Paris, August 2, 1656
    I have not come yet to the policy of the Society, but shall
first introduce you to one of its leading principles. I refer to the
palliatives which they have applied to confession, and which are
unquestionably the best of all the schemes they have fallen upon to
"attract all and repel none." It is absolutely necessary to know
something of this before going any further; and, accordingly, the monk
judged it expedient to give me some instructions on the point,
nearly as follows:
    "From what I have already stated," he observed, "you may judge
of the success with which our doctors have laboured to discover, in
their wisdom, that a great many things, formerly regarded as
forbidden, are innocent and allowable; but as there are some sins
for which one can find no excuse, and for which there is no remedy but
confession, it became necessary to alleviate, by the methods I am
now going to mention, the difficulties attending that practice.
Thus, having shown you, in our previous conversations, how we
relieve people from troublesome scruples of conscience by showing them
that what they believed to be sinful was indeed quite innocent, I
proceed now to illustrate our convenient plan for expiating what is
really sinful, which is effected by making confession as easy a
process as it was formerly a painful one."
    "And how do you manage that, father?"
    "Why," said he, "it is by those admirable subtleties which are
peculiar to our Company, and have been styled by our fathers in
Flanders, in The Image of the First Century, 'the pious finesse, the
holy artifice of devotion- piam et religiosam calliditatem, et
pietatis solertiam.' By the aid of these inventions, as they remark in
the same place, 'crimes may be expiated nowadays alacrius- with more
zeal and alacrity than they were committed in former days, and a great
many people may be washed from their stains almost as cleverly as they
contracted them- plurimi vix citius maculas contrahunt quam eluunt.'"
    "Pray, then, father, do teach me some of these most salutary
lessons of finesse."
    "We have a good number of them, answered the monk; "for there
are a great many irksome things about confession, and for each of
these we have devised a palliative. The chief difficulties connected
with this ordinance are the shame of confessing certain sins, the
trouble of specifying the circumstances of others, the penance exacted
for them, the resolution against relapsing into them, the avoidance of
the proximate occasions of sins, and the regret for having committed
them. I hope to convince you to-day that it is now possible to get
over all this with hardly any trouble at all; such is the care we have
taken to allay the bitterness and nauseousness of this very
necessary medicine. For, to begin with the difficulty of confessing
certain sins, you are aware it is of importance often to keep in the
good graces of one's confessor; now, must it not be extremely
convenient to be permitted, as you are by our doctors, particularly
Escobar and Suarez, 'to have two confessors, one for the mortal sins
and another for the venial, in order to maintain a fair character with
your ordinary confessor- uti bonam famam apud ordinarium tueatur-
provided you do not take occasion from thence to indulge in mortal
sin?' This is followed by another ingenious contrivance for confessing
a sin, even to the ordinary confessor, without his perceiving that
it was committed since the last confession, which is, 'to make a
general confession, and huddle this last sin in a lump among the
rest which we confess.' And I am sure you will own that the
following decision of Father Bauny goes far to alleviate the shame
which one must feel in confessing his relapses, namely, 'that,
except in certain cases, which rarely occur, the confessor is not
entitled to ask his penitent if the sin of which he accuses himself is
an habitual one, nor is the latter obliged to answer such a
question; because the confessor has no right to subject his penitent
to the shame of disclosing his frequent relapses.'"
    "Indeed, father! I might as well say that a physician has no right
to ask his patient if it is long since he had the fever. Do not sins
assume quite a different aspect according to circumstances? and should
it not be the object of a genuine penitent to discover the whole state
of his conscience to his confessor, with the same sincerity and
open-heartedness as if he were speaking to Jesus Christ himself, whose
place the priest occupies? If so, how far is he from realizing such
a disposition who, by concealing the frequency of his relapses,
conceals the aggravations of his offence!"
    I saw that this puzzled the worthy monk, for he attempted to elude
rather than resolve the difficulty by turning my attention to
another of their rules, which only goes to establish a fresh abuse,
instead of justifying in the least the decision of Father Bauny; a
decision which, in my opinion, is one of the most pernicious of
their maxims, and calculated to encourage profligate men to continue
in their evil habits.
