09 March 2011

Immutemur habitu, in cinere et cilicio

Decency has gone, honesty disappeared, religious devotion has fallen on bad times, and like an army on the march, the throng of all the holy virtues has withdrawn at a distance. 'All are bent on their own purposes' (Philippians 2:21), and despising every aspiration for heaven, greedily yearn for the earth. And since, as the world is coming to an end, they never cease longing for the world, it seems that after experiencing the high seas and being carried to the shore, they row in vain toward land and stubbornly try to operate the boat. And because peace and quiet are without a doubt the objective of all our effort for those who at length await a resting place, as a punishment they are worn out by their useless endeavour.

Be that as it may, the children of this world are swamped by a flood of stormy secular affairs, and they now scatter the seeds to which they are especially addicted, so that afterwards they may reap the fruits on which they had not planned. Yet as the apostle says: 'What business is it of mine to judge those who are in the world'? (1 Corinthians 5:12). We who are known to have renounced the world, who brag that we have escaped shipwreck in an earthly storm, why do we again fall back into it as if we were violently swallowed up by some whirlpool? Why do we return to those things that we have despised for the love of God, there to be rekindled by the flame of evil desire? Why are we not ashamed, at the urging of improper ambition, to resort to that which neither earthly rights nor the authority of God's law had forbidden us to have? Without the slightest provocation and of our own accord, we rashly stir up war, and now have no fear of fighting against the decisions of sacred Scripture.

~ Saint Peter Damian ~

'Let us change our garments for ashes and sackloth: let us fast and lament before the Lord: for plenteous in mercy is our God to forgive our sins' (Joel 2:13).