Our Lenten Journey with St Francis de Sales – 1 March – Ember Wednesday
“The troubles of my heart are multiplied,
deliver me from my necessities.
See my abjection and my labour
and forgive me all my sins.”
“The men of Nineveh will rise up
in the judgement with this generation
and will condemn it;
for they repented
at the preaching of Jonah
and behold, One greater than Jonah is here.”
St Francis de Sales (1567-1622)
“LET ANYONE WHO IS STANDING BE FEARFUL lest he fall, says the Apostle [1 Cor 10:12]; let no-one glory in finding himself expressly called by God, to a place where there seems nothing to fear.
Let no-one presume on his good works and think he has nothing more to fear.
St Peter, who had received so many graces, who had promised to accompany Our Lord to prison and even to death itself [Lk 22:33], denied Him, nevertheless, at the whimpering taunt of a chambermaid!
Judas sold Him for such a small sum of money!
These falls were both very great but there was this difference. One acknowledged his guilt; the other despaired.
Yet, our Saviour had inspired in the heart of both, the same Peccavi [admission of guilt] (“I have sinned”) that same Peccavi that God inspired in David’s heart. [2 Kgs (2 Sm.) 12:13].
Yes, He inspired it in both Apostles but one rejected it and the other accepted it. Hearing the cock crow, St Peter remembered what he had done and the word his good Master had spoken to him. Then, acknowledging his sin, he went out and wept so bitterly [Matt 26:74-75; Lk 22:61-62] that he received what we today call a Plenary Indulgence and full remission of all his sins. O happy S. Peter! By such contrition for your sins you received a full pardon for such great disloyalty!
From this time on, St Peter never ceased weeping, principally when he heard the cock crow at night and morning, for he remembered this crowing as the signal for his conversion.
It is also reported that he shed so many tears that they hollowed his cheeks into two furrows. With these tears he, who had been a great sinner became a great saint.
“O glorious St Peter, how happy you are to have done such great penance for such great disloyalty. By it you were reinstated in grace. You, who deserved eternal death became worthy of eternal life.”
Not only that but St Peter received here below, special favours and privileges and was lavished with blessings on earth and in Heaven.
On the other hand, although Judas received the same inspiration for the same Peccavi, he rejected it and despaired. I know that efficacious and sufficient grace differ, as theologians say but I am not here to prove and dispute, whether Judas’ inspiration … was as efficacious as David’s, or only sufficient.
It was certainly sufficient.
This Peccavi, sent to the heart of Judas, was truly like that formerly sent to David. Why then was Judas not converted?
O miserable man!
He saw the gravity of his crime and despaired.
Truly, he confessed his sin, for in returning to the chief priests the thirty pieces of silver for which he had sold his good Master, he acknowledged aloud that he had sold innocent blood. [Matt. 27:3-5]. But these priests would give him no absolution.
Alas, did not this unhappy man know that Our Lord alone could give it to him, that He was the Saviour and held Redemption in His hands?
Had he not seen this truth clearly in those whose sins Jesus had remitted?
Certainly, he knew it but he did not wish, nor dare to ask pardon. To make him despair, the devil showed him the enormity and hideousness of his crime and, perhaps, made him fear that if he asked his Master’s pardon, He might impose too great a penance.
Perhaps, for fear of such penance, he was unwilling to ask for forgiveness.
Thus, despairing, he hanged himself and his body burst wide open, all his entrails spilling out [Acts 1:18] and he was buried in the deepest of Hells.” – Sermon for Good Friday 25 March 1622.
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