I like to consider myself a Catholic Christian. These are some of my stories and observations.
I like to consider myself a Catholic Christian. These are some of my stories and observations.
“Man is not what he thinks he is, he is what he hides.” – Andre Malraux
I am not sure how the conversation came up in the widow/widower support group I belonged to at the time. It may have been due to the impending presidential election and everyone speaking their minds, but one widower in our THEOS group spoke up. “I am pro-abortion,” he said. It seemed that Fred had been a policeman in St Louis and his experiences in finding the dead bodies of aborted babies in the street hardened his heart to wanting abortion to be legal.
“Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.” (Psalm 25:5)
I cannot explain how seeing the dead bodies of babies in the street would make legal abortion something to be desired. Was it because it became his job to dispose of the bodies that he wanted abortion clinics to handle the mess? I did not ask. All I remember is his saying, “I felt so sorry for those women having to do that to themselves.” Yet he had no sorrow for the babies that lay dead in the streets of downtown St. Louis. I guess it is easier if you do not have to see the dead bodies and it makes abortion nothing more than blobs of unwanted tissue. But Fred could tell what they were. He could see they were dead babies. And he was sure that legal abortion was the answer to the problem.
“These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace;” (Zechariah 8:16)
So just what do these safe legal abortion places do with the bodies? In the 70s and 80s, it was common for prolife groups to find the bodies thrown into the dumpsters in the back alleys behind the abortion clinics. Like so much unwanted garbage, they were left there usually in defiance of laws against the indiscriminate dumping of medical waste. Grizzly reminders of what the fruit of abortion truly is. The humble members of the pro-life movement devoted themselves to properly handing and burying the dead. As word of the shocking discoveries were made and an outcry against these practices arose, abortion clinics began to buy large industrial size garbage disposals. According to the various abortionists, even when it became illegal to dispose of the bodies this way, laws were lax and compliance not strictly enforced. Therefore, they continued to use the garbage disposals since it was much cheaper than using the services of a funeral home or crematorium. The aborted infant’s remains would be flushed into the garbage dispose, down into the sewage system where the water was transferred to a waste water treatment center and the water recycled into the city’s water supply. Unfortunately, they still had problem of getting the bigger second and third trimester babies to go down into the garbage disposal. Ultimately, their goal was to find the cheapest and easiest means of getting rid of the bodies.
“Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you.” (Jeremiah 1:4-5)
Renee Chelian, executive director of an abortion clinic in Detroit, Michigan, at the 2014 National Abortion Federation conference in San Francisco, complained about having too many infants remains to dispose of, for which she stated she could have up to five-months-worth of aborted infant remains in her freezer at any one time. She disliked her need to use the garbage disposal and she discussed how the various abortion clinics should unite and buy a parcel of land in Detroit on which to build an incinerator and share the costs of disposing of the bodies. Ironically, she apparently never thought of how much this process would resemble the Nazi death camps and crematoriums. The audience laughed with her when she stated she wanted to drive to some desolated place in the woods, build a bonfire where no one would see her and dispose of all those unwanted bodies.
“Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to death; don’t stand back and let them die. Don’t try to disclaim responsibility by saying you didn’t know about it.” (Proverbs 24:11-12)
How and when exactly someone discovered they could make a profit from the bodies is unclear. They started to harvest the organs and sell them to medical supply companies. The demand for baby parts was huge and the profit even bigger. Like Nazis who found a way to use the skin of dead Jews for lamp shades, abortion clinics found a way to make an even greater killing off the baby’s dead bodies. When the sick nature of the process was exposed by the Center for Medical Progress, the members of the team exposing the crimes by workers at Planned Parenthood were themselves arrested and sued. The obvious videos were declared ‘edited’ in order to discredit the truth provided. And once again the plight of the disposal of the dead went silent.
“The Lord hates hands that shed innocent blood.” (Proverbs 6:16)
In Vietnam, a courageous man named Tong Phuoc Phuc decided it was wrong for the bodies to be simply thrown into the garbage or flushed down the sewage system He asked for and received the bodies of the aborted and then began to give them a proper burial. He has literally buried over 11,000 of little aborted babies, saying, “It is the least I can do.” He then began to speak to women going in for abortions. He takes in up to 35 young pregnant women at a time in his small humble residence where he and his wife help them until after the baby is born. Some have dropped off their children for Tong to raise making it a large orphanage as well. His home has become a pro-life haven.
