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The first step for acquiring salvation is that the sinner should repent of his sins. Then, according to the Sacred Scriptures, he should redeem his sins by alms-giving. Lastly, if he has not already done so, at least, he should leave nothing untried when dying, and should come to the aid of his soul by offering his substance at the last moment. 

What if I only need one half of my possessions to pay for my past sins, what do I do with the other half? Well, firstly, the other half belongs to God also and, besides, you have paid for your sins but have not paid up for heaven. But this is sick reasoning.

First of all, imagine all the kindness Christ has shown you. He has given you more than what you need. He has granted you most of your prayers. Then think of all the things He underwent while on earth to pay for your sins: he was born in a manger, he underwent the frailties of human nature, he lived with people befouled with sordid sins. . . and, the short of it, he was reviled, cursed, insulted, condemned, mocked, spat upon, flogged, crowned with thorns and crucified. . .and He did this to pay for your sins and you say one-half of your possessions is enough to pay for your sins?

 Mankind has a universal debt to pay to God. But payment must be done individually. And no one must say: I owe less, my sins are less, I am less guilty, I am better and the other is worse. In the first place, it is unbecoming to a holy mind to think that he is better just because others are worse. It is a most unfortunate kind of consolation to take comfort from the misfortune of sinful men. Who of us can really be sure that our judgment of ourselves is according to God's judgment? 

So, is there no difference between a saint and a sinner?  Certainly, an immeasurable difference! A saint feels he has to pay back all to God and even more. A sinner thinks he has only to pay so much.

Do you have a way of finding out how much you have to give up for the salvation of your soul? If not, then strive with all the power of your goods to redeem, by a holy death, whatever sins you may have committed during your lifetime.

Let us take our inspiration from those who are disengaged from all burdens and follow the paths of Christ, not in holiness only but in poverty. Let us honor such examples because they are imitators of Christ; let us look up to them because they are members of Christ. And let us pray that we may become worthy of their remembrance.

St. Salvian, The Four Books of the Church, Book II







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