Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
Malice of the Sin of Impurity
Conference gave on September 29th 1973. Without revision's author.
There is a meditation of St. Ignatius of Loyola on the evil of sin itself and the evils that it causes. Let us examine this matter.
Above, the original audio (in portoghese) of this conference
"Let us consider the evil which sin contains in itself. There is a Highest Good through which we ought to love all things, and which ought to be loved for it. There is a supreme evil through which all evils ought to be detested it is sin, which ought to be detested in itself. It is not possible to find a greater opposition than that which exists between God and sin, and for that reason that evil can not fail to be the worst, which is so opposed to the best. So, since God is an 'immense sea of perfections, sin is an abyss of corruption. Since God is a good infinitely superior to all other goods, sin is an evil as it were infinitely worse than all other evils. Since God is a Being in comparison with whom all other things are nothing, sin is such an abomination that in comparison with it all the other evils cannot even be called evils."
This thinking of St. Ignatius is very profound but it requires a certain explanation.
Let us take some concrete cases: a sin against purity for example or a sin against the truth, or even the sin whereby, one fails in respect to one's superiors and which is covered in the fourth commandment, honor thy father and thy mother. What do all these sins have about them that is grave? I am going to try to illustrate the thinking of St. Ignatius, in order to completely apply his reflections later.
Sin makes us like to the devil
Can the devil sin against chastity?
Take a sin against purity. There is a first consideration to be made about this sin which is the following: The devil is a pure' spirit in the sense that there is nothing else in him but spirit. There is not in him as there, is in us, a mixture of body and soul, a union of body and soul.
So it is then that the devil is not capable of committing a sin against purity and he does not even have a way to commit, one. He is a spirit and it is beyond his powers to have the Will to commit a sin against purity, more or less like a quadruped has no desire to sing like a canary, because it is beyond his nature to do so. There is not the least inclination or appetite for such a thing. Nevertheless, we know that the devil loves impurity enormously and does everything possible to drag man into it. He is very satisfied with it because when men fall into the sin of impurity, they become like to him. The devil is not impure in the sense in which a man is impure; however, he is, considered in as much as he has the spirit of the impure man.
We see then that the mentality of an impure man is a mentality comparable to that of the devil. In what then is it that they are really comparable?
We could say something like this about lying. The devil is called the "father of the lie" and he rejoices in it. His revolt against God was a revolt based on a lie, that is, he wanted to be like God, when he had no quality, none of the requirements to be so.
Why does the devil love a lie so much and sense in a liar some sort of similarity with himself? It is because he knows that when someone lies he comes closer to him, he takes on his mentality; in a final analysis he becomes the owner of the liar.
The sin of revolt
The devil, when he sees someone revolt against a superior to whom he owes respect, becomes very satisfied, he tries to instill that spirit in every way, he favors men who revolt, and persecutes those who obey. He senses that the man who revolts becomes like that in him by which he is rebellious. In such a man, he strengthens his dominion, by this means he is able to carry him to hell.
So, by means of these considerations, which at first sight are simple, we perceive that the devil wants all people to be like him, to have his defects, his malice and to go to the eternal destiny to which he was condemned. He wishes to be owner of all of humanity in order to have it consonant with himself. By this means, he wishes to impose his reign on the world; he wishes to be king.
Like attracts like, a rule of every living being
Every man who has a little bit of personality likes to mark the ambiance in which he lives with the proper note of his own make up. He is happy when those with whom he lives are harmonious with him, when they have infinity with him; when on the contrary those people have no affinity with him, he tends to abandon that society. The most easily understood little fact proves this:
For example: A young man is accustomed to going around with a specific group in a university or in a high school. When we analyze why he frequents that group, we see that it is due to an affinity of mentalities. If that group changes its mentality and he does not, the group is dissolved for him; if, on the contrary, there appears another youngster with the same mentality he approaches the group. It is not a question, here, of doctrinal matters as such, but it is because some like to play football, others have foul mouths, others like music or it may be any other reason. A taste for something indicates a mentality, and persons of the same mentality try to gather together.
