Friday, March 28, 2008

Divine Mercy, the Resurrection, and the Addict

Father John J. Lombardi
"I recently talked to a drug addict, and, point blank, he asked me why Catholics go to Confession. Here's an answer from St. Faustina and her "Diary of Divine Mercy":

"When I left the confessional, ineffable joy filled my soul so that I withdrew to a secluded spot in the garden to hide myself from the sisters to allow my heart to pour itself out to God. God's presence penetrated me and, in an instant, all my nothingness was drowned in God, and at the same moment I felt, or rather, discerned the Three Divine Persons dwelling in me. And I had such great peace in my soul that I myself was surprised that I could have had so many misgivings."

Why do we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday immediately after Easter? Because the Church wants Catholics to realize God is calling us to many graces thru the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Confession; that this Sacrament is a beautiful liberation from sin; it promotes the practicing of virtues, and it engenders a concrete entrustment to His Mercy. God says: "I have blotted out thy iniquities as a cloud, and thy sins as a mist: return to me, for I have redeemed thee" ( Is.44:22).

Now: Jesus came for three kinds of people- sinners, the sick and simple poor. Are you one of these or "outside Jesus' grasp"?

My friend the drug addict, himself detecting the "inner truth" of confession--we read St. Jas. 5:16: "Confess yours sins to one another and you will be healed"-- described the process of Confession: It's like getting garbage out of your body and soul.

That's right. So, make a confession to a priest soon! Here are five good reasons: 1.It's a Gift from Jesus: "He breathed on them and said, "receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven, whose sins you retain are retained" (Jn. 20:22-23).

2. Saints like Mother Teresa and her Missionary of Charity of Sisters went regularly. She said: "Confession is humility in action. We call it penance but is really a sacrament of love." So: shine like the saints.

3. Get the garbage out. 4. Practice the Latin maxim: Bonum diffisum est-Good is diffusive of itself. When you are clean and free you help others be the same. 5. More graces can adhere in your soul if you are more sanctified.

One of the saddest things in our Catholic Church these last few decades is the rejection of Confession. This "spiritual staple" of the spiritual life is so grace-filled and yet so neglected today. Always remember, as complicated as life can sometimes be, The Three C's of The Spiritual Life: frequent Confession, Communion and Communication (prayer). Don't let your past mistakes be a present problem: entrust yourself to Jesus and his Church appointed priest-minister, the priest (cf. also Mt. 16:18), and Reconcile.

You may still be granted an indulgence, which is a release of the punishments of sin in the afterlife … granted by Pope John Paul II for the devout observance of the Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday). The Decree of the Holy See offers: "a plenary indulgence, granted under the usual conditions (sacramental confession, -Eucharistic communion and prayer for the intentions of the Pope) to the faithful who, on the Second Sunday of Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday, in any church or chapel, in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin, take part in the prayers and devotions held in honor of Divine Mercy, or who, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved in the tabernacle, recite the Our Father and the Creed, adding a devout prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. 'Merciful Jesus, I trust in you!')." (Source:Marians of the Immaculate Conception Website.)

**************************************************** The Bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ is vitally important -"The Resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ" (# 638). Many today want to deny the bodily resurrection. The "Catechism of the Catholic Church" emphasizes the bodily Resurrection, this way, in paragraphs # 638-655:

"Historical and Transcendent event"; "The empty Tomb"; "The Appearances of the Risen One," "Christ's Risen Humanity" …Given all these testimonies, Christ's resurrection cannot be interpreted as something outside the physical order, and it is impossible not to acknowledge it as an historical fact…Therefore the hypothesis that the Resurrection was produced by the Apostles' faith will not hold up. On the contrary their faith in the Resurrection was born, under the action of divine grace. From their direct experience of the reality of the risen Jesus" (#643-44).

Jesus Christ, in His Bodily Resurrection, triumphs over …

Sin: If Jesus didn't bodily rise from the dead, sin would have the last word of destroying the God-Man, and us. "If Christ has not been raised then your faith would be in vain" (I Cor. 15:14). Sin deforms, Christ's Resurrection transforms. A few years ago a pilgrim was driving by the Grotto on Rt. 15, headed for Washington. All of a sudden he looked up and saw the golden Mary statue-glistening-- and decided to stop. Driving up he wondered if a priest was around. After seeing the beauty of the belltower statue he realized a desire to make a confession. Sure enough, yes: the man found a priest, made a Confession and continued his trip. He was a changed man. Because Jesus rose from the dead in a glorified body, He gave the Apostles the ability to forgive sins. Simple spirits or "good causes" alone don't do this. Jesus' Resurrected body triumphs over sin: There is a holiness to beauty and beauty to holiness-it radiates.