“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18)
As a result of the pro-life movement and the finding of the babies in the dumpsters, numerous memorials to the unborn child have arisen though out our nation. It is possible for all who desire to honor the babies lost to abortion and miscarriage with simple memorials as a reminder that even the smallest of mankind touches the lives of us all. It is a small act of healing for our hearts and the mission for which we are called, to show compassion to the least of our brothers and sisters in life and in death.
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelations 21:4)
Also, I would not drink the water in Detroit if I were you.
I fled Him, down the nights, and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine days
Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears;
– From ‘The Hound of Heaven’ by Francis Thompson.
“Who would want him?”
The question took me back a bit. The person speaking to me meant well. He is a good person, but his question showed a lack of understanding.
“Really, Mary, who would want him?”
“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6)
He was speaking about Collin and how I was afraid he might be kidnapped on one of his many escapes. Who would want him? I mentioned how there were so many perverts who steal a child.
He answered, “Oh yeah, I didn’t think of that.”
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7)
He looked at Collin through the prism of what his ideal of a perfect child should be. Downs is not perfect. In his world view, only healthy perfect children were worthy of being wanted. His children are perfect beautiful people. Collin is not. The sad part is that they no more want to know Collin than they want to see him as God sees him. It is only when we open our hearts to love, that we see what God sees.
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,” (Ephesians 1:18)
Collin is not the perfect child. Collin has a disability but by the love of God who may allow a child a disability, He also gives him a great strength and that strength is love. No greater power in heaven and on earth exists. It is the essence of God himself. Collin’s innocent capacity to love is greater than any so-called normal child and it makes him more like God than you and I. Who wants him? I want him because he is mine and I love him.
“to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Christ.” (Acts 26:18)
There are times when Collin tries my very soul. I am pushed the edge of my patience. There are times when I honestly wonder if I can go any further. It is in these times that I must turn to God and ask, “How often have I pushed you to the limit of your patience with me?” “How often did you wonder at the limits of faithlessness as I ran from you?” And I know that these are the moments when I have to get on my knees and thank God for all He has done for me. Collin has become the Lord’s instrument in pulling me back to Himself.
“What are mere mortals that you should be mindful of them, of human beings that you should care for them?” (Psalm 8:4)
And just what is it that we see when we look into the mirror? We were lost and in deep pits of despair. Our sins were as red as blood. We were filthy as the blackness that tainted our souls. Just who would want us? We come searching for our savior with scars of pain and abuse. We look for help around us and find none. Where do we finally turn when there is no where else to turn? And why, just why would this perfect creator want us? There is nothing we can do to pay for our sins, far too great a price it is not possible. Yet, the perfect lamb of God steps in and offers himself in our place. Why, because we are his and He loves us. He wants us.
“But God showed his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
In India, in one of the poorest areas of the world, the dying laid in the street unwanted and unloved. Who would want these people? Yet when St. Teresa of Calcutta picked up the dying from the streets, cared for their wounds, washed the dirt from their bodies, every act of love she and her sisters accomplished were never looked at as touching the abysses of humanity’s filth but as washing the body of Christ, tending to the wounds of Christ and lovingly caring for Christ himself. They chose to not look upon the imperfect of the world as undesirable but as Jesus in disguise. In inner locutions and visions, Jesus would plead with Mother Teresa, “Come be my light, I cannot go alone.” Apparently, Jesus wanted them.
God makes it so easy for me. I was not called to clean lice out of the wounds of the dying in Calcutta but was given a “forever child”. A child who can show and give more love than any other so-call perfect child. My first husband, Tom, had worked with Downs adults and once when seeing a Downs young man with his parents, he told me, “See that one, the more you love those children, the better they are.” Today I would tell him, ”No, the more we let them love us, the better we are.”
Let our prayer to always be, Lord open the eyes of my heart that I may see what you see and love what you love and hate what you hate.
