Devotions and Sacraments. One should really not have one without the other; without both the meaning of both is lost. Blindly practicing one without the other means that you are missing the big picture - that is, what we do any of these things for. Leonard helped to establish the popular devotion to the Stations of the Cross, putting them in many churches and places like the Colosseum in Rome. He also championed the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The devotion to Christ's journey to the Cross and the gift of reconciliation that it affords us is certainly a balance worthy of our consideration.
Leonard reminds us to keep our sinfulness before us but to avoid scrupulosity by merely focusing on our own sinfulness, and instead focus on the salvific journey to perfection of Jesus and the journey to perfection of each one of us through devotions the Sacraments. God has done what He can do to pour grace into our lives; our acceptance of that salvation is in our hands.
But let us lay our stupor aside, and instead of flattering ourselves, let us try to draw some profit from our fear. Is it not true that there are two roads which lead to heaven: innocence and repentance? Now, if I show you that very few take either one of these two roads, as rational people you will conclude that very few are saved. And to mention proofs: in what age, employment or condition will you find that the number of the wicked is not a hundred times greater than that of the good, and about which one might say, "The good are so rare and the wicked are so great in number"? We could say of our times what Salvianus said of his: it is easier to find a countless multitude of sinners immersed in all sorts of iniquities than a few innocent men. ...that one could say what David said of his times: "All have gone astray... there is not even one who does good, not even one."
...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....
...I want to send all of you away comforted today. So if you ask me my sentiment on the number of those who are saved, here it is: Whether there are many or few that are saved, I say that whoever wants to be saved, will be saved; and that no one can be damned if he does not want to be. And if it is true that few are saved, it is because there are few who live well. As for the rest, compare these two opinions: the first one states that the greater number of Catholics are condemned; the second one, on the contrary, pretends that the greater number of Catholics are saved. Imagine an Angel sent by God to confirm the first opinion, coming to tell you that not only are most Catholics damned, but that of all this assembly present here, one alone will be saved. If you obey the Commandments of God, if you detest the corruption of this world, if you embrace the Cross of Jesus Christ in a spirit of penance, you will be that one alone who is saved.
-- From the sermon titled The Little Number of Those Who Are Saved
Things to Think About