I cannot mistrust the grace of God

Sir Thomas More and his Daughter 1844, exhibited 1844 John Rogers Herbert 1810-1890 Presented by Robert Vernon 1847

And, therefore, my own good daughter, do not let your mind be troubled over anything that shall happen to me in this world.  Nothing can come but what God wills.  And I am very sure that whatever that be, however bad it may seem, it shall indeed be the best.            -St. Thomas More

Today’s feast of the martyrs Saints John Fisher and Thomas More was the perfect day to have Padre Martin Scott join us on the radio.  His religious community, Siervos de la Divina Misericordia, is dedicated to the Divine Mercy, and he spoke with us today about learning to love God and trust in His mercy and forgiveness by being merciful and forgiving ourselves. It was a great show, and we encourage you to listen here on iTunes.  We never tire of talking with Padre!

As we talked about in the beginning of the show, this second reading from today’s Office of Readings (for today’s optional feast), is a beautiful lesson in trust, taken from a letter St. Thomas More wrote to his daughter Meg from prison. (The English Works of Sir Thomas More, London, 1557, p. 1454)

Although I know well, Margaret, that because of my past wickedness I deserve to be abandoned by God, I cannot but trust in his merciful goodness.  His grace has strengthened me until now and made me content to lose goods, land, and life as well, rather than to swear against my conscience.  God’s grace has given the king a gracious frame of mind toward me, so that as yet he has taken from me nothing but my liberty.  In doing this His Majesty has done me such great good with respect to spiritual profit that I trust that among all the great benefits he has heaped so abundantly upon me I count my imprisonment the very greatest.  I cannot, therefore, mistrust the grace of God.  Either he shall keep the king in that gracious frame of mind to continue to do me no harm, or else, if it be his pleasure that for my other sins I suffer in this case as I shall not deserve, then his grace shall give me the strength to bear it patiently, and perhaps even gladly.

By the merits of his bitter passion joined to mine and far surpassing in merit for me all that I can suffer myself, his bounteous goodness shall release me from the pains of purgatory and shall increase my reward in heaven besides.

I will not mistrust him, Meg, though I shall feel myself weakening and on the verge of being overcome with fear.  I shall remember how Saint Peter at a blast of wind began to sink because of his lack of faith, and I shall do as he did: call upon Christ and pray to him for help.  And then I trust he shall place his holy hand on me and in the stormy seas hold me up from drowning.
And if he permits me to play Saint Peter further and to fall to the ground and to swear and forswear, may God our Lord in his tender mercy keep me from this, and let me lose if it so happen, and never win thereby!  Still, if this should happen, afterward I trust that in his goodness he will look on me with pity as he did upon Saint Peter, and make me stand up again and confess the truth of my conscience afresh and endure here the shame and harm of my own fault.

And finally, Margaret, I know this well: that without my fault he will not let me be lost.  I shall, therefore, with good hope commit myself wholly to him.  And if he permits me to perish for my faults, then I shall serve as praise for his justice.  But in good faith, Meg, I trust that his tender pity shall keep my poor soul safe and make me commend his mercy.

And, therefore, my own good daughter, do not let your mind be troubled over anything that shall happen to me in this world.  Nothing can come but what God wills.  And I am very sure that whatever that be, however bad it may seem, it shall indeed be the best.

Saints John Fisher and Thomas More, pray for us

Our sins, God’s mercy

It’s Spy Wednesday, the day when Judas spied out an opportunity to betray Jesus. Each of us has something in common with him, since we have all made our own will, our own desires, into idols. But that isn’t the end of the story because we can turn to God’s Mercy and begin again.

Here’s something to think about as we prepare for the Sacred Triduum.

 

Discover Your Sacred Story

tumblr_mhwetq3sCl1rrutr7o1_400Don’t you just love it when God keeps reminding us of something everywhere we turn.  Yesterday the Holy Father announced an extraordinary holy year, a Jubilee Year of Mercy. This morning during the Office of Readings we couldn’t help but smile at the second reading from St. Gregory of Nazianzen, which was all about mercy:

The Lord of all asks for mercy, not sacrifice, and mercy is greater than myriads of fattened lambs. Let us then show him mercy in the persons of the poor and those who today are lying on the ground, so that when we come to leave this world they may receive us into everlasting dwelling places, in Christ our Lord himself, to whom be glory for ever and ever. 

And then the Gospel at Mass confirmed it again as we heard the publican’s humble prayer “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”

The holy year will be organized by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization because, the Holy Father says, it is the mission of the Church to bring everyone to the Gospel of Mercy.  Truly, to encounter Mercy is to encounter Christ, Who is Mercy itself.  The devil lies to us, telling us that our mistakes and the sins we have committed throughout our lives have the final word.  The truth is Christ has the final word, and it is a word of mercy – if we are willing to accept it and turn from sin.