“Living is easy with eyes closed.” John Lennon
I met Cindy in the mid 1980’s. She was a young woman with small children and I got to know Cindy because she came to my door selling Avon. She was a couple of years younger than I was and managed to convince me that I should sell Avon as well. It was a good lesson for me in that I learned without reservations, I am not a sales person. I was very poor at selling and managed to mess up most of the orders I took. As we sat talking about life and about selling Avon, she was rather upset. It seems that in the news paper that morning, there was a ruling in the state of Minnesota, I believe, that forbid a mother from suing a drunk driver for the death of her unborn child. Cindy was livid. It seems that she had had a miscarriage fairly far along in one of her pregnancies. She spoke of how she and her husband had so longed for this baby. How they had planned for her birth. Then she was devastated when the baby died. “How dare them,” she cried. “My baby was every bit a person as any new born child. What gives them the right to say there was no victim?”
I did not want to get into any argument but I quietly answered, “As long as abortion is legal, then they can’t say the unborn baby is alive and a victim.”
Cindy’s reaction took me by surprise. Her anger took a 180 degree turn as now she was angry with me for saying something negative about abortion. I really did not say something negative though, I only stated the facts. If a mother can choose to kill her baby up until the day that child is born, then how can the state say the unborn baby is a victim in one case but not in another?
“The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous.” (Psalm 146:8)
Cindy explained how before she got married, she was working at a mall in the southeast section of Albuquerque. She had been walking to her car after the mall was closed one dark night and heard footsteps behind her. She decided to run to her car just in case someone was behind her and her instincts were dead on and her decision run was a very good one indeed. She no sooner got into her car and locked the door when a man tried to get into her car with her. He was angry that she had gotten away from him so he pounded on the driver’s door shouting obscenities. Then he jumped on the hood of her car and started banging on the front window. Terrified, Cindy gunned the car out of the parking space leaving the man in the lot behind her. There were a series of rather well published accounts in the local newspaper of a serial rapist in this area and Cindy was certain she had met him that night in the mall parking lot.
Now I was confused. She was angry for the courts ruling an unborn child is not a victim. Then she was angry at me because I said it was because of legal abortion. It was like her emotions collided head on. Cindy, I don’t think you can have it both ways. But like so many pro-abortion women before her that I had met, most are victims or as in Cindy’s case, near victims of sexual assault. I understand to a point. No one most certainly wants to be sexually assaulted or raped. It is a horrible crime that should never happen. The desire to control what happens to our body is not an abnormal response or desire – it is paramount to our wellbeing and self-preservation. The good news is that rape rarely results in pregnancy. That sad news is that it does happen and even if rarely the thought of carrying a child because of rape is terrifying.
The very thing that makes rape so horrible is that an innocent helpless person is subjected to a terrible brutal indignity that changes their life forever. Sadly, this is the same thing that happens to the unborn child in abortion. A helpless innocent person is subjected to a terrible, brutal indignity that results in their painful death – a life cut short forever.
“I will bring distress on mankind, so that the they shall walk like the blind, because they have sinned against the Lord; their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like dung.” (Zephaniah 1:17)
Even today in some states, do not allow a person to be prosecuted in the death of a preborn baby. Deaths of preborn babies are not even counted in the death toll of mass killings. Drunk drivers in these states cannot be charged with murder if an accident only kills a preborn infant. You can assault a pregnant woman and even if the baby inside of her dies, it is not murder, the charge will only be assault against the woman. If a man feeds his pregnant girlfriend an abortifacient that kills the unborn baby, it is not manslaughter.
“But whoever hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” (1 John 2:11)
We thought that we were making progress when the Unborn Victims of Violence Bill was passed and signed by President George W Bush in 2004 that defined a preborn baby as fully human. But federal law does not have jurisdiction over state laws and currently only 38 states have a similar Unborn Victim Laws. The irony is even though the bill states that the child in utero is fully Homo Sapiens – a member of the human race, it makes abortion exempt from prosecution. We are back where we started. I can kill my baby in the womb and call it choice but if you kill my baby in my womb it is murder. The result is the same, one dead baby. If murder is the taking of human life how can the intent of someone’s choice make the result any different?
