The Book of Confidence - Chapter Four - Part 3 God Grants Us All the Necessary Helps for the Sanctification and Salvation of Our Souls
Certain anguished souls doubt their own salvation. They dwell too much on their past faults; they think of the violent temptations that at times assault all of us; they forget the merciful goodness of God. This anguish can become a veritable temptation to despair.
While a young man, Saint Francis de Sales experienced a trial of this kind. He trembled at the thought of not being predestined to heaven and passed through a number of months in this interior martyrdom. A heroic prayer freed him: the Saint prostrated himself before an altar of Mary, beseeching the Virgin to teach him to love her Son with a charity as ardent on earth as the fear he had of not being able to love Him in eternity.
In this form of suffering, there is a truth of faith that should console us immensely.We are lost only by mortal sin.
This we can always avoid, and, even when we have suffered the disgrace of committing it, we can always be reconciled with God. An act of sincere contrition, made immediately, without postponement, will purify us, while we await the obligatory confession, which should be made without delay.
Certainly the poor human will should always distrust its weakness. But the Saviour will never refuse us the graces that we lack. He will also do everything possible to help us in the supremely important endeavour to save our souls.
Behold the great truth that Jesus Christ wrote with His precious Blood and that we are now going to reread together in the history of His Passion.
Have you ever reflected upon how the Jews were able to seize Our Lord? Do you believe, perhaps, that they succeeded in this crime by cunning or by force? Is it possible to think that, amid the great turmoil, Jesus was overcome because He was the weaker?
Certainly not. His enemies could do nothing against Him. In the three years of His preaching, they wanted to throw Him from a cliff; on various occasions they took up rocks to stone Him. Always, however, the Divine Word frustrated the plans of the impious; the sovereign force of God held back their hands, and Jesus always calmly withdrew, without anyone having been able to do Him the slightest harm.
In Gethsemane, the soldiers of the Temple came to take possession of His sacred person. Upon His merely uttering His name, the whole band of soldiers fell to the ground, gripped by a strange fear. The soldiers could rise only after being given permission by Him.
If Jesus was taken prisoner, if He was crucified, if He was immolated, it was because He so wanted it, in the plenitude of His liberty and His love for us. “He was offered because it was His own will.”5
If the Master unhesitatingly shed His precious Blood wholly for us, if He died for us, how could He refuse us the graces that are absolutely necessary for us and that He Himself merited for us by His sufferings?
During His Passion, Jesus mercifully offered these graces to the most guilty souls. Two Apostles had committed enormous crimes; to both He offered pardon. Judas betrayed Him with a hypocritical kiss. Jesus spoke to him with a touching gentleness; He called him His friend. By tender affection He sought to touch that heart hardened by avarice. “Friend, whereto art thou come?” “Judas, dost thou betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”6 This is the last grace of the Master to the ungrateful one.
It is a grace of such force that we will never be able to measure adequately its intensity. Judas, however, rejects it; he is lost, because he formally prefers that state.
Peter believes himself to be very strong. He had sworn to accompany the Master till death, but he abandons Him when he sees Him in the hands of the soldiers. Thereafter, he follows Him only from a distance. He enters trembling into the courtyard of the palace of the High Priest.
Three times he denies his Lord – because he fears the derision of a maidservant.With an oath he affirms that he does not know “that man.” The cock crows… Jesus turns and fixes his eyes on the Apostle, eyes filled with merciful and gentle censures. Their gazes meet.
It is a grace, a fulminating grace, that is carried to Peter by that gaze. The Apostle does not reject it; he goes out and weeps bitterly over his faults.
As in the case of Judas and Peter, Jesus always offers us graces of repentance and conversion.We can accept or refuse them. We are free! It is for us to decide between good and evil, between heaven and hell. Salvation is in our hands. The Saviour not only offers us His graces, He does more: He intercedes for us before the heavenly Father. He reminds Him of the pains suffered for our Redemption. He takes up our defence before Him; He excuses our faults.
“Father,” He exclaims in the anguish of the agony, “forgive them, for they know not what they do.”7 During the Passion, the Master had such a desire to save us that He did not cease for an instant to think of us.
On Calvary, He gives His last gaze to sinners; He pronounces one of His last words in favour of the good thief. He extends His arms wide on the Cross in order to indicate with what love He receives each repentant soul in His most loving Heart.