    "I grant you," replied the father, "that habit aggravates the
malignity of a sin, but it does not alter its nature; and that is
the reason why we do not insist on people confessing it, according
to the rule laid down by our fathers, and quoted by Escobar, 'that one
is only obliged to confess the circumstances that alter the species of
the sin, and not those that aggravate it.' Proceeding on this rule,
Father Granados says, 'that if one has eaten flesh in Lent, all he
needs to do is to confess that he has broken the fast, without
specifying whether it was by eating flesh, or by taking two fish
meals.' And, according to Reginald, 'a sorcerer who has employed the
diabolical art is not obliged to reveal that circumstance; it is
enough to say that he has dealt in magic, without expressing whether
it was by palmistry or by a paction with the devil.' Fagundez,
again, has decided that 'rape is not a circumstance which one is bound
to reveal, if the woman give her consent.' All this is quoted by
Escobar, with many other very curious decisions as to these
circumstances, which you may consult at your leisure."
    "These 'artifices of devotion' are vastly convenient in their
way," I observed.
    "And yet," said the father, "notwithstanding all that, they
would go for nothing, sir, unless we had proceeded to mollify penance,
which, more than anything else, deters people from confession. Now,
however, the most squeamish have nothing to dread from it, after
what we have advanced in our theses of the College of Clermont,
where we hold that, if the confessor imposes a suitable penance, and
the penitent be unwilling to submit himself to it, the latter may go
home, 'waiving both the penance and the absolution.' Or, as Escobar
says, in giving the Practice of our Society, 'if the penitent
declare his willingness to have his penance remitted to the next
world, and to suffer in purgatory all the pains due to him, the
confessor may, for the honour of the sacrament, impose a very light
penance on him, particularly if he has reason to believe that this
penitent would object to a heavier one.'"
    "I really think," said I, "that, if that is the case, we ought
no longer to call confession the sacrament of penance."
    "You are wrong," he replied; "for we always administer something
in the way of penance, for the form's sake."
    "But, father, do you suppose that a man is worthy of receiving
absolution when he will submit to nothing painful to expiate his
offences? And, in these circumstances, ought you not to retain
rather than remit their sins? Are you not aware of the extent of
your ministry, and that you have the power of binding and loosing?
Do you imagine that you are at liberty to give absolution
indifferently to all who ask it, and without ascertaining beforehand
if Jesus Christ looses in heaven those whom you loose on earth?"
    "What!" cried the father, "do you suppose that we do not know that
'the confessor (as one remarks) ought to sit in judgement on the
disposition of his penitent, both because he is bound not to
dispense the sacraments to the unworthy, Jesus Christ having
enjoined him to be a faithful steward and not give that which is
holy unto dogs; and because he is a judge, and it is the duty of a
judge to give righteous judgement, by loosing the worthy and binding
the unworthy, and he ought not to absolve those whom Jesus Christ
    "Whose words are these, father?"
    "They are the words of our father Filiutius," he replied.
    "You astonish me," said I; "I took them to be a quotation from one
of the fathers of the Church. At all events, sir, that passage ought
to make an impression on the confessors, and render them very
circumspect in the dispensation of this sacrament, to ascertain
whether the regret of their penitents is sufficient, and whether their
promises of future amendment are worthy of credit."
    "That is not such a difficult matter," replied the father;
"Filiutius had more sense than to leave confessors in that dilemma,
and accordingly he suggests an easy way of getting out of it, in the
words immediately following: 'The confessor may easily set his mind at
rest as to the disposition of his penitent; for, if he fail to give
sufficient evidence of sorrow, the confessor has only to ask him if he
does not detest the sin in his heart, and, if he answers that he does,
he is bound to believe it. The same thing may be said of resolutions
as to the future, unless the case involves an obligation to
restitution, or to avoid some proximate occasion of sin.'"