“to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” (Acts 26:18)
I wonder about Cindy today and if she ever able to reconcile her two equally painful emotional experiences that collided that morning. Before that moment, she blinded herself to the truth in order to live with the conundrum that allowed her to form the opinion that life in the womb is only relevant if you want that child, that abortion is a necessary evil and then in the end analysis stay blind and try not think of it at all. It is blindness that creates the conundrum and blindness that allows it us to live with it rather than solve it.
“Then Jesus said, ‘I came into this world for judgement, so that those who do not see might see and those who do see might become blind.’” (John 9:39)
Curtesy of the National Right to Life Organization: http://www.nrlc.org
On Jan. 7, Ashley Lyons, 18, of Scott County, Ky., was found shot to death in her car. Only hours earlier, she and her mother, Carol, had watched a brand-new ultrasound videotape of Ashley’s unborn son, Landon.
“Nobody can tell me that there were not two victims,” Carol Lyons said. “I placed Landon in his mother’s arms, wrapped in a baby blanket that I had sewn for him, just before I kissed my daughter goodbye for the last time and closed the casket”
See attached picture for second story.
In both of these cases, no murder charges were filed on behalf of the unborn child. Murder? Involuntary manslaughter? Reckless homicide? No. It was not legal to do so.
States that currently do not recognize pre-birth babies as victims of violence:
Colorado, Maine, Wyoming, Delaware, New Mexico, Georgia, Iowa, Oregon, Vermont, Connecticut, Hawaii and New Jersey.
States which only have partial coverage for the deaths of unborn babies:
California, Maryland, Montana, Rhode Island, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, and New York.
“Christ does not force our will, He only takes what we give Him. But He does not give Himself entirely until He sees that we yield ourselves entirely to Him.”
St Teresa of Avila
As a Catholic, when we receive Holy Communion, we come up to the altar and then either kneel or bow before the Presence of Jesus. Then, as we take the Communion the Priest or minister will say, “Body of Christ” and we respond, “Amen”. It is a holy minute in our lives as we take within us, the body and blood of Jesus Christ. When I am going up to Communion, I hear the others saying, “Amen” and depending on whether they pronounce amen with a short a or a long a, it sometimes sounds to me as if they are saying, “I’m in”.
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-9)
Either way we say it, it would be true. Amen simply means, “So be it.” Yet, our response to the word of God made flesh is no simple trivial matter. It is a powerful acclamation of faith to our savior, Jesus. Anyone who would approach the altar of God and say, “Amen” should never be Sunday-only believers. This response to God is a declaration to believing all that the word of God teaches us. It is our defining moment in life that surpasses the notion of time and space and delivers us to the authority of Christ. I would pray that all who say, “Amen” would be on fire with love of God.
“Always carrying about in the body of the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” (2 Corinthians 4:10-11)
There are a number of people I know who live and breathe their faith. I hope to be like them. For them, it is not a matter of once a week or an occasional thing. It is the ardent desire to be possessed by the Holy Spirit, living with the blood of Christ flowing through us and doing the will of God. That is what the real “Amen” means. To seek the Lord our God with all our hearts and all our minds and all our strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. We have found the pearl of great price and there is no turning back. We have placed our hand to the plow and forward we must go. It must reach a point where we no longer live for ourselves but for Christ in us. Amen, count me in Lord.
“I know your works; that you are neither cold, nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. But because you are lukewarm and are neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth.” (Revelations 3:15-16)
Nearly seventy times in the gospel’s, Jesus begins his teaching with “Amen lego humin” or “Truly, I say to you,” as a way to declare his divinity. (In John’s Gospel, the word amen, is always doubled.) In stark contrast to the words of the prophets, “Thus says the Lord”, Jesus will say “Amen, I say to you”, asserting his authority even over the Jewish interpretations of the law. This is why the people were so engaged when He spoke because no one spoke like him. The strength of his Godly authority was in every amen.
“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless one has been reborn anew, he is not able to see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)
“Amen I say to you, certainly, until heaven and earth pass away, not one iota, not one dot shall pass away from the law, until all is done.” (Matthew 5:18)
“Again, you have heard it said to the ancients: ‘You shall not swear falsely. For you shall repay your oaths to the Lord.’ But [amen] I say to you, do not swear an oath at all, neither by heaven for it is the throne of God nor by earth, for it is his footstool, nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great king.” (Matthew 5:33-35)
We have found our purpose in life and we relish the inner peace and joy that it gives to us. What a great and awesome God we serve who brings us home and calls us his children. Amen, I’m in.
