Following is an excerpt of a Sermon by St Leonard of Port Maurice entitled:
“The Little Number of Those Who Are Saved”
… Saint Thomas, the Angelic Doctor, after weighing all the reasons pro and con in his immense erudition, finally concludes that the greater number of Catholic adults are damned.
He says, “Because eternal beatitude surpasses the natural state, especially since it has been deprived of original grace, it is the little number that are saved.”
So then, remove the blindfold from your eyes that is blinding you with self-love, that is keeping you from believing such an obvious truth by giving you very false ideas concerning the justice of God, “Just Father, the world has not known Thee,” said Our Lord Jesus Christ.
He does not say “Almighty Father, most good and merciful Father.”
He says “just Father,” so we may understand that out of all the attributes of God, none is less known than His justice, because men refuse to believe what they are afraid to undergo. Therefore, remove the blindfold that is covering your eyes and say tearfully: Alas! The greater number of Catholics, the greater number of those who live here, perhaps even those who are in this assembly, will be damned!
What subject could be more deserving of your tears?
King Xerxes, standing on a hill looking at his army of one hundred thousand soldiers in battle array, and considering that out of all of them there would be not one man alive in a hundred years, was unable to hold back his tears.
Have we not more reason to weep upon thinking that out of so many Catholics, the greater number will be damned? Should this thought not make our eyes pour forth rivers of tears, or at least produce in our heart the sentiment of compassion felt by an Augustinian Brother, Ven. Marcellus of St. Dominic?
One day as he was meditating on the eternal pains, the Lord showed him how many souls were going to hell at that moment and had him see a very broad road on which twenty-two thousand reprobates were running toward the abyss, colliding into one another.
The servant of God was stupefied at the sight and exclaimed, “Oh, what a number! What a number! And still more are coming. O Jesus! O Jesus! What madness!” Let me repeat with Jeremiah, “Who will give water to my head, and a fountain of tears to my eyes? And I will weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people.“
Poor souls! How can you run so hastily toward hell?
For mercy’s sake, stop and listen to me for a moment!
Either you understand what it means to be saved and to be damned for all eternity, or you do not.
If you understand and in spite of that, you do not decide to change your life today, make a good confession and trample upon the world, in a word, make your every effort to be counted among the littler number of those who are saved, I say that you do not have the faith. You are more excusable if you do not understand it, for then one must say that you are out of your mind.
To be saved for all eternity, to be damned for all eternity, and to not make your every effort to avoid the one and make sure of the other, is something inconceivable.
The Goodness of God
Perhaps you do not yet believe the terrible truths I have just taught you. But it is the most highly-considered theologians, the most illustrious Fathers who have spoken to you through me. So then, how can you resist reasons supported by so many examples and words of Scripture?
If you still hesitate in spite of that, and if your mind is inclined to the opposite opinion, does that very consideration not suffice to make you tremble? Oh, it shows that you do not care very much for your salvation! In this important matter, a sensible man is struck more strongly by the slightest doubt of the risk he runs than by the evidence of total ruin in other affairs in which the soul is not involved.
One of our brothers, Blessed Giles, was in the habit of saying that if only one man were going to be damned, he would do all he could to make sure he was not that man.
So what must we do, we who know that the greater number is going to be damned, and not only out of all Catholics? What must we do?
Take the resolution to belong to the little number of those who are saved. You say: If Christ wanted to damn me, then why did He create me? Silence, rash tongue! God did not create anyone to damn him; but whoever is damned, is damned because he wants to be.
Therefore, I will now strive to defend the goodness of my God and acquit it of all blame: that will be the subject of the second point.
Before going on, let us gather on one side all the books and all the heresies of Luther and Calvin, and on the other side the books and heresies of the Pelagians and Semi-Pelagians, and let us burn them. Some destroy grace, others freedom, and all are filled with errors; so let us cast them into the fire. All the damned bear upon their brow the oracle of the Prophet Osee, “Thy damnation comes from thee,” so that they may understand that whoever is damned, is damned by his own malice and because he wants to be damned.
First let us take these two undeniable truths as a basis:
“God wants all men to be saved,”
“All are in need of the grace of God.”
Now, if I show you that God wants to save all men, and that for this purpose He gives all of them His grace and all the other necessary means of obtaining that sublime end, you will be obliged to agree that whoever is damned must impute it to his own malice, and that if the greater number of Christians are damned, it is because they want to be. “Thy damnation comes from thee; thy help is only in Me.”
God Desires All Men to be Saved
In a hundred places in Holy Scripture, God tells us that it is truly His desire to save all men. “Is it My will that a sinner should die, and not that he should be converted from his ways and live?… I live, saith the Lord God. I desire not the death of the sinner. Be converted and live.”
