Monday, June 13, 2022

Doctor Evangelicus

 Today is the feast of St. Anthony of Padua, Doctor of the Church. From a sermon on contrition of heart:

The Psalmist shows what contrition should be like when he says: 

A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit; a contrite and humbled heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. [Ps 50.19] 

In this verse there are four things to note: compunction of the spirit afflicted for its sins; the reconciliation of the sinner; the universal contrition of all sinners; the continued humbling of the contrite sinner. So he says that the spirit of a penitent which is afflicted and pricked for sins by so many trials is a sacrifice to God. It makes peace between God and that sinner, and reconciles the sinner to God; and because sorrow for sin should be all-embracing, the words a contrite heart are added. The word used means, literally, not just ‘bruised’ but ‘broken’. Both these words should be true of the sinner. His heart should be bruised by the hammer of contrition and split open by the sword of sorrow, divided into enough pieces to cover each and every mortal sin, weeping and mourning over them. The sinner should grieve over one mortal sin he has committed, more than for the loss of the whole world and everything in it if he were their lord. By mortal sin he has lost the Son of God, who is mightier, dearer and more precious than all creatures; so he should have a contrite heart, broken altogether, to be sorry for every single thing he has done, neglected or forgotten. 

 The completion of every good action is humility, so in the fourth and last place we hear that God will not despise a humbled heart. Indeed, as Isaiah says: The High and the Eminent that inhabiteth eternity... dwelleth with a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble and to revive the heart of the contrite. [Is 57.16] 

[St. Anthony of Padua, The Sermons of St. Anthony of Padua, Paul Spilsbury, tr. ]