Redemption Near at Hand
A certain friend of God was once asked what he would do if he had lived for a long time in grievous sins. He replied: “If I had done all prescribed to me by a prudent and wise confessor, and had given up my sins as I ought, I should wish never again to think of them, nor to stain my heart with the remembrance of them; but I would strive from that time to live so piously that God might forget all my sins. For when we neither desire nor commit sin, but turn clean away from it, then God also forgets it.
“Yes, even if I had lived for the space of forty years in sins, and now the hour of my death had come, if I had sincerely confessed my sins, if I could, with perfect love, from the depth of my heart, even for the space of one ‘Hail Mary,’ turn myself to God and betake myself to him, in order that I might turn utterly away from sin and entirely to God, then I might go from this world as a pure and innocent man. But, if, on the other hand, I had committed only one sin, and went hence in sorrow, contrition, and grief of heart, then, indeed, I should die as a penitent sinner.”
On the other hand, many people who have not the true fear of God are miserably deceived by flattering themselves with the idea of God’s immense mercy, while at the same time they do not correct their evil lives. Such men think little of daily venial offences; yes, even grievous sins do not much trouble them. They say to themselves: “Directly we have sighed and groaned over our iniquities, the inexhaustible mercy of God will forgive them all, and we shall go hence by a happy death.”
But as God is supremely merciful, so also is he supremely just. He is not merciful without justice nor just without mercy…Wherefore he who desires to be saved ought to embrace and to kiss both of our Lord’s feet—that is, the foot of his mercy and the foot of his justice. He ought so to trust in the infinite mercy of God as not to persevere in sin; but, turning to God with his whole heart he ought to strive to live a righteous and godly life. Thus living, will he die at last a holy death.