Corruption-our bodies decay, but Jesus' didn't. Impassiblitiy is an attribute of Christ's glorified body. It means suffering no longer-in body or spirit. He gives us hints of re-vivified bodies here on earth thru "tastes of the resurrection". I recently witnessed one of God's miracles in life. Last Fall I went to see a lady in the hospital, who is a wife and mother, and in just giving birth was possibly dying. I didn't recognize her: she was sedated, medical tubes all over her, beeping monitors, purplish-colored skin, and covered by so much medical technology I could barely see her. I tried talking to her without a response, so I simply blessed her, leaving, thinking a worst-case-scenario. I left a note to her and her husband. A few months later I got a call from her friend: she was recovering and back home. Recently she came to the Grotto and with her large family, she received Holy Communion. "Lazarus revisited"! I was astonished by this "resurrection hint": no traces of suffering, but, oppositely, a serene face and courtly walk, no wounds or scars, a kind of gentle radiance about her-- she overcame all to live…How can you feed off of Jesus thru thanking Him at Mass, Holy Communion, prayer?

Death. "The wages of sin is death" (Rm. 6: 23). Lazarus was risen from the dead but, unlike Jesus, he died again. Jesus definitively overcomes death's power by His physical Resurrection. Death, which is a result of sin, has no ultimate power over Jesus, or us. Last Winter a pilgrim's husband died suddenly. She was grieving one morning when she heard the nearby Church bells ringing. Immediately she forgot her troubles and heard Jesus-she went to Mass and encountered the Crucified and Risen One. Death was transformed and her whole day changed. Likewise, another widow heard her husband say, just before his death-"You can always find me at the altar." Jesus Christ Risen transforms death.

Don't stop celebrating: Easter is not only an event, it is a Season, a state of mind and soul-by "knowing the power" of the Resurrection, St Paul says (Phil. 3:10). For Fifty Days, until the Ascension, we celebrate Jesus' Easter-saving-power and his promise. So: recall the saying, "Out of the tomb and into my heart." Catholics not only think about this, but concretely act upon it by the Five S's of the Spiritual Life: -Sacraments, Scriptures, Silence (prayer), Service, Saintly inspiration. These are ways to invite, embrace and immerse yourself in the Resurrected Jesus.

Meister Eckhart, a medieval German Dominican, lover of creation and the Creator, once described a kind of resurrection process: "Out of the ground the rod grows which is the soul in her purest and highest. It shoots out of this primal ground at the breaking forth of the Son from the Father. Upon the rod opens a flower. The flower is the Holy Ghost Who will rest and repose there." … Jesus hints of this indwelling Trinity in Jn 14:26, and St Paul hints it in Rm. 8:11. God desires a dwelling within us. As we know the Resurrection was historical-it happened way back then, and physical--disciples touched His wounds. But: this does not negate His resurrection power affecting us today--internally, metaphysically. Resurrection can also be a state of mind and ongoing conversion: endless Love generated within us. After all, St Paul himself wanted to know the power of the resurrection even though he didn't experience it historically, physically. Are you allowing God's "Primal Ground" and Life to be the foundation of all your thoughts, words, deeds? St Paul intimates an Eckhartian conversion by giving up selfish self to gain the "rod" of his soul in God, as he says: "With Christ I am nailed to the cross. I no longer live, I, but Christ within me" (Gal 2:19-20). Allow Christ and the Whole Divine Trinity to flower forth and live within you. Rest and repose there. (cf. Mk. 6:31). Become part of the Resurrection.

St Gregory of Nyssa counsels: "If by a diligent life of virtue, you wash away the film of dirt that covers your heart, then the divine beauty will shine forth in you." -May the Divine and Beautiful One, the Resurrected Jesus Christ, shine in and thru you to others."

Source: The title has been modified for posting purposes