+JMJ+ Welcome to part 27 of our weekly series on the soul. Tonight I want to share some passages from a devotional book–well, from one book in a series of books–that I’ve been using for years, In Conversation with God, by Francis Fernandez-Carvajal. This is not to be confused with the series, Conversations with God, by New Age author Neale Donald Walsch. Far from it.
I’ve selected some passages from In Conversation with God, Volume 4, for us tonight: Chapter 2, Death and Life.
The chapter of the book I’ve selected for us is Chapter 2, Death and Life. The death we should avoid and fear is the death of the life of grace in the soul. Venial sin wounds it, but mortal sin kills it. Speaking of mortal and venial sin, imagine my surprise when I was studying the Bible with some Catholic Bible study materials before I converted, and I read in John’s First Epistle that there is sin that is deadly and sin that is not deadly. Mortal and venial.
If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin which is mortal; I do not say that one is to pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not mortal (1 John 5:16-17, RSVCE).
I read this next part and thought about Protestants (some, not all) and their talk about “soul sleep”, which I never heard of in my Protestant days, but I’ve heard of it many times since then. It usually comes up when they’re arguing with me about Saints in Heaven or the Holy Souls in Purgatory hearing our prayers (or not hearing them since so many Protestants deny that they can or even that they’re there.)
2.2 Sin, the death of the soul. Its effects. The child is not dead but sleeping, Jesus tells Jairus. For men she was indeed dead. There was no wakening her. For God she was asleep, because her soul lived on under the divine power and her flesh should rest till the resurrection. Thus the custom arose among Christians of calling the dead, whom we know will rise again, by the name of sleepers ( From the Venerable Bede, Commentary on Saint Mark’s Gospel).
“Bodily death is not an absolute evil. Don’t forget, my son, that for you on earth there is but one evil, which you must fear and avoid with the grace of God — sin (St. Josemarie Escriva, The Way). The lack of God … is death to the soul (St. John of the Cross, Spiritual Canticle, 2.7).”
Grave sin “is the greatest tragedy that can befall” a man (Tanqueray, Compendium of Ascetical and Mystical Theology). “His natural inclination towards virtue is diminished. This situation is so grave that by all mortal sins, even those of thought, men are made into ‘children of wrath’ (Eph 2:3) and enemies of God (Council of Trent, Session 14, Chapter 5).”
And here he shreds the whole notion of private sin, sin that only affects the doer and no one else.
“[A] soul that debases itself through sin drags down with itself the Church and, in some way, the whole world. In other words, there is not a single sin, not even the most intimate and secret one, the most strictly personal and individual one, that exclusively concerns the person committing it. With greater or lesser violence, with consequences of greater or lesser harm, every sin has repercussions on the entire ecclesial body and the whole human family (John Paul II, Reconciliatio et Poenitentia, 16).”
So we need to keep struggling to avoid sin, even venial sin, which weakens the life of grace in the soul and makes it harder to practice the virtues.
Let us ask our Mother the Blessed Virgin to obtain for us the gift of esteeming the life of the soul above all human goods, even that of bodily life itself. She will help us to react with true contrition against our weaknesses and errors. We can say with the Psalmist: ‘Thy eyes shed streams of tears, because men do not keep thy Law [Psalm 118:136].’ Maintaining and increasing the life of the soul is more important than the death of the body.
Thank you for visiting and reading. Until next time, whoever and wherever you are, please stay safe and well, and may the Lord bless and keep you and yours, and may His peace be always with you. +JMJ+
Notes and Links
- From the Scepter Publishers website: “Rev. Francis Fernández-Carvajal is a Priest of the Opus Dei Prelature and the author of many popular spiritual works. His seven-volume series In Conversation with God provides over 500 meditations to be used throughout the liturgical year. It has sold over 2 million copies and has been translated into many languages.”
- In Conversation with God, by Francis Fernandez-Carvajal. Seven volumes, Scepter Publishers. This volume 4: Vinyl cover with dust jacket or Kindle, Weeks 13-18, Weeks 19-23. Complete box set, vinyl cover. (The reading for this post was taken from Volume 4, Week 13, Sunday, Year B. Not today’s and not this liturgical year but it fits right in with our series on the soul.)
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