Church (John 20, 21). He Himself put this power into operation by the forgiveness of the most grievous sins. Cf. John 7, 53 to 8, II ; Luke 7, 36-50; Luke 23, 43 ; Mt.26, 75.

In the time of the Apostles, St. Paul exercised the power of absolution, given to him by Christ, by the re-acceptance of a sinner at Corinth, who had given grave scandal, probably by the crime of incest (2 Cor. 2, 10; cf. I Cor. 5, I et seq.).

The passages cited by the opponents of this doctrine, Mt. 12, 31 et seq.; Mk. 3, 28 et seq.; Luke 12, 10 (sin against the Holy Ghost), and Hebr. 6, 4-6, refer to the sin of obduracy [i.e. final impenitence], which because of a lack of due dispositions, cannot be forgiven. 1 John 5, 16 does not treat of the power to forgive sins, but speaks of the exclusion of those lapsed from Christ from the intercessory prayer of the Church.

In Christian antiquity the generality of the Church’s power to forgive sins is witnessed by the Pastor Hermae, St. Dionysius of Corinth, St. Irenaeus of Lyons, St. Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Tertullian in the work De poenitentia, St. Cyprian, St. Pacian, St. Ambrose and St. Augustine (cf. Par. 4). Invoking Holy Writ St. Pacian says: “He says whatsoever you shall loose; He excepts nothing whatsoever. He says whatsoever, be it great or little” (Ep. 3, 12). St. Ambrose expresses himself similarly: “God makes no distinction; He promised His mercy to all, and has conferred the power of forgiveness on all His priests without exception” (De poenit. I 3, 10).

In spite of the basic recognition of the universality of the power to forgive sin, the discipline of penance was very strict in the primitive Church. Public penance was granted once only, and absolution of very grievous sins was sometimes deferred to the end of the sinner’s life, and in individual exceptional cases refused altogether. In order to meet an exaggerated rigorism, the Council of Nice (325), in can. 13, resolved that: “in regard to those in a dying condition, the ancient Church rule should be observed that nobody departing this life be deprived of the last and most necessary viaticum.” D 57. Cf. D 95, III, 147.

“One must not despair of even the greatest sinner as long as he lives here on earth” – St. Augustine

“Considering the omnipotence and mercy of God, no one should despair of the salvation of anyone in this life.” – St. Thomas Aquinas

“… to say that in this life there is any sin of which one cannot repent, is erroneous, first, because this would destroy free-will, secondly, because this would be derogatory to the power of grace, whereby the heart of any sinner whatsoever can be moved to repent, according to Proverbs 21:1: ‘The heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord: whithersoever He will He shall turn it.’” – St. Thomas Aquinas

“To express it simply: the sin against the Holy Spirit is a sin against the grace of faith and repentance offered by the Holy Spirit. It is unforgivable, not because of any defect in the infinite mercy of God, but because the sinner in some way does not want to be forgiven, and closes his heart (absolutely) against the mercy of God.” (Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine, by Archbishop Michael Sheehan) It is worth noting, here, that faith is an infused virtue. If we have it, it is God’s gift.

“God protests that when sinners repent of their iniquities, he will forget all their sins, as if they had never offended him. ‘But if the tricked do penance for all the sins he hath committed . . . . living, he shall live, and shall not die.’ ‘I will not remember all his iniquities that he hath done.’ By the Prophet Isaias, the Lord goes so far as to say: ‘Come and accuse Me,’ saith the Lord. ‘If your sins be as scarlet, they shall be made white as snow.’ Mark the words, ‘Come and accuse Me.’ As if the Lord said: Sinners, come to me, and if I do not pardon and embrace you, reprove me, upbraid me with violating my promise. But no! God cannot despise an humble and contrite heart. ‘A contrite and humble heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.’ – St. Alphonsus

“God wants all men to be saved (I Tim 2:4) and he calls everyone to repentance (2 Pet 3:9). The redemption won by Christ is superabundant: it atones for all sins and extends to every man and woman (Rom 5:12-21). Christ gave His Church the power to forgive sins by means of the sacraments of Baptism and Penance. This power is unlimited, that is to say, the Church can pardon all sins of all the baptized as often as they confess their sins with the right disposition. This teaching is a dogma of the Faith (cf. Council of Trent, De Paenitentia, can 1).”

