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‘God Is Merciful for a Season
& Then Chastises’
The great St. Alphonsus de Liguori warns the flock to beware and not be presumptuous in expecting God's mercy to cover all sins. God is merciful and waits for the conversion of the sinner, but at a certain moment He chastises.

This is important to remember with the great Chastisement looming over a mankind which has ignored so many warnings from the Mother of God that man should convert and stop offending her Son, whose Hand of justice she can no longer hold back.

St. Alphonsus de Liguori

We must persuade ourselves that God cannot do otherwise than hate sin; He is holiness itself, and therefore cannot but hate that monster, His enemy, whose malice is altogether opposed to the perfection of God. And if God hates sin, He must necessarily hate the sinner who makes league with sin. But to God the wicked and his wickedness are hateful alike (Wis 14:9). O God, with what an expression of grief and with what reason do You not complain of those who despise You to take part with Your enemy. …

But hearken and know that as the Lord cannot but hate sin, because He is holy, so He cannot but chastise it when the sinner is obstinate, because He is just. When He does chastise, it is not to please Himself, but because we drive Him to it. The wise man says that God did not create Hell through a desire of condemning man thereto, and that He does not rejoice in their damnation because He does not wish to see His creatures perish.

For God made not death, neither hath He pleasure in the destruction of the living, for He created all things that they might be. (Wis 1:13). No gardener plants a tree in order to cut it down and burn it. It was not God’s desire to see us miserable and in torment; and therefore, says St. John Chrysostom, He waits so long before He takes vengeance of the sinner. He waits for our conversion, that He may then be able to use His mercy in our regard.

Therefore the Lord waiteth, that He may have mercy on you (Is. 30:18). Our God, says the same St. John Chrysostom, is in haste to save, and slow to condemn. When there is question of pardon, no sooner has the sinner repented than he is forgiven by God. … On the other hand, when there is question of punishment, He waits, He admonishes, He sends us warning of it beforehand.

But when, at length, God sees that we are willing to yield neither to benefits, nor threats, nor admonitions, and that we will not amend, then He is forced by our own selves to punish us, and while punishing us, He will place before our eyes the great mercies He before extended to us. …

In Ezech. c. 16, St. Jerome, reflecting on those words which Jesus Christ on the day of general judgment will address to the reprobate, Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the Devil and his angels (Mt 25:41), inquires: ‘Who has prepared this fire for sinners?” God perhaps. No, because God never created souls for Hell, as the impious Luther taught: This fire has been kindled for sinners by their own sins. …

God punishes us, because we oblige Him to punish us. But I know, you say, the mercies of God are great: no matter how manifold my sins, I have in view a change of life by and by, and God will have mercy upon me. But no, God desires you not to speak thus. And say not the mercy of the Lord is great, He will have mercy on the multitude of my sins (Ecclus. 5:6). And why has the Lord forbidden you to say so? The reason is this, for mercy and wrath quickly come from Him (Ecclus. 5:7).

Yes, it is true, God has patience, God waits for some sinners; I say some, for there are some whom God does not wait for at all: How many has He not sent to Hell immediately after the first transgression? Others He does wait for, but He will not always wait for them; He spares them for a certain time and then punishes.

The Lord patiently expecteth, that when the day of judgment shall come, He may punish them in the fullness of their sins (2 Mach. 6:14). Mark well, when the day of judgment shall come, when the day of vengeance shall arrive, in the fullness of their sins, He will punish. When the measure of sins which God has determined to pardon is filled up, He will punish. Then the Lord will have no mercy, and will chastise unremittingly.

The city of Jericho did not fall during the first circuit made by the Ark, it did not fall at the fifth, or at the sixth, but it fell at last at the seventh (Jos. 6:20). And thus it will happen with thee, says St. Augustine, “at the seventh circuit made by the Ark the city of vanity will fall.”

In a word, when the period comes, God punishes.


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St Alphonsus Liguori. Six Discourses on Natural Calamities,
Divine Threats & the Four Gates of Hell
Aeterna Press, Chapter 1,

Posted on March 16, 2024,

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