    "As to that passage, father, I can easily believe that it is
Filiutius' own."
    "You are mistaken though," said the father, "for he has
extracted it, word for word, from Suarez."
    "But, father, that last passage from Filiutius overturns what he
had laid down in the former. For confessors can no longer be said to
sit as judges on the disposition of their penitents, if they are bound
to take it simply upon their word, in the absence of all satisfying
signs of contrition. Are the professions made on such occasions so
infallible, that no other sign is needed? I question much if
experience has taught your fathers that all who make fair promises are
remarkable for keeping them; I am mistaken if they have not often
found the reverse."
    "No matter," replied the monk; "confessors are bound to believe
them for all that; for Father Bauny, who has probed this question to
the bottom, has concluded 'that at whatever time those who have fallen
into frequent relapses, without giving evidence of amendment,
present themselves before a confessor, expressing their regret for the
past, and a good purpose for the future, he is bound to believe them
on their simple averment, although there may be reason to presume that
such resolution only came from the teeth outwards. Nay,' says he,
'though they should indulge subsequently to greater excess than ever
in the same delinquencies, still, in my opinion, they may receive
absolution.' There now! that, I am sure, should silence you."
    "But, father," said I, "you impose a great hardship, I think, on
the confessors, by thus obliging them to believe the very reverse of
what they see."
    "You don't understand it," returned he; "all that is meant is that
they are obliged to act and absolve as if they believed that their
penitents would be true to their engagements, though, in point of
fact, they believe no such thing. This is explained, immediately
afterwards, by Suarez and Filiutius. After having said that 'the
priest is bound to believe the penitent on his word,' they add: 'It is
not necessary that the confessor should be convinced that the good
resolution of his penitent will be carried into effect, nor even
that he should judge it probable; it is enough that he thinks the
person has at the time the design in general, though he may very
shortly after relapse. Such is the doctrine of all our authors- ita
docent omnes autores.' Will you presume to doubt what has been
taught by our authors?"
    "But, sir, what then becomes of what Father Petau himself is
obliged to own, in the preface to his Public Penance, 'that the holy
fathers, doctors, and councils of the Church agree in holding it as
a settled point that the penance preparatory to the eucharist must
be genuine, constant, resolute, and not languid and sluggish, or
subject to after-thoughts and relapses?'"
    "Don't you observe," replied the monk, "that Father Petau is
speaking of the ancient Church? But all that is now so little in
season, to use a common saying of our doctors, that, according to
Father Bauny, the reverse is the only true view of the matter.
'There are some,' says he, 'who maintain that absolution ought to be
refused to those who fall frequently into the same sin, more
especially if, after being often absolved, they evince no signs of
amendment; and others hold the opposite view. But the only true
opinion is that they ought not to be refused absolution; and, though
they should be nothing the better of all the advice given them, though
they should have broken all their promises to lead new lives, and been
at no trouble to purify themselves, still it is of no consequence;
whatever may be said to the contrary, the true opinion which ought
to be followed is that even in all these cases, they ought to be
absolved.' And again: 'Absolution ought neither to be denied nor
delayed in the case of those who live in habitual sins against the law
of God, of nature, and of the Church, although there should be no
apparent prospect of future amendment- etsi emendationis futurae nulla
spes appareat.'"
    "But, father, this certainty of always getting absolution may
induce sinners- "
    "I know what you mean," interrupted the Jesuit; "but listen to
Father Bauny, Q. 15: 'Absolution may be given even to him who candidly
avows that the hope of being absolved induced him to sin with more
freedom than he would otherwise have done.' And Father Caussin,
defending this proposition, says 'that, were this not true, confession
would be interdicted to the greater part of mankind; and the only
resource left poor sinners would be a branch and a rope.'"
    "O father, how these maxims of yours will draw people to your
    "Yes, he replied, "you would hardly believe what numbers are in
the habit of frequenting them; 'we are absolutely oppressed and
overwhelmed, so to speak, under the crowd of our penitents-
penitentium numero obruimur'- as is said in The Image of the First
    "I could suggest a very simple method," said I, "to escape from
this inconvenient pressure. You have only to oblige sinners to avoid
the proximate occasions of sin; that single expedient would afford you
relief at once."
