O Sanctifier of Souls, O Holy Spirit of god, I know not how to pray as I ought. Likewise I know not how to confess, as I ought. O Breath of God whose duty it is to convince humanity about sin and righteousness and judgment; work thy illumination within me. Speak through my spirit and reveal all those things within me that are unworthy of a child of the Living God. May the grace of your tender compassion and your resounding truth bind all self-justification and rationalization from my heart. May I see clearly through your vision all that I have squandered in offending your goodness and in lessening my human dignity. Through an honest and thorough probing of my conscience, grant that I may flee from all that is dark and base, and even remove from me my affections for those things that cause me to stumble. May the Father run to me and may I receive the embrace and sweet kiss of his great loving mercy. May I accept the invitation to return wholeheartedly to true brotherhood with Christ. May my sorrow be deep and sincere and may my heart be truly humble and contrite. Grant that my will may become teachable and firmly resolved to reject all sin and temptation. O Holy Ghost, O Paraclete, breathe new life into my soul through this Sacrament of Reconciliation. Renew my purity so that I may worthily commune at the Father’s table and partake of the life-giving mysteries of Christ’s Eucharistic banquet. Amen.
Posts Tagged With: Mercy
Its a great song of victory for the munchkins in Munchkinland. After a long reign of oppression, the unlikely happens: the wicked witch is killed.
Today, America is singing the same song. Osama bin Laden is dead. For ten years we have tried to capture him, to put a splinter in the al Qaida regime. But I cannot join in the song. I cannot jump on that bandwagon.
There probably was no other way than to kill him. I will admit that. But still, a man was killed. A human being died. We shouldn’t take joy in that. We can take joy in that justice has been served, but we shouldn’t take joy in that it came to the point where we had to kill. It doesn’t matter what his past looks like, he is still a member of the human race whether we like to claim him or not.
When we look in the depths of our hearts, how many of us can really separate ourselves into a separate category than bin Laden? Sure, he acted upon his passions, but didn’t Jesus say that even the man who lusts after a woman has committed adultery? That anyone who hates his brother is guilty of his blood? I would venture to say that the things that lurk in the darkness of our hearts are much scarier than the things bin Laden did. And yet we all place ourselves on a pedestal above him as if somehow only we are worthy of mercy.
Yesterday, Pope John Paul II was beatified. He was a man of great moral witness. When he had an assassination attempt on his life, he forgave the man who did it. He lived God’s mercy. He realized that it isn’t just reserved for ourselves, but that it extends to all people. Bin Laden is not beyond God’s mercy. He is every bit as worthy of it as you or me.
I’m not saying that his death was a bad thing. It was most likely necessary. I’m not saying that war is always bad. But I am saying that we need to treat bin Laden with the dignity he never treated others with. If we only respect those who respect us, only love those who love us, only speak well of those who speak well of us, how are we any better than the most vile among us?
Bin Laden isn’t even the greatest threat to our country, nor is he responsible for the most bloodshed. Our greatest threat comes from within. 50 million have been killed legally in our country, under the watch of our government. In my opinion, that is a much greater travesty than anything bin Laden has done.
Eternal Father, we offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of your dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.
In Luke 16:10, Jesus tells the story about servants who were faithful to varying degrees. The servant who was faithful with the small things would be faithful with the big things. The servant who was unfaithful with small things will be unfaithful with big things. You see, fidelity is a one-size-fits-all kind of a thing. It is not really motivated by size or importance of a matter. Perhaps on the surface it is, but deep down in our hearts it is not. Either we are a person who guards what we’ve been given or we aren’t.
When God gives us a task, or we make a promise to God, it is our duty to be faithful to that. If we aren’t, we have no right to feel entitled to more. We are fallen humans, though, and we will often fail in faithfulness to God, family, friends, and humanity. But how we react to this lack of faithfulness says a lot about our character and any fidelity that maybe working on growing within us. Do we make excuses for our failures? Do we look for or create petty loopholes to justify our actions? Or do we humbly acknowledge what we have done, truly repent, and ask for mercy and forgiveness?
Trust in another’s fidelity can be difficult, especially when that trust has been breached on small things. It makes it difficult to trust with bigger things. Thankfully, there is mercy and hope in Jesus Christ.
Sometimes I feel like my whole life has just been wasted. When I think about the first twenty-one and a half years of my time on earth, I don’t see much that is of value, of what really matters. I don’t see God. I mean, he was there all along, but I don’t see any recognition, any response on my part, and it kind of bothers me. When I go up for Communion or go into the Confessional, or I pray my Rosary, I feel a sense of loss in that I haven’t always taken joy of these things, that I’ve missed out. I just feel like my life has been a big old stinkin’ pot of sewage, and that there are 21 years that I will never get back. All that time being shy or all that time spent being mischievous is just completely wasted.
