Tag Archives: Repentance

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Urgency and Mercy

Day 31 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

Urgency and Mercy

‘I have eternity for punishing sinners, and so I am prolonging the time of Mercy for the sake of sinners. But woe to them who do not recognize this time of My visitation! (1160)

‘A strange power has been pushing me into action, not giving me a moment’s peace. A strange ardor has been lit in my heart, urging me to action and I cannot stop it.’ (569)

How can we not experience the disquiet of St. Faustina?

We live between the ‘now’ of Mercy and the ‘not yet’ of God’s judgment.

‘Mercy is a sign of the end times; after it will come the day of justice.’ (848) Souls hang in the balance. Our lives are prophetic, a testament to Mercy and the hard truth that those who refuse it have hell to pay. If that does not inspire a holy urgency on our part, what will?

We must allow the Spirit of Mercy who is also the Spirit of judgment to rouse us on behalf of souls—to teach us to pray in unexpected hours, and to follow His lead in connecting with the wayward.

He also teaches us to bear His grief on behalf of wickedness and to cry out for Mercy. We are Mercy’s advocates, imploring Him to have Mercy on perpetrators of evil before their judgment is sure. Each of us can do so according to His lead and our limited capacity to bear such grief.

Here we must be alert to our own defenses, the self-protection that cries peace when there is none. If we seek to bear grief over evil with Him, our lives will be disrupted. We will taste the urgency of the hour that will inspire a deeper cry for Mercy in us. For me that urgency applies to sexual brokenness in both the Church and in the world.

In His Mercy, Jesus called me out of homosexuality many years ago. It was at the onset of the ‘gay rights’ era and I could discern even then the powerful drive to include practicing homosexuals on all fronts, including ‘marriage’ and church office.

Taking a step back, one can see ‘the gay agenda’ as a symptom of a greater evil: the devastation of God’s image in humanity. Friends with ‘benefits’, ‘no-fault’ divorce, Internet porn as foreplay to the sexual abuse of children, contraception and abortion—all the ways in which we made sex our little game to manipulate at the cost of human life and dignity—that is the fault-line of ‘personal rights’ on which gays aspire to be equal opportunity offenders.

And the Church, which upholds the truth of God’s will for our sexual humanity, has failed to live out that truth. As never before, the glare of worldwide scrutiny is on the Church for its mishandling of sexually and spiritually abusive priests.

Shepherds eat the sheep and bishops cry peace. The Church fails to discipline her own, so the state steps in to protect kids from creepy priests. The bishop of Kansas City just became the first to be indicted by a Grand Jury for failing to remove a charming pedophile priest. Devastating. Is it any wonder that the percentage of American priests who have abused children corresponds with the 3% of citizens who claim to be gay? The sins of the fathers are passed down…

‘What business is it of mine to judge those outside of the Church? Are you not to judge those inside? ‘(1 Cor. 5:12)

‘If I say, “I will not mention Him or speak anymore in His Name”, His Word is like a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.’ (Jer. 20:9)

‘Have Mercy, Jesus. We have all contributed to the devastation of human dignity through sexual brokenness. Have Mercy on us all; do not pay us back as our sins deserve. Reclaim lives from the fire of ‘lust and greed, which is idolatry.’ (Eph. 5:5)

Mercy also on Your Church, as You allow her to be judged in this hour. Let Your severe Mercy have its perfect way in her, that she might be restored as a bright and pure fount of Your Mercy. Receive our repentance in this hour, merciful King, that You would be unashamed to dwell in Your house.’

Author’s note – Each day’s entry is based a passage from St Faustina’s diary. The passage entry is the number in parentheses at the end of each opening quote or simply a page number in parenthesis. Diary of St Maria Faustina Kowalska – Divine Mercy in My Soul (Association of Marion Helpers, Stockbridge, MA 01263) is available through the publisher or Amazon.com.

Boldness and Mercy

Day 30 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

Boldness and Mercy

‘If the Lord demands something of a soul, He gives it the means to carry it out; through grace, He makes it capable. At the Lord’s command, the soul can undertake things beyond its expectation if God’s power and strength, which makes the soul courageous and valiant, are manifest within it.’ (1090)

‘Your assignment on earth is to beg Mercy for the whole world.’ (570)

Jesus gave St. Faustina a bold calling: to immerse souls in the flood of God’s Mercy at Calvary. Prayerfully, she brought the miserable, the deserted, those deadened by sin and suffering into the Wound that heals—Jesus abandonment on the Cross, His Mercy pool of Blood and Water.

