RSS

Tag Archives: Sacrament of Reconciliation

COME, O HOLY GHOST, THOU SPIRIT OF TRUTH AND LOVE

COME, O HOLY GHOST, THOU SPIRIT OF TRUTH AND LOVE

PREPARATION FOR CONFESSION

Prayer to the Holy Ghost

Come, O Holy Ghost, thou Spirit of truth and love, enlighten my understanding that I may truly know my sins. Let me see all my offences as clearly as they will appear before me one day when I go before my Divine Judge.

Place before me the greatness of my disloyalty and unfaithfulness. Let me clearly behold how often and to what extent I have sinned against God, against my neighbour, and against myself, the good which I have omitted, and the duties of my state which I have neglected; help me that I may clearly recognise my predominant passion, and the sins which, alas, have become habitual.

Move my heart that I may sincerely repent of my sins and truly and unreservedly confess them, and that with an efficacious purpose of amendment I may be found worthy of forgiveness, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Holy Mary, Mother of grace and refuge of sinners, pray for me now that I may make a good confession.

– St Anthony’s Treasury, Laverty & Sons, Leeds, 1916

Advertisements
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

WHY CONFESSION? – SIN IS AN OFFENCE AGAINST GOD, AND ALSO DAMAGES ONE’S COMMUNION WITH CHRIST’S BODY, THE CHURCH, OF WHICH CHRIST IS THE HEAD

WHY CONFESSION? – SIN IS AN OFFENCE AGAINST GOD, AND ALSO DAMAGES ONE’S COMMUNION WITH CHRIST’S BODY, THE CHURCH, OF WHICH CHRIST IS THE HEAD

VI. 1440. Sin is before all else an offence against God, a rupture of communion with him. At the same time it damages communion with the Church. For this reason conversion entails both God’s forgiveness and reconciliation with the Church, which are expressed and accomplished liturgically by the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.

Only God forgives sin

1441. Only God forgives sins. (Mk 2:7) Since he is the Son of God, Jesus says of himself, “The Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” and exercises this divine power: “Your sins are forgiven.” (Mk 2:5, 10; Lk 7:48) Further, by virtue of his divine authority he gives this power to men to exercise in his name. (cf. Jn 20:21-23)

1442. Christ has willed that in her prayer and life and action his whole Church should be a sign and instrument of the forgiveness and reconciliation that he acquired for us at the price of his blood. But he entrusted the exercise of the power of absolution to the apostolic ministry which he charged with the “ministry of reconciliation.” (2Cor 5:18) The apostle is sent out “on behalf of Christ” with “God making his appeal” through him and pleading: “Be reconciled to God.” (2Cor 5:20)

Reconciliation with the Church

1443. During his public life Jesus not only forgave sins, but also made plain the effect of this forgiveness: he reintegrated forgiven sinners into the community of the People of God from which sin had alienated or even excluded them. A remarkable sign of this is the fact that Jesus receives sinners at his table, a gesture that expresses in an astonishing way both God’s forgiveness and the return to the bosom of the People of God. (cf. Lk15; 19:9)

1444. In imparting to his apostles his own power to forgive sins the Lord also gives them the authority to reconcile sinners with the Church. The ecclesial dimension of their task is expressed most notably in Christ’s solemn words to Simon Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Mt16:19; cf. Mt 18:18; 28:16-20) The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of the apostles united to its head. (LG 22 para 2)

1445. The words bind and loose mean: whomever you exclude from your communion, will be excluded from communion with God; whomever you receive anew into your communion, God will welcome back into his. Reconciliation with the Church is inseparable from reconciliation with God.

The sacrament of forgiveness

1446. Christ instituted the sacrament of Penance for all sinful members of his Church: above all for those who, since Baptism, have fallen into grave sin, and have thus lost their baptismal grace and wounded ecclesial communion. It is to them that the sacrament of Penance offers a new possibility to convert and to recover the grace of justification. The Fathers of the Church present this sacrament as “the second plank [of salvation] after the shipwreck which is the loss of grace.” (Tertullian, De Pænit. 4, 2: PL 1, 1343; cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1542.

– From: The Catechism of the Catholic Church

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

IS SORROW FOR OUR SINS, BECAUSE BY THEM WE LOSE HEAVEN AND DESERVE HELL, SUFFICIENT WHEN WE GO TO CONFESSION?

