If you look to the saints you will see that they universally consider themselves to be wretched. They also universally persist in the understanding that hell is a real possibility, that people, even people who think they are good, can actually end up in hell for eternity.
The saints prayed constantly that they might not be week and fall into sin thus separating themselves from God. The closer they got to God the holier they became, no doubt. But the closer they got to God the more they became convinced of their wretchedness, their capacity for sin. It was their realization of their own sinful tendencies that marked their closeness to God, as well as faith in Him, that he could overcome those tendencies through grace. The more they understood the infinite goodness of God the more they understood their wretchedness as compared to him! And I do not mean that they held themselves in low esteem, abased themselves, or failed to love themselves! They simply came more and more to the conclusion that without God’s grace they would fall into the pit of hell. The more they came to depend on God the more they came to realize that, left to their own, they would damn themselves.
So why is it that average sinners during our times tend to become more and more assured that they will enter the Kingdom of Heaven even as they continue to wallow in sin or barely succeed in preventing themselves from falling into grave sin? Very few people come to a sort of profound understanding of their wretchedness as do the saints, yet in our times we all love to assure ourselves of our salvation. How can this be? If in fact so many have such a firm grip on salvation why then is there not widespread holiness? Why are we not seeing massive cultural renewal brought on by so many holy souls? Why are we not seeing profound unity wash over the Church? Why are not souls pouring into the Church and staying there with heartfelt obedience and genuine religious practice?
The fact is that our salvation is likely not as sure as we feel like it is. I am not saying we should constantly fear falling into hell, but we should, pray the prayer of final perseverance like we actually need the grace of final perseverance. Let us be matter of fact and honest with ourselves. If we don’t open ourselves to God’s love consistently more and more we are putting our souls in jeopardy.
We must pray for our salvation and that of all souls.
We must pray for the grace of final perseverance.
We must pray for more suffering and the grace to suffer well so that God can work more miracles in our lives thus bringing us closer to his Sacred Heart.
We must believe that God will save us, but not because we assure ourselves that we are ok, not because we do our best and leave the rest up to God, but rather, because we know that if we are humble that God will do his best within us. We must beg him to draw us near to his heart, and it is in this experience that we come to know the extent of our total helplessness and our very great need for his love. It is in this experience that we come to realize that his love is available to us, and that he is ready to give us everything we need to become saints. Only when we come to this realization, and only when we put the fear of our inadequacy aside in favor of the power of God, will we be on the steady road to heaven.
Do not be afraid! Set out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch. Just don’t expect the catch to be anything you expected! The Lord works in mysterious ways.