Forgiveness

‘Ah! My brother, how the goodness of Jesus, His merciful love, are so little known!’

‘It must be that you don’y know me at all well, if you are afraid that a detailed account of your faults could lessen the tenderness I feel for your soul! O my brother, believe me that I shall not need to “put my hand over the mouth of Jesus.” He has forgotten your infidelities long ago. Only your desires for perfection remain to make His heart rejoice. I implore you, don’t drag yourself to His feet ever again. Follow that “first impulse which draws you into His arms.” That is where you belong and I have decided, now more so than from your other letters, that you are forbidden to go to heaven by any other road than the one your poor little sister travels.

‘I completely agree with you that “the heart of God is saddened more by the thousand little indelicacies of His friends than it is by the faults, even the grave ones, which people of the world commit.” But my dear little brother, it seems to me that it is only when his friends, ignoring their continual indelicacies, make a habit out of them and don’t ask forgiveness for them, that Jesus can utter those touching words which the Church puts on his lips in Holy Week: “These wounds you see in the palms of my hands are the ones I received in the house of those who loved me.” For those who love Him, and after each fault come to ask pardon by throwing themselves into His arms, Jesus trembles with joy. He says to His angels what the father of the prodigal son said to his servants: “Put his best robe on him and put a ring on his finger, and let us rejoice.” Ah! My brother, how the goodness of Jesus, His merciful love, are so little known! It is true that to enjoy these riches we must be humbled and recognise our nothingness, and that is what so many are not will to do. But my little brother, that is not the way you behave, so the way of simple love and confidence is just made to order for you.`

-From a letter from St. Therese of Lisieux to Maurice Belliere, a young seminarian [Taken from Maurice & Therese: The Story of a Love]

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God bless you!

A mountain of mercy

This Sunday at mass, I was thanking God that by His grace, I have been given life in Him, so that at that very moment, I was blessed to be communing with Him, loving and being loved, genuinely touching my God. I was thanking God for every sin that by His grace I haven’t committed, and I realised I ought to thank Him for every sin I’ve ever committed being forgiven. I am with God at this moment, because every single sin, throughout my entire life, has been forgiven.

I saw that all the sins of my life would amass to a great mountain, made of all the filth, waste, and excrement of my soul. But where that mountain should have been, there was instead an even greater mountain of God’s mercy, and in my mind’s eye it was gold and precious.

I can’t just thank God for His recent mercy and forgiveness, because if He didn’t forgive my oldest sins, I’d be just as cut off as for my newest. This one moment with God, is thanks to a whole life of forgiveness.

God bless you.

Thank you Lord! 

The Fear of Repenting

That terrible fear. When you know you have done something awful. And you know you must repent; that it’s the only way out. But you’re scared to. You consider if you could do it later… Or maybe never. Perhaps you could just live with what you’ve done…

Why is repentance so terrifying? Because it involves two terrifying things: judgment, and death. It involves judgment, because it requires revealing ourselves, with all our injustices, and acknowledging God as the just judge. He is the one with the right to judge all transgressions against Him.

It involves death, because it is our lives that we place before Him, and whatever He might do, we are acknowledging our life as being His to deal with, however He chooses. We are giving up our lives.

Why? For Jesus’ sake. We repent, laying our lives at Jesus’ feet, for love of him. Why do we love Jesus? Because he is merciful, because he is loving, and he has taught us love. We go like St. Mary Magdalene to cry on Jesus’ feet [Lk 7:36-50], because we are unworthy, but we love him, and hope that he will show us love too.

The most remarkable thing about our fear of repenting, is that afterwards it seems so absurd. To be so afraid, of what has brought such great liberty! But that is simply how death looks from the perspective of the resurrected. To repent is no less than to lay down our whole lives before Jesus and with Jesus, and so be raised to true life in him.

We must always remember what Pope Francis says:

“The Lord never tires of forgiving, it is we who tire of asking for forgiveness.”

