Malice of Venial Sin: it vitiates virtuous actions.
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.
Malice of Venial Sin: it vitiates virtuous actions.
Venial sin is a very great evil in its effects. As ‘dying flies spoil the sweetness of the ointment,’ so venial sin corrupts virtuous actions; and when it affects the foundation or principal intention of them it diminishes their value to such a degree that, ceasing to be acts of a supernatural order, they no longer merit eternal rewards. ‘Take heed that you do not your justice before men, that you may be seen by them, otherwise you shall have no reward of your Father who is in heaven.’ What conclusion are we to come to from these words of Jesus Christ, unless it be that virtue itself, if it originate in vain glory, shall receive no recompense in eternity?
But a thought of vain glory which determines us to the performance of a good work, being only a venial sin, (St. Thomas expressly says that the vain glory against which Jesus Christ here warns us is only a venial sin.) it follows that the fact of being vitiated in its motive by this species of sin suffices to rob an action of all its value and merit. St. Jerome affirms that, ‘martyrdom itself, if endured solely to win human applause, would be a fruitless sacrifice,’ destitute of all merit in the sight of God. St. Thomas, examining this question of venial sin, decides that, ‘if an action be performed through vain glory it is no longer meritorious of eternal life, even though this bad disposition should not amount to mortal sin.’ Elsewhere he thus confirms this doctrine: ‘though the action of him who gives alms through vanity be not bad under all its relations, still the act of the will is altogether wicked.’ It is true, therefore, that when venial sin so far influences the will as to be its directing principle, it is a poison which vitiates and completely destroys our good actions. Though our life were a continual prayer, though we should dispense treasures into the bosom of the poor, macerate our body by penance, exceed the angels in purity, excel the good Samaritan in charity, and at the same time practise patience, humility, and obedience in an heroic degree, still all these virtues would be devoid of merit should our heart unhappily imbibe the poison of pride, self-love, or sensuality, and those apparently laudable actions would degenerate into faults deserving of punishment.
Finally, though we should offer a pure intention to God on awaking, being careful to renew it frequently during the day, still the commission of a venial sin weakens its influence; it diminishes and sometimes even nullifies the value of our works till they be consecrated by a new oblation.
My soul! venial sin has mingled a base alloy with the gold of thy good works. With diabolical craft it has contrived to rob thee of the heavenly treasures thou mightest have each day amassed; it has robbed of its fairest ornaments the heavenly crown that it destined for thee.
Each time that it has so far insinuated itself as to exercise a directing influence on our actions, it has annihilated their merit and bereft us of so many degrees of eternal glory.
And yet, notwithstanding all this, we find it difficult to detest it; we even love and cherish it!
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.
September Devotion: The Holy Cross.
Virtues to practice: Piety, fervor in the performance of sacred duties, the spirit of prayer.
Mary, most holy Virgin and Queen of Martyrs, accept the sincere homage of my filial affection. Into thy heart, pierced by so many swords, do thou welcome my poor soul. Receive it as the companion of thy sorrows at the foot of the Cross, on which Jesus died for the redemption of the world. With thee, O sorrowful Virgin, I will gladly suffer all the trials, contradictions, and infirmities which it shall please our Lord to send me. I offer them all to thee in memory of thy sorrows, so that every thought of my mind, and every beat of my heart may be an act of compassion and of love for thee. And do thou, sweet Mother, have pity on me, reconcile me to thy divine Son Jesus, keep me in His grace and assist me in my last agony, so that I may be able to meet thee in heaven and sing thy glories. Amen.
An indulgence of 500 days
Crux mihi certa salus.
Crux est quam semper adoro.
Crux Domini mecum.
Crux mihi refugium.
The cross is my sure salvation.
The cross I ever adore.
The cross of my Lord is with me.
The cross is my refuge.
His Holiness, Pope Pius IX., by an autograph rescript, June 21, 1874, granted to all the faithful who, with at least contrite heart and devotion, shall say these prayers, drawn up in the form of a cross by the Angelic Doctor, S. Thomas Aquinas: AN INDULGENCE OF THREE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.
Adoramus te, sanctissime Domine Jesu Christe, benedicimus tibi; quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.
We adore Thee, O most blessed Lord, Jesus Christ, we bless Thee; because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.
His Holiness, Pope Leo XIII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of indulgences, March 4, 1882, granted to all the faithful who, with at least contrite heart and devotion, shall recite this ejaculation: AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.
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