Jesus implored her to share His yearning for the lost. He thirsted for souls to partake of the fruit of His suffering. He wanted none to perish, for all to be saved. He gave her a share in that thirst and in that suffering. She boldly cried out for souls to turn to that Mercy. She persisted day and night in her intercession for souls. He goaded her:

‘Urge all souls to trust in the unfathomable abyss of My Mercy, because I want to save them all.’ (1182)

A bold call, and a bold claim on St. Faustina’s part: Jesus Himself chose her (among others) as His merciful ‘life-line’ for the lost. She believed Him resolutely and proceeded to pray boldly.

For her obedience, she endured constant attacks from ‘holy’ colleagues, which she quietly understood as nothing short of demonic resistance. She knew that the devil hated prayerful confidence in the God of Mercy; if he could discourage or distract the prayerful, souls would be lost to Mercy. So she fell to her knees and cried out for Mercy, enduring the scorn for the joy set before her–Mercy being released to the miserable, hers, mine, ours.

Consider the joy of her child-like warrior heart: she knew that the Father honors bold faith and answers those who persist in agreement with His heart. And what could be more in accord with that Heart than for souls to be liberated by the Mercy that cost Him everything?

Jesus asks for our bold prayers too. And like St. Faustina, we will be subject to terrific warfare. We are rescuing lives from the clutches of evil! We do well as prayer warriors to follow Jesus’ command ‘to go boldly to the throne of grace to receive Mercy, and grace to help us in our time of need.’ (Heb. 4: 16)

Embattled prayer warriors need Mercy! Tending toward the mystical, we vertical ones can lose sight of our own humanity and the impact of the battle upon us. We need normalizing relationships that are arms of this Mercy. These truth-tellers help us acknowledge our humanity and keep us grounded in our need for love.

God takes no delight in mystics who ‘spiritualize’ human need, those yearnings of the heart and body which must be worked out on earth. We do well to seek merciful others for our wounded humanity. They free us to stay pure and true to our bold call to implore sinners to discover Mercy themselves.

Such ‘grounding’ takes a shrill, otherworldly edge off our prayers. They begin to resonate with merciful tones for the suffering of others, imploring Jesus to prepare us His bride to become rich and practical in Mercy. How else will the sin-sick find a place in the Mercy pool if the Church doesn’t exhibit such Mercy?

‘O Father, make Your Church glorious, rich in Mercy and purity, winsome to all who seek an answer to our hope. Show them the Mercy You have shown us; make us evident, shining bearers of Mercy. Enfold the lost through us, O God. In agreement with You, we want none to perish. You delight in the death of no-one. (Ez. 18:32) Through merciful repentance, may many find life in Your house.’

‘For Zion’s sake, I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake, I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch…

I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, and give Him no rest till He establishes Jerusalem, and makes her the praise of all the earth.’ (Is 62:1,6,7)

Author’s note – Each day’s entry is based a passage from St Faustina’s diary. The passage entry is the number in parentheses at the end of each opening quote or simply a page number in parenthesis. Diary of St Maria Faustina Kowalska – Divine Mercy in My Soul (Association of Marion Helpers, Stockbridge, MA 01263) is available through the publisher or Amazon.com.

Mercy Rising (on trembling legs …)

Day 22 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

Mercy Rising (on trembling legs…)

‘I know that the grain of wheat must be ground between millstones in order to become food. In the same way, I must be crushed in order to be useful to the Church and to souls.’ (641)

Jesus is crushed to become for us the Meal of Mercy; death precedes life, first for Christ then for Christians. Only our death is not fatal. The Risen Lord invites us to die to our props and illusions; He grants us Mercy then resurrects what in us pleases Him.

St. Peter illustrates well these necessary losses. I love that man. He embodies the zealous, unrefined, and teachable soul better than any other. Jesus loved Him dearly, in light of his blindness—‘You shall never die, Jesus!’ his fear and unbelief—‘Jesus, I will follow You on the water; help, I am drowning here!’, and his arrogance—‘Jesus, you shall never wash my feet!’