God bless you

Lord it is in giving that we receive

Lord it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
-St. Francis of Assisi

Lord it is in giving that we receive.
With God, to give to Him, is to be ready to receive Him in what you have given. What else could please Him? What does God desire but to give?
True giving is always to God, since God will use all things best, and therefore it is always the greatest gift. Therefore true giving is always true receiving. When we give ourselves to others, we offer them space within us, for them.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
To pardon, truly, is to be pardoned. Pardon cannot be received without being given on, and God always offers us His pardon. To relinquish our grasp on the sins of others, into the hands of God’s grace, is to allow God into our sins also. All sin is one, and we cannot hold onto the sins of others while releasing our own; they are thoroughly tied together.
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
True life, as revealed in Jesus Christ, is a gift, and the greatest gift is martyrdom; to give absolutely, without recompense.
The resurrection of the dead does not undo or repay the gift of the martyr’s life, but makes the gift lasting. This is the treasure in heaven for every good work: that our gifts shall endure forever in God, in whom all good works are done.

St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us!

God bless you!

God’s mercy and hell

Once, when I was mired deep in guilt and shame at my sins, I realised how merciful God is, as I thought, if it would please or satisfy God for me to go to hell, I would, rather than repent and sin again, insulting His grace and surely displeasing and dissatisfying Him further. I considered it perhaps preferable to be tortured as the wretched sinner I am, rather than live a disgraceful inconsistency between good and evil, constantly offending things so holy. But it couldn’t please God for the worst sinners to go to hell, because I wasn’t in hell, and the Son of God lived and died and lived again to save us sinners from hell, apparently with no regard to “justice”.

Realising God’s mercy was always there, regardless of my sin, even caressing my sin, greatly deepened my feeling of guilt against such a kind God, but made it healthy and hopeful, and showed me that repentance/penance is a great duty to merciful God, rather than a selfish opportunity to escape God’s justice. His love is inescapable and terrible, revealing all the darkness of sin by His light, and inviting us in, to be bathed in His light. It is God’s unbelievable goodness that makes evil so terrible, and His unending mercy that makes guilt truly unbearable.

God bless you

My First Confession

I received the Sacrament of Confession for the first time last week, and I feel it would be good to share some thoughts from it.

Beforehand, I felt an almost overwhelming guilt. It was painful. But as I thought about receiving the sacrament of forgiveness for my sins, it remained painful, but it felt like it was good pain, like God’s grace was attacking the sins already. As I made my way there, my heart was thumping heavily.

When I finally had the sacrament, I felt great shame at my sins, but I felt like they were being destroyed and washed out even as I confessed them. What really struck me was how my confessor showed no signs of judgment at all. I had come ready for being told, at least a little bit, how bad I had been, but there was nothing except forgiveness. The absence of judgment and ready forgiveness really showed me an image of holiness. It really made me appreciate priests, who are blessed to even administer God’s forgiveness.

Afterwards, I felt liberated. There was no more guilt. I was happy, and light as a feather. A few hours after, I noticed that I felt naked [I was outside at the time, and genuinely wondered if I might be]. I felt like I was naked before God, and He accepted me in my vulnerability. I had revealed myself to God. Of course, God already knew everything to begin with, but by the sacrament, I had gone out of my way to show myself to Him. God hadn’t just happened to oversee my sins, but I had presented myself, in all my sinfulness, to Him intentionally. I think this is part of why He gave us this sacrament. It was liberating.

All in all, it was a terrifying experience, and a good, healing, surprisingly liberating experience.

Pope Francis goes to Confession

Pope Francis recently went to confession publicly. I’ve heard that he usually goes every two weeks (privately).

May God bless you

I am the lost sock

So I found a sock just now (a really cool Spiderman sock), and putting it in my drawer, I saw it’s partner. I don’t think I need to tell you how happy this made me. My sock was lost, and now is found!

This reminded me of the three parables of Luke 15: the lost sheep; the lost drachma (coin); and the prodigal son. I’ll tell you the truth: I’m happier about finding my lost sock than about all the socks I didn’t lose. Like how the shepherd put the lost sheep on his shoulder and carried it home, I picked my sock off the floor, and did that folding thing to pair the pair, and put them in my drawer. Like how the woman who lost her coin phoned or texted (I assume) her friends to celebrate with her, I’m writing this to you. Rejoice with me!

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I am my lost sock! I was lost, and now am found. I lay useless on the bedroom floor, until I was returned to the drawer, and reunited with my partner, and so brought home and made whole. And I tell you the truth again: One day not so far away, I will wear this sock upon my foot (and I believe God will act likewise to me).

All this because, as the Pharisees and the scribes said so well, “Jesus welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

God bless you.