John Paul I, encouraging those who are discouraged because they have led a life of evil, told how he once asked a lady, full of pessimism about her past life, how old she was. She replied thirty-five. "Thirty-five! -exclaimed the Pontiff, "but you can still live another forty or fifty years and do a lot of good things!". He advised him to think of the future, and to renew his confidence in God's help. And the Pope added: "On that occasion I quoted St. Francis de Sales, who speaks of "our beloved imperfections". And I explained: God detests faults, because they are faults. But, on the other hand, he loves faults in a certain sense, insofar as they give him the opportunity to show his mercy and us the opportunity to remain humble and also to understand and sympathize with the faults of our neighbor".
If at any time the knowledge of our weakness should become more acute, if temptations should increase, we will hear the Lord say to us too: My grace is sufficient for you, for strength shines in weakness. And with St. Paul we can say: "Therefore I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses, that the strength of Christ may dwell in me. Wherefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions and distresses, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then am I strong17 in the strength of God.
Even if we feel that we have feet of clay, it will give us great confidence to consider the abundant supernatural means that the Lord has left us to overcome. He has remained in the Tabernacle, as a special strength for the struggle; he has given us Confession, to recover lost grace and increase our resistance to evil and our capacity for good; he has arranged for an Angel to guard us on all our paths; we have the extraordinary help of the Communion of Saints, of the example of so many people who behave as children of God, with the help of fraternal correction.... We have, above all, the protection of Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, Refuge of sinners, our refuge, to whom we now turn asking her not to leave us from her hand.