Encouragement For Those Tempted To Despair…

“I have no resource against this temptation to despair, but to throw myself before the Tabernacle, like a little dog at his master’s feet.”

– St. John Vianney

The Devil tempts many to despair; he often reserves this tempation for those who serve God, or who wish to serve Him. Impenitent sinners and the lukewarm are more likely to be tempted to presumption.

The temptation to despair takes different forms. Some believe that they will not persevere; others believe that they have managed to exhaust the infinite mercy of God. For this latter temptation, it will be profitable to consider the words of God to St. Hildegard.

God made known to her His great mercy for souls. He assured her – and He assures us –  that a sinner is only ‘beyond’ help if they obstinately refuse it; even those who have terribly blasphemed God can be pardoned, provided that they repent of their malice, recognising that God’s mercy is infinitely greater than all their sins. As long as a breath of life remains to us, we may hope for pardon. Speaking of those who have committed various grave sins, God says that they will be forgiven if they return to Him…

 “But if they persevere in their infidelity… [If they] remain impenitent…  And if they persist in this, they cannot receive pardon because of… their obduracy [hardness of heart or final impenitence], for they so stifle the understanding of their hearts that they cannot aspire upwards.”

And yet, God continues:

 “… But if any of these [ie. those who have blasphemed God’s love] is led by penitence and truly seeks Me, he shall find Me, for I reject no one who comes to Me with a sincere heart.”  

What, then, do we fear? God is always ready to embrace us! God continued to tell St. Hildegard that those who confide in Him when tempted to despair or blasphemy, can be assured of His assistance, as He has great compassion for those who are tormented by these grave temptations. Many of the saints were tempted thus. We can be consoled by the thought that our infinitely loving and wise Saviour permits these trials for our merit, for the salvation of souls, for His glory, and so that we may grow in humility, faith, hope, love, and thereby be purified through the crucible of suffering that renders us like Jesus. God loves all souls, but most especially those who bear sufferings for His sake; their reward will be great in Heaven.

Touching briefly on the tempation that we will not persevere – rest assured that the desire to do God’s will (which is an effect of His grace) is always accompanied by the grace to actually do God’s will. Our Lord said to Sr. Benigna Consolata that those who seek to please God in all things, become His “Benjamin” –  that is, His favourite!

It is also a useful practice, when tempted to despair, to flee to Our Lady, Hope of the Despairing. She cannot fail to succour us, but we must have great confidence in her.

Peace to men of good-will!

Distrustful soul, “Confide in the mercy of God.”

Distrustful soul, “Confide in the mercy of God.”

The following words, so typical of the gentleness and love of St. Francis de Sales, are taken from ‘Frances de Sales: A Study of the Gentle Saint’, by Louise M. Stacpoole Kenny, p. 45-46): “In particular one hardened old veteran … Continue reading

God’s Great Love For Judas

God has an intense love for all sinners, whom he came to save. Judas, who is referred to in Scripture as the “son of perdition”, tragically seems to have rejected God until the last. Reflecting on the life and death of Judas, we can learn some valuable lessons:

+ “God hates sin; but at the same time never ceases to love the sinful soul while it remains on earth, and always gives it the assistance it requires for salvation: ‘But Thou sparest all, because they are Thine, O Lord, Who lovest souls.’ [Wisd. 11: 27] – St. Alphonsus

+ “Each soul is a matchless treasure [to God]” (Jesus to Sr. Mary of the Holy Trinity). Speaking of the Passion, St. John the Evangelist spoke thus to Sr. Josefa Menendez: “How His Heart thrilled at the thought of the moment, then approaching, when He would go to the Father, but it was crushed with sorrow at the sight of one of the Twelve, one specially chosen, who was to deliver Him up to death, and at the knowledge that for the first time His Blood was to prove useless to save a soul.”

+ To doubt God’s love is great blasphemy. According to the revelations of St. Catherine of Siena, as well as the words of St. Jerome, the despair of Judas was a greater offence to God than his betrayal. In an act of infinite love, Jesus died to save Judas; he doubted this love, thereby blinding himself to the graces of God which sought to save him. Apart from an extraordinary grace, the consequence of despair “worked logically out, is final impenitence” (Fr. Faber). It is in this sense that despair is unpardonable. “The mercy of God [of course] is infinite towards him who repents”; the guardian angel of Adolph Rette assured him of this when he was tempted to despair! How beautiful.

“Some say, ‘I have done too much evil; the good God cannot pardon me.’ My children, this is a great blasphemy; it is putting a limit to the mercy of God, which has no limit – it is infinite” (St. John Vianney). St. John Vianney proceeds to encourage us (as well as those in despair) to trust in God’s infinite mercy. The remainder of the quote can be found here: https://littlestsouls.wordpress.com/2012/06/21/to-sinful-souls-drowned-in-despair-25/

We must always remember the following: the Precious Blood of Jesus (which was shed in remission for our sins) is infinitely more pleasing to God than our sins are displeasing to God.

+ God’s just anger does not diminish his love. Despite rejecting His love, God still loved Judas, as we have seen. Love itself takes no delight in the death of the wicked [Ezek. 18:23]. Jesus said to Sr. Josefa (and other chosen souls): “My Heart is so sharply wounded at the loss of souls… especially when they are among My chosen ones.” In fact, in the life of St. Joseph of Cupertino, we read that “the loss of Judas was the worst pain of the Passion” (Fr. Faber, p. 250 of ‘Notes on Doctrinal and Spiritual Subjects, vol. 1’).

+ “God condemns no one” (St. Faustina). Properly speaking, God offers everyone abundant grace to be saved. Consequently, they alone are lost who reject God at the “moment of death”, says St. Catherine. St. Rose of Lima was once troubled by the mystery of predestination. Our Lord consoled her with the following words:

“My child, know that I only condemn those who, by resisting My graces, will obstinately lose their souls: continue, therefore, to make a good use of them, live in peace, and be no longer disturbed with this fear.”

(Taken from p. 175 of ‘St. Rose of Lima’)

+ Relapse into sin prefigures final impenitence. “There is something in the peculiar malice of a relapse very congenial to final impenitence” (Fr. Faber, p. 384 of ‘Growth in Holiness’). A holy fear of sin is necessary in the spiritual life. God promises forgiveness for the repentant, but He does not promise the grace of repentance to any sinner. (There are some extraordinary exceptions, such as the First Nine Fridays devotion etc.)

“Never does My Heart refuse to forgive a soul that humbles itself, especially when it asks with confidence.”

– Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez

“Ah! daughter, how should I not love you?… My Son shed His Blood for all men… all are my children. But when Jesus selects one soul in particular, my Heart rests in her.”

– Our Lady to Sr. Josefa Menendez