HOW TO ADMONISH THOSE WHO
DESIST FROM SINNING BUT DO NOT LAMENT THEIR PAST SINS.
Those who desist from
sinning but do not lament their sins are to be admonished not to
suppose that their sins are already forgiven on the mere plea that
they have not been repeated.
A writer, for instance, who
has given up writing, has not deleted what he has written, just
because he has not added anything.
One does not make
satisfaction for insults done just because one has held one's peace.
It is necessary that he adjure the words of his former pride by
expressions of subsequent humility.
Neither is a debtor
discharged of his debts merely because he incurs no further debts, if
he has not paid the debts already incurred.
And so, when we sin against
God, we certainly do not make reparation merely by ceasing from evil,
unless those sinful pleasures we had indulged in were succeeded by
sorrow adjuring them.
God heals the diseases of
our sins by their contrary antidotes so that we who had departed from
Him may return in tearful grief, refraining from all sins and
restraining ourselves even in what is lawful.
"A humble and contrite
heart God does not despise." Anyone who bewails his sins but does not
desist from them has a contrite heart but scorns to humble it. Whereas
he who desists from sin, but does not bewail it, humbles himself but
fails to have a contrite heart.
St. Gregory the Great, Part
III, Chapter 30