IS SORROW FOR OUR SINS, BECAUSE BY THEM WE LOSE HEAVEN AND DESERVE HELL, SUFFICIENT WHEN WE GO TO CONFESSION?

281. What is the Sacrament of Penance [Reconciliation] ?

Penance is a Sacrament whereby the sins, whether mortal or venial, which we have committed after Baptism are forgiven.

282. Does the Sacrament of Penance increase the grace of God in the soul?

The Sacrament of Penance increases the grace of God in the soul, besides forgiving sin; we should, therefore, often go to confession.

283. When did our Lord institute the Sacrament of Penance?

Our Lord instituted the Sacrament of Penance when he breathed on his Apostles and gave them power to forgive sins, saying: ‘Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven.’ (Jn20:23)

284. How does the priest forgive sins?

The priest forgives sins by the power of God, when he pronounces the words of absolution.

285. What are the words of absolution?

The words of absolution are: ‘I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit’.

286. Are any conditions for forgiveness required on the part of the penitent?

Three conditions for forgiveness are required on the part of the penitent – Contrition, Confession, and Satisfaction.

287. What is Contrition?

Contrition is a heartfelt sorrow for our sins, because by them we have offended so good a God, together with a firm purpose of amendment.

288. What is a firm purpose of amendment?

A firm purpose of amendment is a resolution to avoid, by the grace of God, not only sin, but also the dangerous occasion of sin.

289. How may we obtain a hearty sorrow for our sins?

We may obtain a hearty sorrow for our sins by earnestly praying for it, and by making use of such considerations as may lead us to it.

290. What consideration concerning God will lead us to sorrow for our sins?

This consideration concerning God will lead us to sorrow for our sins; that by our sins we have offended God, who is infinitely good in himself and infinitely good to us.

291. What consideration concerning our Saviour will lead us to sorrow for our sins?

This consideration concerning our Saviour will lead us to sorrow for our sins; that our Saviour died for our sins, and that those who sin grievously ‘have wilfully crucified the Son of God and openly mocked him.’ (Heb6:6)

292. Is sorrow for our sins, because by them we have lost heaven and deserved hell, sufficient when we go to confession?

Sorrow for our sins, because by them we have lost heaven and deserve hell, is sufficient when we go to confession.

293. What is perfect contrition?

Perfect contrition is sorrow for sin arising purely from the love of God.

294. What special value has perfect contrition?

Perfect contrition has this special value; that by it our sins are forgiven immediately, even before we confess them; but nevertheless, if they are serious, we are strictly bound to confess them afterwards.

295. What is confession?

Confession is to accuse ourselves of our sins to a priest approved by the Bishop.

296. What if a person wilfully conceals a serious sin in confession?

If a person wilfully conceals a serious sin in confession he is guilty of a great sacrilege, by telling a lie to the Holy Spirit in making a bad confession.

297. How many things have we to do in order to prepare for confession?

We have four things to do in order to prepare for confession: first, we must heartily pray for grace to make a good confession: secondly, we must carefully examine our conscience: thirdly, we must take time and care to make a good act of contrition: and fourthly, we must resolve by the help of God to renounce our sins, and to begin a new life for the future.

298. What is satisfaction?

Satisfaction is doing the penance given us by the priest.

299. Does the penance given by the priest always make full satisfaction for our sins?

The penance given by the priest does not always make full satisfaction for our sins. We should therefore add to it other good works and penances, and try to gain Indulgences.

300. What is an Indulgence?

An Indulgence is a remission, granted by the Church, of the temporal punishment which often remains due to sin after its guilt has been forgiven.

– From the Penny Catechism, Imprimatur: John Cardinal Heenan, Archbishop of Westminster, 18th July 1971

 

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

IF GOD BE WITH US, WHO IS AGAINST US? (RM 8:31)

ON CONFIDENCE

How essential the spirit of holy confidence is in the spiritual life St Ignatius makes very plain in his book of Spiritual Exercises, where he is at pains to give us elaborate rules as to what our conduct should be in the time of what he calls “desolation”. This state of soul he describes as “the darkening and troubling of the mind, the prompting to things base and earthly, a certain uneasiness resulting from a state of agitation and temptation, and including diffidence, without hope and without love: as when the soul finds itself all weary, tepid, sad, and fancies itself separated from God”. And though the Saint does not hold a certain amount of desolation hurtful for the soul, yet, as in the matter of scruples, he deprecates a too deep-seated and long-continued state of despondency and discouragement as being one that detracts from the service of God, and robs it of all its spontaneity and generosity.