A person has the feeling that one who has the same mentality that he does is, in a certain way, an extension of himself, his complement. It is part of everyday life, in its least episodes, that persons seek out this complementation through conviviality. There is a French expression that defines this very well its sense is "those who gather together, are like each other; and those who are like each other, gather together."
This is so, even with God Our Lord, God so exercises His dominion over the world as to bring it about that all men be like unto Him, having His sanctity participating in His virtue, and participating in His Wisdom. He wished, in His infinite mercy - He, who needs no one to be completely and absolutely happy - He wished to have a number of beings who would have affinity with Him, who could enjoy His presence and could enjoy the celestial happiness of being like Him. The seeking out of one's like is a rule of every intelligent being; it is even a rule of many gregarious animals, which move only in flocks, because their nature calls for them to move together and they feel bad if they do not do so.
This is notorious even in inanimate matter. Matter attracts matter (in magnets this is of course extremely noticeable), but even in materials that do not have magnetic power in the proper sense of the word, this is also true. You gentlemen know the law of Newton: "Matter attracts matter in direct proportion, etc."
We see then that to attract one's like is a rule which is proper to all living beings (Men, condemned angels, glorified angels in heaven, God Our Lord), and that this rule holds even among the animals and inanimate beings.
The special reason for the existence of this rule is that all created beings need complementation. God, who does not need it is pleased with this complementation; and that is why Our Lord Jesus Christ, the God-Man, said: "my delight is to be with the children of men". That is to say, God is happy to be with us, He is pleased with our worship and our praise. This is the rule of all existence.
Whence arises the gravity of the sin against purity?
Now, St. Thomas develops the thought that every sinful act stamps a mentality, which, by its very nature, is opposed to the mentality of God. Take for example, a sin against purity. What does a sin against purity have about it that it is intrinsically evil? In the final analysis, why is it that a sin against purity is censurable?
There is a hierarchy among the five senses
St. Thomas Aquinas explains that the five physical senses of man are more and more noble as they approach the soul, in proportion to the greater analogy that they have with the soul. Therefore, the noblest of all the senses is that of sight, because it is the one, which most directly facilitates intelligence. By means of sight man knows the greater part of the data necessary to think. This is so much so that there are persons (in this they do very badly, by committing an abominable sin) who when they become blind commit suicide. At times a person suddenly looses his sight, and blindness is so terrible in depriving man of the knowledge of the external world that his family tries to avoid leaving any object with which he might kill himself within his reach. Nobody ever heard of anyone having committed suicide because he had become deaf or mute; but when someone looses his sight it is such a high sense, so cognitive and it serves the soul so much, that the person is, as it were, crushed and can be tempted to commit suicide.
So you gentlemen can see by this that sight has a very great nobility, because it is through it that man knows most. After it comes the other senses: hearing, smell, taste, touch.
Hearing serves powerfully to know. By means of hearing a man knows the words of another man, and enters into contact with his soul. Taste and smell are more material senses that are less proximate to cognition. One knows something by taste and something by smell.
The least cognitive sense is the sense of touch. By means of it man knows something. By passing my hand, for example, over a table, and feeling how smooth it is, I know something of the nature of the table; but much less than I know by sight.
The least noble sense is that of touch
It follows, therefore, that there is a hierarchy of the senses, and that the lowest among them is that of touch. It is not a bad sense, for all of them are good, but it is the least high, the least noble.
It happens that, On account of original sin, the various senses do not obey man's will, they have impulses that are opposed to the will and to the reason, and, the lower the sense is, the more it draws man. So there can be a man who has the vice of drinking: that is a vice of the sense of taste; there can be others who have vices of the sense of smell, for example; those who smell ether; there can also be people who have vices about music - those melomaniacs who spend all their time listening to music - but even these latter are difficult to find, because hearing is more noble than the senses of smell and taste.