    "We have no wish for such a relief," rejoined the monk; "quite the
reverse; for, as is observed in the same book, 'the great end of our
Society is to labor to establish the virtues, to wage war on the
vices, and to save a great number of souls.' Now, as there are very
few souls inclined to quit the proximate occasions of sin, we have
been obliged to define what a proximate occasion is. 'That cannot be
called a proximate occasion,' says Escobar, 'where one sins but
rarely, or on a sudden transport- say three or four times a year'; or,
as Father Bauny has it, once or twice in a month.' Again, asks this
author, 'what is to be done in the case of masters and servants, or
cousins, who, living under the same roof, are by this occasion tempted
to sin?'"
    "They ought to be separated," said I.
    "That is what he says, too, 'if their relapses be very frequent:
but if the parties offend rarely, and cannot be separated without
trouble and loss, they may, according to Suarez and other authors,
be absolved, provided they promise to sin no more, and are truly sorry
for what is past.'"
    This required no explanation, for he had already informed me
with what sort of evidence of contrition the confessor was bound to
rest satisfied.
    "And Father Bauny," continued the monk, "permits those who are
involved in the proximate occasions of sin, 'to remain as they are,
when they cannot avoid them without becoming the common talk of the
world, or subjecting themselves to inconvenience.' 'A priest,' he
remarks in another work, 'may and ought to absolve a woman who is
guilty of living with a paramour, if she cannot put him away
honourably, or has some reason for keeping him- si non potest
honeste ejicere, aut habeat aliquam causam retinendi- provided she
promises to act more virtuously for the future.'"
    "Well, father," cried I, "you have certainly succeeded in relaxing
the obligation of avoiding the occasions of sin to a very
comfortable extent, by dispensing with the duty as soon as it
becomes inconvenient; but I should think your fathers will at least
allow it be binding when there is no difficulty in the way of its
    "Yes," said the father, "though even then the rule is not
without exceptions. For Father Bauny says, in the same place, 'that
any one may frequent profligate houses, with the view of converting
their unfortunate inmates, though the probability should be that he
fall into sin, having often experienced before that he has yielded
to their fascinations. Some doctors do not approve of this opinion,
and hold that no man may voluntarily put his salvation in peril to
succour his neighbor; yet I decidedly embrace the opinion which they
    "A novel sort of preachers these, father! But where does Father
Bauny find any ground for investing them with such a mission?"
    "It is upon one of his own principles," he replied, "which he
announces in the same place after Basil Ponce. I mentioned it to you
before, and I presume you have not forgotten it. It is, 'that one
may seek an occasion of sin, directly and expressly- primo et per
se- to promote the temporal or spiritual good of himself or his
    On hearing these passages, I felt so horrified that I was on the
point of breaking out; but, being resolved to hear him to an end, I
restrained myself, and merely inquired: "How, father, does this
doctrine comport with that of the Gospel, which binds us to 'pluck out
the right eye,' and 'cut off the right hand,' when they 'offend,' or
prove prejudicial to salvation? And how can you suppose that the man
who wilfully indulges in the occasions of sins, sincerely hates sin?
Is it not evident, on the contrary, that he has never been properly
touched with a sense of it, and that he has not yet experienced that
genuine conversion of heart, which makes a man love God as much as
he formerly loved the creature?"
    "Indeed!" cried he, "do you call that genuine contrition? It seems
you do not know that, as Father Pintereau says, 'all our fathers
teach, with one accord, that it is an error, and almost a heresy, to
hold that contrition is necessary; or that attrition alone, induced by
the sole motive, the fear of the pains of hell, which excludes a
disposition to offend, is not sufficient with the sacrament?'"