Jesus loved Peter in all of his stumblings, and set him aright each time.

Jesus entrusted Peter with the keys of the Kingdom—forgiveness, the binding and loosing of sin. Does that not make sense in light of the Rock’s many failures?

To whom would you be more apt to entrust your sin—a seamless saint or a sinner made holy through Mercy alone? Through failure and repentance unto Jesus and His forgiveness, Peter earned his place as the first to be entrusted to forgive sins in Jesus’ Name and power.

Consider Peter’s last great failure, his three-fold denial of Jesus prior to Calvary. Almighty Mercy turned the Apostle’s worst humiliation inside out; He made it the basis of His three-fold call for Peter to love and feed His sheep.

The Resurrected Christ elevated the humbled Peter as the Church father of forgiveness, His man of Mercy for sinners like you and me. On trembling legs, with extended hand, we the members of the one body are wise to follow Peter’s lead. Let Mercy overflow from the depths of vacated sin.

‘The Church is founded on forgiveness. Peter is a personal embodiment of this truth, for he is permitted to be the bearer of the keys, after having stumbled, confessed, and received the grace of pardon. Behind the talk of authority, God’s power appears as Mercy and thus is the foundation stone of the Church.’

Pope Benedict, Called to Communion

‘Simon Peter, Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you, Peter, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’ (Lk.22:31, 32)

‘Jesus, we agree with You that sin crushes us. Thank You for not crushing us as a penalty for our sin; thank You for granting us Mercy. Only in Mercy can we repent and come to a full knowledge of the Truth. You are that Truth, Jesus. In the words of Peter, where else will we go? You are the key to our lives, the antidote to our sin and the secret of a future lived in union with You. Make us Merciful, as You were merciful to Peter and to us. Like Peter, may we represent well the truth that ‘Mercy is the foundation stone of the Church.’ ‘

Author’s note – Each day’s entry is based a passage from St Faustina’s diary. The passage entry is the number in parentheses at the end of each opening quote or simply a page number in parenthesis. Diary of St Maria Faustina Kowalska – Divine Mercy in My Soul (Association of Marion Helpers, Stockbridge, MA 01263) is available through the publisher or Amazon.com.

Mercy’s Sacrifice

Day 21 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

Mercy’s Sacrifice

‘How sad I am that souls do not recognize Love. They treat Me as a dead object.’ (1385)

St. Paul implores us to not take Communion unworthily (1Cor. 11:27), and Church fathers echo him. Those who persist in serious sin should think twice…

How do we square this with the God of sinners, He who desires Mercy and not legalistic sacrifice? It all depends on the attitude toward our sin, and towards His Sacrifice. The main document on Holy Communion from Vatican ll urges us to foster a spirit toward the Meal which is intent on ‘cooperating with grace’.

In other words, approach the Lord’s table with a heart hungry for all the grace you need to overcome sin.

One of my most shameful and glorious memories of communion occurred early in my walk with Jesus. Simply put, I had many ‘bad’ weekends. After a regrettable night of porn and guilt, I visited my mother’s Episcopal Church. Because of fire in my heart for Jesus, the false passions were evident and ugly. The only cure was confession, so I confessed my sin. Then I realized how hungry I was for Him. I wanted Jesus, not the false gods and goddesses of this world!

Perhaps for the first time, God graced me with the miraculous awareness of Jesus in the Meal—alive, Mighty in Mercy, and yet tender, utterly tailored to my deep need for Him. Honestly, I don’t think Jesus ever seemed so near and so substantial as He did that morning in an unassuming church which spread a Table for me.

In my battle against sin, I needed the Life of Jesus in the Holy Meal. St. Faustina says it best: ‘I find myself so weak that were it not for Holy Communion, I would fall continuously.’ (1037)

Communion grants us substantial Mercy in our struggles, and thus helps make us worthy. Yet we must honor the Meal with a heart intent on becoming honorable.

St. Paul directs us to both a vertical and a horizontal uprightness in approaching Communion. He implores us to prepare our hearts for Christ’s Sacrifice.

