What to do after having fallen into sin

August 28, 2021 • 4 min

From The Spiritual Combat, page 104

When you perceive yourself wounded, that is, fallen into any sin, whether through frailty, or deliberately through malice, be not too much cast down; do not abandon yourself to grief and immoderate vexation; but, addressing yourself to God, say with a great but humble confidence—I am now convinced, O my God, that I am nothing—for what can be expected from so blind and wretched a creature as I am, but sin and folly? Dwell on this thought in order to your greater confusion, and a lively sorrow for your fault.

Then with great calmness shew your displeasure against those passions which reign most in your breast, especially that which occasioned your misfortune. Lord, shall you say, what might I not have done, had not your infinite goodness come to my assistance.

Then return millions of thanks to that Father of mercies, who far from resenting the affront you have given, stretches forth his hand, lest you fall into the same disorder again.

In fine, full of confidence in him, say, manifest, O my God, what thou art: let an humble penitent partake of thy infinite mercy; forget my offences; suffer me not to wander from thee; strengthen me with thy holy grace, that I may never more offend thee.

This done, do not perplex yourself with examining whether God has pardoned you or not. This is a needless trouble and a loss of time, proceeding from pride and the illusion of the Devil, who under such specious pretexts seeks to [harass] you.

Rather abandon yourself to the Divine mercy, and pursue your usual exercises with as much tranquillity as if you had not committed any fault.

Though you should fall several times in a day, yet lose not a just confidence in him. Observe the method I have set down after a second or third, after the last relapse: conceiving every time a greater contempt of yourself, a greater abhorrence of sin, and put yourself more on your guard than ever.

This will greatly perplex your enemy, because it is very pleasing to God; the Devil will gain nothing but confusion, finding himself baffled by one he has so often overcome.

And consequently he will use his utmost endeavours to induce you to change your method; and in this he frequently succeeds, where persons do not keep a strict watch over the motions of their heart.

And the greater difficulty you meet with in this, the greater efforts you must use in conquering yourself. Be not satisfied with once doing it, but repeat this holy exercise frequently, though but one fault was committed.

If, therefore, in such a case you feel great vexation, and your courage sinks, you must first endeavour to recover your peace of mind and confidence in God. Then raise your heart to Heaven, and be persuaded that the trouble which sometimes follows the commission of a fault, is not so much a sorrow for having offended God, but a dread of punishment, which is more apprehended than anything else.

The means of recovering this peace, so desirable and absolutely necessary, is to think no more on the fault, but to contemplate the immense goodness of God, who is ever ready, and even desires to pardon the most enormous sinners, and leaves nothing undone to bring them back to their duty, to unite them entirely to himself, to sanctify them in this life, and make them eternally happy in the next.

When these, and the like considerations, have restored your tranquillity, then weigh the heinousness of your fault according to the method prescribed above.

In fine, when you approach the sacrament of penance, which I would advise to be done often, call to mind all your sins, and declare them sincerely to your spiritual Father, renewing your grief for having committed them, and your purpose of doing so no more for the future.

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