“If any one saith, that in the Catholic Church Penance is not truly and properly a sacrament, instituted by Christ our Lord for reconciling the faithful unto God, as often as they fall into sin after baptism; let him be anathema” [Council of Trent, Canons on the Sacrament of Penance, 1].

“So, is there really a sin that God will not forgive? On His part, no, there is no such a thing…  The Father has accepted the infinite price of redemption. In doing that, He has literally bound Himself to offer forgiveness and grace without limit. Further, it is not just our race as a whole that has such a claim going for it—each individual human has it. St. Paul in Galatians 2.20 wrote that the Son of God “loved me, and gave himself for me.” But is that perhaps a special favor shown to Paul , a great saint? No, Vatican II, in its Constitution on the Church in them Modern World #22 assures us: “Each one of us can say with the Apostle: ‘The Son of God loved me, and gave Himself for me.’ ” Suffering and death in so hideous a form— He was and is willing to take it on for me, for just one soul! … the Father is never unwilling to forgive… ” – Fr. William Most (He goes on to explain how humans can become hardened and blind to the graces of God that lead us to repent… something which can always be done in this life).

Page 175 of ‘Radio Replies: Volume 1’ (with Imprimatur):

Question: ‘Can a priest forgive blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which Christ says shall not be forgiven in this world or the next?’

Answer: “There is no sin too great to be forgiven provided one sincerely repents of it. Christ really referred to evil dispositions of soul which are so hardened that one will LACK THE WILL TO REPENT. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is not blasphemy as commonly understood, but a determined resistance to the very grace of the Holy Spirit which is meant to save us. Thus the Pharisees who saw the miracles of Christ could not deny them to be miracles; yet rather than yield to the grace being offered them, they said that Christ wrought them with the help of the Devil and not by God. A man who rejects the very means God adopts to convert him is little likely to make use of other graces offered by God, and Our Lord warns us very strongly to beware of sinning against the light, since it seldom ends in repentance. Yet even such a man with the help of grace could repent of his bad dispositions and thus be converted and forgiven. Any unforgivableness, therefore, is on account of a man’s bad dispositions, not on account of the nature [gravity] of the sin. There is no absolutely unforgivable sin such as cannot be forgiven even though a man repents.”

“… this was a sin of willful malice and blindness to the light. As long as such a mentality persists, pardon is impossible, not because of any limitation of God, but because those who are guilty of this sin refuse to respond to the promptings of grace [which would lead them to ask for forgiveness].” – Taken from ‘A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture’

“God makes this promise to the contrite sinner: “If your sins be as scarlet, they shall be made white as snow; and if they be red as crimson, they shall be white as wool” (Is. 1:18). God makes no distinction between sinners; He permits the priest to forgive every sin without exception. Therefore no man is so godless and wicked but he may yet hope to obtain forgiveness, provided he is sincerely sorry for his transgressions. In fact God receives the sinner more graciously the greater his sin has been, just as a fisherman pursues his work more gladly, the bigger the fish he catches… the man who sins against the Holy Ghost is the man who will not amend. The fault does not rest with God, but with the man; for even if he acknowledges his sin he will not abandon it, and consequently does not bewail it. Without contrition and change of heart there is no forgiveness… That sin is only committed when a man persistently and wilfully withstands the inspirations of the Holy Ghost and dies in an attitude of resistance to Him.… The sick man cannot be cured of his malady if he refuses to take the remedy which is known to be unfailing; nor can the soul recover from its sickness if it reject grace, the infallible means of cure. Final impenitence [obstinate refusal to repent at the hour of death] is the only sin which God will not pardon; it is a greater insult to Him than sin itself.” – Taken from ‘The Catechism Explained’

“There are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone who deliberately refuses to accept His mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins, and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit. Such hardness of heart can lead to final impenitence, and eternal loss.” – CCC (Catholic Catechism)

“You see, final impenitence is found only in a soul who purposely wishes to go to Hell and therefore obstinately refuses My mercy, for I never refuse to pardon anyone. I offer the immense gift of My compassion to all, for My Blood was shed for all, for all!” – Jesus to Sr. Consolata Betrone

