Wow came across this in my email today and thought it was a great read for us all to reflect on from the great St John Vianny(sp?) himself:
Your Prayers Are Only an Insult
Sermons of the Cure of Ars
There are some who derive satisfaction from the virtues they practice because their tendencies are all that way. For example, a mother will pride herself on the fact that she gives some alms, that she frequents the Sacraments, that she even reads some spiritual books -- yet she sees without dismay that her children are keeping away from the Sacraments. Her children do not make their Easter duty, yet this mother, from time to time, gives them permission to go to amusements, to dances, to weddings, and sometimes to the winter gatherings. She loves to see her daughters appearing in public; she thinks that if they do not frequent these places of debauchery, no one will know them and they will not be able to find themselves husbands and homes. Yes, undoubtedly they would be unknown -- but only to the libertines. Yes, my dear brethren, they will not find themselves husbands from among those who would treat them like the most wretched slaves. This mother loves to see them well turned out; this mother loves to see them in the company of some young men who are wealthier than they are. After certain prayers and some good works, which certainly she will do, she thinks herself to be on the road to Heaven.
Carry on, my good mother; you are only a blind hypocrite; you have only the appearance of virtue. You set your mind at rest with the thought that you make some visits to the Blessed Sacrament; without any doubt that is a good thing; but your daughter is at a dance; but your daughter is at the cabaret with libertines, and they will be spewing out nothing but one kind or another of indecency; but your daughter, tonight, is in a place where she should not be. Go away, blind and abandoned mother, go out and leave your prayers. Do you not see that you are doing as the Jews did, who bent the knee before Jesus Christ to make a semblance of adoring Him? So, then, you come to adore God, while your children are out to crucify Him.
Poor blind creature, you do not know either what you say or what you do. Your prayers are only an insult which you offer to God. Begin by going to find your daughter, who is losing her soul; then you may return to God to ask Him for your conversion.
A father thinks that it is quite enough to maintain good order in his house; he will not have anyone swearing or using obscene words. That is very good. But he has no scruple about allowing his boys to go to amusements, to fairs, and all sorts of pleasures like that. This same father permits work to be done on Sundays on the slightest pretext, even such as not to go against the wishes of his reapers or his threshers. However, you see him in church adoring God, even prostrate before Him: he is trying to avoid the slightest distraction. But tell me, my friends, how do you suppose God can look upon such people as that? Carry on, my poor friend, you are blind. Go and learn your duties and then you may come to offer your prayers to God. Do you not see that you are doing the work of Pontius Pilate, who recognised Jesus Christ and who yet condemned Him?
You will see this other man, who is charitable, who gives alms, who is touched by the poverty of his neighbour. That is quite good. But he allows his children to live in the greatest ignorance. Perhaps they do not even know what they should do in order to be saved. Go along, my poor man. You are blind. Your alms and your sympathy are leading you, with great steps, straight to Hell. Here is another who has plenty of good qualities. He likes to help everyone. But he cannot tolerate his unfortunate wife or his poor children, upon whom he heaps insults, and possibly even ill-treats. Carry on, my friend, your religion is worth nothing.
This one thinks that he is quite good because he is not a blasphemer or a thief, or even unchaste, but he goes to no trouble at all to correct those thoughts of hatred, of revenge, of envy, and of jealousy which fill his soul almost every day. My friend, your religion can only ruin you.
We see others, too, who are all full of pious practices, who become full of scruples at omitting some prayers they usually say. They would think themselves lost if they were not at Holy Communion on certain days when they have the habit of receiving, but trifles make them impatient and grumblers. A mere word which they did not care for will fill them with coldness and dislike. They will have difficulty in being civil to their neighbour; they will want to have nothing to do with him; on different pretexts, they will avoid his company; they will find that someone has been behaving badly in respect of them.
Go away, you poor hypocrites, go and become converted; after that you may have recourse to the Sacraments, which, in your state, without knowing it, you are only profaning with your wrongly understood devotion.
OUCH! Told ya it was a good slap in the face wake up call for personal reflection!