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Posts Tagged ‘Forgiveness’

“Know how to forgive one another”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2016/07/15 at 12:00 AM
How very insistent the Apostle Saint John was in preaching the mandatum novum, the new commandment that we should love one another. I would fall on my knees, without putting on any act – but this is what my heart dictates – and ask you, for the love of God, to love one another, to help one another, to lend one another a hand, to know how to forgive one another. And so, reject all pride, be compassionate, show charity; help each other with prayer and sincere friendship. (The Forge, 454)

Our Lord Jesus Christ became incarnate and took on our nature to reveal himself to mankind as the model of all virtues, ‘Learn from me,’ he says to us, ‘for I am meek and humble of heart.

Later, when he explains to the Apostles the mark by which they will be known as Christians, he does not say, ‘Because you are humble.’ He is purity most sublime, the immaculate Lamb. Nothing could stain his perfect, unspotted holiness [1]. Yet he does not say, ‘You will be known as my disciples because you are chaste and pure.’

He passed through this world completely detached from earthly goods. Though he is the Creator and Lord of the whole universe, he did not even have a place to lay his head. Nevertheless he does not say, ‘They will know that you are mine because you are not attached to wealth.’ Before setting out to preach the Gospel he spent forty days and forty nights in the desert keeping a strict fast. But, once again, he does not tell his disciples, ‘Men will recognize you as God’s servants because you are not gluttons or drunkards.’

No, the distinguishing mark of the apostles and of true Christians in every age is, as we have heard: ‘By this’, precisely by this, ‘shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’

(Friends of God, 224)

[1] cf John 8:46

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“With your help, Lord, I’ll fight”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2016/02/05 at 12:00 AM
Mary’s humble song of joy, the Magnificat, recalls to our minds the infinite generosity of the Lord towards those who become like children towards those who abase themselves and are sincerely aware that they are nothing. (The Forge, 608)

Don’t forget that the saint is not the person who never falls, but rather the one who never fails to get up again, humbly and with a holy stubbornness. If the book of Proverbs says that the just man falls seven times a day, who are we poor creatures, you and I, to be surprised or discouraged by our own weaknesses and falls! We will be able to keep going ahead, if only we seek our fortitude in him who says: ‘Come to me all you who labour and are burdened and I will give you rest.’ Thank you, Lord, quia tu es, Deus, fortitudo mea, because you, and you alone, my God, have always been my strength, my refuge and my support.

If you really want to make progress in the interior life, be humble. Turn constantly and confidently to the help of Our Lord and of his Blessed Mother, who is your Mother too. No matter how much the still open wound of your latest fall may hurt, embrace the cross once more and, calmly, without getting upset, say: ‘With your help, Lord, I’ll fight so as not to be held back. I’ll respond faithfully to your invitations. I won’t be afraid of steep climbs, nor of the apparent monotony of my daily work, nor of the thistles and loose stones on the way. I know that I am aided by your mercy and that, at the end of the road, I will find eternal happiness, full of joy and love for ever and ever.’ (Friends of God, 131) [

For hurting daughters

In 07 Observations on 2015/12/29 at 12:00 AM

What I am writing you now is crucial for your peace of soul.

The way to heal the wounds our mothers inflicted on us is through forgiving them for causing these severe wounds.

It is difficult to forgive, but if we wish to receive our Lord’s forgiveness, we must forgive our mothers in particular.

Forgiveness is an act of the will. It is one of the most difficult things to do, but it must be done if we want mercy for ourselves and peace of soul. We will receive mercy as we mete it out.

We must be humble and remember our own faults, failings and sins. We have need for mercy and this personal need for mercy can lead us to compassionately forgive the hurts our mothers inflicted on us by their faults, failings and sins. Christ endured the sufferings we inflicted on him by our faults, failings and sins…and He who is mercy Himself, forgives us when we are sorry for our sins and ask for His forgiveness. His forgiveness enables us to be merciful towards our mothers and forgive them.

We actually are acting for our own good by forgiving them. The more we recognize our need for mercy, the easier it will for be merciful to our mothers. Your mother is in great distress as mine was as she approached the end of her earthly life.