When someone wants something very much, it is said that he is dying with desire; it is a hyperbole. But God has wanted and still wants our salvation so much that He died of desire, and He suffered death to give us life. This will to save all men is therefore not an affected, superficial and apparent will in God; it is a real, effective, and beneficial will; for He provides us with all the means most proper for us to be saved.
He does not give them to us so they will not obtain it; He gives them to us with a sincere will, with the intention that they may obtain their effect.
And if they do not obtain it, He shows Himself afflicted and offended over it.
He commands even the damned to use them in order to be saved; He exhorts them to it; He obliges them to it; and if they do not do it, they sin. Therefore, they may do it and thus be saved.
Far more, because God sees that we could not even make use of His grace without His help, He gives us other aids; and if they sometimes remain ineffective, it is our fault; for with these same aids, one may abuse them and be damned with them, and another may do right and be saved; he might even be saved with less powerful aids. Yes, it can happen that we abuse a greater grace and are damned, whereas another cooperates with a lesser grace and is saved.
Saint Augustine exclaims, “If, therefore, someone turns aside from justice, he is carried by his free will, led by his concupiscence, deceived by his own persuasion.”
But for those who do not understand theology, here is what I have to say to them:
God is so good that when He sees a sinner running to his ruin, He runs after him, calls him, entreats and accompanies him even to the gates of hell; what will He not do to convert him? He sends him good inspirations and holy thoughts, and if he does not profit from them, He becomes angry and indignant, He pursues him. Will He strike him? No. He beats at the air and forgives him. But the sinner is not converted yet. God sends him a mortal illness. It is certainly all over for him. No, brothers, God heals him; the sinner becomes obstinate in evil, and God in His mercy looks for another way; He gives him another year, and when that year is over, He grants him yet another.
But if the sinner still wants to cast himself into hell in spite of all that, what does God do? Does He abandon him? No. He takes him by the hand; and while he has one foot in hell and the other outside, He still preaches to him, He implored him not to abuse His graces.
Now I ask you, if that man is damned, is it not true that he is damned against the Will of God and because he wants to be damned?
Come and ask me now: If God wanted to damn me, then why did He create me?
Ungrateful sinner, learn today that if you are damned, it is not God who is to blame, but you and your self-will.
To persuade yourself of this, go down even to the depths of the abyss, and there I will bring you one of those wretched damned souls burning in hell, so that he may explain this truth to you.
Here is one now: “Tell me, who are you?“
“I am a poor idolater, born in an unknown land; I never heard of heaven or hell, nor of what I am suffering now.”
“Poor wretch! Go away, you are not the one I am looking for.”
Another one is coming; there he is. “Who are you?“
“I am a schismatic from the ends of Tartary; I always lived in an uncivilized state, barely knowing that there is a God.”
“You are not the one I want; return to hell.”
Here is another. “And who are you?“
“I am a poor heretic from the North. I was born under the Pole and never saw either the light of the sun or the light of faith.”
“It is not you that I am looking for either, return to Hell.”
Brothers, my heart is broken upon seeing these wretches who never even knew the True Faith among the damned. Even so, know that the sentence of condemnation was pronounced against them and they were told, “Thy damnation comes from thee.” They were damned because they wanted to be. They received so many aids from God to be saved! We do not know what they were, but they know them well, and now they cry out, “O Lord, Thou art just… and Thy judgments are equitable.”
Brothers, you must know that the most ancient belief is the Law of God, and that we all bear it written in our hearts; that it can be learned without any teacher, and that it suffices to have the light of reason in order to know all the precepts of that Law. That is why even the barbarians hid when they committed sin, because they knew they were doing wrong; and they are damned for not having observed the natural law written in their heart: for had they observed it, God would have made a miracle rather than let them be damned; He would have sent them someone to teach them and would have given them other aids, of which they made themselves unworthy by not living in conformity with the inspirations of their own conscience, which never failed to warn them of the good they should do and the evil they should avoid.
So it is their conscience that accused them at the Tribunal of God, and it tells them constantly in hell, “Thy damnation comes from thee.” They do not know what to answer and are obliged to confess that they are deserving of their fate.
Now if these infidels have no excuse, will there be any for a Catholic who had so many sacraments, so many sermons, so many aids at his disposal?
How will he dare to say, “If God was going to damn me, then why did He create me?“
How will he dare to speak in this manner, when God gives him so many aids to be saved?
So let us finish confounding him.
You who are suffering in the abyss, answer me! Are there any Catholics among you?
“There certainly are!”
How many? Let one of them come here!
“That is impossible, they are too far down, and to have them come up would turn all of hell upside down; it would be easier to stop one of them as he is falling in.”