The thought of past sins which have darkened our existence

This spirit of diffidence and dejection arises in many cases from the thought of past sins which have darkened our existence. Closely connected with this source of temptation is the constant uneasiness and fear which many, even pious souls, entertain in regard to their confessions. It is true that they regret their misdeeds, that they have done penance for them, that they have had recourse times without number to the sacrament instituted for the remission of sins. Still they are restless, ill at ease: they rack and torture their souls as to the integrity of their former confessions. They would seem to be unaware that one honest effort made once for all, however imperfectly, is all that that is required of them; that forgotten sins, many perhaps of a serious nature, are as truly forgiven as those they have actually mentioned; that there is no obligation to confess sins of which they are not certain, that it is better even not to enter into the circumstances attending our transgressions unless they be such as to change their theological species.

Am I profoundly sorry for each and every sin I ever committed? Really?

Others worry over the dispositions with which they have received the sacraments in the past, especially over their contrition, which they imagine has never been sincere or really felt, as if feeling sorry was a necessary part of their dispositions, and not rather the will to be sorry. The first is not always in our power, however much we may desire it. The second, the act of the will, is always possible, presupposing of course the influx of divine grace; and even were that act slack and remiss, if it were there at all, it is enough with the sacraments to destroy all sin.

Man knoweth not whether he be worthy of love or hatred (Eccles. 9:1)

And yet some of these timorous souls seem to have reached the conclusion that they have never repented as they should, that they cannot shake off the burden that oppress them, and that their case is desperate beyond redemption. If only they could have the assurance that all the terrible past is cancelled, if only they could make a fresh start, with a clean slate before them, they imagine that the path of duty would be rendered smooth and the service of God become pleasant and comforting. In the present order of Providence, however, it has not seemed good that we should possess such an assurance. In our own interest and as an incentive to further effort, it is well that the great affair of our salvation should be shrouded in some obscurity; and accordingly the Holy Spirit tells us that “man knoweth not whether he be worthy of love or hatred” (Eccles. 9:1), not indeed that we can form or judge of our present state in the eyes of God, but that we cannot attain to any absolute, infallible certainty concerning it. Still we are far from being forbidden to entertain that inward moral certainty that usually guides us in the affairs of this life and which should be abundantly sufficient to make us walk in the way of the Lord in perfect peace and tranquillity of soul. “For the Holy Spirit giveth testimony to our spirit that we are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:16). Nay, to be troubled and uneasy, to doubt of our forgiveness after we have done our best and made an honest effort to be reconciled to God by the means He has appointed, is nothing short of injurious to His goodness: it is to disbelieve His plighted word: “Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven.” It is in a way to reproduce the final crime of the traitor apostle, in whom were found all the elements of true repentance, acknowledgement of sin, sorrow, restitution, all save one, the most indispensable of all, namely confidence and hope. “Son,” said Our Lord to the man sick of the palsy, “be of good heart, thy sins are forgiven thee” (Matt. 9:2). We may take these words as addressed to ourselves. Short of a revelation, which we cannot expect, we have every reason to trust that we have to put away the past. We should be acting foolishly and falling into the toils of the tempter, were we to give ourselves over to anxiety, and doubt the assurance of Him who says: “I am he that blots out thy iniquities for my own sake, and I will not remember thy sins (Is. xIiii 25).

Is secret pride at the bottom of all this?

