The Purpose of Amendment
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
The Purpose of Amendment
The Purpose of Amendment consists in a firm resolution to avoid at least all mortal sins in the future, trusting not in our own strength, but in the grace of God. It must be a firm resolution, a mere wish to avoid sin will not do; we must be resolved to suffer every evil and to make every effort rather than offend God. We must be determined by the help of the grace of God not to fall back into our sins, resolving to fight manfully against temptations, and imploring the Divine assistance, “Thou calledst upon me in affliction, and I delivered thee” (Psalm Ixxx, 8), and saying with St. Paul “I can do all things in Him who strengtheneth me” (Phil, iv, 13). The soul must be firmly resolved not to return to sin, no matter what the sacrifice may be. If we have not this resolution to avoid all mortal sins in the future, there is no contrition, because it is impossible to detest and hate sin and to have sorrow for it without having this resolution to avoid it in the future, because future sins are opposed to God as well as past sins.
The purpose of Amendment for the future is contained in real true sorrow for sin, but it is always well to make explicit acts of avoiding sin and the occasions which lead to it.
The Purpose of Amendment must be efficacious that is, we must be prepared to take all the means which are necessary to avoid sin, such as to keep away from the proximate occasions of sin. If persons go into the free and proximate occasions of sin they are sure to fall: “he that loveth danger shall perish in it” (Eccles. iii, 27).
If persons go into such occasions of sin it is a proof that they had not an efficacious Purpose of Amendment, and that consequently they had no real, genuine sorrow for their sins, and that their Confessions, to say the least of them, were invalid.
If after Confession there is no change and no Amendment but continual relapses into the same sins there is reason to fear that there was no sorrow and no efficacious Purpose of Amendment and that consequently the Confessions were bad.
But if a person falls sometimes into a sin, or even into the same sin after Confession this is not a proof that he had not true sorrow and a Purpose of Amendment. A violent temptation, together with human frailty, may possibly overcome a penitent sinner, change his good will, and lead him into sin.
“Relapses, however frequent they may be, are by no means an indisputable token of a firm Purpose of Amendment having been wanting in past Confessions, for the will, driven on by passions within, and lured by the presence of agreeable objects without, and deprived of that light wherewith it was aided in approaching the Sacred Tribunal, may easily change” (Scaramelli, Vol. II, Section 2, Article xi, Chap. VI).
A person who gives up sin, and who amends his life may take it as an infallible sign that he has had true sorrow for his sins.
Another quality of true Amendment is that it must be universal. We must be resolved to avoid all mortal sins without any exception. It is of no avail to avoid some sins and to have an affection for others. God will not be satisfied with a divided heart; “No man can serve two masters” (Matt, vi, 24).
We cannot do better than finish this very important subject in the words of Fr. Scaramelli: “Effectual and efficacious repentance is that which is accompanied by a serious and firm resolve not to fall again into the same faults; for as Lactantius has it, ‘to do penance is simply and solely to protest our resolution of sinning no more’” (Instit, Cap. 15). And St. Gregory combining with great accuracy the two essentials of true repentance, says that to repent is neither more nor less than to grieve over the evil we have done, and not to do again the evil that we grieve over. For as much as he who mourns over his sins yet continues to commit them either knows not what repentance really is, or else acts as if he did not know (Hom. 34, in Evang.). These practical sayings may well furnish grave matters of doubt to certain persons who come again and again to Confession with the self-same sins. Such persons should consider that if their sorrow was as efficacious as it should be, it would naturally have a strong tendency to diminish the future number of their sins; it would strengthen and steady their wills; and it would, at least in course of time, bear witness to itself by a certain amendment, so as to bring them at length to the unblemished purity after which they should aspire. It has been well said by St. Ambrose: “In order that our past sins be not imputed to us, and that we be considered as innocent of them, sorrow and tears are not enough; Amendment must also be required” (De Poenit, Lib. II). Confession unless accompanied with an efficacious repentance, joined to a firm and earnest Purpose of Amendment, will not avail to cleanse the soul from sin, nor produce reform of life; nor will it help them to acquire that purity of Conscience which is so necessary for such as would make progress in Christian perfection. St. Augustine is more explicit on this point. He says “that without true repentance, there never can be a real change of life, whether the sins we commit be great or small” (Ep. ad. Vincentium). (Scaramelli Vol. I, Section I, Article viii, Chap. II).
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
– by Rev. P. Ryan
– Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur October 10, 1910
By the love and respect we owe to Jesus Christ our Lord, I beg of you to begin without delay to amend your lives with the greatest care, so that at the last day, when it will be necessary to give an exact account of them, you will be found worthy. – St. Ignatius of Loyola, Letter 13.
February Devotion: The Holy Trinity (also the Holy Family)
Virtue to practice: Humility
I vow and consecrate to God all that is in me: my memory and my actions to God the Father; my understanding and my words to God the Son; my will and my thoughts to God the Holy Ghost; my heart, my body, my tongue my senses and all my sorrows to the sacred Humanity of Jesus Christ, ‘who was contented to be betrayed into the hands of wicked men and to suffer the torment of the Cross.’ – St. Francis de Sales
An indulgence of 3 years.
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if this act of oblation is devoutly repeated every day for a monh (S.P.Ap., Sept. 22, 1922 and May 12, 1934).
The faithful who devoutly offer any prayers in honor of the Most Holy Trinity with the intention of continuing them for nine successive days, may gain:
An indulgence of 7 years once each day:
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions at the end of the novena (S.C. Ind., Aug. 8 1847; S.P. Ap., Mar. 18, 1932).
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