THE SINNER'S GRIEF
IF to look on and watch a beautiful soul deteriorating before our eyes is an agony almost intolerable, if such an agony leaves behind it a scar upon the heart which nothing can ever quite heal, no less is the internal grief of the deteriorating soul itself a thing terrible to witness.
In some degree we have all felt it - that grief which conscience inflicts on us when we have done something utterly unworthy; but the deeper, gnawing thing, the grief which turns life into an ocean of bitterness, belongs to the soul which has once been good, which still is good, but which has deliberately accepted some special evil into its nature, and refused to let it go.
Such a soul, I do sincerely believe, is the most pitiable thing in all the world; even the great sinner is less in a sense to be pitied, inasmuch as his heart is now hardened and the sense of suffering has been numbed.
Let us watch the process. A child, a youth, a young woman, has learnt by experience what it is to dwell in the tabernacles of the Lord. He has felt the fascination of innocence; he has known what is the happy martyrdom of being fired with the love of Jesus Christ; he has learnt the secret of rejoicing in suffering, or revelling in self-sacrifice, of springing through life with that utter joy of living which belongs peculiarly to the innocent of hand and clean of heart.
To such a soul the course is quite clear; it ascends the Mount of God with unhesitating step, the sun of God's own love shines overhead, the way may be long, the stones may be cutting, but the truth of life is manifest, and it has no hesitation, no remorse, no doubts, nothing but the pure delight of giving, and the craving ever to give more.
One day there comes a change....
From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918