Compunction

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“There is no such thing as an unhappy saint,” my mother once told me. How, then, to reconcile happiness with the absolute necessity of compunction? It would appear on the surface the two sentiments are at odds, but let us see if this idea holds true.

Happiness flows naturally from peace, and compunction is the only means of obtaining peace. How many of us have experienced the terrible guilt that comes with the performance of some bad action? The only possible way to quell the feeling of guilt is to humbly confess our misdeed.

We can positively say that the road to happiness is paved with compunction.

Listen to Thomas à Kempis: “There is no true liberty, nor solid joy, but in the fear of God with a good conscience. Happy is he who can cast away all impediments of distractions and recollect himself in holy compunction. Happy is he who separates himself from all that may burden or defile his conscience.”

If compunction leads to happiness, it also leads to sanctity. Remember, “There is no such thing as an unhappy saint.” Again from Thomas à Kempis: “If thou wouldst oftener think of thy death than of a long life, no doubt thou wouldst more fervently amend thyself. And if thou didst seriously consider in thy heart the future punishment of hell or purgatory, I believe thou wouldst willingly endure labor and pain, and fear no kind of austerity.”

Would you be happy, dear reader? Practice compunction. Would you be saintly? Practice compunction. There is nothing more pleasing to God, and nothing more profitable for thyself, than tears shed from contrition for thy sins.

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