Heinousness of Sin ~ Card. Newman

The Heinousness of Sin ~ Card. Newman

(Painting by Matthias Grunewald)

Card. Newman helps us to understand the utter evil of sin by bringing before us Jesus’ sufferings on the Cross: “The death of the Infinite is its sole measure. All that slow distress of body and mind which He endured, from the time He shed blood at Gethsemani down to His death, all that pain came from sin.”

Before the heinousness of sin stands Christ who is all beautiful, even in his abasement: “My suffering Lord, I have made Thee suffer. Thou art most beautiful in Thy eternal nature, O my Lord; Thou art most beautiful in Thy sufferings! Thy adorable attributes are not dimmed, but increased to us as we gaze on Thy humiliation.”

Bl. John Henry Newman repeats the words of St. Ignatius of Antioch: my love has been crucified. He then adds: “but by none other than me. I have crucified Thee, my sin has crucified Thee.” And like the prayer that St. Josemaria Escrivá would later voice, Newman prays: “Give me a deep, rooted, intense hatred of sin.”

Meditations and Devotions

1. MY Lord, I know well that Thou art all perfect, and needest nothing. Yet I know that Thou hast taken upon Thyself the nature of man, and, not only so, but in that nature didst come upon earth, and suffer all manner of evil, and didst die. This is a history which has hung the heavens with sackcloth, and taken from this earth, beautiful as it is, its light and glory. Thou didst come, O my dear Lord, and Thou didst suffer in no ordinary way, but unheard of and extreme torments! The all-blessed Lord suffered the worst and most various of pains. This is the corner truth of the Gospel: it is the one foundation, Jesus Christ and He crucified. I know it, O Lord, I believe it, and I put it steadily before me.

2. Why is this strange anomaly in the face of nature? Does God do things for naught? No, my soul, it is sin; it is thy sin, which has brought the Everlasting down upon earth to suffer. Hence I learn how great an evil sin is. The death of the Infinite is its sole measure. All that slow distress of body and mind which He endured, from the time He shed blood at Gethsemani down to His death, all that pain came from sin. What sort of evil is that, which had to be so encountered by such a sacrifice, and to be reversed at such a price! Here then I understand best how horrible a thing sin is. It is horrible; because through it have come upon men all those evils whatever they are, with which the earth abounds. It is more horrible, in that it has nailed the Son of God to the accursed tree.

3. My dear Lord and Saviour, how can I make light of that which has had such consequences! Henceforth I will, through Thy grace, have deeper views of sin than before. Fools make jest of sin, but I will view things in their true light. My suffering Lord, I have made Thee suffer. Thou art most beautiful in Thy eternal nature, O my Lord; Thou art most beautiful in Thy sufferings! Thy adorable attributes are not dimmed, but increased to us as we gaze on Thy humiliation. Thou art more beautiful to us than before. But still I will never forget that it was man’s sin, my sin, which made that humiliation necessary. Amor meus crucifixus est—”my Love is crucified,” but by none other than me. I have crucified Thee, my sin has crucified Thee. O my Saviour, what a dreadful thought—but I cannot undo it; all I can do is to hate that which made Thee suffer. Shall I not do that at least? Shall I not love my Lord just so much as to hate that which is so great an enemy of His, and break off all terms with it? Shall I not put off sin altogether? By Thy great love of me, teach me and enable me to do this, O Lord. Give me a deep, rooted, intense hatred of sin.