Aware of the idolatry at Corinth—false gods worshipped through food offerings and sexual orgies—St. Paul reminds them of their vertical call to worship only One God through the Holy Meal. ‘The sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not God, and I do not want you to participate with demons…you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s Table and the table of demons.’ (1 Cor. 10: 20, 21)

Make a decision, the Apostle says: those who sacrifice to other gods are not worthy of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

Paul also exhorts the proud Corinthians who violated horizontal boundaries at Table. When they came together for Communion, the wealthy and powerful would shove aside the poor. To Paul, Love had to accompany the Meal or its Mercy had no evident meaning. He implored the good Corinthians to act justly toward those who had less, or refuse the Holy Meal altogether. (1Cor. 11: 20-22)

Mercy ingested needs to result in Mercy manifested. We may come derided by false gods, tempted to push our way through Communion and out the exit. Yet Almighty Mercy stops us in our tracks and urges us to consider His Sacrifice. He gave all to grant us Mercy. Should we not then welcome Mercy entirely, and extend it generously?

‘Do you despise the Church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? …  A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread or drinks of the cup.’ (1Cor. 11:22, 28)

‘Jesus, thank You for Your Sacrifice of Mercy. We need it now more than ever! In Your Mercy, unite our divided hearts and make us whole in one-Spirit communion with You. Free us also for merciful communion with one another. Free us to love as You have loved us. We pray also for those persisting in sin, without repentance. Open hearts to their true hunger and true home at Table with You.’

Author’s note – Each day’s entry is based a passage from St Faustina’s diary. The passage entry is the number in parentheses at the end of each opening quote or simply a page number in parenthesis. Diary of St Maria Faustina Kowalska – Divine Mercy in My Soul (Association of Marion Helpers, Stockbridge, MA 01263) is available through the publisher or Amazon.com.

 

Mercy Restores Our Inheritance

Day 13 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

‘My Heart overflows with Mercy for souls, especially for poor sinners. If only they could understand that I am the best of Fathers to them, and that it is for them that the Blood and Water flowed from My Heart as from a fount overflowing with Mercy.’ (367)

Jesus employed the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk. 15) to convey the marvel of the Father’s Mercy. No matter how much we have squandered what is best and true about our lives, the Father restores in full our inheritance when we turn back to Him.

If you recall, the prodigal son had a good and generous father who gave his son an early inheritance. The son wanted a sexier life than the one down on the farm. So he left home and squandered everything, his dignity, his money—the good of his inheritance.

I did the same. Un-affirmed as a man, I left home to seek the confirmation of ‘false fathers’ in the sensual, unrestrained world of the west coast, circa the 1970’s. The trouble? Eroticizing other broken men did not resolve my identity crisis; in truth, it worsened it. Like the prodigal, my merriment turned to misery when I realized: ‘No-one actually gave me anything.’ (Lk. 15:16)

Whatever my father’s deficits were, he gave me an inheritance—my name, my manhood, a chance to represent his legacy well. And I squandered it by giving my masculinity to those with nothing to give in exchange. Mercy alone prompted the realization of such Misery; Mercy alone provoked a turning back towards home.

Repentance seemed so feeble at first. Still a long way off, more in shadow than light, we prodigals seem unlikely to reach home. That is where Mercy finds its richest expression. The Father runs to us! He sees our halting efforts to repent and closes the gap with His presence! His very being ensures our turning and restores to us our full inheritance.

In the first few months of my return home, I recall a hard night of sin and struggle followed by a haggard visit to a church the next morning. I felt raw and defiled. Still in shadow, I was approached by a rather strange prophetic woman who came up to me and asked: “Do you know what your name is? It is Andrew, which means ‘masculine one’. You are God’s masculine son.”

I choked down tears and entered in afresh to the worship service. I learned a key lesson that day. My Father does not merely forgive my sin. In exchange for it, He gives me back my full inheritance, which for me had everything to do with His full confirmation of my manhood.

‘While the son was still a long way off, the father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.’ (Lk. 15:20)

‘Father, grant us the clear understanding that Mercy grants us the full measure of our inheritance. Show us what we have squandered; grant us faith to believe You will restore what has been destroyed by sin. Grant us eyes to see that Mercy itself provokes our return home. We pray for those who are wandering far from their inheritance. Bring them home, O God, in the power of Mercy.’   

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