Stories & Legends
One Un-Confessed Mortal Sin
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In fifth grade I was fortunate to be in the class of Sister Margaret Mary, who told us this exampla when we were studying Confession in Religion class. It was one of those stories that remained with me always.
A young lady of age eighteen, who lived in Florence, fell into temptation and had the misfortune to commit a mortal sin. No sooner had she done so than she found herself in great confusion and torn with remorse.
Today, I imagine, many progressivist wouldn’t like this exempla – too negative, too scary – you know all the protests. But I can attest it did me much good, so let me share it with TIA readers.
“Oh!” she said to herself, “how shall I have the courage to declare that sin to my confessor?”
She went, nevertheless, to Confession, but dared not confess that sin. She received absolution and received Communion in that state. This sacrilege increased still more her remorse and troubled state. At the height of her interior anguish, a thought came into her mind to enter a convent and make a general confession.
She did so, and commenced the confession she had proposed making. But, still enslaved by human respect and false shame, she related the hidden sin in such a garbled, confused fashion that her confessor did not understand it. And yet she continued to receive Communion in that sad state.
Her trouble became so great that life appeared insupportable to her. To relieve her heart, tormented as it was, she redoubled her prayers, mortifications and good works, to such an extent that the other nuns of the convent took her for a saint, and elected her for their Superior.
After becoming the Mother Superior, she continued to lead outwardly a penitential and exemplary life, embittered still by the reproaches of her conscience. At length she made a firm resolution to confess her sin in her last illness, which would come sooner than she expected. For soon after, she was seized with a fever that quickly rose so high that she became delirious, and so she died.
Some days later, the religious of the convent were in prayer for the repose of the soul of this pretended saint, when she appeared to them in a hideous form and told them: “My sisters, pray not for me. It is useless. I am damned!”
“How can you be damned after leading such a holy and penitential life?!” cried an old religious.
“Alas! yes, I am damned for having all my life concealed in confession a mortal sin which I committed at the age of eighteen.”
Having said these frightful words, she disappeared.
Canon Howe, The Catechist,
South Bend, Indiana: Marian Publications, 1976, pp. 340-341
Posted on April 18, 2007
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