One day St. Rose of Lima complained to Our Lord that He let her be exposed to a great danger of falling into sin. Perhaps we have been in this position before. Perhaps we have even fallen into mortal sin many times, despite what we thought to be our best efforts. Maybe we have become so discouraged that we almost expect to fall again…
Whatever the case may be, the good news is that God has not given up on us: if we desire Him, He desires us far more; for we cannot seek God without His grace.
“As soon as your soul is touched by grace, and before the struggle has even begun, hasten to My Heart; beg of Me to let a drop of My Blood fall on your soul. . . . Ah! hasten to My Heart . . . and be without fear for the past; all has been swallowed up in the abyss of My mercy, and My love is preparing new graces for you. The memory of your lapses will be an incentive to humility and a source of merit, and you cannot give Me a greater proof of affection than to count on My full pardon and to believe that your sins will never be as great as My mercy, which is infinite.” (Our Lord to Sr. Josefa Menendez)
If we etch the following truths deep in our hearts and minds, we will be preserved from many sins (provided that we persevere in prayer).
1. Grace is all–powerful. Grace is a participation in the Divine Nature; it is invincible, like God Himself. There is no sinner, however hardened, who cannot abandon his sins and be saved, provided that he calls on Almighty God with confidence and a will to turn from his wickedness. “Ask and you shall receive.”
2. God will not allow us to be tempted beyond our strength. We must not blame God for our falls. Deliberate sin, especially mortal sin, can always be avoided. If we fall, we can turn to God in humility, saying: “My Jesus, mercy! Help me to love You more! Please increase my humility. Help me to trust in you. Without You I am nothing and can do nothing.” And so forth. By our confidence we honour the infinite goodness of God. This is a sure way of obtaining great graces.
3. Without Grace we can do nothing. Everyone receives actual grace – absolutely everyone. Were God to withdraw His grace from us, we would not so much as be able to think a good thought. All life, all holiness, all wisdom, all intelligence, all goodness comes from Him. Pride is a perversion, a lie, spiritual theft, insanity (to a greater or lesser extent).
4. With God we can do all things. Every temptation we have overcome, any good we have ever done, any prayer we have made, any good we possess, is a gift from God. Why, then, do we not trust in Him?
Applying this knowledge to the pursuit of perfection – to which we are all called – it becomes evident that if we are to grow in love/holiness, we must place all our confidence in Almighty God, knowing that we can never place too much trust in Him, just as we can never place too little trust in ourselves!
St. Crescentia certainly distrusted herself, and she was profoundly humble and loving. It is written of her that if she heard of someone committing a mortal sin, she would say: “I should have fallen much lower than this unfortunate man, if Almighty God had not so powerfully upheld me; had the man, on the other hand, had the grace I possess, he would live a thousand times more piously than I do. He that thinketh himself to stand, let him take heed lest he fall.” Reflect seriously on these words, dear reader. We can never be too humble.
If we do fall into sin, we must not think: “But my spiritual life was going so well… I had avoided sin for so long… I was soaring with the saints!” No. We must attribute all our former success to God. Likewise, we must only expect to overcome sin with God’s help. Unless we trust in Our Lord, our efforts will be in vain.
“Let Me do it!” This is what Our Lord used to say to St. Veronica Giuliani. He says the same to us. If we are tempted, let Him do it: He will be our strength. If we desire holiness, let Him do it: He will sanctify us. Provided that we follow His inspirations and do not give in to a state of presumptuous passivity, He will lead us into His Sacred Heart.
I said earlier that St. Rose of Lima once complained to Our Lord that He allowed her to come close to falling into sin (or so she thought). This was Our Lord’s reply:
“Would you have conquered if I had not been in your heart? I am always with you and My grace forsakes you not; therefore weep no more.”
On another occasion, He said to her:
“They must no longer be deluded as to the meaning of pain; trial is the path to perfection; by it they attain beauty of soul and the summit of grace, and the glory of the Children of God. The Cross is the true and only ladder to reach Heaven. Without the Cross this ascent is impossible.”
Next time you are tempted, recall these words:
“Would you have conquered if I had not been in your heart? I am always with you and My grace forsakes you not.”