    "What, father! do you mean to say that it is almost an article
of faith that attrition, induced merely by fear of punishment, is
sufficient with the sacrament? That idea, I think, is peculiar to your
fathers; for those other doctors who hold that attrition is sufficient
along with the sacrament, always take care to show that it must be
accompanied with some love to God at least. It appears to me,
moreover, that even your own authors did not always consider this
doctrine of yours so certain. Your Father Suarez, for instance, speaks
of it thus: 'Although it is a probable opinion that attrition is
sufficient with the sacrament, yet it is not certain, and it may be
false- non est certa, et potest esse falsa. And, if it is false,
attrition is not sufficient to save a man; and he that dies
knowingly in this state, wilfully exposes himself to the grave peril
of eternal damnation. For this opinion is neither very ancient nor
very common- nec valde antiqua, nec multum communis.' Sanchez was
not more prepared to hold it as infallible when he said in his Summary
that 'the sick man and his confessor, who content themselves at the
hour of death with attrition and the sacrament, are both chargeable
with mortal sin, on account of the great risk of damnation to which
the penitent would be exposed, if the opinion that attrition is
sufficient with the sacrament should not turn out to be true.
Comitolus, too, says that 'we should not be too sure that attrition
suffices with the sacrament.'"
    Here the worthy father interrupted me. "What!" he cried, "you read
our authors then, it seems? That is all very well; but it would be
still better were you never to read them without the precaution of
having one of us beside you. Do you not see, now, that, from having
read them alone, you have concluded, in your simplicity, that these
passages bear hard on those who have more lately supported our
doctrine of attrition? Whereas it might be shown that nothing could
set them off to greater advantage. Only think what a triumph it is for
our fathers of the present day to have succeeded in disseminating
their opinion in such short time, and to such an extent that, with the
exception of theologians, nobody almost would ever suppose but that
our modern views on this subject had been the uniform belief of the
faithful in all ages! So that, in fact, when you have shown, from
our fathers themselves, that, a few years ago, 'this opinion was not
certain,' you have only succeeded in giving our modern authors the
whole merit of its establishment!
    "Accordingly," he continued, "our cordial friend Diana, to gratify
us, no doubt, has recounted the various steps by which the opinion
reached its present position. 'In former days, the ancient schoolmen
maintained that contrition was necessary as soon as one had
committed a mortal sin; since then, however, it has been thought
that it is not binding except on festival days; afterwards, only
when some great calamity threatened the people; others, again, that it
ought not to be long delayed at the approach of death. But our
fathers, Hurtado and Vasquez, have ably refuted all these opinions and
established that one is not bound to contrition unless he cannot be
absolved in any other way, or at the point of death!' But, to continue
the wonderful progress of this doctrine, I might add, what our
fathers, Fagundez, Granados, and Escobar, have decided, 'that
contrition is not necessary even at death; because,' say they, 'if
attrition with the sacrament did not suffice at death, it would follow
that attrition would not be sufficient with the sacrament. And the
learned Hurtado, cited by Diana and Escobar, goes still further; for
he asks: 'Is that sorrow for sin which flows solely from
apprehension of its temporal consequences, such as having lost
health or money, sufficient? We must distinguish. If the evil is not
regarded as sent by the hand of God, such a sorrow does not suffice;
but if the evil is viewed as sent by God, as, in fact, all evil,
says Diana, except sin, comes from him, that kind of sorrow is
sufficient.' Our Father Lamy holds the same doctrine."
    "You surprise me, father; for I see nothing in all that
attrition of which you speak but what is natural; and in this way a
sinner may render himself worthy of absolution without supernatural
grace at all. Now everybody knows that this is a heresy condemned by
the Council."
