February 7, 2008

March - meditations on Penance

March 1
There are two kinds of penance, interior and exterior. The first is necessary for all sinners; the second, for some is useful, for others is pernicious.

March 2
Penance is an agreement made with God to forsake evil and do good. In the same manner, before penance, one has abandoned what was good to do evil.

March 3
In the soul which judges and condemns itself without despairing, penance is a continuous refusal of any corporal consolation and mental delights.

March 4
Penance means to abstain from sin, thus one who does not care to give up every defect, but tenaciously lives by it, is not a perfect penitent.

March 5
Penance is measured more by the proportion of true humility than by the diversity and greatness of corporal afflictions.

March 6
Penance is the voluntary endurance of pain, affliction, insult, and all kinds of evil.

March 7
A true penitent has an unquenchable thirst and hunger for justice, derision, and all kinds of suffering.

March 8
A penitent is one who judges and condemns himself from the heart. He regards himself unworthy of pardon while he begs justice with mercy, and so his merit is being forgiven by God.

March 9
If you want to obtain pardon as soon as possible, ask God with heartfelt humility, not so much for justice but for mercy.

March 10
True penance excludes self-love; having no regard of itself, true penance ends in the pure love of God. False penance instead is caused by pain and or fear of death.

March 11
Penance always finds new ways to punish itself, to restrain gluttony and concupiscence, and thus always keeps the soul upright.

March 12
Just as those who are physically ill but of sound mind do not seek compassion from the doctor but a remedy to hasten their cure, a true penitent, in an effort to be healed again, provokes God’s meekness towards himself for healing.

March 13
A true penitent is not satisfied with just being reconciled with God; he seeks to grow more perfectly in virtue so that he might be pleasing to God.

March 14
A true penitent who is aware of having used illicit things abstains himself even from the licit ones.

March 15
Do not believe in such a bad thought that says: this is a little defect or that sin is of little importance, because Christ died for each of the sin we commit.

March 16
A sin which is not cancelled by penance, immediately, as a consequence, draws another sin. Indeed old sin needs greater attention and a persevering penance.

March 17
Christ’s penance, and that of Mary is different from ours, as light is different from darkness.

March 18
A penitent immediately rises from a fall caused by his ignorance or frailty.

March 19
A penitent drags himself too long when he falls out of his own malice and negligence, even though what he did may not be too grave.

March 20
Do not be distressed by useless misery. If you often fall out of your ignorance or frailty, do not despair but stand up, remember that the just does fall seven times a day and rises up.

March 21
The reliance of the one, who says, I will do this sin and then I will repent, is not in penance.

March 22
The true penance which is acceptable to God and fruitful for men is the mortification of the will and of one's passions.

March 23
Interior penance, which in spiritual realm is truly difficult, is more fruitful than exterior penance.

March 24
He who bears the lack of interior consolation from God with a tranquil spirit already practices true penance.

March 25
Sometimes an overwhelming lack of tenderness will be forced upon the one who uses exterior penance without discretion.
March 26
Just as he who gives himself to feeble things cannot be spiritually subtle or refined, so an indiscreet penitent cannot sometimes avoid from falling into serious defects.

March 27

Just as distractions, frequent disorderly movements, and obscurity of the mind accompany immoderation, so integrity of the mind and purity of chastity accompany moderate fasting of the penitent.

March 28
A penance which comes from God and which is accepted willingly, even if it may be something insignificant, is more pleasing to God, and more useful to man than any virtuous thing done.

March 29

He who considers exterior penance as his ultimate aim is similar to one who makes no difference between the end and the means, or between an inn and a home.
Fasting, vigils, and other corporal disciplines are good when the body is afflicted only to the point that it is not impaired from performing necessary activities.

March 30
Just as a sound body may lead us to sin, so a moderately afflicted one may lead us back to truth. Just as we fall from the joys of Heaven through gluttony, so through abstinence shall we return to them.

March 31
Some can endure a fast for two or three days, while others the daily meal is not substantial for them; nevertheless, without a sense of guilt we have to adapt to the age, physique, and habit of an individual. It is important to take care of nature. It would be imprudent not to do so.

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