Monday, July 3, 2017

Let Us Repent Following the Example of the Prodigal Son by Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

How can worldlings, living in sin, amidst earthly pleasures and dangerous occasions hope for a happy death? God forewarns sinners that in death they shall seek Him, and shall not find Him: "You shall seek me, and shall not find me." (Jn 7:34.) God says, that then will be the time for vengeance, not for mercy: “Revenge is mine, and I will repay them in due time” (Dt. 32:35).

Reason tells us the same; for at the hour of death, a worldly man will find himself weak in mind; his heart obscured and hardened because of his evil habits: his temptations will be stronger; and how will he be able to resist at the hour of death, who during life was so often and so easily conquered?* An all-powerful Divine grace would be needed to change his heart; but is God obliged to give him this grace? Has he deserved it, with the unholy life he has led?... And yet this is a question of eternal happiness or eternal misery… How is it then possible that, reflecting on this, he who believes in the truths of faith does not give up everything to give himself entirely to God, who will judge us according to our works?

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O my Heavenly Physician, cast Thine eyes upon my poor soul, look upon the many wounds I have inflicted upon myself by my sins, and have pity on me. I know that Thou canst and wilt heal me; but to be healed Thou desirest that I repent of the injuries I have done Thee. Yes, I do repent of them with all my heart; heal me, then, now that Thou canst heal me. “Heal my soul, for I have sinned against Thee” (Psalms 40:5). I have forgotten Thee, but Thou hast not forgotten me; and now Thou makest me feel that Thou wilt also forget my past offenses against Thee if I detest them. “But if the wicked do penance, I will not remember all his iniquities.” (Ezech. 18:21). Behold, I now detest and abhor them above every evil… forget, then, O my Redeemer, all the grief I have caused Thee. In future, I will lose all, even life itself, rather than Thy grace. And of what use to me are all the goods of this world without Thy grace?... Ah, assist me:_ for Thou knowest how weak I am! Hell will not cease tempt me; already it prepares for me a thousand assaults, to make me once more its slave. No, my Jesus, do not forsake me. From this day hence forth I will be the slave of Thy love. Thou art my only Lord, Thou hast created me, Thou hast redeemed me, Thou hast loved me beyond all others… Thou alone deserves to be loved, Thee only will I love.

*Editor’s Note: It is true that after a life of constant sin there may be exceptional cases of genuine repentance and perfect contrition at the time of death, having time for it, but exceptional cases, such as Dimas’ story, are that . However, the norm is that one dies as one lives, for the hardness of heart that generates a constant sinful life hardly breaks. Hence the importance of always living in a state of sanctifying grace, or of recovering it, if unfortunately it has been lost. If we have had a bad life, let us follow, in time, the example of the prodigal son and let us keep on the grace and friendship of God.


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