“… its unforgivableness must arise from something in its own nature… the sin against Him is the refusal of love: and this, unrepented, makes union with God impossible… that infinite mercy is inexhaustible because it is infinite.” – FJ Sheed (commonly regarded, with Garrigou Lagrange, as one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century)

Fr. Haydock’s Biblical commentary: “Ver. 25. Every kingdom… The Pharisees, on a former occasion, had laid a similar accusation against him. Then indeed he did not correct them, wishing them to discover his virtue from the miracles he performed, and the dignity of his character from the doctrines he delivered; but as they still continue the old accusation, he now wishes to convince them of their error. Envy does not so much seek how to speak, as what to speak. Yet Christ does not despise them, but answers them in the most meek and humble manner, teaching us to be charitable to our enemies, though they behave to us in the most inimical manner. By this also, our divine Saviour evidently demonstrates the falsity of the accusation; for it is never in the power of a possessed person to know another’s thoughts, nor give so mild an answer. And as his enemies did not dare, from fear of the people, openly to broach this base calumny, seeing their thoughts, he answered them; still he does not expose to public infamy the malice of their hearts, but gives them a private solution of their difficulty. (St. Chrysostom in St. Thomas Aquinas)

Ver. 31. The blasphemy[2] against the Spirit, or against the Spirit and the Holy Ghost… here is not meant a sin committed by speaking against the third person of the blessed Trinity, the Holy Ghost, but that sin by which the obstinate Jews wilfully opposed Christ, and attributed those miracles to Beelzebub, which he performed by the Spirit of God, of which they could not be ignorant, but by a wilful blindness. (Witham) — The sin here spoken of is that blasphemy, by which the Pharisees attributed the miracles of Christ, wrought by the Spirit of God, to Beelzebub, the prince of devils. Now this kind of sin is usually accompanied with so much obstinacy, and such wilful opposing the Spirit of God, and the known truth, that men who are guilty of it are seldom or ever converted; and therefore are never forgiven, because they will not repent. Otherwise there is no sin which God cannot, or will not forgive to such as sincerely repent, and have recourse to the keys of the Church. (Challoner)Therefore [Greek: “Through this”] I say: this therefore is not referred to what immediately precedes, but to what is said in verse 24. (Maldonatus) — Whosoever he be, says St. Augustine, that believeth not man’s sins to be remitted in the Church of God, and therefore despiseth the bounteous mercies of God, in so mighty a work, if he continue in his obstinate mind till death, he is guilty of sin against the Holy Ghost. (Enchir. lxxxiii. ep. 50. in fine.)

Ver. 32. Whosoever, &c. It was their duty to have a knowledge of the Holy Ghost, and they obstinately refused to admit what was clear and manifest. Though they were ignorant of the divinity of Jesus Christ, and might take him to be merely the son of a poor artizan, they could not be ignorant that the expelling of demons, and miraculous healing of all diseases, were the works of the Holy Ghost. If, therefore, they refused to do penance for the insult offered to the Spirit of God, in the person of Christ, they could not hope to escape condign punishment. (St. Chrysostom, hom. xlii). — Against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; i.e. they who for want of sufficient instruction, were invincibly ignorant that Christ was God, might more easily be brought to the true knowledge and faith of Christ, and so receive forgiveness of their sins: but if he shall speak against the Holy Ghost, i.e. against the Spirit of God in Christ, and shall oppose the known truth, by attributing to the devil that doctrine, and those miracles, which evidently were from the Spirit and the hand of God, that sin shall never be forgiven him. But how is this consistent with the Catholic doctrine and belief, that there is no sin any man commits of which he may not obtain pardon in this life? To this I answer, that in what manner soever we expound this place, it is an undoubted point of Christian faith, that there is no sin which our merciful God is not ready to pardon; no sin, for the remission of which, God hath not left a power in his Church, as it is clearly proved by those words, Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them, &c. St. Chrysostom therefore expounds these words, shall not be forgiven them, to imply no more, than shall scarcely, or seldom be forgiven; that is, it is very hard for such sinners to return to God, by a true and sincere repentance and conversion; so that this sentence is like to that (Matthew xix. 26.) where Christ seems to call it an impossible thing for a rich man to be saved. In the same place St. Chrysostom tells us, that some of those who had blasphemed against the Holy Ghost, repented, and had their sins forgiven them. St. Augustine, by this blasphemy against the Spirit, understands the sin of final impenitence, by which an obstinate sinner refuseth to be converted, and therefore lives and dies hardened in his sins. (Witham)”