So, the lower a sense is, the more easily it can become vitiated.
Thus there is no vice of seeing. There can be bad looks, that are different, but no one has the vice of seeing. One opens one's eyes and one sees; one closes one's eyes and one does not see. Sight is such a noble sense that it is not subject to vice.
The lowest of all the senses, that of touch, is that by which man is most drawn and that which most easily becomes vitiated.
Let us reaffirm the principle then: The lower the sense, the more terrible the vice.
The vice proper to the sense of touch is impurity
What is the vice of the sense of touch? It is impurity. The pleasure of the impure act is the pleasure of touch which, being almost all animal, has little of the cognitive. It is not entirely animal, because man never does an act, which is entirely animal. But nothing can move man so close to animality as impurity can. Man is tempted to allow himself to be drawn along by the desire to sin, to practice the impure act, and once he commits it, it is difficult to give it up. Shortly thereafter the impure act becomes a vice.
Why does it become a vice? Because it is precisely the most animal of all of the acts. The form of vice into which man most easily falls is impurity. To vitiate oneself is to acquire a habit, which is very difficult to give up; that is the definition of vice. In order to give it up one needs a grace which one must always ask for.
In impurity, the animal part of man predominates over the spiritual
What happens when a person becomes vitiated is that the animal part prevails over the spiritual part. For example a drunken man gives an impression of animality. See him expelling what he has drunk, stumbling around in the street with his stench of alcohol; his tongue swollen and pasty, blubbering obscenities, singing, sprawled out on the ground, all this is something that causes nausea.
What is the reason for this nausea? It is because while the spiritual part should dominate in a man in the drunk there appears.such a preponderance of the animal part that it is something shocking: In that man, from a certain point of view the flesh has come to prevail over the soul, and he has become like a beast.
If this degradation of the drunk is a disorder that causes us horror, the degradation of an impure person causes us much greater horror. We do not say that it is against the natural order to satisfy the proper appetites of human nature, whether they are spiritual or material. So to drink is a normal act. The evil is, in the excess. It is by excess, that a man submits his spirit to matter, instead of controlling the latter by the former.
Let us apply this to the case of purity. In itself the sexual act is natural to man. But it must be subject to the limits marked by its own finality. So as the beverage ought to satisfy thirst, because this is the purpose of liquid nourishment, so also the sexual act tends to procreation and is only legitimate when it is ordered to that end, and this restricts its use to the limit's of matrimony. It happens that after original sin our sexual appetite has become excessively vehement, which is humiliating to man, for it moves him closer to the animal. For that reason, even among the pagans, the sexual act was kept away from the gaze of the public. The 20th century is just about to make an exception to this.
So then, what there is in impurity is a 'preponderance of the flesh over the spirit, but a captivating overwhelming preponderance which-brings it about that a man allows himself to be swept away and animalized. This is the reason why we despise and are horrified at the impure man, the lascivious woman, and the pervert. The reason for this horror has a rational explanation: It is not a pure impression, a pure sensation; it is not a habit that comes to us from our formation but it is something, which obeys the dictates of reason: (what. horrifies us) is the animality.
This degradation is just such as to cause horror…
Whenever one sees something, which is higher voluntarily, degrade itself to that which is lower, it causes horror. For example: It. is a horrible thing to see a professor or a school mistress who acts like a child and exposes his own authority, allowing himself to become abused by his students. It is beautiful to see a professor who knows how to impose his authority, to make himself respected. He is the joy and the light of his classroom by his superiority. A professor who acts like a dandy, tries to look like a youngster and who sets out to court little girls; or a school mistress who acts like a girl and tries .to have affairs with the boys is something ridiculous, indecent, something that makes us nauseous, because every degradation causes nausea. Degradation is the greatest of disorders, for instead of seeking its own perfection, it seeks its own imperfection. It is something like suicide, and that is what a man does when he animalizes himself.