There are others, and many religious among them, who allow themselves to be disheartened, not so much perhaps at the thought of their past delinquencies, as because of the present failings and shortcomings which they detect in themselves. By the mercy of God, they may be habitually preserved from serious faults; but instead of realising that in this very fact they have a signal assistance of the special care which Providence is exercising over them, they dwell on the minor faults into which they are continually falling. They experience thereat a sense of humiliation: they are disappointed with themselves: they expected better results from their efforts; and accordingly they are ever finding fault with their corrupt nature, inclined to think that all their spiritual exercises are useless, their good resolutions of no avail; that they will never improve; that they are not pleasing in the sight of God, and that all their exterior observance is but hypocrisy and make-believe. Thus their whole life is one unbroken chain of restlessness, fear, and despondency, from which they derive no manner of profit or merit but rather cause God to keep aloof and withhold His help, since such feelings, far from honouring Him, are really offensive to Him. They are derogatory to His goodness and contrast with the wonderful patience He displays in bearing with our many defects. This spirit of dejection, moreover, often proceeds from a root of secret pride. It is not the offence to God contained in every sin, grievous or venal, which the proud man really heeds. What he considers is the loss of self-esteem, the fact that he has lowered himself, the shame of discovering so plainly his own weakness and impotence. He is astonished to find himself at fault after relying so much upon his own strength; and hence he is vexed, disappointed, disgusted with himself. A man of truly humble soul, on the other hand, hates his failings and sins for the sole reason that they are displeasing to God; but he is not surprised or taken aback because of a relapse. He knows only too well and he acknowledges freely the infirmity of his nature: he expected no better from his waywardness. In consequence he does not lose heart, he looks to God for more efficacious assistance on the next occasion, and thus actually rises from his defection stronger and more acceptable to His Maker.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (1 Jn 1:8)

We must learn to bear with ourselves, even as God bears with us: we must possess our souls in patience, for we cannot avoid all faults. “If we say that we have no sin,” says St John, “we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). We should no doubt labour to diminish their number and the deliberation with which they are committed, but it must be done gently. We may be sorrowful but not dismayed at their recurrence, and should nurture in ourselves the full confidence that little by little God will detach our hearts from the vain things of earth, and purify us more and more from such stain as we cannot altogether avoid in this world.

When we find our path beset with crosses, when misfortune seems to dog our steps, and one sorrow or affliction succeeds upon another…

The most usual cause of discouragement, however, from which we suffer takes its rise in the disappointments, hardships, and discomforts of life itself. It is when we find our path beset with crosses, when misfortune seems to dog our steps, and one sorrow or affliction succeeds upon another, when all our efforts end in failure and time brings with it no relief – it is then especially, perhaps, that we are tempted to abandon our trust in God, to doubt His providence, to think Him harsh, insensible, forgetful of our welfare. Now we are all liable to the law of suffering, sometimes acute and enduring, but whatever be our trial, it is undeniable that in all such cases a spirit of distrust only serves to intensify and to aggravate the evil.

The crosses of our own making are ordinarily more painful by far than those that are sent to us from above

The inner self-torture which springs from dissatisfaction and rebellion is a heavier burden than that which God would lay upon us, and crosses of our own making are ordinarily more painful by far than those that are sent to us from above. It is often because we brood upon them that our trials assume such proportions; it is because we are faint of heart that we feel them so keenly; it is because we fear “where there is no fear”, because we are slow to place our trust in the strong arm of the Lord that they crush and tear us to pieces.

…They are the clouds that gather round the base of the mountain but leave the summit radiant in everlasting sunshine

Samson once met a lion in his way, and though he was unarmed, he closed with the furious animal and overpowered it. A few days later on passing by the spot he found a honey-comb in the dead lion’s mouth. So it is that if we are brave, and face our difficulties with unflinching faith, we shall issue triumphant and find nothing but sweetness in the task. A truly confident soul, indeed, lives upon this earth in a kind of paradise. It may be sorely tried, assailed by the fierce blasts of temptation or tossed upon the waters of many tribulations; but these trials do but affect the outer man, the lower nature, the senses and the appetites; they cannot reach the higher spirit, the will and the understanding in which the true man consists. They are the clouds that gather round the base of the mountain but leave the summit radiant in everlasting sunshine: they are the waves that ruffle the surface of the ocean but disturb not the profound calm and tranquillity of the great deep below. It is that confidence that explains the serenity, the sweetness, the unutterable peace of many holy souls with whom we have sometimes been brought into contact. It is that confidence and love which in the case of certain saints has transformed the nature of things and rendered pleasant what was bitter and made them fall in love, as it were, with suffering itself, which caused St Teresa to cry out: “Either to suffer or to die,” and St Mary Magdalen of Pazzi, “Not to die but to suffer,” and St John of the Cross, when asked what reward he would have for his labours, “None other, Lord, than to suffer and to be condemned for thy sake.” It is that confidence that sustained the great Apostle of the Gentiles in the midst of the untold hardships of his mission – “in many labours, in prisons most frequently, in stripes above measure, in deaths often” (2 Cor. 11:23). He could say, “I speak the truth in Christ that I have great sadness and continual sorrow in my heart” (Rom. 9:2), and could yet utter the triumph, “I am filled with comfort, I overflow with joy in all our tribulation” (2 Cor. 7:4), “for I know whom I have believed and I am certain that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him, against that day” (2 Tim. 1:12). And we, too, have every reason for reposing our trust in Him whom we daily call our Father.