“St. Thomas Aquinas replies that it is a question of a sin that is “unforgivable… insofar as it excludes the elements [repentance, humility etc.] through which the forgiveness of sin takes place… “blasphemy” does not properly consist in offending against the Holy Spirit in words; it consists rather in the refusal to accept the salvation which God offers to man through the Holy Spirit, working through the power of the Cross… It is to be hoped that few persist until the end in this state… Mercy in itself, as a perfection of the infinite God, is also infinite. Also infinite therefore and inexhaustible is the Father’s readiness to receive the prodigal children who return to His home. Infinite are the readiness and power of forgiveness which flow continually from the marvelous value of the sacrifice of the Son. No human sin can prevail over this power or even limit it. On the part of man only a lack of good will can limit it, a lack of readiness to be converted and to repent, in other words persistence in obstinacy, opposing grace and truth, especially in the face of the witness of the cross and resurrection of Christ.” – St. John Paul II, “The Mercy Pope.”

“Father Haydock, following St. Augustine, has made a very important point here: Jesus did not say that anyone who commits blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven even if he or she repents of that sin. If a certain kind of sin of blasphemy goes so deep that it’s truly unforgivable, there’s a good reason for this. But the reason is not because our God of Mercy isn’t willing to forgive, but because the sinner has rendered himself completely incapable of repentance, hardened beyond recall. Since God will not compel the person’s repentance, there is nothing more He can do for him. He cannot forgive a heart that is stubbornly impenitent to the bitter end. As Jesus says in Rev 3:30: “I stand at the door and knock.” But He will not kick the door down! We have to freely consent and let Him come in to our hearts, through repentance and faith…even if you had committed a grave sin that you had not yet confessed — even a terrible sin of uttering blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, one not so deep that it has hardened your heart irrevocably [in which you would not and indeed COULD NOT REPENT]— then you only need to go to confession at once. Christ Jesus will heal and save you from it! Jesus never, ever said He is unwilling to forgive a contrite sinner! A sin is only unforgivable to those who refuse to seek forgiveness.” – Dr. Stackpole

“When we read in Scripture that certain persons did not obtain pardon from God, even though they earnestly implored it, we know that this was due to the fact that they had not a true and heartfelt sorrow for their sins. Thus when we find in Sacred Scripture and in the writings of the Fathers passages which seem to assert that certain sins are irremissible, we must understand the meaning to be that it is very difficult to obtain pardon for them. A disease is sometimes called incurable, because the patient is so disposed as to loathe the medicines that could afford him relief. In the same way certain sins are not remitted or pardoned because the sinner rejects the grace of God, the only medicine for salvation. It is in this sense that St. Augustine wrote: When a man who, through the grace of Jesus Christ, has once arrived at a knowledge of God, wounds fraternal charity, and, driven by the fury of envy, lifts up his head against grace, the enormity of his sin is so great that, though compelled by a guilty conscience to acknowledge and confess his fault, he finds himself unable to submit to the humiliation of imploring pardon.” (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

“The sacrament of Penance has the power of remitting all sins no matter how numerous and great they are, provided it is received with the requisite dispositions.” – Catechism of St. Pius X

“In the Church there is no denial of a place of repentance for any crime whatsoever.” – St. Augustine

“God will not deny His mercy to anyone… God’s mercy will never be exhausted.” – St. Faustina (Diary, 72)

“I will make known that the measure of MY LOVE AND MERCY FOR FALLEN SOULS IS LIMITLESS. I want to forgive them. It rests Me to forgive. I am ever there, waiting, with boundless love till souls come to Me. Let them come, nor be discouraged. Let them fearlessly throw themselves into My arms! I am their Father.”

– Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez

Some other relevant considerations:
1. “And no one can say the Lord Jesus, but by the Holy Ghost” (I Cor. 12:3). “St. Paul tells us, that of ourselves we are not capable of even a good thought. ‘Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God’ (II Cor. 3:5).” (St. Alphonsus)
2. Repentance is impossible without God’s grace. “Without the assistance of God’s grace we can do no good thing: Without me, you can do nothing (Jn 15,5). St. Augustine remarks on this passage, that our Lord did not say, Without me, you can complete nothing,’ but ‘without me, you can do nothing’; giving us to understand that without grace we cannot even begin to do a good thing… we cannot even think a good thing, much less can we wish it. The same thing is taught in many other passages of Scripture: God works all in all (1 Cor. 12, 6). I will cause you to walk in my commandments, and to keep my judgments, and do them (Ezek. 36,27). So that, as St. Leo I says, ‘Man does no good thing, except that which God, by his grace, enables him to do,’ and hence the Council of Trent says: ‘If anyone shall assert that without the previous inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and his assistance, man can believe, hope, love or repent, as he ought, in order to obtain the grace of justification, let him be anathema.’ (St. Alphonsus)
3. “He absolutely cannot reject the sincere desire to love Him.” (St. Pio). “When souls seek to love the Lord He finds it impossible not to love them in return.” (St. Alphonsus)
4. “None of the damned was ever lost because his sin was too great, but because his trust was too small.” (Bl. Francis Xavier Seelos, confessor) Distrust closes our hearts, distinguishes our love of God, and leads to impenitence (though not necessarily final impenitence, which, according to ‘The Catechism Explained’, is typically the result of a very sinful life). Trust, however, opens our hearts to God’s grace, which removes all the stains of sin from our soul. “Sooner would Heaven and Earth turn into nothingness than would My mercy not embrace a trusting soul.” (Jesus to St. Faustina) These words are merely a confirmation of infallible Church teaching.
5. Our sins cease to exist after they are pardoned (Psalm 103:12). We must not cling to past sins. This offends Our Lord and will be the cause of new sins. “As soon as a soul throws itself at My feet and implores My forgiveness, Josefa, I forget all her sins” (Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez)
6. Many saints were tempted to despair, but they overcame this temptation by love and obedience. Our Lord works all to good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28). “All those temptations to blasphemy, unbelief, impurity and despair are not sins but sufferings, which if patiently born, bring the soul nearer and nearer to God.” (St. Alphonsus). St. Padre Pio is one example of a saint who was tempted to all of these things, but his perseverance brought him closer to God. Through these temptations, God gave him a greater knowledge of His love, which St. Pio shared with the faithful for their benefit! Our sufferings are never wasted!
7. “In all temptations, whatever kind they may be, mistrust yourself; cast a look at the crucifix, confide in God, and take courage; God will be faithful to you if you are faithful to Him.” (St. Joseph of Cupertino)
8. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is always open to us. When you look at a crucifix, always remember that the pierced Heart of Jesus is a “… safe asylum; for he who trusts in God is sheltered and protected by his mercy.” (St. Bernard of Clairvaux). This love is greater than the oceans, against which our sins and struggles will never be more than a drop. Likewise, the arms of Jesus are always open (as revealed to St. Bridget). By this it is meant that Our Lord is always willing to embrace us.

A story from Sr. Benigna Consolata Ferrero (October 23, 1903): “He sent me to say to a soul as discouraged as myself: Have confidence, Jesus loves you. I confessed to Him my embarrassment, never having seen the person. He answered by pointing her out to me; ‘This is she.’ I experienced a moment of hesitation as usual, but my sweet Master reassured me, adding that I ought to obey without fearing that the inspiration might come from the enemy; it being opposed to his plot, for he was trying to cause the loss of this soul by distrust.”

“He (the devil) is overcome by unlimited confidence in Jesus…” – Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata

Finally, Our Lord said to St. Faustina that “sooner would Heaven and Earth turn to nothingness” than would He fail to embrace (forgive) a trusting/repentant sinner (diary, 1777). Why? Because God cannot deny His nature; He shows compassion to the humble and contrite of heart, even if their “sins be as scarlet” (Psalm 51:17; Isaiah 1:18). If you have doubted God’s mercy ’til now, doubt no more! Our Lord has pardoned many greater sinners than you! Here are some inspiring conversion stories: https://littlestsouls.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/mary-mother-of-mercy-refuge-for-even-the-hardest-most-despairing-sinners-part-2/