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now life in the flesh I live b faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
“’The time has come, the walrus said, ‘to talk of many things: of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings.’” – The Walrus and the Carpenter. By Lewis Carrol.
They call themselves the Ethical Society of St. Louis, MO, which is quite an oxymoron. It’s a group of people who want to appear good without God. In their minds it is a noble desire but in reality, they form their ideas of right and wrong to fit a cultural narrative. If you base what is good and what is evil without the ultimate truth, you can form ideals that may have no basis in goodness and light. Ethical then becomes not so much being good for good sake but kidding yourself into believing you have a moral superiority over others because, well, you thought long and hard about it. Such was the case when the president of the Ethical Society wrote an editorial in the St. Louis Post Dispatch defending abortion as a moral good.
“Woe to those who call evil good and evil good, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” (Isaiah 5:20)
His idea was simply that since an acorn is not an oak tree, then a fetus is not a human. Acorns, he stated were only potential oak trees and as only potential oaks not real oaks. Fetuses were the same, since they were only potential human beings, they should never be accorded the same status as ‘real’ or actual human beings ergo, this makes abortion legally and ethically correct.
“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12:24)
It is a wonder at what point you can delude yourself into thinking a human pre-birth baby is anything like an acorn, much less use such an allegory to base an ethical decision on life or death. He tells us, we are to imagine, that a growing fetus who within nineteen to twenty days of conception has a beating heart, a heart which will beat until that person dies, is not a living human being. And somehow this human, ‘potential’ life is not to be valued or respected. Even though it is estimated that one in 10,000 acorns actual start growing into a tree, according to this person, we are to believe that the acorn’s potential to be a tree is all that it is, potential and not real and human life can be perceived as such.
“During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town in Judah, where she entered the home of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby in her womb leaped and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the child in your womb. Why am I so favored that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.” (Luke 1:39-44)
Mary went in haste to see Elizabeth since the Angel Gabriel told her, Elizabeth was six months with child and the presence of Jesus in Mary’ womb – only seven to ten days after his conception caused great joy to the baby, John the Baptist, in Elizabeth’s womb. Two babies in the womb made a spiritual connection in no way possible if merely seeds.
If we apportion potential to something or someone to decide its value, then it becomes possible to say that babies that are born alive are not adult humans, they only have the potential to be adult humans, like any oak that sprouts in garden where it is not wanted, it may be weeded out since it is not a fully mature oak tree. At what point do you draw the line. Potential can always be the something that someone has not yet achieved making that someone less valuable or even valueless.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
It was not because we had the potential to be his followers but because even as we are, Christ loved us unto his death.
The discussion of life becomes like so much shrubbery, a nice hedge if that is what you want. Did he forget to mention that there is nothing unethical about chopping down a growing oak tree? It nowhere invokes the feelings one has about babies and children. A nice touch if you want to de-humanize a living growing baby in the womb. I could assure them that this growing life is every bit as real as you and me if they would but look at the ultrasounds and study the science. But it is not ‘real’ that they are looking for, it’s the potential they seek.
“Because God did not make death, nor does He rejoice in the destruction of the living. For he fashioned all things that they might have being; and the creatures of the world are wholesome.” (Wisdom 1:13-14)
An acorn is a beautiful thing especially to squirrels, but even as a most beautiful stately tree, it will never possess the spirit of a human being. It will always be a plant and any resemblance to human life is ridiculous at best and smug and arrogant at the worst. Without the ultimate truth in our lives, we are reduced and deluded into such nutty positions attempting to justify a terrible evil for our own uses or benefits.
“Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” (Psalms 127:3)
“Did not He who made me in the womb make him, and the same one fashion us in the womb?” (Job 31:15)
This ‘Acorn Philosophy’ is nuts.
“Now for something completely different.” – Monty Python
Sing for me, O broken heart, that symphony of grace.
Sweet melodies of memories of their presence and their face.
Longings unfulfilled, the lyrics I want to share,
Echo loud vibrations that they’re no longer there.