The man who lowers himself to an inferior category or class acts like a suicide; something takes place in him similar to depravation. For this reason we say that the impure, individual is a depraved individual.
…and unleashes the wrath of God
Now what happens? It happens that God, whose gaze scrutinizes, says the Scripture, even to the hearts and reins of man; God who sees all that takes place in man, of the most intimate the most internal, has a horror of the soul that consents to degrade itself. Of the soul that does not hesitate to animalize itself, and which above all does not hesitate to practice in a disorderly way the greatest animality, which is precisely the impure act.
God, Who gave man his condition as man, also made Himself man; and anytime that anyone sins against purity, he sins against his human dignity; by sinning against human dignity, he sins against the dignity of the whole human race, because human race is one family, and, therefore, that sin is committed against his own family. But, in this family is Our Lady, Our Lord Jesus Christ is in this family, for "The Word of God was made Flesh and dwelt amongst us". Our Lord Jesus Christ, the second person of the Blessed Trinity, is the Man-God and when someone sins against purity, he offends especially the Man-God, because he offends against all the men who have existed, who now exist, and will exist. One single sin against purity insults all of human nature.
Add to this further, the fact that, by supernatural right, the baptized man is a member of the Mystical Body of Christ. For this reason, there is an expression of St. Paul so forceful that, if it were not from him, I would not dare to pronounce it in this auditorium. He says textually the following: "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I, then, take the members of Christ and make them the members of a prostitute? By no means. Do you not know that he, who joins together with a prostitute, makes himself one body with her? Because they shall be says the scripture, two in one flesh". The expression is terrible. But, as we are united to Him by baptism and by the life of grace the sin that we commit touches Him in a certain way also.
The sin that a man commits with a prostitute is equally horrible in both of them, for they are accomplices, they are committing the same sin together, and there is no difference at all. And when one commits a sin of the flesh, which same nature as the Flesh of Christ, baptized, and therefore, redeemed by His blood, one commits a sin against the Flesh of Christ, by prostituting the infinitely precious flesh of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the reality, which we have to consider.
This reality, however, goes even higher from a certain point of view. God is pure spirit and has a horror of a man degrading his own soul, made, as it is His own image and likeness. For this reason, by a sin against purity a man does something terrible; he insults his own soul and insults God who is pure spirit, to whose image and likeness we were made.
The fight between God and the devil in relation to the impurity of man
So then, we have here two poles: on the one hand, the devil, who is contrary to God, rejoicing that people be impure. He wants souls to be different from God; he wants the contrary of the order set up by God. He wants animality, infamy, uncleanness and disorder, and so he loves impurity.
God, on the contrary, loves for things to be disposed in accordance with order, the reflection of His divine personality: God loves the pure man. Purity is at the center of the order He has put in the Universe.
For one mortal sin God can bring about the early death of a man
One understands that thus, if a mortal sin, a sin against purity is such a denial of God, St.Thomas Aquinas draws the conclusions implacably; one mortal offense to God gives to His justice the right to anticipate the death of that man. He who commits a mortal sin, by the justice of God is guilty of death, for that reason it is called mortal. It is such a grave sin that the individual ceases to have something in common with God, he loses the life of grace.
"If a person does not have any scruple about losing the life of grace in becoming an enemy of God for the pleasure of an instant, is it not just that God kill him? It is obvious that it is just. There have been many Saints who have had revelations in which they saw in hell persons who had committed one mortal sin and died right afterwards. This is proper to the justice of God, that in order to be perfect has to be exercised in all of its degrees, and therefore, at time, in all of its severity: he was born, he sinned, he died. He sinned freely, he went to hell. It is natural, it is entirely reasonable, and there cannot be any margin for doubt.