The truth is, my life really was a big old stinkin’ pot of sewage. But as I’ve been riding my bike past the Fargo waste treatment plant lately, one thing I realize is that sewage can be treated, can be purified, made new again. The yucky can be removed and be made into clean, drinkable water. That’s when I understand once more what happened to me in Baptism. God washed away those 21 wasted years. He does not even remember them! When those blessed and holy waters poured over my head, I died with Christ. All the terrible things I had done and said, my lack of faith in God, my prideful will in determining my own view of God, my apathy, my fears, my idleness, all of it was buried with Christ. It hung on the cross, stinking like sewage, very displeasing to God. But when I lifted my head from that font and the waters dripped off of me like grave clothes, I was truly risen with Christ. Those things were busted and broken, conquered and destroyed. They no longer were a part of me, thrown to the wind like chafe. God no longer holds those 21 years against me. I am free from them. They are confirmed dead. God doesn’t go there, so I don’t need to either. What matters now is that I continue to strive on the path that God has set before me, set before us. And when I fail, which I do constantly, I will stand back up and walk into that Confessional and will be made “Baptism clean” once again as my sins and failures are buried in Christ and new life is breathed on me through Christ from the lips of his priests.
O God, whose only begotten Son, by his life, death, and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.
For the living, repentance is never too late. The approach to God’s mercy is open.
This week has been kind of busy and has flown by pretty fast.
I’ll start by summarizing what the rest of my weekend at home was like. It stunk. It was almost non-stop fights against my family. Religion was constantly brought up, not just by me either, and anytime I offered Catholic perspective, I was argued against. It wasn’t disrespectful, but it was on the line. I was more or less forbidden to claim that the Baptist perspective could be wrong, that I need to insist on moral and doctrinal reletivity within Christianity. That is tough for me and right now I am in a tough position. I cannot stand to be around certain members of my immediate family, and would prefer to just not go home anymore. At the same time, I feel like that would be selfish and wrong of me. What should I do?
I did go to the St. Paul Cathedral and it was pretty awesome. St. Stephen’s in Anoka, not so much. Their liturgy needs a little work. I’ve been working hard at the USDA this week and the long drives up to the field in St. Thomas has given me a lot of time to think about things. One of the things that keeps coming into mind is all of the failures and sins of my past, especially the way that I treated Catholics before. Sometimes it is hard to remember that at my Baptism all of that was forgiven and wiped away because I was Baptized into the death of Christ where sins are forgiven.
Another great thing is that I’ve been meeting more Catholics this week. On Tuesday I went to Applebee’s with some people from the Newman Center, and yesterday went to a Book Club discussion (yes, I’m a dork) for St. Joseph’s. It’s nice to meet people who are as fired up by the faith as I am. The thing I took to heart the most, though, is that my life still needs a lot of work. I’ve been focusing so much on the apologetics aspect of it, defending the Eucharist, Sacred Tradition, Baptismal Regeneration, etc., etc. that I forget that being Catholic IS not like being Protestant. I am NOT once-saved-always-saved (not that the Protestants actually get different eternal rules to play by). I need to get all my eggs in a basket and start LIVING the faith I proclaim. I need to start working out my salvation with fear and trembling. I need to truly put God as number one in my life. I mean he is number one, but only in a certain sense. I can defend him to the point of death, but that is not the same as letting him live within me.
My goal for the next week is to back off the apologetical aspect of my faith and just start living my faith because that is probably the best testimony to the faith and the best way to please God and show him that my love for him is real.
Most of us know the story of the Prodigal Son, for those of you who don’t, you can find it in Luke 15:11-32. A quick summary of the story: a father has two sons and the younger son asks his father for his inheritance. The father gives the sons their shares of the inheritance and the younger one goes off parties, lives it up, and squanders everything he has been given by his father. Suddenly things take a turn for the worse for the son as famine strikes and without his inheritance he suffers greatly, hungers, thirsts, is cold, and likely homeless. His suffering causes him to regain his senses and he knows that the servants of his father are treated better than this and he returns to his father, confesses his sins, repents and resolves never again to abandon his family. Out of joy his father gives him more than he had before, throws a grand feast and welcomes his son back with ever greater joy, love, and mercy.
