The Priest and the Eternal Truths
Mortal Sin in the Priest
The Nature of Sin
I. Sin is an evil. Nobody desires evil as such, for evil and desirable are mutually-exclusive terms. Therefore our desire for evil is by reason of the good we think it includes, viz.: pleasure, utility, prestige. But sin, being an evil, carries with it the privation of some good, because evil is simply privatio boni.
When I yield then to sin, I show that, for me, there is a greater good to be found in what is sinful - for example, sensual pleasure, of a nature so low-grade and fleeting - than the good I forfeit by sinning: the eternal law of God which I trample underfoot, the grace I deprive myself of, the Divihe Goodness from which I depart; in a word: God.
My God! Thou art the price I pay for the good I seek in sinning!
How often have I not purchased the shameful dalliance of lust, the shadowy pomp of pride, and the illusory gain of this world's goods, with Thee, Coin of Infinite value!
Was I not overcharged? Did I not, O Sovereign Good, hold Thee too cheap? Lord, I treated Thee like devalued currency!
II. God can prefer the particular good of one creature to that of another; for instance, the good of man to that of an animal; and, in a certain sense, God can desire the particular evil of one creature in so far as it redounds to the good of another; for example, the destruction of an animal inasmuch as it benefits man.
But His own Goodness God desires absolutely, in every instance, and above all other good, with an intensity and a love infinite and eternal; for the simple reason that God's Goodness is the one Essential Good, the inexhaustible Source of all good.
Consequently, God must necessarily, with a necessity intrinsic to His very Being, hate sin; for sin severs from His Goodness - aversio a Deo - and rates His Goodness lower thalt the glimpse of some fugitive and degrading good. The measure of this Divine Hatred - the only hatred harboured by the Divine Essence - is the Love of His own Goodness, which is infinite.
I, poor wretch, was steeped in the Almighty's infinite and necessary Hatred whenever I sinned grievously!
And yet I said in my foolhardiness: I have sinned, and what harm hath befallen me? (Eccl. 5:4)
And the curse of God wrapped me about, sank like water into my inmost being, soaked, like oil, into the marrow of my bones! (Cf. Ps. 108:18)
III. Who am I? I was born when God willed; die I must when and as God pleases; I depend upon Him for the least atom of my being - that is what it means to be a creature and to have a Creator!
Moreover, I am something very small, insignificant - tamquam nihilum ante Te - and He is the Being par excellence, infinite, unchanging, boundless.
On irrational creatures God has imposed laws which they carry out blindly, inexorably; to me, God gave them engraven on my heart and mind, made them mine to reject or to abide by of my own free will.
God, the Eternal, with whose grandeur heaven and earth is charged, beckons to me as He beckoned to the stars, places me before His Sovereign Might, and resting His Eyes upon me, those Eyes of which the sunlight is but a faint reflection, He intimates to me at each moment through the voice of my conscience: "Do what I order thee; keep my commandments"; and I, the sinner, reply, "I will not serve"; and face to face I rebel against obedience due to Him, and tear myself away from His dominion. Is that not outrageous?
I will often make acts of perfect contrition with all the earnestness of a soul truly contrite and humble;
* before going to bed, in case God may demand my soul that same night;
* on rising in the morning, in order to begin the day with a soul cleansed by tears of reperitance;
* as often as I enter a church, so that this interior holy water of penance may purify me;
* but above all, as soon as I have had the immense misfortune to fall into serious sin - lest my last hour surprise me in such an unhappy state, and there should overtake me a sudden, hopeless doom.
Adapted from The Priest at Prayer
by Fr. Eugenio Escribano, C.M. (© 1954)
Translated by B.T. Buckley, C.M.
Please pray for our priests and pray for vocations to the priesthood!