What is said about the sin of impurity is said of other sins, as for example, voluntary homicide. Someone ki11s another out of pure hatred. It is in accordance with the order of things that the right to life is equal for all men. We, who are so anti-egalitarian, know that there is no superiority possible of one man over another such that it would give one the right to kill the other that does not exist. If it is in the very nature of things that a man does not have the right to kill another man, he who commits voluntary homicide has allowed himself to be dragged along by his animal hatred; and, led by that animality, did what the beasts do with one another. The beasts live by devouring one another, if not those of the same species at least those of different species.
Sin is a usurpation of the Rights of God
God hates this disorder, this inversion, by which the right, which He has to dispose of the life of someone, is usurped by another who does not have that right, led by hatred. That hatred makes the individual different from God, and turns him contrary to God. The result, God abominates him and hurls him into hell forever and ever and ever.
... and it is on account of this that one understands the existence of hell
With this, you gentlemen can better understand the meeting we had about all the horrors of hell. You will remember that I used the image - I could have used any other- of a fire so terrible, that if Sugarloaf were put into it, (Sugarloaf i.e. famous mountain by entrance to harbor of Rio de Janeiro) it would be consumed in an instant, reduced to a handful of ashes. All the dammed, the condemned men, will be cast into this fire for all eternity. They made themselves different from God, they lowered themselves, they brutalized themselves; God hates them because they first hated God. He who lowers himself so, hates God. God called them to be pure and they said "No, its more enjoyable to be impure". At that hour they hated God, because they preferred impurity. This is the logic of the question and nothing could be more logical than this.
Let us take still another example. A man lies, by calumniating another man. : If the calumny is grave he has committed a mortal sin; he has done an abominable act. God, says the Scripture, has horror for the lying mouth; and that is natural, for the mouth was given by God to man to speak the truth and not to lie. A word is a symbol of truth, and by calumny it is transformed into a symbol of the lie.' God hates this. If the individual calumniates gravely, it is normal; it is natural that he goes to hell.
The abuse of mercy provokes the divine anger
What shall we say of an individual who has committed mortal sin various times, has repented various times, and has been pardoned various times; everytime that he repented, it was through the compassion of Our Lady? Since She is the Mother of all mercies, She prayed for him and he was rescued from his sin, he received a grace and he corresponded. Then, after having been rescued from sin various times, he reasons like this "Man, I have already sinned so many times and I have not died I see that I can sin fifty times more, because God is a softy he won't really kill me". What is the result of this? God says "Ah! So I am a softy? I am picking you out, you are going to die". They provoke the divine anger by means of this abuse of His mercy.
Imagine, gentlemen, a very poor beggar, his body full of running sores, nauseating, imagine that he goes by everyday near you and asks for alms. You gentlemen give him alms, knowing that almost right after he receives it, this creature is going to speak evil of you and calumniate you. In spite of this, you continue to have pity on him and continue to give the alms. One day you learn that he laughs and says to others. "You see that softy, he gives me alms every day, knowing that I speak badly of him; but he is such a softy that he does not refuse me anyway. You'll see how funny it is: I am going to ask alms of him one more time; and he is going to pardon me. One would say that he likes to be slapped".
And what would you say'? "No, I cannot permit myself to be turned into a laughing stock by you".
With this you gentlemen will understand that there is a proportion between the penalty of hell and sin, and what there is of the intrinsically evil in mortal sin which merits hell. You see the horror, which we must have for sin, and how it is intrinsically perverse.
Insensibility in the face of sin: worse than sin itself
Someone could say "As regards the sin of impurity since I am insensible to it, I don't see any evil in this sin. So would I be committing a sin?" My answer is this: "You have committed a sin worse than impurity! You have lost the sense of the difference that there is between animality and human dignity".
