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Posts Tagged ‘Reparation’

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

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All Souls’ Day, November 2nd

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2011/10/29 at 10:10 AM

• Today, my friends, is a beautiful day of prayer for Catholics around the world. While it is the day that we remember our deceased loved ones, it is also a day in which we are called to meditate on the gift of eternal life.

• And so while the vestment I wear is black to symbolize our mourning for the dead, it is trimmed in silver to remind us that in our mourning, we are called all the more to bear witness to our hope in the resurrection of all men.

• Throughout the course of our 2000 years of history, the Catholic Church has always recognized the pastoral necessity of praying for the deceased as a means of helping them on their way to Heaven.

• Yesterday at Mass I spoke a bit about purgatory, and I mentioned how purgatory is not so much a place of punishment, but rather is a manifestation of God’s great love and mercy for us.

• While it’s true that the souls in purgatory suffer, it is so they can be perfected and thus prepared for the joys of Heaven!

• I also mentioned that purgatory is necessary for those of us who have maintained a spiritual friendship with God and desire to be in union with Him, but who have failed to make sufficient reparation for our sins or who still harbor some attachment to sin.

• As Catholics it is of utmost importance that we realize the utter devastation of sin, even those little sins that we think no one notices.

• Yesterday I mentioned how God has an image of who He wants us to be in this life. But sin makes us less than who we are called to be. It deforms our natural goodness and strips us of our dignity as people made in God’s image and likeness.

• Moreover, all sin separates us from God and from one another. It weakens the love we have for God, and in the case of mortal sin, it actually destroys that love for God within us.

• Our Lord, who loves us in infinite fashion, shows us nothing but love and benevolence throughout out lives. And sin is a rejection of His love; and therefore every sin is an injustice against God.

• In order to help correct this injustice, we must do penance to make reparation for our sins. That’s why a priest gives us a penance whenever we go to confession.

• Furthermore, throughout our lives we should seek constantly to make reparation for our sins. And this is why traditionally the Church has encouraged Catholics to give up meat on Fridays, and why the Church asks us to fast during Lent.

• These acts of sacrifice are a means for us to make reparation for our sins, to correct the injustice we’ve committed against God. Penances also help to break our attachments to sin.

• If at the time of our death we are in a state of grace and not in a state of mortal sin, but still have not made sufficient reparation for our sins, our Lord allows us to be purified in the fires of purgatory so that whatever sin remains within us may be burned away.

• I think a helpful analogy is to think of a bride on her wedding day. Every bride goes to great lengths to be as beautiful as she can be for her bridegroom on her wedding day.

• In the same way, purgatory is like the morning of our eternal wedding day. The suffering that we undergo in purgatory is how we are prepared for our bridegroom and the wedding feast of Heaven!

• However, as Catholics we believe that we cannot do anything to help ourselves once we are in purgatory. Therefore, we must rely on the prayers of others to help purify us.

• We do this in a primary way at funeral Masses. You see, my friends, the primary purpose of a funeral Mass is to pray for the repose of the soul of the deceased person. The prayers of every funeral Mass are geared toward this intention.

• Catholics are also encouraged to have Masses offered for their loved ones, and many of you are very faithful to this practice.

• But we also have All Souls Day, which is the day set aside each year to pray for all the dead.This is the way the Church ensures that all the poor souls in purgatory are receiving prayers.

• This day occurs right after All Saints Day in order to highlight the connection between the three states in which the Church exists.

• Yesterday we honored all of the saints in heaven, and as Catholics we believe that there is a very real bond that exists between us who are living on earth and the saints in heaven. The communion of the faithful does not dissolve simply because some of the faithful die.

• As Catholics we believe in the communion of all the faithful of Christ: those who are pilgrims on earth, the dead who are being purified, and the blessed in heaven.

• We believe that together we all form one Church; and we believe that in this communion, the saints are always attentive to our prayers. They forever intercede for us from Heaven for our good and the good of the entire Church, and we refer to them as the Church Triumphant.

• But at the present time some of our Lord’s disciples are pilgrims on earth. This is us, the Church Militant. Others have died and are being purified in purgatory, and we refer to them as the Church Suffering.

• Just as the Church Triumphant prays for us, the Church Militant, so too must we, the Church Militant, pray for the Church Suffering so that they may become the Church Triumphant.

• Our prayers, sacrifices and penances can greatly aid the souls in purgatory, and thus the Church instituted today’s feast for that very purpose.

• And so, my friends, we meditate today on God’s promise of eternal life for those who love Him, and pray that all those who have gone before us may obtain the pardon of their sins, the help of God’s grace, and life everlasting.

• Let us assist the deceased with our prayers, and let us also pray that when we die our hope for eternal life may be fulfilled as well! Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them! Amen.

Copyright 2009 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

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