Question

Dear Father Angelo,

I have read a few articles about charity which covers a multitude of sins.

Here the point lies precisely in this, or better, in the word “multitude” .

The question may seem trivial, but I ask you, notwithstanding that Jesus has redeemed us once and for all, how is it possible for us to cancel all our past sins and the effects of punishment so as to become innocent like  children who are allowed entry into the kingdom of heaven?

It has been said that martyrdom ccallows direct entry into heaven, but what can whoever does not suffer martyrdom do, that is so pleasing to God, that he deserves the total pardon and even more, the appreciation of our Lord and perhaps His being moved? 

Francis of Assisi was yearning for martyrdom to conform to his Beloved, and the Lord comforted him with the stigmata.

But what can  an ordinary man, a useless servant, offer in his misery? 

Jesus says “love me as you are”. But to tell you the truth, it is not always enough for me to love Him as I am. 

Can you give me some comfort in this regard? I ask your forgiveness for the complexity of the question, but this is a central theme that is close to my heart, since if on the one hand I try to reject a temptation of distrust in God’s mercy, on the other I don’t want to displease Him by abusing his goodness. In other words, forgive me,  do not misjudge  my words, but my greatest wish is that God could be “proud” of me (so to speak) as if I were a son who is waiting for his mother’s compliments. I conclude. A bit like when Francis asked for an indulgence for those who had gone to the Porziuncola and Jesus replied that what he was asking was great, but that he (Francis) deserved more, allowing his wish with prior approval by the Holy Father.

Pray for me if you would. 

Thank you

Salvatore

The Father’s answer

Dear Salvatore,

1. “Above all, let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pt 4,8).

These words are from St. Peter.

And things are explained: since charity covers everything, as Saint Paul recalls (1 Cor 13: 7), so our acts of charity move God to cover, that is, to forgive our sins.

It is the Lord Himself who promised it when in the Our Father he taught us to pray like this: Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. 

2. St. Thomas comments on the words Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us: “Daniel writes: “Therefore, take my advice; atone for your sins by good deeds, and for your misdeeds by kindness to the poor; then your prosperity will be long” (Dn 4,24).

Excellent advice against sin is therefore to give alms and to use mercy.

This is why the Holy Spirit teaches sinners to ask in prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses. 

3. This same concept had already been expressed by Solomon in Proverbs: “Love covers all offenses ” (Prv 10,12).

Charity does not talk about the shortcomings of others, it tries to cover them up, to excuse them, to avoid causing quarrels. 

And that is why it has the strength before God to move Him to forgive our sins.

4. It is therefore through so many acts of charity that we purify ourselves and become clean. 

When charity is exercised to a heroic degree it can resemble martyrdom.

And certainly it is an inner martyrdom to see so many profanations and so much  immorality, having to endure everything and not being able to say anything in order not to worsen the situation.

Such was Lot’s interior martyrdom, as the Sacred Scripture recalls, in the face of the sins of the Sodomites and for which he deserved his salvation: “And if he rescued Lot, a righteous man oppressed by the licentious conduct of unprincipled people (for day after day that righteous man living among them was tormented in his righteous soul at the lawless deeds that he saw and heard) then the Lord knows how to rescue the devout from trial and to preserve  the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment, and especially those who follow the flesh with its depraved desire and show contempt for lordship”.  (2 Pt 2,7-10) .

5. Sacred Scripture also recalls there is also another way to obtain the remission of a multitude of sins, and it is the one remembered by the apostle James:  “If anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins”(Jas 5:20).

According to the common interpretation, the multitude of sins is that of the one who converts and also of the one who leads to conversion.

The Jerusalem Bible comments: “Fraternal charity can lead the lost back to conversion, and on the day of judgment the one who exercises it will also greatly benefit”.

After all, the prophet Ezekiel also said: “But if you warn the wicked man, trying to turn him from his way, and he refuses to turn from his way, he shall die for his guilt, but you shall save yourself. (Ez. 33,9)

“Love me as you are” are words, to tell the truth, not found in Sacred Scripture but in a beautiful prayer that is meant to inspire trust in the Lord’s mercy.

But it always remains true that mercy is not obtained if mercy is not given: “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.” (Mt 6: 14-15).

7 Here, then, is the best way of all to obtain the remission of sins and be cleansed: the charity that “excuses everything, believes everything, hopes everything, endures everything” (1 Cor 13).

With the hope that you will be able to present yourself to the Lord rich in great charity, I bless you and assure you of my remembrance in prayer, as you requested.

Father Angelo


Translated by Ivana Cerchia

Verified by Emilio G. Chávez

original post is available in Italian