Sermon given by Father Pancras Raja on June 21st, 2020
“There shall be joy before the Angels of God upon one sinner doing penance” (Lk. 15: 7)
In the parable of today’s gospel Our Lord teaches us the beautiful and consoling truth that he goes out in quest of the lost sheep, and by his grace gently draws sinners to repentance. All that he requires in us is that we return to him with sincere and contrite heart, prepared to do penance for our sins.
Let us meditate on the necessity and urgency of doing penance. Penance is an interior act by which the sinner turns to God, detests and grieves over his sins, and firmly resolves not to commit them anymore, in the hope of obtaining pardon. In short: penance is a spirit of sincere repentance.
We are born in sin and are liable to fall so easily into sin. Even those who lead a pure and holy life – are not altogether free from sin. “For a just man shall fall seven times,” says Holy Scripture (Proverb. 24: 16).
But, for every sin, mortal or venial, we must make satisfaction to God.
The doctrine of Satisfaction
The doctrine of satisfaction teaches that every sin has two evil consequences:
(1) The guilt of sin. (2) The debt of punishment.
The guilt of sin is blotted out in the Sacrament of Confession, but the debt of punishment remains.
God pardons the sin, when the sinner repents of it; but God does not leave the sin unpunished. Each and every sin must be atoned for its outrage and insult against God! Therefore, God requires of us punishment and satisfaction, which either God himself imposes on us by sending some temporal afflictions (like Corona Virus), or which we must impose upon ourselves as voluntary acts of mortification and penance.
God does not pardon our sins except on condition that we do penance for them. We satisfy, therefore, divine justice for sins committed, either by patiently bearing the crosses, trials and sufferings that God sends us, or by performing voluntary acts of mortifications and penance in this life – otherwise we will have to endure long and indescribable pains in purgatory.
Example: King David had committed the grievous sin of murder and adultery. He repented of his sin, and God forgave his sins – nevertheless, a penance was imposed on him by God, saying: “The sword shall not depart from thy house, because thou hast despised me” …. “The child that is born to thee, shall surely die.” (2 Kings 12: 10, 14) Accordingly, “the Lord also struck the (first) child which the wife of Urias (Bethsabee) had borne to David.” (ibid. 15) King Solomon was the second child (not the first) which Bethsabee had borne to David.
But David was not satisfied with this punishment, and so he performed other penitential acts: “I am ready for scourges,” he says, “and my sorrow is continually before me” (Ps. 37:14). “Every night I will wash my bed; I will water my couch with my tears” (Ps. 6: 6). To confess our sins therefore, and to perform the light penance imposed upon us by the confessor is not enough to atone for the outrages and insults offered by sin to almighty God.
“If you wish therefore,” says St. Augustine, “to avoid the divine chastisement, chastise yourself in this world, for in the next world, punishment will be meted out in the fulness and severity of divine justice.”
It is not an easy thing to live a penitential life, but its fruits are precious and enduring. It brings immense joy and consolation now and at the hour of our death. It opens the gates of the heavenly paradise.
There are only two roads that lead to this heavenly paradise – the road of innocence and the road of penance. If then we have left the former (road of innocence), we must walk the latter (the road of penance).
Our Lord says: “unless you shall do penance, you shall all likewise perish (Lk. 13: 3). He and his Blessed Mother practiced the severest penance! From the manger to the cross – their lives were one of continual prayer and fasting, of privation (poverty), suffering and humiliation!
Let us listen the call of our Blessed Mother with a clear emphasis to do penance today – in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifferences – whereby God is offended.
At Fatima, she showed her Heart crowned with thorns, and her Divine Son instructs Lucia: “Have compassion on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother, covered with thorns, with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment, and there is no one to make an act of reparation to remove them.”
“Sacrifice yourself for sinners! …. Pray, pray very much and make sacrifices for sinners. Many souls go to hell because there is no one to pray and make sacrifices for them.”
In our time, Sr. Lucia tells us, the Rosary carries with it a greater efficacy. Our Lord Jesus Christ tells Lucia that the penance He now requires is merely obeying the Commandments and doing our daily duty well (as Catholics and in our states in life).
Yes, Our Lady asks us to pray and make sacrifices for sinners – including ourselves – the sacrifices of (1) living the real Catholic life, and then (2) supplementing them by voluntary sacrifices or penance.
Our Blessed Mother asks us as a sign of penance to wear and fulfill the obligation of the brown Scapular, to say the Rosary daily and to practice the devotion of reparation (of first Saturdays) in reparation for the sins committed against the Sacred and Immaculate hearts of Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary.
With a loving response to this call of Our lady of Fatima and with a sincere desire of making reparation (what shall we do?) – let us attend in great number the All-night vigil and the devotions of first Friday and first Saturday – celebrated every month in this church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Then there shall be joy before the Angels of God – even if one sinner heeds the call of Our Lady to do penance!