The more you have offended God, so much the more should you fear to offend Him again. I do not say absolutely that after another sin there will be no more pardon for you, because this I know not. But I say that it may happen. Therefore, when you are tempted to sin, say: But supposing God should pardon me no more, and I should be lost!
My son, hast thou sinned? do so no more; but for thy former sins, pray that they may be forgiven thee. (Ecclus. xxi. 1). Behold, dear Christian, the advice your good Lord gives you, because He desires your salvation: My son, do not offend Me any more; but from this day henceforth be mindful to ask pardon for your past offences. The more you have offended God, so much the more must you fear to offend Him again, because the next sin you commit may sink the scale of Divine Justice, and you will be lost. I do not absolutely say that after another sin there will be no more pardon for you, because this I know not; but I say that it may happen. Therefore, when you are tempted, say: But supposing God should no more pardon me, and I should be lost! I pray you tell me, if it were probable that a certain food contained poison, would you take it? If with probability you believed that on a certain road your enemies lay in wait to take your life, would you pass that way, having another more secure? And thus what certainty, nay, what probability is there, that if you again sin, you will afterwards have a true sorrow, and will not return to the sin? And that in sinning God will not strike you dead in the very act of sin, or that He will not abandon you after it?
If you buy a house, you take all care to obtain proper securities, and not to throw away your money. If you take medicine, you endeavour to be well assured that it cannot injure you. If you have to pass a torrent, you try to secure yourself from falling into it. And yet for a miserable gratification, for a brutal pleasure, you risk your eternal salvation, saying, I hope to confess it. But I ask of you: When will you confess it? On Sunday. And who promises you to live till Sunday? Tomorrow. And who promises you this tomorrow? St. Augustine says: “Do you cling to a day, when you are not sure of an hour?” How can you promise yourself to confess tomorrow, when you know not whether you will have even another hour to live? “He Who has promised pardon to the penitent, has not promised a tomorrow to the sinner: perhaps He will grant it, perhaps He will not.” God, continues the Saint, has promised pardon to those who repent; but He has not promised a tomorrow to those who offend Him. If you now sin, perhaps God will give you time to do penance, and perhaps not; and should He not give it you, what will become of you for all eternity? In the meantime you already lose your soul for a wretched pleasure, and incur the peril of losing it for ever.
Behold, O Lord, one of those madmen who so often has lost his soul and Thy grace, in the hope of recovering it! And if Thou hadst taken me in that moment, and in those nights when I was in sin, what would have become of me? I thank Thy mercy which has waited for me, and which now makes me sensible of my folly. I see that Thou desirest my salvation, and I desire to be saved. I repent, O Infinite Goodness, of having so often turned my back on Thee; I love Thee with my whole heart. I hope, through the merits of Thy Passion, O my Jesus, to be no longer so foolish; pardon me speedily, and receive me into Thy favour, for I wish never more to leave Thee.
Would you risk a thousand crowns for that vile gratification? I say more: Would you for that momentary gratification cast away all–money, houses, estates, liberty, and life? No. And how, then, can you for that wretched pleasure in one moment make shipwreck of all–soul, Heaven, and God? Tell me, are these things, taught by Faith–that there is a Heaven, a Hell, an Eternity–Truths, or are they fables? Do you believe that, if death should overtake you in sin, you will be lost for ever? And what temerity, what madness, to condemn yourself to an eternity of pain, saying: I hope afterwards to repair it. “No one wishes to fall ill in the hope of being cured,” says St. Augustine. No one is so mad as to take poison and say: Perhaps I shall afterwards be cured by remedies; and you choose to condemn yourself to an eternal death, saying: Perhaps I shall afterwards deliver myself from it! O folly, which has cast, and casts, so many souls into hell! According to the threat of the Lord: Thou hast trusted in thy wickedness … evil shall come upon thee; and thou shalt not know the rising thereof. (Is. xlvii. 10, 11). Thou hast sinned, confiding rashly in the Divine mercy; and the punishment will fall suddenly on Thee, without Thy knowing whence it comes.
In thee, O Lord, have I hoped; let me not be confounded for ever. Ah, no! I hope, O my Redeemer, never again to suffer the disgrace and confusion of finding myself deprived of Thy grace and Thy love. Give me holy perseverance; and grant that I may always ask it of Thee, especially when tempted, calling for aid upon Thy Holy Name, and that of Thy holy Mother, saying: My Jesus, help me; my Mother Mary, help me! Yes, O my Queen, for as long as I have recourse to thee I shall never be conquered. And if the temptation should continue, obtain for me that I may never cease persisting in calling upon thee.
(Meditation for Tuesday, First week of Lent – by St Alphonsus Liguori)