Putting our trust in Him whom we daily call our Father

The spirit of evil indeed is ever busy whispering in our ears that God is a stern and severe Lord and that we can live much more happily without Him. But in reality to look upon Him as a hard and unmerciful task-master is as untrue as it is blasphemous: it is as if we should say white is black or that light is darkness. The very essence of God is goodness. There is no creature so lowly, so insignificant that God does not care for it with the tenderness of a Father. “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And not one of them shall fall on the ground without your Father” (Matt. 10:29). What is there that is held of less account than a sparrow? Men despise it, but God cares for it: He provides it with food, He clothes it against the winter, He protects it in face of its assailants. And yet it is but a sparrow, a thing of no value or import. And shall He not care for man, the masterpiece of His hands, for man who is His image, who is His child? “Fear not,” says our Saviour in words of everlasting comfort, “ye are better than many sparrows.”

The pledge and proof that God has been watching over us and directing our steps

We are His children and His compassion is greater than that of any earthly parent. Is it not He who has imparted to so many millions of parents, and of wicked parents too, so tender a love for their offspring? And does He not possess what He has given them in such abundance? Nay, is it not He who addresses to us the almost incredible words: “Can a woman forget her infant, so as not to have pity on the son of her womb? And if she should forget, yet will I not forget thee” (Is xlix 15). We have only to look upon our past to see how gently and lovingly God has led us by the hand, in spite of much frailty, in spite of many infidelities, and perhaps most serious sins. Is not our baptism into His one true Church, the sacraments we have received, the life, the health we have enjoyed, the many other blessings given us, the many helps afforded us in difficult and trying moments, is not such a long chain of benefits of every kind, the pledge and proof that God has been watching over us and directing our steps with unfaltering solicitude? Is the source sealed or dried up from which so many blessings have flowed to this day? He who has been with us in the past will be with us in the future and “if God be with us, who is against us?” (Rom. 8:31). When the servant of Eliseus came to inform his master how a vast army with horses and chariots was in view, the Prophet replied: “Be not afraid, for there are more with us than against us.” We have with us the saints and the angels, the Queen of Heaven, God Almighty Himself, and against us, those who cannot move hand or foot without His sanction.

I know that I may count upon His love and His mercy

St Therese of Lisieux said, as we may read in her autobiography, “Even if I had on my conscience all the sins that could be committed, I should lose none of my trustfulness. With my heart broken in repentance, I should go and throw myself into my Saviour’s arms… I know that I may count upon His love and His mercy.” Let us pray to the Saint that we too may share in her confidence. “The voice of rejoicing and of salvation is in the tabernacles of the just” (Ps 142:15).

– From: Lift Up Your Hearts, Christopher J. Wilmot, S.J., The Catholic Book Club, London, 1949

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 8, 2016 in Words of Wisdom

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCES DEVOID OF LOVE? (LUKE 16:19:31)

Homily of St Gregory on Luke 16:19-31

What, dearly beloved brethren, what is to be understood by this rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen, and feasted sumptuously every day, if not the Jewish nation who kept the observances of religion in their outward life, who used refinements in the law they had received for their own magnificence, and not for their true [spiritual] advantage? What, again, is to be understood as expressed by Lazarus, the man full of sores, if not the Gentile people? For they, as soon as they were converted to God, were not ashamed to confess their sins, from which the sores were in their skin. Indeed, it is through such wounds in the skin that poison is drawn out from the inward parts, and outwardly breaks forth.

