Punishments of venial sin: Chastisements in this life.

Punishments of venial sin: Chastisements in this life.


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.

Punishments of venial sin: Chastisements in this life.

Moses is a striking example of the vengeance sometimes exercised by divine justice on venial sin, in this life. He was, says the Holy Scripture, ‘beloved of God and men.’[1] ‘The Lord spoke to him face to face as a man is wont to speak to his friend.’[2] ‘He made him like the saints in glory, He glorified him in the sight of kings.’[3] ‘After him no prophet was found like to him in Israel.’[4]

This great man, ‘the chief of the princes of Israel, the consecrator of the Pontiffs of the Old Law,’[5] who was always ‘superior to his passions, who disdained all the temporal joys of Egypt, who, in his chaste conversations with God, received a vivid impression of sanctity, and, as it were, the plenitude of all virtues;’[6] this great man had the misfortune to fall into a slight sin of distrust, which, in the opinion of the most esteemed theologians, was but a venial fault: ‘he struck the rock twice with his rod.’[7] ‘He feared,’ says St. Augustine, ‘lest the sins of the people should prove an obstacle to the divine promise and render his word powerless to draw water from the rock.’ But, oh, terrible effect of the divine wrath on a fault seemingly so slight! God instantaneously issued forth this dreadful decree: ‘Go up to the mountain of Nebo.’[8] ‘Thou shalt see the land before thee, but thou shalt not enter it.’[9] ‘Thou shalt not lead these people into the land that I will give them.’[10] ‘Thou shalt be gathered to thy people.’[11] ‘Moses went up to the mountain and died there.’[12] So prompt and inevitable is the execution of divine justice. Oh, fearful warning! ‘Howl, thou fir-tree, for the cedar is fallen.’[13] He is fallen, this elect one, struck by the hand of God Himself. He is fallen just as he is about to enter the promised land, the land ‘flowing with milk and honey.’[14] He can behold it; for long years it has been the object of his most cherished aspirations, at length he is about to reach it after unheard-of toils and trials. Vain hope! for one light fault he is doomed never to enter it! He dies, and his death is accompanied by circumstances the most calculated to enhance the severity of his punishment. The Almighty, as though fearing to be moved by the prayers of Moses, forbids him to solicit pardon. ‘It is sufficient, speak no more to me of this matter;’[15] and to divest his servant of even the consolation of hope He confirms by an oath the sentence of death He has pronounced. ‘The Lord hath sworn that Moses should not pass over the Jordan.’[16] He even names to him his successor: ‘Thou shalt not go in thither, but Josue, the son of thy minister, he shall go in for thee.’[17] But the severity of the sentence is about to reach its climax. ‘Go up to the top of Phasga, and cast thy eyes round about, to the west, and to the north, and to the south, and to the east;[18] ‘behold the land for which I swore to Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob. Thou hast seen it and shalt not pass over to it.’[19] What a trial for Moses! What an expiation for his sin! ‘Lord, be not angry, I beseech Thee, if I speak to Thee, whereas I am but dust and ashes;’[20] ‘consider that it is Moses Thy servant, from whom Thou exactest so severe a retribution for so slight a fault; Moses, who denied himself to be the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, rather choosing to be afflicted with the children of God, than to have the pleasure of sin for a time;’[21] Moses, who, burning with a holy indignation, ‘laying hold of the golden calf, the execrable object of Jewish idolatry, burnt it and beat it to powder;’[22] ‘who was the meekest of men;’[23] who, during a period of forty years, bore the mutinies and revolts of a stiff-necked people with invincible patience; who, instead of avenging their contempt of his authority, their outrages and violent assault with stones, offered for them the inimitable prayer: Lord, ‘either forgive them this trespass or strike me out of the book that Thou hast written;’[24] it is Moses, in fine, whom Thou hast Thyself declared to be ‘the most faithful in all Thy house.’[25] What, O ‘God of clemency!’[26] Thou whose mercy knoweth no bounds, whose Heart is an inexhaustible treasure of goodness, Thou refusest to pardon him! Thou dost not even postpone his punishment! Is he then who so often propitiated Thy anger in favour of others the only one towards whom Thou art unrelenting? Lord, Lord, remember thy former kindnesses. Vain prayer! ‘The Lord hath sworn, and He will not repent.’[27] The fiat has gone forth. Moses must die. The splendour of his miracles, the greatness of his merits, the number and perfection of his virtues, will not obtain the revocation of his sentence. He must die for a fault which seems to us so slight, die on Mount Nebo, from which, to augment his grief, he will behold the fertile regions of the promised land.

What an awful lesson to future ages of the enormity of venial sin!

Unhappy we! ‘If in the green wood they do these things, what shall be done in the dry?’[28] If Moses is punished unsparingly for one venial sin, what have not we to expect who daily and maliciously multiply our offences?

[1] Eccles. xlv. 1.
[2] Exod. xxxiii. 11.
[3] Ecclus. xlv. 2.
[4] Deut. xxxiv. 10.
[5] St. Greg. Naz. Disc. 22.
[6] St. Ambr.
[7] Numb. xx. 11.
[8] Deut. xxxii. 49.
[9] Deut. xxxii. 52.
[10] Numb. xx. 12.
[11] Deut. xxxii. 50.
[12] Deut. xxxiv. 1, 5.
[13] Zach. xi. 2.
[14] Deut. vi. 3.
[15] Deut. iii. 26.
[16] Deut. iv. 21.
[17] Deut. i. 37, 38.
[18] Deut. iii. 27.
[19] Deut. xxxiv. 4.
[20] Gen. xviii. 27, 30.
[21] Hebr. xi. 24.
[22] Exod. xxxii. 20.
[23] Numb. xii. 3.
[24] Exod. xxxii. 31, 32.
[25] Numb. xii. 7.
[26] Acts xxiv. 4.
[27] Ps. cix. 4.
[28] Luke xxiii. 31.


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

lnvocation of St. Thomas Aquinas to the Cross.Crucifixion

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.

Copyright © 2013 – 2015. Holy Cross Publications. All rights reserved.

Comments are closed.