On The Brink Of The Precipice
The Imitation of The Sacred Heart of Jesus
Unless thou avoidest every voluntary sin, thou shalt labor in vain, whatever efforts thou mayst make
1. The voice of Jesus
My Child, cleanse thy heart from every fault: and keep thyself carefully from the stain of even the least sin.
There is nothing, there can be nothing, for the sake of which it is allowed to commit a sin, however light.
Wherefore, although thou mightst thereby save the whole world from ruin, it would be unlawful to offend Me, even in the least thing, since I am infinitely more excellent than the whole universe.
Some guard themselves against grievous offenses, but of light faults they render themselves guilty without scruple; a clear sign that they are rather governed by self-love, than by love for Me.
Deluded souls! they will learn, at their cost, how greatly they have deceived themselves.
2. Endangering thy salvation
Whoever overlooks little things, will gradually fail in great ones: and, having accustomed himself to think everything little, he will still fancy that all is well with him; when, without much uneasiness of conscience, he commits great sins.
In his folly, he finds it delightful to walk on the brink of the precipice: yet, it will come to pass, and that justly too, that, at the first slip of his foot, he is thrown headlong into the abyss.
Beware, therefore, of venial trespasses, lest thou fall into mortal sins.
As long as thou yieldest, even to the slightest fault, so long wilt thou expose thy salvation to danger.
3. Piercing My Heart
Many seem heartily to abhor the renewal of My death by mortal sin; and yet, they cease not, by small offenses, to load My Heart with bitterness, and afflict It with continued sorrows.
Ah! My Child, consider again and again, and carefully attend to what thou art doing. For, whilst thou art willing to inflict a small wound on My Heart, perhaps thou shalt mistake, as has happened to many, and thou shalt pierce My Heart with a mortal blow.
O perverseness of the human heart! Many dread more to give offense to the meanest of men, than to Me, their God and Savior.
4. Venial Sins
So long as thou continuest to sin, even slightly, thou shalt be ill at ease; nor shalt thou taste true happiness.
If thou hast thy perfection at heart, as it behooves, unless thou avoidest every voluntary sin, thou shalt labor in vain, whatever efforts thou mayst make.
For, venial sin lessens charity, brings on lukewarmness, vitiates acts of virtue, obstructs the sources of special grace; and, finally, despoiling, by degrees, the soul of her possessions, leaves her empty.
5. Exposure to evils
And for what is it, in most cases, that man exposes himself to evils so numerous, and so great? is it not for self-interest, or for self-gratification?
But consider, how great a loss will ensue, and how severely thou shalt have to suffer in purgatory.
There, torments are undergone, which far exceed all the pains of this world, and all the ills of life: nor shalt thou go thence, until thou hast paid the last farthing.
How exceedingly shalt thou then deplore, that thou didst commit even the smallest offense, on account of which thou perceivest, too late, alas! that thou art excluded from heaven, and most sorely tormented?
Do not, My Child, render useless My Heart’s desires and endeavors of making thee happy; neither be thou so thoughtless as to choose to be unhappy, in spite of Me.
6. The voice of the Disciple
Venial sin, O Lord, is then no small evil, since it offends Thy divine Majesty, wounds Thy Heart, deprives the soul of special graces and helps, hinders her progress, vitiates her good deeds, prepares the way for her destruction, exposes her to the danger of everlasting perdition, and excludes her from heaven.
And evils so great, I have deemed small! O what madness was mine! And, what is worse, I have committed them without number, without measure. My transgressions have exceeded all bounds.
Where are the limits? Behold! As many powers of the soul, and senses of the body as there are in me, so many kinds of sin: as many gifts and favors, so many faults of misuse or ungratefulness: as many species of employments, so many sorts of offenses.
Alas! amongst all my actions, even those of religion or of piety, which is the one wherein Thou findest not some short-coming?
O my soul, we commit so many faults through want of attention, by surprise, and through frailty, ought not these to suffice? Should we add greater ones through carelessness, through the abuse of our free-will, through malice?
Is this the return we make to the Lord, by whose goodness we live, to whose love we owe whatever we are and possess!
7. Have pity on me and set me free
O Lord God, my Savior! that I have not perished beneath the weight and multitude of my offenses, this I acknowledge is altogether due to the kindness of Thy Heart: yea, to Thy Heart’s mercy it is owing, O Lord, that I have not been utterly destroyed.
I have been lowered to the dust: my strength has forsaken me; darkness has overspread me: my heart itself has grown faint within me. Lo! ever deeper have I sunk, and, through very weariness, I am now unable to extricate myself. 0, how great is my misery!
O! who shall give water to my eyes, and strength to my heart, that I may weep, and move Thee, O Lord, to set me free!
Have pity on me, good Jesus! and deliver me: cleanse and renew me wholly.
Inflame my heart with the love of Thy Heart: with Its divine fire do Thou consume my offenses: nor keep them for the fire of purgatory. Here, I beseech Thee, here let me burn and be cleansed in the fire of Thy sweet love; not there in the fire of avenging flames.
Behold! O most sweet Jesus, love for Thee will now make me do, what fear has hitherto been unable to effect: through love for Thee, I will shun every sin, even the slightest.
“Voice of Jesus” is taken from Arnoudt’s “Imitation of the Sacred Heart”, translated from the Latin of J.M. Fastre; Benziger Bros. Copyright 1866