Saturday, November 02, 2013

"Little children stumble often, but they are too little to hurt themselves very much." - St. Therese

"We stumble mostly by choice."

Not always.  The thought,  'we stumble mostly by choice' is true in a literal sense of course, in so far as it concerns grave sin, for a sin to be mortal, there must be full consent of the will.  I do not want to make a big deal of this, but the statement caught my attention.  We trip or stumble frequently by accident, something trips us up.  Sometimes we falter and are unsteady, we can lose our balance - something precedes the fall - scripture tells us it is pride.

Generally, I think many people stumble and fall more through human weakness, rather than malice.  I may be wrong.  Sick people need a doctor.  Some need therapy - frequent confession and guidance - and a lot of prayer.  Really sick people sometimes can't get up on their own.  Children and weaker souls can be like that.  Surely they do not choose to stumble.  When people are in recovery - they often relapse.  See the different point of view here? 

Justice and peace, mercy and truth.

When my brother was dying I sensed the disgust of his doctor and some of the nurses.  He looked horrible, blood from his eyes and pores, a 45 year old fat alcoholic, dying of liver disease.  They might as well have told me that he made the choice to die an alcoholic.  Some will insist he made a series of choices, aka the stages of sin - but there is never reason to lose hope, nor to write off  someone who has fallen so low.

"There is no pit that his love is not deeper still."

Betsy Ten Boom said that in the concentration camp, amidst such horror, suffering and sin.  She understood that Christ was there - already! - his gaze meeting the soul who stumbled and fell.  It is good to understand that aspect of Christ's stumbling and falling.  He descended into the depths to meet us where we have fallen.  He chose us first.

Confidence and love.
 "It is to recognize our nothingness, to expect everything from God as a little child expects everything from its father; it is to be disquieted about nothing, and not to be set on gaming our living. ... To be little is not attributing to oneself the virtues that one practices. ... It is not to become discouraged over one's faults, for children stumble and fall often, but they are too little to hurt themselves very much."  - St. Therese
We get what we hope for.
'We can never have too much confidence in the Good God, He is so mighty, so merciful. 
As we hope in Him so shall we receive.'

"Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."   I think that is why the prayer says what it does.




  1. Thanks for this Terry. I was walking to Mass this evening thinking of an alcoholic relative & it struck me that really no-one does want them. I love Corrie's phrase. I just got slated on another blog for saying that some bloggers wish hell was full - maybe i'm mistaken and reading them wrong.

  2. You are not wrong as I have read that there are some who actually pray people into hell. That was something I could not imagine doing nor can I still. I think I read it on Fr. Z's blog when I used to visit there.

    If we stumble and do so from our own choices, I understand since I stumble lots but at the same time, I am given the strength to get up and start over again. Father preached about this very same topic last night during the celebration of All Saints. He said what mattered was not that we sinned but that we were able to get up from our sinning and start all over again to walk towards Christ.

    I reflected on that as it made sense for me and where I am in my walk with our Lord Jesus. If I fall, and I do, I want to get up and keep on trying, keep on walking, keep on with the hope that one day, I will never fall again except into the arms of our Risen Lord and stay there forever by God's holy grace.

  3. All ‘alcoholics’ die as ‘alcoholics’. That’s the truth. Some die in sobriety, others not.

    One of the unfortunate conditions of alcoholism is that if the person continues to drink alcohol then eventually they lose what is termed “the power of selection”. They are left unable to make the decision to stop drinking, even though they are aware of the damage being done.

    It takes a special kind of love to live with the behaviour of an alcoholic. It’s not a matter of not wanting the person, more a matter of not wanting all the baggage that goes with the illness. And that’s what alcoholism is – an illness, not a sin, although sin can manifest from the illness, as it can in any other sick person.

    But God judges the state of a person’s heart, not their liver or skin condition.

    Recently Pope Francis said that if we wish to find God then will find him in the poor. And I guess “the poor” includes all of us as we are all deficient in some way and lacking in love.

  4. Beautiful quote from St. Therese, who suffered so much from scruples when she was younger. It has kept me from falling into that temptation so often. God knows our weakness, it takes humility to admit it and get up again in trust that He does really love us.

  5. I think I get Z source of this post...

    Last week, I saw a list of all the saints (some, Doctors of the Church) who said something along the lines of: "The majority of humanity will be lost - will end up in Hell." This is not the sense I get from some recent saints, however, like St. Therese (also a Doctor herself, of course). I am not sure what to make of this. It's something I've noticed and it raises the question of how we are to look upon ourselves, others, the world and God Himself - which reality is true: that many are lost (and, so, by implication, stumble by choice) or that much of the evil in the world is due to weakness and so not worthy of an eternal punishment?

    It's a monumental question. I wish we had some greater clarity on it.

    1. Regarding the confusion I've referenced here and elsewhere, an illustration:


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