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Good Works Done In Mortal Sin

The Crossroads at 23rd Street


"For, professing themselves to be wise, they became fools." (Romans 1:22)


Errors can be corrected and trends reversed if only our faith and determination does not fail us in our earnest quest for the truth.

Good Works Done In Mortal Sin:
The Priests of the Congregation of Saint Paul (1886)

Gospel: (St. Luke 5:1-11) at that time:

When the multitudes pressed upon Jesus to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Genesareth. And he saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And going up into one of the ships that was Simon's, he desired him to thrust out a little from the land. And sitting down, he taught the multitudes out of the ship. Now when he had ceased to speak, he said to Simon: Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering, said to him: Master, we have labored all the night and have taken nothing: but at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had done this, they enclosed a very great multitude of fishes, and their net was breaking. And they beckoned to their partners that were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they were almost sinking; which when Simon Peter saw, he fell down at Jesus knees, saying Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, Lord. For he was wholly astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken. And so were also James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were Simon's partners. And Jesus saith to Simon: Fear not, from henceforth thou shalt be taking men. And when they had brought their ships to land, leaving all things, they followed him.

Gospel of the Day: Good Works Done In Mortal Sin

"Master, we have labored all the night, and have taken nothing."

The Gospel of to-day tells us, my dear brethren, how St. Peter and his companions, after wearying themselves with dragging their heavy nets the whole night, had caught nothing for all their pains; and how, as soon as our Lord appeared, and they were able to work with his guidance and help, they took more fish than their boats would hold.

There is a most important spiritual lesson contained in this simple story. This miraculous draught of fish is, as it were, a parable, acted out instead of told by our Divine Savior. And its meaning is this: that those who work in the night of the soul which is caused by mortal sin have indeed much trouble, sorrow, and labor, but it is all for nothing. All that they do and suffer while remaining in this state counts for nothing in their favor in the eternal account of God. Whereas, on the other hand, the slightest action of one who is in the state of grace, and who, therefore, works in union with Christ, has attached to it a great and imperishable glory in the kingdom of heaven.

St. Paul also teaches us this quite explicitly. "If I should distribute," says he, "all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charit" (that is, the love of God, which makes the state of grace), "it profiteth me nothing." Whereas, on the other hand, he says, for himself and others who are united to God by grace, that "what is at present momentary and light of our tribulation worketh for us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory."

This is, I say, my brethren, a most important truth. Do you fairly understand it? Do you take in its full meaning and application? Let us look at and study it as much as possible in these few minutes; then let us take it home with us, meditate on it, and make it thoroughly our own.

All of us have our labors, trials, and pains; some are heavily burdened with them. To work and to suffer is the lot of all, from which there is no escape. We cannot avoid our destiny; we must make the best of it. Yes, that is just it; we must make the best of it; if we have any prudence, any true love or care for our happiness, we will make the best of it, and not the worst. Why suffer this poverty, this sickness, this worry and distress of mind? Why do all this hard work? Why go through all these long and weary days, and get nothing in reward for all our labor and suffering but the mere means with which to keep up this painful and toilsome life, and to sweeten it, perhaps, with some fleeting sensual pleasures? Why not have something to show for all our trouble at the end of our time here on earth? Why not make it, as we may, into a crown to take with us into that life which has no end?

This is what those do who remain in the grace of God, who commit no mortal sin, or who, if they ever fall into it, repent and free themselves from it without delay. All their pains and all their labors are recorded in heaven, and treasured up to be woven into a crown of merit for such as persevere to the end. God is with them, as with St. Peter on the hike of Genesareth; they work for him, and in the light of his presence, and their slightest actions obtain a rich reward.

But those who foolishly think that to remain thus is a task beyond their strength, who pass their lives in mortal sin, and only seldom and for a short time rise from it, have the same trouble; and at the end, if indeed they come to God then and enter heaven, being saved as by fire, they find no treasure of good works gone before them. "Master," they have to say, "we have worked all night and have taken nothing. We have worked in the night of sin all our life."

Let us not, then, follow their example. Let us not run their fearful risk of not obtaining salvation at all; and let us also determine that when we are saved we will have a life well filled with the fruits of grace to lay at our Savior s feet, for which we may merit to hear him say: "Well done, good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."


(Five-Minute Sermons: Low Masses: All Sundays of the Year - Volume II
The Priests of the Congregation of Saint Paul - 1886

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