    "I should have thought with you," he replied; "and yet it seems
this must not be the case, for the fathers of our College of
Clermont have maintained (in their Theses of the 23rd May and 6th June
1644) 'that attrition may be holy and sufficient for the sacrament,
although it may not be supernatural'; and (in that of August 1643)
'that attrition, though merely natural, is sufficient for the
sacrament, provided it is honest.' I do not see what more could be
said on the subject, unless we choose to subjoin an inference, which
may be easily drawn from these principles, namely, that contrition, so
far from being necessary to the sacrament, is rather prejudicial to
it, inasmuch as, by washing away sins of itself, it would leave
nothing for the sacrament to do at all. That is, indeed, exactly
what the celebrated Jesuit Father Valencia remarks. (Book iv,
disp.7, q.8, p.4.) 'Contrition,' says he, 'is by no means necessary in
order to obtain the principal benefit of the sacrament; on the
contrary, it is rather an obstacle in the way of it- imo obstat potius
quominus effectus sequatur.' Nobody could well desire more to be
said in commendation of attrition."
    "I believe that, father, said I; "but you must allow me to tell
you my opinion, and to show you to what a dreadful length this
doctrine leads. When you say that 'attrition, induced by the mere
dread of punishment,' is sufficient, with the sacrament, to justify
sinners, does it not follow that a person may always expiate his
sins in this way, and thus be saved without ever having loved God
all his lifetime? Would your fathers venture to hold that?"
    "I perceive," replied the monk, "from the strain of your
remarks, that you need some information on the doctrine of our fathers
regarding the love of God. This is the last feature of their morality,
and the most important of all. You must have learned something of it
from the passages about contrition which I have quoted to you. But
here are others still more definite on the point of love to God- Don't
interrupt me, now; for it is of importance to notice the connection.
Attend to Escobar, who reports the different opinions of our
authors, in his Practice of the Love of God according to our
Society. The question is: 'When is one obliged to have an actual
affection for God?' Suarez says it is enough if one loves Him before
being articulo mortis- at the point of death- without determining
the exact time. Vasquez, that it is sufficient even at the very
point of death. Others, when one has received baptism. Others,
again, when one is bound to exercise contrition. And others, on
festival days. But our father, Castro Palao, combats all these
opinions, and with good reason- merito. Hurtado de Mendoza insists
that we are obliged to love God once a year; and that we ought to
regard it as a great favour that we are not bound to do it oftener.
But our Father Coninck thinks that we are bound to it only once in
three or four years; Henriquez, once in five years; and Filiutius says
that it is probable that we are not strictly bound to it even once
in five years. How often, then, do you ask? Why, he refers it to the
judgement of the judicious."
    I took no notice of all this badinage, in which the ingenuity of
man seems to be sporting, in the height of insolence, with the love of
    "But," pursued the monk, "our Father Antony Sirmond surpasses
all on this point, in his admirable book, The Defence of Virtue,
where, as he tells the reader, 'he speaks French in France,' as
follows: 'St. Thomas says that we are obliged to love God as soon as
we come to the use of reason: that is rather too soon! Scotus says
every Sunday; pray, for what reason? Others say when we are sorely
tempted: yes, if there be no other way of escaping the temptation.
Scotus says when we have received a benefit from God: good, in the way
of thanking Him for it. Others say at death: rather late! As little do
I think it binding at the reception of any sacrament: attrition in
such cases is quite enough, along with confession, if convenient.
Suarez says that it is binding at some time or another; but at what
time?- he leaves you to judge of that for yourself- he does not
know; and what that doctor did not know I know not who should know.'
In short, he concludes that we are not strictly bound to more than
to keep the other commandments, without any affection for God, and
without giving Him our hearts, provided that we do not hate Him. To
prove this is the sole object of his second treatise. You will find it
in every page; more especially where he says: 'God, in commanding us
to love Him, is satisfied with our obeying Him in his other
commandments. If God had said: "Whatever obedience thou yieldest me,
if thy heart is not given to me, I will destroy thee!" would such a
motive, think you, be well fitted to promote the end which God must,
and only can, have in view? Hence it is said that we shall love God by
doing His will, as if we loved Him with affection, as if the motive in
this case was real charity. If that is really our motive, so much
the better; if not, still we are strictly fulfilling the commandment
of love, by having its works, so that (such is the goodness of God!)
we are commanded, not so much to love Him, as not to hate Him.'
