Choose a topic from Part 2A:

39. The Moral Good and Evil of Sorrow or Pain

1. Sorrow or pain is not in itself a matter of free human activity, and hence has no moral aspects. But it can be the occasion of moral acts. St. Augustine says that it is good to sorrow for the good that is lost; that is, it is morally right and good to show appreciation of a valuable thing of which one is deprived. Similarly, sorrow for evil, as for our own sins, is morally good.

2. Nay, sorrow may be a virtue, that is, a stable habit of rightly judging an oppressive evil and of steadfastly rejecting it by the will. "Blessed are they that mourn," says scripture (Matt. 5:5). Mourning or sorrow can, therefore, be a virtuous good.

3. Sorrow can be a useful good, too. It can make man alert and careful to avoid what causes it, and what leads to it. In this way, sorrow for sin is very useful to man.

4. Bodily pain is not the greatest evil that a man can suffer, nor can interior sorrow as such be the ultimate evil. Greater than sorrow or pain is the evil of failing to judge evil rightly, and greater still is the evil of not willing to reject evil.

"To do God's will -- this was the goal upon which the saints constantly fixed their gaze. They were fully persuaded that in this consists the entire perfection of the soul. "
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"God gives us some things, as the beginning of faith, even when we do not pray. Other things, such as perseverance, he has only provided for those who pray."
St Augustine

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"The supreme perfection of man in this life is to be so united to God that all his soul with all its faculties and powers are so gathered into the Lord God that he becomes one spirit with him, and remembers nothing except God, is aware of and recognises nothing but God, but with all his desires unified by the joy of love, he rests contentedly in the enjoyment of his Maker alone."
St Albert the Great

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