Thoughts on the Patient Endurance of Sorrows and Sufferings
TEMPORAL PUNISHMENT FOR YOUR SINS
A Reason Why You Are Made to Suffer
Say not: I have sinned, and what harm hath befallen me! For the Most High is a patient rewarder.
-Ecclus. v. 4.
You have committed many sins, and thereby contracted a large debt of temporal punishment. You must cancel this debt either here or hereafter -here, by performing voluntary works of penance or by bearing the sufferings which God sends or allows to come to you; hereafter, by enduring the pains inflicted by the fire of purgatory.
We have seen that very much of the misery that men suffer is self-caused and self-inflicted. But after making due allowance for such misery, there are a great many sufferings the causes of which are beyond the control of man. From these there is no escape, any more than there is from death itself. Of this kind are unavoidable accidents and catastrophies, contagious diseases and epidemics, storms, earthquakes, and wars, as also those sufferings which have their source in the selfishness, unkindness, enmity, injustice, and cruelty experienced in our dealings with our fellow-men. What about these sufferings?
Of many, if not all of them, we can rightly say they are sent, or at least permitted, for the temporal punishment of our sins. True, you hope that all your mortal and many of your venial sins have been forgiven. We shall grant that they are forgiven. But, then, you must remember that the pardon of a sin does not necessarily always include the canceling of its temporal punishment. This depends on the perfection of your sorrow and the amount of penance you have done. Now, did you ever have perfect sorrow? And how much penance have you done? Have you done enough penance to atone for all your sins? Or have you not rather been satisfied with the hurried and hasty performance of the few prayers imposed on you in the sacrament of Penance?
Hence, many an old unpaid debt may still be standing charged to your account.
Compiled and Edited by Rev. F. X. Lasance
Author of "My Prayerbook," etc.
1937, Benziger Brothers
Printers to the Holy Apostolic See