Presence of God – O Lord, inflame me with Your holy zeal, so that I will no longer be able to tolerate in myself the slightest thing which is displeasing to You.
Venial sin, like mortal sin, goes counter to God’s will, although with less serious deviation. While it does not destroy charity, it is opposed to it and therefore diminishes its fervor and vigor, hindering its development. This is the disastrous effect of deliberate venial sin committed with the realization that it is displeasing to God.
Once venial sins of this kind become habitual, they decrease the soul’s tendency toward God, and increase, on the other hand, its leaning toward self-satisfaction and creatures. Thus, little by little the soul loses its fervor, its sense of sin, and falls into tepidity, which is characterized by a certain indifference to venial sin. This puts it in danger of offending God in serious matters also. In this sense, venial sin may be compared to a disease of insidious languor, a kind of spiritual tuberculosis, which undermines the organism slowly but fatally. It is not unusual to meet souls who having at first surrendered themselves to God with sincere fervor, afterwards let themselves fall into continual carelessness, indifference, voluntary omissions, and laziness, because they have given in to selfishness and sought their own comfort. They become incapable of making the generous efforts required to advance on the way they have started. Their spiritual life is reduced to a kind of lethargy which is not yet death, but which has none of the freshness and vigor of a strong, healthy life. It lacks the fervor of charity, for this is continually being lessened by deliberate concessions to venial sin.
To put us on our guard against such a state, St. Teresa of Jesus declares, “Always be fearful if you do not feel sorry for the faults you commit, for even venial sin ought to fill you with sorrow to the very depths of your soul…. For the love of God, take care not to commit any deliberate venial sin, even the smallest…. And can anything be small if it offends God?” (Conceptions of the Love of God 2 – Way of Perfection 41).
“Peccavi, Domine, miserere mei! Pardon, Father, pardon me, a miserable ingrate. I owe it to Your goodness that I am still Your spouse, even though I am unfaithful to You by my faults. Peccavi, Domine, miserere mei. O my soul, what are you doing? Are you not aware that God sees you always? You can never hide yourself from His sight, for nothing is hidden from Him…. O eternal God, Father of all goodness and mercy, have pity on us because we are blind and in darkness, and I, more than anyone else, am miserable and to be pitied…. O true Sun, enter my soul and illumine it with Your brightness. Drive out the darkness and give me light; melt the ice of my self-love and kindle in me the fire of Your charity. Peccavi, Domine, miserere mei” (St. Catherine of Siena).
“May His Majesty be pleased to make us fear Him whom we ought to fear and understand that one venial sin can do us greater harm than all the forces of hell combined” (St. Teresa of Jesus, Life, 25). Indeed the real evil, the only one I have to fear, is neither temptation, nor trial, nor interior or exterior contradictions, nor the loss of material things or of health, but only what is contrary in any way at all to my union with You, my sovereign Good! This evil, I see, can be caused by one single venial sin, committed deliberately. O Jesus, I beseech You, through the merits of Your Passion, deliver me from this great evil, take away from me the wretched power to offend You, and if, because of my innate weakness, it is impossible for me to avoid these faults, grant that they may never be the consequence of my bad will. May my faults serve only to humiliate me, not to offend You.
Because of my weakness, I often fall. “Often I lose sight of what is my only care, and straying from Your side, allow my wings to be draggled in the muddy pools of this world. Then ‘I cry like a young swallow,’ and my cry tells You all, and You remember, O infinite Mercy, that You ‘did not come to call the just, but sinners’” (St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Story of a Soul, 13).
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Art: Saint Catherine of Siena, from chiesa di Santa Maria del Rosario in Prati, Roma, 19th century?, PD-US, copyright expired, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.