When We Meet a Sinner…

Jacques MaritainWhen we meet a sinner we should be seized with great respect, as in the presence of one condemned to death – who can live again, and have in paradise, close to Jesus, a higher place than we.
Jacques Maritain (1882–1973)


7 thoughts on “When We Meet a Sinner…

  1. Funny, nowadays when I read or think about the first being last and the last being first all I think is that I just want to be there. I mean, can you imagine?! I don’t care if I’m right at the back, in the corner, watching on a heavenly big screen because I’m so far back, I just want to be there.

    Also, I have a question about something that I find very difficult to get my head around as a protestant: how does the above quote fit with the idea of purgatory?

    • As Julie says below, anyone can repent and become humble and great in God’s eyes. It can take time or happen in a flash. The journey can be “completed” in this life or require a bit of finishing up (this is what purgatory means) after death. This is the great reverence Jacques Maritain had in mind.

      (Not necessarily related to the question… Not everyone goes to purgatory. It is not a destination. It is just a possible step towards the destination. Anyone who has reached the heights of sanctity has no need of it and enters straight to heaven with one last, great, God-given act of love in the moment of death. They have “gone through purgatory,” i.e., they have been cleaned up and set in order, in this life. For most Catholic theologians, the official declaration that someone is a “saint” [canonization] means that we acknowledge that this person had no need of purgatory; their spiritual journey is very good to learn from. Some theologians think that those who are called “blessed” [beatified] may have gone through purgatory or may have not gone through it, but we do not normally think that the canonized “saints” had any need of purgatory. [This is true also of many uncanonized saints, but they are secret to us.] For John of the Cross, the “skipping” of purgatory applies to all who reach the “unitive way”; for Teresa of Avila, those in the seventh mansions would not go to purgatory upon death, but straight to heaven; etc. Such a beautiful conversion of heart is possible for anyone who has not yet died.)

  2. Blessings on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi (in the US),
    For me the passage speaks of the potential of any sinner, while alive, to repent and even to reach perfection and become a great saint. St. Augustine comes to mind. For souls who have not reached perfection in this life or who are not condemned to spending eternity in Hell due to mortal sin, they are sent to Purgatory for “purging” or purification until made perfect for Heaven. No-one imperfect can enter into Heaven. These souls are saved, they only need purging of imperfections such as venial sin and selfish clingings to created things that while aren’t deadly still mar or taint soul’s ability to perfectly reflect God’s image. Jesus says in Matt 5:48 after giving the Beatitudes: “Be perfect, therefore, as you Heavenly Father is perfect”. I hope this answers your question. God Bless, Julie

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