Nothing beats the consolation of forgiving them; it brings a peace, calm and serenity to the soul, freeing us from the cancer of anger, resentment that so distress our souls.

Time does not heal anything. Only God can heal hearts. It is God’s mercy towards us that must impel us to forgive.

Pray the Our Father aloud to your mother, stressing “forgives us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Praying for both of you,

Christ the King

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2014/11/28 at 12:00 AM

As we come to the end of the year, Holy Mother Church turns our minds to what are traditionally called the 4 Last Things: death, judgment, Heaven, and hell.
In particular today we are called to meditate on Jesus Christ as the Sovereign King of the Universe, the Almighty One, Whom some day we all must face as our judge.
As we consider this moment of supreme importance, it’s obviously so very important that we are well prepared for this meeting.
The fearful part of facing Christ our King is that we are all sinners. This is one of the saddest realities of humanity. All of us are marked not only by the original sin of Adam and Eve, but we have also committed countless personal sins.
While, no doubt, we have also pleased our Lord with our good and virtuous acts, most of us have committed at least some sins that merit hell.
But while the fact that we are sinners is indeed a sad reality, it is not the most fundamental human reality.
The most fundamental human reality is that we are created in God’s image and likeness, and that despite our sinfulness, God still loves us and wants to save us!
So while Jesus is a just judge, He is also our merciful Savior. And if we are truly sorry for our sins and seek forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, then His mercy is ours!
But there is one little caveat to our Lord’s mercy: If we wish to enjoy God’s mercy, then we must be merciful in turn. If we wish to be forgiven, then we must forgive. The Gospels bear this out for us.
In the 6th chapter of Matthew, just after He has taught His disciples the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus says to them: “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”
In the 18th chapter of Matthew Jesus tells the parable of the unmerciful servant who, even though he had been forgiven his debts to his master, refused to forgive debts owed to him. Again in this passage Jesus makes it clear that our failure to forgive nullifies our Lord’s forgiveness for us.
One thing that I think is important to note about these biblical passages is that none of them puts qualifications on forgiveness. Jesus doesn’t make any exceptions to the rule of forgiving others.
He doesn’t say that if a wrong is really great, we don’t have to forgive. In fact, when St. Peter asks Jesus: “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as 7 times?” Jesus replies: “I say to you, not 7 times, but 77 times!”
And so what we can deduce from this is that there should be no limit to our forgiveness, no matter how egregious the sin committed against us.
I bring this up today because this week with Thanksgiving we are entering into the holiday season. Between now and the new year, most of us will be having special gatherings with our families and friends – some of whom we do not see any other time of the year. This can be good or bad!
As a priest who sits in a confessional a couple times a week, I know that the holiday season – as wonderful as it is – is often a time for an increase in sins against charity!
It is an interesting reality that the ones who love us the most are the ones who hurt us the most, and vice versa. It’s very easy for the hurts and wounds that we cause each other to fester into full-blown grudges that we hold onto and nurse over the years.
From my point of view as a priest, I think there is nothing sadder that meeting a person who’s held onto a grudge for years on end and has refused to forgive and be reconciled with a loved one who has hurt him.
At the same time I also know that forgiveness can be difficult. When someone hurts us, especially if the wound is deep, then we have to contend a whole host of negative emotions that can cloud and confuse rational judgment.
Moreover, one’s sense of justice – often propped up by the vices of pride and anger – can harden one’s heart and deaden one’s conscience so that we believe that we are justified in holding onto our grudge and refusing to forgive.
Yet while we may satisfy the demands of our pride and anger, no one who refuses to forgive will ever be completely happy or at peace. That lack of forgiveness chains us to the vices of pride and anger and makes us less able to love – and less loveable.
Sadly, we all know that others can hurt us in unbelievably cruel ways, and when the damage that is done is serious, it cannot be ignored. So how do we move beyond our own pain to extend true forgiveness in those really difficult and painful situations?
For us to be able to forgive, we must be able to move beyond our negative emotions and to make the act of the will to love that person – even in their unloveliness. This requires virtue, specifically the virtues of courage, meekness, charity, and magnanimity.
Thus all forgiveness must begin with humility, which is the root of all virtue. When we are tempted to refuse forgiveness, it’s often helpful to take a step back and humbly call to mind all the ways we’ve hurt others.
In our humility we should cultivate the willingness to bear wrongs patiently, accepting the pain that others cause in our lives as a means of making reparation for our own sins.
Another helpful step is to pray earnestly for the person who has hurt us – for their healing and conversion – and to offer sacrifices and do penances for their sins. It’s difficult to hold a grudge for long against someone for whom you are doing penance!
Truly, if you really want to move beyond your hurts and extend forgiveness to someone who’s hurt you, you must be willing to bear and embrace the pain they’ve caused as a means of making reparation for their sins as well as your own.
This means that you must be willing to love the person who hurt you more than you love your pride. It means that you must desire his salvation more than you desire justice for the wrong committed against you.
Brothers and sisters, all of us cause wounds in others, and all of us must endure wounds from others. Sometimes these wounds can be quite painful and seemingly unable to be healed. But with Christ, all things are possible.
In order to prepare ourselves for that supreme moment when we will have to face Him as our Judge, let us ask ourselves if there’s anyone whom we have yet to forgive. Are there any grudges we’re holding onto?
If so, make the act of will here and now to let go of it. Don’t try to ignore the pain the person has caused you. Accept the pain and offer it up in reparation for their sins and yours, and as a prayer that our Lord might heal all that needs healing within them.
• In doing so we will free ourselves from a great deal of pain and misery, and we will become more like our merciful King in whose image and likeness we have been created.

