“But I am young,” you say, “and later on I will give myself to God.” Do you not know that God counts not years but the sins of each? You are young; but into how many sins have you fallen? Evil-doers shall be cut off.
“But I am young; God compassionates my youth: later on I will give myself to God.” We now come to another delusion. You are young. But do you not know that God counts not years, but the sins of each one? You are young. But how many sins have you fallen into? There may be many old people who have not been guilty even of the tenth part of the sins you have committed. And do you not know that God has fixed the number and the measure of the sins which He will pardon in each one? The Lord waiteth patiently that when the day of judgment shall come, he may punish them (the nations) in the fulness of their sins. (2 Mach. vi. 14). That is to say, God has patience, and waits up to a certain point; but when the measure of the sins which He has determined to pardon is full, He no longer pardons, but chastises the sinner, either by a sudden death in the state of damnation in which he then is, or by abandoning him to his sin–a punishment worse than death: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be wasted. (Is. v. 5). If you have a piece of land which you have encompassed with a hedge of thorns, cultivated for many years, and expended much money upon, and you see that after all it yields no fruit, what do you do? You take away the hedge and leave it to desolation. Tremble lest God should do the same to you. If you continue to sin, gradually you will cease to feel remorse of conscience; you will think no more of eternity nor of your soul; you will lose almost all light; you will lose all fear. Behold the hedge is taken away, behold God has already abandoned you.
My dear Redeemer, prostrate at Thy feet I thank Thee for not having abandoned me after so many sins. What numbers, who have offended Thee less than I have, will never receive the light Thou now givest me. I perceive that truly Thou desirest my salvation; and I desire to be saved chiefly to please Thee. I desire to sing the many mercies Thou hast shown me for all eternity in Heaven. I hope that now, at this hour, Thou hast already pardoned me; but even should I be in disfavour with Thee, because I have not known how to repent of my offences against Thee as I ought, I now repent of them with all my soul, and grieve for them above all other evils. Pardon me in Thy mercy, and increase in me more and more sorrow for having offended Thee, my God, Who art so good.
Let us now come to the last delusion I will mention. You say: “It is true that by sin I lose the grace of God, and I have condemned myself to hell; it may be that for this sin I shall be damned; but it may also be that I shall afterwards confess it, and be saved.” True, I admit that you may yet be saved; for, after all, I am not a prophet, and cannot say for certain that after this sin God will no longer show mercy to you. But you cannot deny that, after so many graces which the Lord has bestowed on you, you will very likely be lost if you now return to offend Him. It is said in the Scriptures: A hard heart shall fare evil at the last. (Ecclus. iii. 27); Evil-doers shall be cut off (Ps. xxxvi. 9): evil-doers shall at last be cut off by Divine justice. What things a man shall sow, those also shall he reap (Gal. vi. 8): he that sows in sins, in the end shall reap only pains and torments. I have called and you refused … I also will laugh in your destruction and will mock. (Prov. i. 24, 26): I have called thee, says God, and thou hast mocked Me; but I will mock thee at the hour of death. Revenge is mine, and I will repay in due time (Deut. xxxii. 35): vengeance is Mine, and I will repay when the time is come. Thus, then, do the Scriptures speak of obstinate sinners; such is what reason and justice require. You say to me: “But perhaps after all, I shall be saved.” And I repeat, Yes, perhaps; but what folly, I also say, to rest your eternal salvation upon a perhaps, and upon a perhaps so uncertain! Is this an affair to be placed in such peril?
O my Jesus, give me sorrow! I will give up sin. I wish to save my soul. O Jesus, give me love. I love Thee above all things, but I still love Thee too little; I wish to love Thee much; and I ask this love of Thee, and hope for it from Thee. Hear me, my Jesus; for Thou hast promised to hear those who call upon Thee. O Mary, Mother of God, all assure me that thou never sendest away disconsolate those who recommend themselves to thee. O my hope after Jesus, I fly to thee, and in thee I trust; recommend me to thy Son and save me.
(Tuesday Meditation for the Third Week of Lent – by St Alphonsus Liguori)