But how can we tell others of the renewing power of God’s mercy if we ourselves haven’t experienced it?  We can’t.  Everyone’s life has been touched by the merciful love of God, Continue reading

Throwing open the doors of Mercy

Pope Francis goes to confession, Friday March 28th, 2014.Last week Pope Francis asked the universal Church to join him in “24 Hours for the Lord”, a time when each diocese should throw the confessional doors wide open and encourage the faithful, and the not-so-faithful, to take full advantage of the loving mercy of God by going to confession. Our archbishop responded by opening St. Francis of Paola Church for 24 hours of confessions, beginning yesterday evening and ending today at 6:30pm. (There’s still time to go if you haven’t been to confession lately.)

Confession heals our blindness, it helps us to “see” God rightly: merciful, loving, eager to forgive. Yet, just as I can’t accept an apology from someone if I don’t first admit they’ve hurt me, so too, God can’t forgive us until we acknowledge our sinfulness. Like the man born blind in today’s Gospel, we need healing of our sight – or rather our insight – to see our sins with clarity. Regular confession helps us grow in self-knowledge, so that we can move beyond just confessing our sins, but uncovering their roots. Many of us know the oppressive weight of carrying unconfessed sins on our soul. Thanks be to God, it doesn’t just end there – we can also know the freedom and hope that accompanies absolution.

It’s easy to feel warm and fuzzy about God when we’re flying high and filled with gratitude for His mercy, but the truth is He loves us no less when we have thrown that loving mercy back in His Sacred Face by our sins. The remembrance of His enduring love can give us the courage to return to confession, to make reparation for our sins, and most importantly, to receive His forgiveness. And once we have been forgiven ourselves, we are called to become, to paraphrase the Holy Father, ambassadors of mercy to others. God is not a hoarder; His generosity knows no bounds, and He wants us to be intimately involved in spreading His generous mercy to others.

Click here to read his homily from the penance service at St. Peter’s.

Holy Thursday

As religious especially dedicated to Our Lord’s Eucharistic Presence, Holy Thursday takes on even more meaning. It may seem odd to celebrate just as the Triduum is about to begin, but in our order this day is one of special celebration and solemnity. What took place in the Upper Room over 2,000 years ago is central to our vocations. Where would we be were it not for our Lord’s words “This is my body.” The Heart of the Church is the Eucharist, precisely because it is Christ’s Heart, alive and beating in our midst, feeding us daily.

It has been our community’s custom on this day to ask one another’s forgiveness for any hurts or offenses we may have committed, whether willingly or unwillingly.  Forgiveness is what Christ’s Passion gained for us, it is only right that we should begin the Sacred Triduum by ourselves asking forgiveness.  So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Mt 5:23-24)

Our midday meal is better described as a feast.  The joyful celebration of the day stands in stark contrast to the solemn silence which descends on the monastery after the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.  We are reminded that the joys of the day exist only in relation to, and because of, the unspeakable suffering and death Our Lord willingly endured for our sake.  Indeed, our vocation, because it is intimately tied to His Eucharistic Presence, could not be without his Passion.

Pope Francis’ First Angelus

Video


Today Our Holy Father Francis gave his first Angelus address to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square.  [He makes his appearance about 5 minutes into the video]

Click here for the English translation of his address.

Ash Wednesday

The Man of Sorrows by William Dyce

As, when upon His drooping head
His Father’s light was pour’d from heaven,
What time, unsheltered and unfed,
Far in the wild His steps were driven,
High thoughts were with Him in that hour
Untold, unspeakable on earth.

When William Dyce’s painting, The Man of Sorrows, was exhibited in 1860, those words were inscribed around the frame, taken from the poem Ash Wednesday written by his friend John Keble.

Another excerpt from the poem reads:

Thus oft the mourner’s wayward heart
Tempts him to hide his grief and die,
Too feeble for Confession’s smart,
Too proud to bear a pitying eye;
How sweet, in that dark hour, to fall
On bosoms waiting to receive
Our sighs, and gently whisper all!
They love us–will not God forgive?

The greatest way to begin our Lenten journey is to make ourselves vulnerable before God, not hiding our sins or our failings (He already knows what they are anyway) but bringing them to Him in confession.  Then we can feel that sweetness of which the poet speaks.  When we pour out our broken hearts before God, He, in return, pours into them the healing balm of forgiveness, mercy and grace.