 

24 November 2013

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61

Sacrament of Confession is not a ‘torture chamber’

In Uncategorized on 2014/03/13 at 12:00 AM

“Confessing our sins is not going to a psychiatrist, or to a torture chamber: it’s saying to the Lord, ‘Lord, I am a sinner,’ but saying it through the brother, because this says it concretely. ‘I am sinner because of this, that and the other thing.’”Pope Francis opened his homily by reflecting that for many believing adults, the idea of confessing one’s sins to a priest is either so unbearable that they completely avoid the Sacrament, or the process is so painful that the truth is transformed into a form of fiction.

Recalling St. Paul’s words in his letter to the Roman’s from the day’s readings, the Pope noted that the apostle did the opposite, confessing publicly that “good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh,” and that he doesn’t do the good that he wants, but only the evil which he hates.

The Pope stressed that it often happens in the life of faith that “when I want to do good, evil is close to me.”

“This is the struggle of Christians. It is our struggle every day. And we do not always have the courage to speak as Paul spoke about this struggle.”

Often, noted the pontiff, we seek to justify our sins by making excuses and saying that “we are all sinners,” and that this fight “is our struggle.”

“If we don’t recognize this, we will never be able to have God’s forgiveness,” urged the Pope, “because if being a sinner is a word, a way of speaking, a manner of speaking, we have no need of God’s forgiveness. But if it is a reality that makes us slaves, we need this interior liberation of the Lord, of that force.”

Pope Francis then emphasized that the most important element for Saint Paul in finding a way out of this justification was to confess his sin to the community, noting that “he doesn’t hide it,” and that the confession of one’s sins with humility is something which the Church requires of us all.

“Confess your sins to one another,” he said, repeating the words of Saint James, not to be noticed by others, but rather “to give glory to God” and to recognize that it is only him who can save.

This is why, stressed the Pope, we go to a “brother priest,” to confess, urging that when one confesses, it must be done with “concreteness.”

“Some say: ‘Ah, I confess to God.’ But it’s easy, it’s like confessing by email, no? God is far away, I say things and there’s no face-to-face, no eye-to-eye contact,” while “others (say)‘No, I go to confession,’ but they confess so many ethereal things, so many up-in-the-air things, that they don’t have anything concrete. And that’s the same as not doing it.”

Concreteness, honesty, and the genuine ability to be ashamed one’s mistakes are all qualities needed in order to be open to the forgiveness of God, as well as the deep awareness of his love, the Pope noted.

Concluding his reflections, Pope Francis stressed that in the face of confession, we should have the attitude of a small child, because “when a child comes to confess, he never says something general.”

