The Sin of Ingratitude
I admit I don’t have much of my own to contribute to this blog but things being as they are and with so much material worthy of publication and since much of it is in rather obscure locations and since I try to give credit to my sources and since the salvation of souls is at stake, I’ll continue in my nefarious ways.
The following (rather lengthy quote) from the Mystical City of God you might think concerns man’s ingratitude to his fellow man. But no, it’s about the debt of gratitude man owes God and the culpable guilt man incurs in his tardiness, laxity and outright omission of thanksgiving to Almighty God.
Mary, the Mother of God to Blessed Mary of Agreda:
My daughter, the sin of ingratitude is one of the most heinous committed by men against God and by it they make themselves most unworthy and abominable in the sight of God and the saints. For both God and the saints have a kind of horror of this vile conduct in men. Yet in spite of its pernicious effects, there is none which men, each one in particular, commit more frequently and thoughtlessly. It is true that in order to lessen the debt accumulating by their most ungrateful and universal forgetfulness of his benefits, God requires from his Church a certain recompense for this want of thankfulness in her children and in mankind. For in recognition of his blessings, the Church as such offers up so many prayers and sacrifices of praise and glory as we see ordained in her. But as the favors and graces of his liberal and watchful Providence are not only for the common good of the faithful, but to the advantage of each mortal in particular, the debt of gratitude is not paid by this general thanksgiving of the Church; each one for himself owes thanks for what he receives from the divine liberality.
How many are there among the mortals, who during the whole course of their lives have not excited one sincere act of thanksgiving for the gift of life, for its preservation, for health, food, honors, possessions and all the other temporal and natural goods! Others there are, who, if at any time they give thanks for these benefits, do it not because they truly love God, the Giver, but because they love themselves and delight in these temporal and earthly blessings and in the possession of them. This kind of vain deceit discovers itself in two ways: first, in seeking these earthly and transitory goods, men are full of dissatisfaction, haste and discomfort, and they scarcely can think of, ask for, or desire other more spiritual things, loving only what is apparent and passing. Although many times their being deprived of health, honor, possessions and other things is a blessing of God, which prevents in them a blind and disorderly attachment to such matters; yet they think it a misfortune and, as it were, an injury, and they allow their heart continually to verge on destruction by trespassing upon what is finite and perishable.
Secondly, this deceit is known by the forgetfulness of spiritual benefits in the blind pursuit of what is transitory, so that men neither recognize or acknowledge what is beyond. This fault among the children of the Church is most vile and dreadful, since, without any obligation on the part of God and without any of their merit, the divine mercy seeks to draw them to the secure path of eternal life, signally applying to them the merits of the passion and death of my divine Son. Every one who is now in a state of holiness in the Church, could have been born in other times and ages, before God came into the world; moreover he could have been born among pagans, idolaters, heretics or other infidels, where his eternal damnation would be unavoidable. Without their merit God called such persons to his holy faith, giving them knowledge of the certain truth; justifying them in Baptism, putting at their disposal the Sacraments, the ministers, the teachings and enlightenments of eternal life. He placed them upon the sure path, granted them his assistance, pardoned them their sins, raised them from their falls, waited for their repentance, invited them by his mercy, and rewarded them with a liberal hand. He defended them through his holy angels, gave them Himself as a pledge and as a nourishment of eternal life; and thus He accumulated so many blessings upon them, that they are without measure or number, and that not a day nor an hour passes without increasing their indebtedness.
Tell me then, daughter, what thanks are due to his so liberal and fatherly kindness? And how many men deserve to experience it? The greatest blessing of all is that in punishment for this ingratitude the portals of his mercy have not been closed, and the fountains of his goodness have not dried up; for it is infinite. The root of this most dreadful ingratitude in men is the boundless desire and covetousness for the temporal, apparent and transitory goods. From this insatiable thirst grows their unthankfulness; for as they hanker so much after the temporal goods, they undervalue what they receive and give thanks neither for them nor for the spiritual goods; and thus they are most ungrateful as well for the ones as the others. In addition to this unbearable foolishness they are guilty of a still greater one, namely, they ask God not for what is necessary to them, but for things which are injurious and will bring about their eternal perdition. Among men it is considered mean to ask a favor from the one they have offended; and still more outrageous to ask a favor for the purpose of committing a still greater offense. What must we then say of a vile earthly being, an enemy of God, when he petitions his Creator for life, health, honor, possessions and other things, for which he will never give thanks, and which he does not intend to use for any other purpose than to offend the divine Giver?
If, in addition to this, such men never thank God for having created them, redeemed them, called them, borne them with patience and justified them, prepared for them the same glory which He enjoys: and if, while expecting this glory, they do not even ask for the grace of acknowledging and repenting of their sins, they certainly show nothing but the utmost temerity and presumption. I assure thee, my dearest, that this so frequent ingratitude toward God is one of the most certain signs of reprobation in those who are guilty of such forgetfulness and carelessness. It is also a bad sign, when the just Judge confers temporal blessings upon those who ask for them in forgetfulness of the blessings of the Redemption and Justification; for all such, oblivious of the means of their eternal salvation, demand but the instruments of their death, and to yield to their demands is no blessing, but a chastisement of their blindness.