So then, I am speaking to you who live in the habit of mortal sin, in hatred, in the mire of the vice of impurity, and who are getting closer to hell each day. Stop, and turn around; it is Jesus who calls you and who, with His wounds, as with so many eloquent voices, cries to you, “My son, if you are damned, you have only yourself to blame: ‘Thy damnation comes from thee.’
Lift up your eyes and see all the graces with which I have enriched you to insure your eternal salvation.
I could have had you born in a forest in Barbary; that is what I did to many others, but I had you born in the Catholic Faith; I had you raised by such a good father, such an excellent mother, with the purest instructions and teachings. If you are damned in spite of that, whose fault will it be? Your own, My son, your own: ‘Thy damnation comes from thee.’
“I could have cast you into hell after the first mortal sin you committed, without waiting for the second: I did it to so many others, but I was patient with you, I waited for you for many long years.
I am still waiting for you today in penance.
If you are damned in spite of all that, whose fault is it? Your own, My son, your own: “Thy damnation comes from thee.”
You know how many have died before your very eyes and were damned: that was a warning for you. You know how many others I set back on the right path to give you the good example. Do you remember what that excellent confessor told you? I am the one who had him say it. Did he not enjoin you to change your life, to make a good confession? I am the One who inspired him. Remember that sermon that touched your heart?
I am the One who led you there. And what has happened between you and Me in the secret of your heart, …that you can never forget.
“Those interior inspirations, that clear knowledge, that constant remorse of conscience, would you dare to deny them?
All of these were so many aids of My grace, because I wanted to save you. I refused to give them to many others, and I gave them to you because I loved you tenderly.
My son, My son, if I spoke to them as tenderly as I am speaking to you today, how many others souls return to the right path!
And you… you turn your back on Me. Listen to what I am going to tell you, for these are My last words: You have cost Me My blood; if you want to be damned in spite of the blood I shed for you, do not blame Me, you have only yourself to accuse; and throughout all eternity, do not forget that if you are damned in spite of Me, you are damned because you want to be damned: ‘Thy damnation comes from thee.’ “
O my good Jesus, the very stones would split on hearing such sweet words, such tender expressions. Is there anyone here who wants to be damned, with so many graces and aids? If there is one, let him listen to me, and then let him resist if he can.
Baronius relates that after Julian the Apostate’s infamous apostasy, he conceived such great hatred against Holy Baptism that day and night, he sought a way in which he might erase his own.
To that purpose he had a bath of goat’s blood prepared and placed himself in it, wanting this impure blood of a victim consecrated to Venus to erase the sacred character of Baptism from his soul.
Such behavior seems abominable to you, but if Julian’s plan had been able to succeed, it is certain that he would be suffering much less in hell.
Sinners, the advice I want to give you will no doubt seem strange to you; but if you understand it well, it is, on the contrary, inspired by tender compassion toward you.
I implore you on my knees, by the blood of Christ and by the Heart of Mary, change your life, come back to the road that leads to heaven, and do all you can to belong to the little number of those who are saved.
If, instead of this, you want to continue walking on the road that leads to hell, at least find a way to erase your baptism.
Woe to you if you take the Holy Name of Jesus Christ and the sacred character of the Christian engraved upon your soul into hell!
Your chastisement will be all the greater. So do what I advise you to do: if you do not want to convert, go this very day and ask your pastor to erase your name from the baptismal register, so that there may not remain any remembrance of your ever having been a Christian; implore your Guardian Angel to erase from his book of graces the inspirations and aids he has given you on orders from God, for woe to you if he recalls them!
Tell Our Lord to take back His faith, His baptism, His sacraments.
You are horror-struck at such a thought?
Well then, cast yourself at the feet of Jesus Christ and say to Him, with tearful eyes and contrite heart:
“Lord, I confess that up till now I have not lived as a Christian. I am not worthy to be numbered among Your elect. I recognize that I deserve to be damned; but Your mercy is great and, full of confidence in Your grace, I say to You that I want to save my soul, even if I have to sacrifice my fortune, my honor, my very life, as long as I am saved. If I have been unfaithful up to now, I repent, I deplore, I detest my infidelity, I ask You humbly to forgive me for it. Forgive me, good Jesus, and strengthen me also, that I may be saved. I ask You not for wealth, honor or prosperity; I ask you for one thing only, to save my soul.”
And You, O Jesus! What do You say? O Good Shepherd, see the stray sheep who returns to You; embrace this repentant sinner, bless his sighs and tears, or rather bless these people who are so well disposed and who want nothing but their salvation.
Brothers, at the feet of Our Lord, let us protest that we want to save our soul, cost what it may. Let us all say to Him with tearful eyes:
“Good Jesus, I want to save my soul,”
O blessed tears, O blessed sighs!