As America becomes less and less Christians, some Catholics have become more aware of people cursing others. There are entire religions based on curses. Jealousy, envy, malice, and other forms of sin lead people to curse others.

But, the biggest and most common curse is one which most Catholics overlook-the curse of mortal sin. My Jesuit meditation book notes this: “In the state of mortal sin we are God’s enemies, children and slaves of the devil; and we are under a curse. Perhaps we have spent day sin this miserable state; perhaps even a great part of our lives. The thought of this is a bitter one, and caused such deep grief to St. Augustine, that his only consolation was to immolate himself daily, by constant penance, on the altar of the love of God.”

We are in Lent, a time of “universal penance”, states the good Jesuit. We are not alone in our attempts to do reparation. We must fight venial sin. He goes on to state this: “…for if venial sin does not deprive us  of God’s friendship, it certainly diminishes it. Every venial sin deprives us of a measure of God’s love, and of a corresponding degree of glory in heaven.”

We forget about that glory. And, we forget that venial sin weakens the will, allowing the will to be more accepting of more serious sins.

Mortal sin is a curse, as it deprives one of heaven. Mortal sin breaks the tie of love with God, states the Jesuit priest. A person can gain no merit while in mortal sin. None. The spiritual priest writes a chilling sentence: “Our best works are dead; every day, every month, passed in this state, is lost for all eternity.”

We curse ourselves by committing mortal sin.

Venial sin weakens the spiritual life within. “…the soul is less fruitful in good works; and these works are less pleasing to God, less meritorious. Moreover, our human imperfection is so great that our best works are always marred by it, and lose somewhat of their merit. The saints tried to compensate for all this by great penance, and by constant mortification. Ought we not to imitate them, we who have sinned so much, and repented so little?”d

He continues, “Mortal sin…robs the soul of its beauty, and renders it odious in the eyes of God and His holy angels; as it says in the Scriptures, ‘They are become abominable.’ One mortal sin changed an angel into a demon, and cast him down from heaven to hell.”

The good Jesuit reminds us that a venial sin leaves a stain on the soul. “….and that ‘nothing defiled can enter heaven”, the words of the Holy Spirit to us. “We have daily stained our souls, and made few efforts to cleanse them; therefore our purgatory and our exclusion from heaven will last much longer….if we could but understand what it is to endure the pain of purgatory for one moment, what it is for one moment to be deprived of the beatific vision, the utmost rigour of penance would seem slight to us.”

Hard words, but true. Now is the time to accept penances given and to take on new penances, with the help and advice of your spiritual director.

St. Alphonsus writes, “This earth is a place of merit which is acquired by suffering; heaven is a place of reward and happiness.” He also states, “Therefore be resigned and say: ‘Lord, I accept this punishment from thy hands, and I accept it for as long as it pleases thee; if it be thy will that I should be thus afflicted for all eternity, I am satisfied.’ Such a prayer, though hard to make, will be far more advantageous to you than the sweetest sensible consolations.”

St. Alphonsus also adds, “A single venial sin is more displeasing to God than all the good works we can perform.” 

Thoughts for this third week of Lent…..