    "Such is the way in which our doctors have discharged men from the
painful obligation of actually loving God. And this doctrine is so
advantageous that our Fathers Annat, Pintereau, Le Moine, and Antony
Sirmond himself, have strenuously defended it when it has been
attacked. You have only to consult their answers to the Moral
Theology. That of Father Pintereau, in particular, will enable you
to form some idea of the value of this dispensation, from the price
which he tells us that it cost, which is no less than the blood of
Jesus Christ. This crowns the whole. It appears, that this
dispensation from the painful obligation to love God, is the privilege
of the Evangelical law, in opposition to the Judaical. 'It was
reasonable,' he says, 'that, under the law of grace in the New
Testament, God should relieve us from that troublesome and arduous
obligation which existed under the law of bondage, to exercise an
act of perfect contrition, in order to be justified; and that the
place of this should be supplied by the sacraments, instituted in
aid of an easier disposition. Otherwise, indeed, Christians, who are
the children, would have no greater facility in gaining the good
graces of their Father than the Jews, who were the slaves, had in
obtaining the mercy of their Lord and Master.'"
    "O father!" cried I; "no patience can stand this any longer. It is
impossible to listen without horror to the sentiments I have just
    "They are not my sentiments," said the monk.
    "I grant it, sir," said I; "but you feel no aversion to them; and,
so far from detesting the authors of these maxims, you hold them in
esteem. Are you not afraid that your consent may involve you in a
participation of their guilt? and are you not aware that St. Paul
judges worthy of death, not only the authors of evil things, but
also 'those who have pleasure in them that do them?' Was it not enough
to have permitted men to indulge in so many forbidden things under the
covert of your palliations? Was it necessary to go still further and
hold out a bribe to them to commit even those crimes which you found
it impossible to excuse, by offering them an easy and certain
absolution; and for this purpose nullifying the power of the
priests, and obliging them, more as slaves than as judges, to
absolve the most inveterate sinners- without any amendment of life,
without any sign of contrition except promises a hundred times broken,
without penance 'unless they choose to accept of it', and without
abandoning the occasions of their vices, 'if they should thereby be
put to any inconvenience?'
    "But your doctors have gone even beyond this; and the license
which they have assumed to tamper with the most holy rules of
Christian conduct amounts to a total subversion of the law of God.
They violate 'the great commandment on which hang all the law and
the prophets'; they strike at the very heart of piety; they rob it
of the spirit that giveth life; they hold that to love God is not
necessary to salvation; and go so far as to maintain that 'this
dispensation from loving God is the privilege which Jesus Christ has
introduced into the world!' This, sir, is the very climax of
impiety. The price of the blood of Jesus Christ paid to obtain us a
dispensation from loving Him! Before the incarnation, it seems men
were obliged to love God; but since 'God has so loved the world as
to give His only begotten Son,' the world, redeemed by him, is
released from loving Him! Strange divinity of our days- to dare to
take off the 'anathema' which St. Paul denounces on those 'that love
not the Lord Jesus!' To cancel the sentence of St. John: 'He that
loveth not, abideth in death!' and that of Jesus Christ himself: 'He
that loveth me not keepeth not my precepts!' and thus to render
those worthy of enjoying God through eternity who never loved God
all their life! Behold the Mystery of Iniquity fulfilled! Open your
eyes at length, my dear father, and if the other aberrations of your
casuists have made no impression on you, let these last, by their very
extravagance, compel you to abandon them. This is what I desire from
the bottom of my heart, for your own sake and for the sake of your
doctors; and my prayer to God is that He would vouchsafe to convince
them how false the light must be that has guided them to such
precipices; and that He would fill their hearts with that love of
Himself from which they have dared to give man a dispensation!"
    After some remarks of this nature, I took my leave of the monk,
and I see no great likelihood of my repeating my visits to him.
This, however, need not occasion you any regret; for, should it be
necessary to continue these communications on their maxims, I have
studied their books sufficiently to tell you as much of their
morality, and more, perhaps, of their policy, than he could have
done himself. I am, &c.

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas