Good to Great - WHY NOT?


Saint Bernard of Clarivaux once said that, “There are more people converted from mortal sin to grace, than there are religious converted from good to better.” Father Thomas Dubay translated this passage to say, “there are more people who give up serious alienation from God, mortal sin, than there are people who give up small wrongs and willed venial sins…”


What in this life is better than what God offers us in relationship with Him?
Why would someone refuse to trade great riches for poverty?


I think its easier to change your life around when you’re in mortal sin because it is easier to see. The venial sins seem so tiny, that there’s no impetus to change it like there is with mortal sin. You can always say a venial sin doesn’t hurt anybody or something like that, but a mortal sin is harder to justify.


I tend to agree with this response. Although, it does not excuse us… from attempting to advance in virtue. There’s nothing worse than spiritual “laziness”. Thanks for the wake-up call. God bless.


Hmm. I wonder if this is true. It certainly seems to be reasonable on its face. I wonder if it is really a greater chasm to cross from conquering mortal sins to venial sins… Maybe as you indicate - the severity is smaller so it is easier to see, target, eliminate etc. The struggle I have is that St. Augustine said that the closer we get to God, the more aware we are of our sins. So, it would follow that the elimination of mortal sin moves us closer to God. Would not then our perspective change and the venial sins become more acute in significance?


I love these threads that make us think! :thumbsup: Your follow up of the idea… makes a lot of sense, “LIA”.

I would suggest that… perhaps it depends on how responsive we are to God’s grace in our lives? All of us have free will. So, I would imagine that a true effort must be made… to cooperate with the grace granted… from reception of the Sacraments.

Sadly, this is where spiritual laziness COULD slip in. What do you think?


Spiritual laziness is certainly a problem for me! Maybe society is more comfortable without mortal sins, but there’s a little (emotional) persecution for someone turning away from venial sins? Or maybe we just feel we need more “visuals” - we can see how promiscuity leads to STDs, for example, but it’s harder to see the fruits of becoming charitable (esp. since closeness to God magnifies our sins). :confused:


The newly converted find comfort and encouragement in consolations from God. These help the sinner to fight his vices. When a person progresses spiritually, often he loses the comfort of these good feelings. He may have times when he does not feel God at all. He may feel only desolation. Some people grow in virtue at these moments but other people stagnate. Some struggle with despair.

During dark nights it is hard to see as clearly as when the sun is shining brightly on you.


That’s definetly true.


I believe what St.Bernard says. I think the answer lies with St. Augustine. All men always look for the good.

Now, Augustine adds that the good is not always the right. A thief is looking for the good. He is thinking about what is good for him. He is not thinking about what is morally good, but a short-term good.

Add to that what Karl Rhaner says about man’s transcendental nature. Man has an innate drive toward the transcendant.

If Augustine and Rahner are right, a man (or woman) in grave sin will have a stronger drive to find his way out of a state that does not yield the happiness for which he seeks.

In the meantime, a person who is a good person, but who has room to grow, such as one who commits habitual venial sins and so forth, does not experience that strong drive toward the transcendant good, because (as Rhaner also says) man has an innate laziness and often settles for the middle. Man’s greatest fault is not grave sin, but his gravest sin is his failure to aspire to be better than mediocre.

I’ve always liked that thought. Neither Augustine’s nor Rhaner’s theses are taught as doctrines and they did not postulate them as such. They are interesting philosophical constructs that woud help explain what Bernard may have been thinking about.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:


Great quote - where can I find this in his writings?


The statement is mine. It’s what I walked away with after reading Rahner and Augustine together.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:


All - well said.


All - these are all good thoughts and reasonable explanations. It is still baffling to me. I think of God’s warnings to the Church at Laodecea, “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.” Christ’s warning to his disciples, “depart from me, I never knew you” or St. Peter’s warnings about our last state being far worse than the first (2 Peter 2). Yes, I even at this present moment, am overwhelmed at the great grace, love, and mercy of God. However, I am also painfully aware of my own ability to reject His incredible grace and mercy. Frankly, it terrifies me - not God - me. My desire is to never grow cold, or warm, but to always be hot - in pursuit of God. He has paid a price for my soul that is unfathomable. How could I do anything less than pursue him and work to bring every cell, every thought, every affection to worship him and life for him? I don’t understand the soul that does not feel this way. I don’t stand in judgement, I just don’t understand. I am deeply troubled by the idea that many good Catholics will aim for purgatory and miss - no backup plan once we are face to face with our great and glorious God… His justice does not allow for a plan “b” - we have already made our choice and the moment we stand before him - he will give us our choice - eternal horror - or eternal bliss.


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