“‘But father, I did this and I did that to my aunt, another time I said this word’ and they say the word. But they are concrete, eh? They have that simplicity of the truth.”

Although “we always have the tendency to hide the reality of our failings,” the Pope noted that “there is something beautiful: when we confess our sins as they are in the presence of God, we always feel that grace of shame.”

“Being ashamed in the sight of God is a grace. It is a grace: ‘I am ashamed of myself.’”

When we think of this kind of shame, the Pope stressed, “We think of Peter when, after the miracle of Jesus on the lake, (he said) ‘Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinner.’”

National Catholic News Agency

Credit: Marianne Medlin/CNA.

Christ’s Message is Mercy

In Uncategorized on 2013/04/03 at 6:19 AM

For this Mercy Sunday, and excerpt from a previous Sunday re God’s Mercy

The Gospel narrates the story of the adulterous woman whom the Pharisees want to stone. Instead, Christ forgives her, and those who accused her disperse, intimidated by Jesus’ bending down to write on the ground with His finger.

In his homily, the Holy Father recalled that, before this story, Jesus had retired to the mountain to pray and later had gone down to the Temple where everyone listened to him. In the end, they left him alone with the woman. “Jesus’ solitude!”, he said. “It is a fruitful solitude—both that of His prayer with the Father as well as the other, so beautiful, … of his mercy toward this woman. This is the Church’s message today.”

“There is a difference between the people,” he continued. “On the one hand are the people who come to listen to him and before whom He takes a seat and teaches. These are the people who want to listen to Jesus’ words; the people with open hearts, in need of the Word of God.” Nevertheless, “there were others who didn’t listen, who could not listen. Among those were the ones who had gone to him with that woman, wanting him to condemn her. … I also think we are like this people who, on the one hand want to listen to Jesus, but, on the other hand, at times, like to be cruel to others, isn’t that right? To condemn others, right? This is Jesus’ message: mercy. On my part, I say it with humility; this is the the Lord’s strongest message: mercy. He himself said: ‘I did not come for the righteous’. The righteous can justify themselves. … Jesus came for the sinners.”

For example, think of the gossip after the call of Matthew: ‘but that one keeps company with sinners!’ And He has come for us, when we recognize that we are sinners. But if we are like the Pharisee before the altar—’Oh God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector.’—then we do not know the Lord’s heart and we will never have the joy of feeling this mercy! It is not easy to trust in God’s mercy because it is an incomprehensible abyss. But we must do it!”

The Pope explained that sometimes people say to priests: “’Oh, Father, if you knew my life you wouldn’t say that.’ ‘Why? What have you done?’ ‘Oh, I’ve done bad things.’ ‘Good! Go to Jesus; He likes you to tell him these things. He forgets. He has the special ability to forget. He forgets them, kisses you, embraces you, and tells you only: ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.’ He only gives you this counsel. A month later we are the same … We return to the Lord. The Lord never tires of forgiving us, never! We are the ones who get tired of asking forgiveness. Let us ask for the grace to never tire of asking forgiveness, because He never tires of forgiving us. Let us ask for this grace.”

VIS 130317

“If God Didn’t Forgive Everyone, the World Would Not Exist”

In Uncategorized on 2013/03/22 at 12:00 AM

Vatican City, 17 March 2013 (VIS) – “Never forget this: the Lord never tires of forgiving us. Have you thought about the patience that God has with each of us?” These were the words that Pope Francis addressed to the nearly 200,000 people who had travelled from around Italy and from around the world in previous days to be able to live this first Angelus with the new Pope.

The event lasted only 15 minutes, many of which passed in attentive silence from the people assembled. “If God did not forgive us all, the world would not exist,” the Holy Father affirmed. The Roman Pontiff, Francis, spoke only in Italian. In the crowd, on his father’s shoulders, three-year-old Francesco said, in his child’s language: “I like. My Pope.”

The Holy Father commented on the day’s Gospel reading, the passages that recount the story of the adulterous woman. “God’s face is that of a merciful father who is always patient. … He never tires of forgiving us if we know how to return to him with a contrite heart. ‘Great is the Lord’s mercy’,” was the new Pope’s profound message. He combined his written text with spontaneous, off-the-cuff comments, which were full of good humour. Following is the complete text of the Pope’s words.

“Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!”, the Pope began. After our first meeting last Wednesday, today I again give my greetings to you all! And I am happy to do it on Sunday, the Lord’s Day! This is beautiful and important for us Christians: to meet on Sunday, to greet one another, to talk as we are doing now, in the square. This square that, thanks to the media, takes on worldly dimensions.”

“In this Fifth Sunday of Lent, the Gospel presents us with the story of the adulterous woman whom Jesus saves from being condemned to death. It captures Jesus’ attitude: we do not hear words of contempt, we do not hear words of condemnation, but only words of love, of mercy, that invite us to conversion. ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more!’ Well, brothers and sisters! God’s face is that of a merciful father who is always patient. Have you thought about God’s patience, the patience that He has with each of us? That is His mercy. He always has patience, is always patient with us, understanding us, awaiting us, never tiring of forgiving us if we know how to return to him with a contrite heart. ‘Great is the Lord’s mercy’, says the Psalm.

“In these days, I have been able to read a book by a cardinal—Cardinal Kasper, a talented theologian, a good theologian—on mercy. And it did me such good, that book, but don’t think that I’m publicizing the books of my cardinals. That is not the case! But it did me such good, so much good… Cardinal Kasper said that hearing the word mercy changes everything. It is the best thing that we can hear: it changes the world. A bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just. We need to understand God’s mercy well, this merciful Father who has such patience… Think of the prophet Isaiah who asserts that even if our sins were scarlet red, God’s love would make them white as snow. That is beautiful, [this aspect of mercy]. I remember when, just after I was made bishop, in 1992, the Madonna of Fatima came to Buenos Aires and a large Mass for the sick was celebrated. I went to hear confessions at that Mass. Near the end of the Mass I got up because I had to administer a confirmation. An over 80-year-old woman came up to me, humbly, very humbly. I asked her: ‘Nonna [grandmother]—because that’s how we address our elderly—Nonna, you want to confess?’ ‘Yes’, she told me. ‘But if you haven’t sinned…’ And she said to me: ‘We have all sinned…’ ‘But perhaps the Lord will not forgive you…’ ‘The Lord forgives everyone’, she told me, with certainy. ‘But how do you know that, ma’am?’ ‘If the Lord didn’t forgive everyone, the world would not exist.’ I wanted to ask her: ‘Tell me, have you studied at the Gregorian [Pontifical University]?’, because that is the wisdom that the Holy Spirit gives: the inner wisdom of God’s mercy. Let us not forget this word: God never tires of forgiving us, never! ‘So, Father, what is the problem?’ Well, the problem is that we get tired, we don’t want to, we get tired of asking forgiveness. Let us never get tired. Let us never get tired. He is the loving Father who always forgives, who has that heart of mercy for all of us. And let us also learn to be merciful with everyone. Let us call upon the intercession of the Madonna who has held in her arms the Mercy of God made human.”

After praying the Angelus, the Pope greeted the tens of thousands of faithful who overflowed St. Peter’s Square: “Thank you for your welcome and your prayers,” he said. I ask that you pray for me. I renew my embrace to the faithful of Rome and extend it to all of you who have come from various parts of Italy and the world just as to those who are joining in with us by means of the media. I have chosen the name of the Patron Saint of Italy, St. Francis of Assisi, and this reinforces my spiritual ties to this land that, as you know, is where my family originated. But Jesus has called us to be part of a new family: his Church. [He has called] this family of God to walk together the paths of the Gospel. May the Lord bless you and the Virgin protect you! And don’t forget this: The Lord never tires of forgiving. We are the ones who tire of asking forgiveness.”

The Pope’s final words to the crowd gathered in the square were greeted with deafening applause: “Have a good Sunday and enjoy your lunch!” They were only 15 minutes, a quarter of an hour that, for many thousands, held a stronger interest than the other two competing activities taking place in Rome today: the city’s marathon and the Quirinal Palace’s open house.

VIS 130317

Prodigal by Fr. Reid

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2012/09/08 at 9:11 AM

• Shortly before he died, the great Dutch artist Rembrandt painted one of his most beautiful works, which is entitled The Return of the Prodigal Son. While the original version of this painting is in St. Petersburg, Russia, we have a copy of it in our confessional, which I encourage you to visit!

• In this painting we can see a young man in tattered clothing and sandals, kneeling before his elderly father, leaning his head into the father’s breast in repentance. And the father, in turn,embraces the son with his age-stiffened hands in an act of sublime mercy.

• This story, of course, is the subject of today’s Gospel. And it’s a marvelous Gospel story, isn’t it? I love this Gospel because it reminds us that there is always hope for the sinner.

• This story tells us clearly that no matter what we’ve done in life, we have a loving Father who will always take us back with compassion. This should give us all great comfort!

• While there are many angles from which we may look at the Gospel, I want to focus today on the aspect of reconciliation and forgiveness that forms the heart of this Gospel story.

• St. Thomas Aquinas tells us that God’s omnipotence – the fact that He is all-powerful – is most perfectly and fully expressed in His mercy. In other words, God’s uses His omnipotence in order to forgive us our sins.

• It’s a powerful thought, is it not? To think that of all the ways that our Lord could manifest His omnipotence, He uses it to forgive us and reconcile us to Himself. We see this symbolized today in the person of the father of the prodigal son.

• Despite the numerous sins committed against him by the son, when he sees his son coming from afar he runs after him; and in that moment sin and mercy meet. And the mercy of the father is so overwhelming that the son can barely finish the confession he has prepared.

• And not only does the father forgive, but he calls the servants to bring him new clothes, sandals, and a ring. He orders the slaughter of the fattened calf and a party ensues, for the father wishes to rejoice in the reconciliation he is now experiencing with his son.

• Brothers and sisters: This is how our God deals with us. This is the God we worship! This is the God we believe in.

• Yet we cannot see in the father simply an image of our Father in heaven; we must also see in him a model for us to follow in forgiving others.

• One of the more difficult parts of life is learning how to handle the hurts and offences that occasionally occur in our dealings with others. Because we humans are flawed and sinful, we often hurt one another: sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally.

• But regardless of whether the people who hurt us mean to do so or not, our duty as Christians is to forgive always. For the true Christian, there can be no conditions on forgiveness.

• We must be willing to forgive, even when the person who hurt us has no remorse or contrition, even when the person who hurt us does not desire our forgiveness.

• Indeed, to harbor grudges and to hold on to past slights is truly a very selfish act that will never do anything for us except make us miserable. Anyone who holds onto a grudge in this life will never be happy and peaceful.

• Rather, we must always seek to be peacemakers, looking for ways to reconcile with those who have hurt us.

• And the reason we must forgive is simple: it’s because God has forgiven us. As St. Paul tells us in the second reading today, God has reconciled us to Himself through Christ. God does not count our trespasses against us but seeks to be reconciled with all of us.

• In turn, we must have the wherewithal to get over our selfish and proud emotions and extend that same mercy to others. For indeed, my brothers and sisters, if we don’t forgive others inthis life, we have no reason to expect that our Lord will forgive us in the next.

• Moreover, when we humble ourselves enough to forgive those who have hurt us, we are freed from the bondage caused by our negative emotions. Forgiveness makes us free. It increases charity within our hearts. And best of all, it makes us more like God.

• Contrast the father in this story with the older son who is holding on to his grudge. Who is happier? Who is more at peace? Who would you rather be?

• But this Gospel today is not simply about the mercy of the father; it is also about the conversion of the son. The son undergoes a powerful change of heart in this parable in order to be reconciled with his father, and we must be willing to do the same.

• Yet keep in mind that conversion always comes at a cost. Pain is always involved because conversion of any kind is a matter of dying to self in some measure.

• It was not easy for the son to change. It was only the terrible misery of his condition that forced him to take the courageous steps to free himself from the slavery into which his sin has cast him

• But like the son, we must be willing to recognize our sinfulness. We must recognize the ways we have hurt others. We must learn to admit our wrongs and failures. We must be willing to ask for forgiveness. And we must be willing to make amends.