I quite like to think that this illustrates quite nicely the story of our own salvation. While many of us think that the grace or inheritance we received from God is something we can never lose, this parable tells us otherwise. The son probably never dreamed that he would receive the riches of his father, but end up destitute on the streets, but he did. The same can happen for us. We receive the rich grace and mercy from the Father, through Christ, and we think we will never be without it, but we often find ourselves destitute of the grace of God when we find ourselves in mortal sin. But it’s not God who takes away the grace he gives us, but it is we who make choices and lose that grace on our own. God has given us the freedom to make choices, the freedom to do what we will with his grace. He has taken a big risk by giving us every blessing because we can squander and abuse what he holds dearly, the gifts he lavishes upon us. I try to make it clear that it is not God who takes away our grace and salvation, it is we who lose it when we make poor choices like the Prodigal Son.
But the best part of the story is that the Prodigal Son returns to his father to repent of and confess of his sins. The father rightly could have given his son a lowly position as a mere servant. In fact the father rightly could have turned his Son away and sent him back to the streets. But he didn’t, he embraced him, welcomed him home and restored his son’s inheritance. In the same way we crawl back to God, we confess, we repent. God has every right to send us away empty handed, but he doesn’t. His rich love and mercy restores our grace and salvation to us. God is infinite in mercy and grace and so no matter how many times we fail, how many times we screw up, God is waiting for our return so that he can restore our grace, give us more mercy, give us Christ. But we have to return. We have to repent, or else we have lost our salvation, not because God has taken anything away, but because somewhere along the way, we set the grace down so that we could pick something else up and grace is a delicate thing and it was lost, by our own fault.
You are rich in grace and mercy. Show your mercy to those of us who have lost the grace we were given freely. Restore us to eternal love and help us to make better decisions in the future, to embrace the grace you have given to us. In Christ we pray, Amen.
Midafternoon prayer today had this reading from Scripture:
Conduct yourselves reverently during your sojourn in a strange land. Realize that you were delivered, not by any diminishable sum of silver or gold, but by Christ’s blood beyond price: the blood of a spotless, unblemished lamb.
-1 Peter 1:17b-19
I need to remember that this life, this world is a journey through a strange land. And I was bought at an invaluable price. All the riches in the world could not afford the blood of Christ, not one drop. Yet it is offered to us by God. Therefore we must be careful to conduct ourselves reverently to keep the name of Christ’s blood untarnished. Our behavior must reflect the value that Christ has and if we don’t, it would be better for us to disassociate with Christ altogether. And this is where works comes into the picture of salvation. I know that none of us will conduct ourselves reverently 100% of the time, but we must do our best. And when we fail, we MUST humble ourselves and confess and seek out the grace and mercy of the Lord. If we don’t, we show that we do not value the blood of the spotless, unblemished lamb and we rightfully have no place with him. And if we have no reverence for the blood of Christ, blood infinitely more valuable than our own, how can we say we respect the value of our neighbors and ourselves? If Christ is worth little, we are worth even less.
We are utterly sorrowful for forsaking the blood that purchased us through our irreverent acts, words, and thoughts. We resolve Lord to live a life that expresses the value of Christ.
Saints of Heaven,
We appeal to you, who have gone before us and endured and suffered through this world to attain salvation in Christ. Pray that we might be granted the graces necessary to live a reverent life.
Jesus Christ, Spotless Lamb,
We are truly sorry for making a mockery of your blood. We will strive to live more reverent lives that reflect your worth. Unblemished lamb, impart your mercy and your grace on our souls. Amen.
I turn to Romans, which is pretty much my favorite book of the Bible. In chapter 7, St. Paul talks about how he does not do what he wants to do, but does what he hates. I think that this is something that many of us understand well, or at least experience it quite often. This morning I was just reflecting on my sinful nature, and how I still continually fall into sin, even though my heart desperately desires to honor, love, obey, and follow Christ. I constantly ask myself what I can I do to kill the rebellion that lives in my heart. But I realized that perhaps I am asking the wrong question. Maybe I should ask, “how do I reconcile my love and my hate?” “How do I live with this rebellion while remaining faithful to God?” We have to be aware of our surroundings, for one thing. We have to always know what is going on, being aware of the influences on our hearts, souls, and fleshes. That is the only way we are going to know that sin is trying to strike us. We always have to pray without ceasing. And when we do fail, we have to be ready and humble enough to confess our failures to God. We have give it our all, we have to follow Christ to the the best of our abilities, to the point of death, sacrifice, and/or suffering. Even then, none of us will be worthy of the promises of Christ. We will have to rely on the grace, mercy, and love of our Father to make up for what we lack.
But we have to remember, and I think that this is really important, that this grace, which can cover a multitude of wrongs, should not be abused to the point where we do not put in an effore to live for God, because that is not love, the love that Jesus commanded us to have for God. Action, obedience, good deeds: they are not a reccomendation or a suggestion. They are a requirement for our faith. Our faith must break out of the secret rooms of our hearts, it must fall off our lips in more than just sound, but in action. If we are to be the light of the world, people need to see the light that is in us, not just take our word that it is there.