A RESUME OF WHAT WAS SEEN ABOVE
Well then, to sum up our ideas, what is intrinsically evil about sin? It is always a violation of the natural order set up by God. It is in the natural order itself that a man not lie, not kill, etc., Such a violation of the natural order, a man always does drawn by a solicitation of the flesh; and every sin, by one title or the other, is something of the flesh which draws a man to do what his spirit refuses. It is, therefore, by one title or another, a degradation and an animalization. This is particularly evident and worthy of note in the sin against purity. A person in this state is different from God. He cannot love God, whom he wished to be different from. We only love those who are similar to us; no one can love that which is unlike himself.
If for a little pleasure, the individual wished to be different from God, it is because he loves pleasure more than God; he has an idol, which is pleasure itself. As this person evidently detests God, the result is that, if he does not repent he will go to hell. Everytime he sins he runs the risk of not repenting and of going to hell.
Life is precarious and one may die from one moment to the other
My dear ones, we, in the TFP have lost some members, all of them have died in an edifying way. We are struck to see that the majority of those that died were young men. This is a resource that Providence uses so that we keep well in mind that we can die from one moment to the other. Life is precarious and, from one moment to the other, someone can go.
Someone will say: "Ah! I will be able to repent at the last moment."
I say that you can, but you can also not repent. St. Louis Grignion de Monfort says something which is very true: "It is certain that by prodigies of the mercy of God a person can repent at the ultimate hour, but, the normal thing is that the majority of men have the destiny which corresponds to their way of living". Talis vita, finis vitae. Such as the life of a man is, so also is his end. So that when a man has had a very bad life, the normal thing is that he die and go to hell.
And this gives rise to that enormous number of souls who in epochs of paganism are lost. A young girl with a two piece dress goes happily along the street: she comes out from some place where she had some pleasure and she is run over. Before realizing what has happened to her, she is in the eternal chamber of all horrors, she is in the presence of God, and may not know that she has died.
I have already told you gentlemen about the automobile accident, which Dr. Celso went through not long ago. Dr. Fernando, who also suffered in an automobile accident, told me that when he came to, he had already been treated and was in the hospital bed. If he had died he would have been judged, immediately thereafter. Doctor Celso also and they would have realized that they had died by seeing themselves, suddenly, in the presence of God.
This can happen to me, but it can happen to anyone of you gentlemen, at any hour. That is why it is necessary to meditate, to think, to reflect.
Answering an objection
Now, there is an objection which is still left and which I wish to resolve "If the impure act is evil, why isn't it so in marriage? Should we not by logic condemn marriage?"
In Catholic marriage a man has one single spouse and the woman has one single husband. The marriage is monogamic; indissoluble, it can only be dissolved by death. Marriage, in these circumstances, fulfills the conditions necessary for the act, which perpetuates the human species to be practiced in consonance with the dictates of reason. Here there are not by any means those explosions and those fiery outbursts of the sin of impurity, nor is there the animality of the sin of impurity. In marriage the conjugal act is exercised in conformity with the dictates of reason, with the primordial aim of giving children to God Our Lord, who also may save them. In addition to this fact, the act is subject to a series of limitations, which are such that if the man is not very much master of himself, he will fall into sin. Conjugal fidelity is very difficult to maintain. A married man who has consented to one impure look, commits the sin of adultery by a simple look - which is a graver sin than the sin against chastity committed by a single man.
He is obligated therefore, to maintain such a discipline in order not to sin that it is easier, for common and normal cases to be entirely chaste than to maintain fidelity within marriage. Much dominion of one's self, much effort is necessary. Add to this moreover the fact that, in certain phases of life, the conjugal act must not be done. There are a whole series of circumstances, which make it very difficult for a person to dominate himself, within marriage. For all of these reasons the conjugal act has nothing animal about it; it is licit because it is in conformity to nature, it is done for its normal end and not for mere pleasure.
In spite of this the Church, always cautious, desires that the clergy do not marry, so that their souls may be freer, more elevated to superior things. In certain Catholic oriental rites in which the priest marries, the morning after a night in which he has practiced the conjugal act, he must not celebrate Mass. Not because there is any sin in the act, but because the soul of a man enters more into order when, he has not had any relations on the previous night.
