On the Purpose of Sinning No More

From Catechism: Lessons on the Sacraments and Ten Commandments by Saint Alphonsus Ligouri.

Sorrow and a purpose of amendment necessarily go together. "A sorrow of the soul, and a detestation of sin," says the Council of Trent, "along with a purpose of sinning no more." (Sess. 14, cap. iv.) The soul cannot have a true sorrow for sin without a sincere purpose never more to offend God. Now, in order to be a true purpose, it must have three conditions; it must be firm, universal, and efficacious.

First, it must be firm, so that the penitent resolutely purposes to suffer every evil rather than offend God. Some say, Father, I would not wish ever more to offend God; but the occasions of sin, and my own weakness, will make me relapse; I would wish, but shall scarcely be able, to persevere. My son, you have not a true purpose, and therefore you say, I would wish, I would wish. Know that hell is full of such wishes. This wish is a velleity, not a purpose; a true purpose is a firm and resolute will to suffer every evil rather than to relapse into sin. It is true that there are occasions of sin; that we are weak, particularly if we havecontracted a habit of any sin; and that the devil is strong; but God is stronger than the devil, and with his aid we can conquer all the temptations of hell. "I can do all things," says St. Paul, "in Him who strengtheneth me." (Phil, 4:13) It is true that we ought to tremble at our weakness, and distrust our own strength; but we ought to have confidence in God, that by His grace we will overcome all the assaults of our tempters. "Praising, I will call upon the Lord," said David, "and I will be saved from my enemies." (Ps. 17:4) I will invoke the Lord, and he will save me from my enemies. He who recommends himself to God in temptations, shall never fall. But, father, I have recommended myself to God, and the temptation continues. Be careful, then, to continue to ask help from God, as long as the temptation lasts, and you shall never fall. God is faithful; He will not permit us to be tempted above our strength. " God," says the apostle, "is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able." (I Cor. 10:13) He has promised to give aid to all who pray for it. "For every one that asketh, receiveth." (Matt. 5:42) And this promise is made to all — to sinners as well as to the just, "For every one that asketh receiveth." Hence, for those who consent to sin, there is no excuse; for, if they recommend themselves to God, He will stretch out His hand, and support them lest they fall. He, then, who falls into sin, falls through his own fault, either because he does not wish to ask aid from God, or because he does not wish to avail himself of the aid which the Lord offers to him.

Secondly, the purpose must be universal, that is, it must be a purpose of avoiding every mortal sin. Saul was commanded by God to put to death all the Amalecites, and all their cattle, and to burn all their goods. What did he do? ...

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