• In his misery the son recognizes how he has wronged his father. The son then decides to admit his wrong and ask for forgiveness, and he is willing to become his father’s hired worker in order to make reparation for his sin.

• Likewise, we must be willing to take these difficult steps when we hurt others. While doing these things can be very painful, they are necessary. And we cannot allow our pride get in the way of trying to reconcile with those whom we’ve hurt.

• Like the prodigal son we must humbly acknowledge our wrong-doing and seek reconciliation with those around us.

• But above all, we must seek reconciliation with God and with His Church, as St. Paul encourages us to do. While it’s so very important that we make peace with one another, we must also be willing to reconcile with our Lord through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

• Confession cleanses us from sin; it makes us a new creation, as St. Paul says. Confession reconciles us with God and with His Church. And it helps procure for us the grace to avoid future sins.

• Along with prayer and frequent worthy reception of Holy Communion, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is the best preparation we can make for Heaven.

• My brothers and sisters, is there anyone in this world in need of your forgiveness? Is there anyone against whom you are holding a grudge? If there is anyone in your life who needs forgiveness, then grant it and experience the freedom and peace that forgiveness brings.

• And if there is anyone to whom you owe an apology, then make it. Humble yourself, admit your wrong-doing, and do your best to make amends. Life is too short for us to be at odds with one another, and eternity is too long for us to spend it separated from God.

• So let us all reconcile with one another while we still have time in this life.

• But most importantly, let’s make it a point to reconcile ourselves with our Father in Heaven, and with His Church. And in so doing, let us each become a new creation in Christ.

Copyright 2010 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC

Justice and Mercy: As Relevant Today as Ever

In 04 Fr. John McCloskey on 2012/05/31 at 9:11 AM

by Father John McCloskey

The late Father Richard Neuhaus spoke of the sex-abuse scandal that broke out almost 10 years ago in the American Church as “The Long Lent.” I think he would have been astonished to know not only that it has not completely ended here (although we may finally be in the endgame), but that this sickening plague went viral into Ireland and continental Europe, bringing down not only abusing priests and religious but members of the hierarchy implicated in cover-ups that destroyed families and crippled dioceses. In the U.S., recent sexual scandals have also brought down several well-known media priests familiar to the readers of the Register through radio, television or personal appearances. And scandal has seriously hampered the operations of a well-known modern religious congregation whose late founder sadly was found to be a fraud and accused of several grave sexual crimes.

This is the background against which we need to look at the interplay of two very important virtues especially relevant for the Catholic laity today: justice and mercy.

The long history of the Church has seen, as Archbishop Sheen put it, “a thousand Crucifixions and a thousand Resurrections.”

If I were to propose two principal causes for the priestly sex-abuse scandal, I would point to a profound misapplication of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and the secularization of the West.

Both coincided with exhaustion from the wars and genocides of the last century, leading people to look for pleasure and security as ends in themselves — and thus making them ripe for the “Dictatorship of Relativism,” as Pope Benedict terms it, which inevitably leads to violence, sexual license and (as C.S. Lewis put it) “The Abolition of Man.”

Should all of this shock us?

Well, in one sense, perhaps, but not fundamentally, if we understand human nature and the reality of original sin assumed by each one of us at conception. The truth is that only four human beings have ever been born or created without that original sin that inclines us to commit sins of our own: Adam and Eve, Our Lord and Savior, and his Mother, the Immaculate Conception. The rest of us are born sinners.

Therefore, it would be hypocritical to be “shocked, shocked” (see Casablanca for the reference) that anyone commits even the most grievous crime. We may be disappointed and disgusted, but not surprised. After all, did not even Peter, the Rock upon which the Church is built, deny his Savior three times in his moment of greatest need? Didn’t Judas, one of the original Twelve, betray the Lord for a handful of coins?

No, as Catholics aware that our own perhaps less newsworthy sins also nailed Christ to his cross, we are called to mercy, to forgiveness.

The Lord says in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:3-12). The Church is an engine of mercy for those who see forgiveness, offering three sacraments — baptism, reconciliation and the anointing of the sick — that apply God’s grace at various times during life for those who repent of their sins.