My sores are purified and corrupted because of my foolishness (Psalm 37 [38]:6)

What then is the confession of sins but the breaking out, as it were, of sores? For in confession, the poison of sin is laid wholesomely open, which before lurked balefully in the mind. Indeed, through wounds in the skin, the corrupt humour [body fluid] is drawn to the surface. And in the confession of sins, what else do we but expose the evil that lay hidden within us? But Lazarus, full of sores, desired to be filled with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table, and no one gave him them; for this proud people did not deign to admit any of the Gentiles to the knowledge of the law.

Often, in Holy Scripture, dogs symbolise preachers

The teaching of the law inclined them not to love, but to pride, as though they swelled with importance at the thought of the treasure they had received; and the words they let fall from their knowledge were like crumbs dropping from the table. But, on the other hand, the dogs licked the sores of the poor man as he lay there. Often, in Holy Scripture, dogs are to be understood as preachers. Now dogs heal wounds by licking them with their tongues: even so, holy teachers, when they instruct us in the confessing of our sins, do, as it were, touch the wounds of our souls with their tongues.

Prayer

V. God has given his angels charge over you. R. That they guard you in all your ways.

Son, remember * that you in your lifetime received good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things.

Grant, we beseech you, O Lord, the help of your grace, that, being intent, as we ought, upon fasting and prayer, we may be delivered from the enemies of soul and body. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 27, 2016 in Words of Wisdom

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

WHO IS THE WORLD’S WORST SINNER? IS HE A CATHOLIC CHRISTIAN?

“The world’s worst sinner”

Nobody but God can know at any time who is the world’s worst sinner, but it is possible for a saint to regard himself as such, while a really great sinner, who has the seeds of repentance within him, might with more reason lay claim to be so entitled. There are some Catholics who because of long lives of multiplied and grievous sins are tempted to think, like the unhappy Judas, that they are beyond the reach of God’s forgiveness.

Beyond the point of redemption?

They are sunk in such iniquity that they have no inclination to seek absolution in the Sacrament of Penance [to be freed from their chains through sacramental confession. A Sacrament is, among other things, a “vast, supernatural boost of grace”]. Their faith has been so weakened that they are on the point almost of losing it altogether. The difficulties against religion loom larger in their minds than the proofs to sustain it. Yet if they will only bring themselves to think about the matter, they will see that even such faith as remains to them will suffice as a foundation on which to begin to build a reformed life. If they will but turn to the all-merciful and loving God in simple words of prayer they will find that gradually their faith will increase and that spiritual and supernatural truths will stand out in clearer and stronger light. This at least they must do, for, as St Augustine reminds us, “the God who created us cannot save us without ourselves.” This only means that they must co-operate with God’s grace, begging it from Him, and with that grace at once do what a sincere and enlightened conscience bids them to do.

“The God who created us cannot save us without ourselves” 

They must first get rid of the erroneous idea that they are beyond redemption and that it is not worth the effort to try to reform. Such an idea is instilled by the devil, “a liar and the father of lies”, as Christ called him (John 8:44), who would make them sharers in his own punishment, the eternal punishment of hell. It is he who would darken their vision of the next life and strive to persuade them that only in this world they can find their happiness by living for such uncertain, ephemeral, and sinful satisfaction as they can find it.

A systematic darkening out of the next life by the father of lies

It might be said to any one of these poor deluded and almost despairing souls: “Let us grant that you are a sinner and have hitherto led such a life that you have outdone in your iniquities – as you may think – all the worst sinners of whom the world holds record.”

Have I outdone all the worst sinners of whom the world holds record?

That is saying a great deal, for in the history of the Church we may read of the most glaring and terrible scandals, caused by infamous men and women of every degree, in every class and condition of life, alas even by bad popes, bad cardinals, bad bishops, and bad priests. Horrifying as this may sound in the ears of a good and pious Catholic, yet they are sad facts which, without exaggerating their number, no one with any knowledge of history can deny, any more that many of these flagrant and notorious sinners repented of their sins and died reconciled and in favour with God, and indeed probably very many more than we know of.

The more and the greater the sins, the more is God’s mercy exalted if the sinner has chosen to avail himself of it

But the point is that however bad a man may be, even if he thinks that he himself is “the world’s worst sinner”, he can, if he wills, repent and by repenting secure his eternal salvation. The solid foundation for this statement is simply that God’s mercy is infinite. No accumulation of sins can exhaust such mercy. The only thing that can prevent its exercise is the sinner’s unwillingness to repent and to receive it. Indeed, the more and the greater the sins, the more is God’s mercy exalted and the more it becomes a subject of praise and of thanksgiving, once “the world’s worst sinner” has chosen to avail himself of it.