So we see how delicate Catholic morality is regarding this matter, how it is complex, and what nobility of soul it involves. We understand the horror, which we must have for sin.
The bed of a pure man is like an altar
One also understands the beauty of the life of a pure man. I usually say that the bed of a pure man is 1ike an altar. And it is, because the bed where a pure man sleeps, is like an altar where one offers oneself all the time. Maintaining his chastity in a chaste sleep, he is lying there, watched over by God, under the gaze of God.
What a beautiful thought before one goes to bed: "Now I am going to sleep and I shall be handed over to the Providence of God more especially than in any other hour. I shall not be able to look out for myself because I shall be sleeping. It can happen that I die in my sleep, it can happen that someone can attack me while I am sleeping, it can happen that I get sick. Sleep is kind of a prefigure of death; it is an agreeable cave, but a dark one full of surprises. Here I lay me down in the presence of God who watches out for me, and who will know whether to take me or preserve me, according to His superior designs. At any rate He will look upon me and say "Here reposes, that pure son of mine, that chaste son of mine. His sleep comes up to me like the aroma of agreeable incense; how beautiful is the sleep of my son!!!
What a beauty in this sense has a place inhabited by pure men. While they are sleeping, the city is so many times immersed in sin. God looks upon those pure men who appear to him like a collection of precious stones sparkling before His eyes, and He covers their sleep with His blessing. Each one has his guardian angel at the head of his bed, and for each one there is a smile of Our Lady while he sleeps. What a marvel the life of a pure man!
The foul odor of sin and the perfume of virtue
There were Saints who were particularly gifted with discernment of spirits, who used to notice the bad odor of the sins of their penitents. St. Philip Neri if I am not mistaken was one of them. He used to say that the smell of the confessional was simply nauseating and unbearable on account of the sins. Well then the virtues also have aromas.
Imagine gentlemen, the stench of sin rising up continuously from a city. The dark souls going from one side to another having broken with God. But from time to time one sees some luminous points in the midst of that obscurity, and those luminous points leave behind them a perfume related to that light. It is a real harmony which cuts through the darkness like the angels cut through the demons, hacking with great sword strokes and hurling them from one side to another, as he follows his way.
Thanks be to God that the members of the TFP are not the only pure people in Sao Paulo, but we can hope that all of them will be so. What a beauty to imagine this city, Divine Providence, Our Lady, the angels, the saints of heaven accompanying the steps of the pure man and his victories. He is tempted by an indecent woman who goes by and he turns his eyes away; or the indecent woman whom he did not even see because he guarded his eyes so well. He goes by an indecent show window, by indecent scenes, he is assaulted and he rejects and, at times he is so pure that these things do not even constitute an assault for him. When he reaches his home he is like a warrior who went through a battlefield and overcame all his adversaries. Could there be anything more beautiful than this? This is the life of a pure man. Of course heaven is open for him and of course the smiles of Our Lady wait for him. And he, when he sees Her purity will be enchanted; and She will say to him: "My son, thy purity also enchanted me; come and enjoy the presence of God with me for all eternity.
The Last Judgement (Fra Angelico)
The excessively great reward and chastisement
Now then if the reward is fabulous, the chastisement is terrible. Life is this great reality; the oscillation between that reward and that chastisement. The man, who always chooses the reward, will be super rewarded; the man, who always chooses the chastisement, will be super chastised.
There are two phrases of Our Lord in the Gospels with which I shall conclude this Saint of the Day. This phrase has always impressed me enormously' "I myself shall be thy recompense excessively grand". But He could have also said: "I myself shall be thy torment excessively grand."
And with this, my dear ones, it has been explained why a simple mortal sin brings about such chastisements, and why a simple act of fidelity can give rise to such rewards. These are the sublime perspectives of the Catholic Religion, within which the soul of the Catholic ought to live.