When I was a priest at the Catholic Information Center in Washington, D.C., some years ago, I placed behind my office desk one of the great photos of the last century: Blessed John Paul the Great, whose feast day we celebrate Oct. 22, in conversation with his would-be assassin in his jail cell, whispering words of forgiveness, whether asked for or not.

Everyone who walked into my office knew that there was no sin that could not be forgiven, except the sin against the Holy Spirit that is despair of forgiveness.

In Blessed John Paul’s encyclical Dives in Misericordia (On the Mercy of God), written near the beginning of his papacy, in 1980, he foreshadowed what he exercised so nobly after the attempt on his life. There he says that merciful love for all human creatures “constitutes the fundamental content of the messianic message of Christ” (64). The scriptural passage that he more often preached upon during his pontificate than any other was that of the Prodigal Son and Merciful Father (Luke 15:11-32).

Finally, for those of you more academically inclined, I recommend a book on anger and forgiveness written by two fine Catholic men, a psychiatrist and a psychologist: Helping Clients Forgive: An Empirical Guide for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope by Robert D. Enright and Richard P. Fitzgibbons.

First appeared in The National Catholic Register on October 9, 2011.  

©CatholiCity Service http://www.catholicity.com  Re-published with permission.

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Good Friday by Fr. Reid

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2012/04/06 at 9:11 AM

• After listening to the story of our Lord’s Passion, we may be tempted to ask the simple question: why? Why did the Son of God suffer so? Why this terrible violence? Why did Jesus, Who was innocent and perfect in every way, suffer the cruel ignominy of the cross?

• At the very least His execution like a common criminal some 2000 years ago was the most unjust and heinous crime the world has ever known.

• For those of us who know that Jesus is Lord and who love Him as our savior, it is unthinkable that He suffered at our hands, and yet we know it to be true. His suffering is a truth that we cannot deny.

• The crucifixes that adorn our homes and churches, and that we wear around our necks testify to this terrible reality. Even the Sign of the Cross, that we Catholics so often make with nary a thought, bears silent and perpetual witness to man’s inhumanity to the one Man who was also God. We are haunted by the fact that man the creature murdered God the Creator.

• Regardless of when we were born into history, there is blood on our hands, for we have all sinned against the living God.

• And this sad fact begs yet another question. If Jesus truly is God, then why did He allow this? For surely God cannot be coerced or forced by even the strongest and most powerful of men to do anything. If God is truly God, then He must have chosen this.

• So why did God choose the cross? St. Thomas Aquinas gives us two answers: First, Jesusendured the shame of the cross as a remedy for sins. Secondly, He did so as an example of how we should act.

• St. Thomas tells us that the cross is remedy because “in the face of all the evils which we incur on account of our sins, we have found relief through the Passion of Christ.” Yet the cross is also an example, “for the Passion of Christ completely suffices to fashion our lives.”

• St. Thomas teaches us that “whoever wishes to live perfectly should do nothing but disdain what Christ disdained on the cross and desire what He desired, for the cross exemplifies every virtue.”

• But even more than being a remedy for our sins and a pattern for our lives, the cross is our bridge to Heaven.

• Although God created us in His own image and likeness and destined us to live with Him forever in Heaven, we forfeited our rights to our eternal inheritance through our sinfulness.

• Our sins cut us off from God; they alienate us from God and bind us to this world. Yet, through the power of the cross, we have a means for passing through that veil that separates God and man, Heaven and earth.

• And in this we see the true divinity of our Lord, for only God could take a shameful instrument of execution and make it an instrument of glory and the very key to Heaven’s gate.

• With a love that we cannot fathom, Jesus pours out His mercy upon all who seek His forgiveness. The same blood that covers our hands in guilt now covers our souls with mercy!

• And that, my friends, is why Jesus endured the cross, for without the cross we would all be utterly lost. And that is why we call today Good Friday; and it is very good indeed.

• And so, my brothers and sisters, let us all confidently approach the throne of grace to receive His mercy. Come and behold Him, our savior and our king, and let us give thanks today for the gift of His holy cross, by which He has redeemed the world.

Copyright 2009 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC