[right]JMJ + OBT[/right]
Do, or how do, the radical possibilities of mortal sin and the eternal death and torments of hell (cf. CCC #1861) enter into your meditations and interior life, and more generally into your whole spiritual outlook and the character of your efforts at evangelization?
This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to visit a beautiful parish outside of my hometown. I entered the Church around 2:00pm, in order to prepare for Confession and Holy Mass with a couple hours of spiritual reading, prayer and examination of conscience. Around 3:00pm, a woman entered the Church and sat in a pew that was a few rows back from mine. A few minutes later, when I turned around to see who had come in (I was the only one, besides Jesus, present in the building up to that point), she spoke to me, and asked me outright whether I had read the famous sermon of St. Leonard of Port Maurice that addresses the number of those that will be lost to hell for all eternity. We spoke quietly for a few minutes and then both returned to our spiritual exercises.
I had not read the sermon in question, and so when I came home that evening, I used Google to find it on the Internet. It certainly does “pack a punch.” I thought my fellow forums members might like to review it as well.
The Little Number of Those Who Are Saved
by St. Leonard of Port Maurice
St. Leonard of Port Maurice was a Franciscan friar, and proponent of the Blessed Sacrament, the devotion of the Sacred Heart, and the Stations of the Cross, as well as the Immaculate Conception. He was born Leonard Casanova in Port Maurice, Porto Maurizio, Italy, and joined the Franciscans of the Strict Observance in 1697. Ordained in 1703, he began preaching all over the Tuscany region of Italy. By 1736 he was attracting huge crowds in Rome and elsewhere, and he erected almost six hundred Stations of the Cross throughout the lands. In 1744, Leonard was sent by Pope Benedict XIV to preach on Corsica, returning to Rome in 1751 after receiving a summons from the pope. Leonard died at his friary, St. Bonaventure, on November 26. He was canonized in 1867 and named patron of parish missions.
Thanks be to God, the number of the Redeemer’s disciples is not so small that the wickedness of the Scribes and Pharisees is able to triumph over them. Although they strove to calumniate innocence and to deceive the crowd with their treacherous sophistries by discrediting the doctrine and character of Our Lord, finding spots even in the sun, many still recognized Him as the true Messiah, and, unafraid of either chastisements or threats, openly joined His cause. Did all those who followed Christ follow Him even unto glory? Oh, this is where I revere the profound mystery and silently adore the abysses of the divine decrees, rather than rashly deciding on such a great point! The subject I will be treating today is a very grave one; it has caused even the pillars of the Church to tremble, filled the greatest Saints with terror and populated the deserts with anchorites. The point of this instruction is to decide whether the number of Christians who are saved is greater or less than the number of Christians who are damned; it will, I hope, produce in you a salutary fear of the judgments of God.
Brothers, because of the love I have for you, I wish I were able to reassure you with the prospect of eternal happiness by saying to each of you: You are certain to go to paradise; the greater number of Christians is saved, so you also will be saved. But how can I give you this sweet assurance if you revolt against God’s decrees as though you were your own worst enemies? I observe in God a sincere desire to save you, but I find in you a decided inclination to be damned. So what will I be doing today if I speak clearly? I will be displeasing to you. But if I do not speak, I will be displeasing to God.