God’s mercy is infinite

“The world’s worst sinner” must be persuaded to look upon the crucified Christ who being God as well as Man merited His Passion and Death to be the redemption of all men without any exception, one drop of whose blood was sufficient in itself to wipe out the sins, not of one sinning man or woman, but of an entire sinful world. “The world’s worst sinner”, if repentant, can repeat with absolutely confidence the words of St Thomas in his hymn Adoro Te devote:

Pie Pelicane, Jesu Domine,

Me immundum munda tuo sanguine:

Cujus una stilla salvum facere

Totum mundum quit ab omni scelere.*

What will add to the sinner’s confidence is the reflection that he by his repentance will add to Christ’s triumph. The victory of Calvary will be enhanced precisely because among its trophies is included the redemption of his soul, the soul of “the world’s worst sinner”.

“Join the club”

To anyone who believes in God it must be plain that to doubt His mercy is in the nature of an insult to Him, since it would put a limit upon what is necessarily infinite. Let him bear in mind the words of Christ, “I am not come to call the just but sinners” (Mt 9:13), and then join up with that long possession of sinners, who, remembering those and other words and deeds of the compassionate Saviour, having mounted the hill of Calvary and, prostrate in sorrow at the foot of the Cross, have at once been washed clean of their sins – no matter how many and grievous – by the generous outpouring of the Precious Blood which was shed for them.

Sinners who have mounted the hill of Calvary…

By that Cross they will find Mary, Christ’s Mother and theirs, who as the “Refuge of Sinners” is ever pleading with her Son for them, so anxious is she that His Death of such inestimable price and efficacy should not prove futile in their regard.

There, too, is Magdalen, once a sinner but now in her repentance the courageous and devoted follower of her Saviour and God. Close at hand on his own cross is the good thief who by one act of contrition merited the promise to be that very day with Christ in Paradise.

No accumulation of sins can exhaust God’s mercy

Our Blessed Lord said: “There shall be joy in heaven upon one sinner that doth penance more than upon ninety-nine just who need not penance” (Lk 15:7). “The world’s worst sinner” (as he may choose to call himself) can add considerably to this joy.

Pure joy

All the considerations that have been put forward should fill every sin-laden man or woman with confidence, courage and comfort. If they have many sins for which to make reparation, the difficulties, hardships and sufferings which life in this stricken world of to-day so plentifully supplies will give them opportunities for penance, by bearing them with patience and resignation. In doing this, as they can with God’s grace, they may be assured that they are thus preparing for themselves a certain and speedy entrance to heaven, when at last death comes and they leave a world which never perhaps at any time could more truly be called a “vale of tears”.

*In English: ” O loving Pelican, Jesus Lord, cleanse me, unclean, in thy Blood, one drop of which hath power to save the whole world from all its sin.” The Pelican is a symbol of Christ and of His love for us. There is a legend that when food fails, the pelican feeds her young with her own blood. (The Hymns of the Breviary and Missal, edited by Rev. Matthew Britt, O.S.B. Published by Benziger Brothers, New York 1936.)

– From: Lift Up Your Hearts, Christopher J. Wilmot, Catholic Book Club, London, 1949

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 27, 2016 in Words of Wisdom

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

CATCHING GLIMPSES OF THE DIVINE

Something more than earthly

“At times we seem to catch a glimpse of a form which we shall hereafter see face to face.

We approach, and in spite of the darkness, our hands, or our head, or our brow, or our lips become, as it were, sensible of the contact of something more than earthly.

We know not where we are, but we have been bathing in water, and a voice tells us that it is blood. Or we have a mark signed upon our foreheads, and it spake of Calvary. Or we recollect a hand laid upon our heads, and surely it had the print of nails in it, and resembled his who with a touch gave sight to the blind and raised the dead. Or we have been eating and drinking; and it was not a dream surely, that one fed us from his wounded side, and renewed our nature by the heavenly meat he gave.”

– Bl. John Henry Newman, “We may even experience Christ’s presence in his Sacraments”

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 1, 2015 in Words of Wisdom

 

Tags: , , , , , ,