Death has a way of changing things in ways quite unseen.
It changes ordinary memories into a concert fit for a queen.
It twists the loving past into discordant cords of sorrow
Yet we cling to them even more than we look for the tomorrow.
This is the song I want to sing, the refrain I want to share,
This was the opus of loved ones gone, that whisper in the air.
Death cannot take this song from me that I have left to cherish,
I will sing my song of love for them until the day I perish.
Someday the one who conquered sin, will return to conquer death.
He wrote the song of love when he gave his own life’s breath.
So, sing for me, O broken heart, that symphony of grace
Until the song is finally sung and I have finished the race.
“Conversion is never once and for all but is a process, an interior journey through the whole of life.” – Pope Benedict XVI
I was thanking a friend at church for praying for my son, Collin, to find a job. Our prayers were recently rewarded. She answered, “Oh, praying is easy, it’s the penance that is hard.” I had not thought about it like that, but she was right. It costs us nothing to come before the throne of Christ begging except the humbling of our hearts knowing that there is nothing we can do on our own and faith that our prayers are heard and our sins forgiven.
“Repent your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of God is near.” (Matthew 4:17)
But penance, that is another story. I have had so many say to me, that penance is unnecessary since God forgives freely. This is true. His forgiveness is free. It flows from a heart so in love with us, He desperately wants above all to take our sins and cleanse of our impurities that we may draw close to our Beloved. But penance is not paying God back for our forgiveness. Penance is the humble heart before an all deserving God, a heart that knows sin is incompatible with the glory of God and that no one can stand before the throne of God with sin on their soul. Penance is the sincere desire to give up the sin and avoid all that lures us away from the grace of salvation, born in a heart broken and contrite. The desire for forgiveness is empty without the desire to sin no more. It would be like a husband who continually cheats on his wife and offers little more than empty apologies and broken promises. There is a difference between being sorry that we are caught in a sin and sorry because of the deep fracturing of our relationship to God because of it. The more we open our hearts to God, the more we desire to do penance if for no other reason than to draw closer to the forgiving and loving heart of Christ.
“Therefore, produce fruit consistent with repentance.” (Luke 3:8)
“I preached the need to repent and turn to God and to do works giving evidence to repentance.” (Acts 26:20)
Lent is a beautiful season for introspection and deep soul searching. It is a time to truly reflect that we were made of dust and to dust we will return. It is a chance to ponder the limit to our days on earth and God’s purpose for our creation. Only by surrendering the hollow activities that fill our time, can we truly give our undivided attention to our Beloved. It is the graceful dance of love, where when we waltz too far away our Beloved, He comes to us with open arms to take us back. Penance is our reentering the dance.
“and man has no advantage over the beast; but all is vanity. Both go back to the same place; both were made from dust and to the dust they both return.” (Ecclesiastes 3:19-20)
“Lord, let me know my end, the number of my days, that I may learn how frail I am.” (Psalm 39:5)
Christ did not say, to “Follow me,” for us to sit out the dance. To follow is to move with him. It is not a ‘one time, stand up and say a prayer, then sit down or go elsewhere’ deal. We are truly called to follow his footsteps. To not join in the dance is our terrible loss. St. Theresa of Avila was once allowed to see and feel the place in hell she would have occupied if not for the salvation of Christ. As bad as it looked to her, it was not as horrible as the hopeless anguish it caused her soul. Yet, she counted the vision as mercy saying,
“How could I possibly take any pleasure in those things which led me directly to so dreadful a place? Blessed forever be Thou, O my God! and, oh, how manifest is it that Thou didst love me much more than I did love Thee! How often, O Lord, didst Thou save me from that fearful prison! and how I used to get back to it contrary to Thy will.” *
“Now I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because your grief led to repentance. For you were grieved as God willed, so that you didn’t experience any loss from us. For godly grief produces a repentance not to be regretted and leading to salvation.“ (2 Corinthians 7:8-10)
Like the proverbial frog in the pot, our spiral out of grace is comprised of the compromises to sin we make each day, till we reach that point of hopeless anguish. But all is not lost, as God’s mercies are new each day. He comes knocking at our door, looking to see, if you would like to dance?
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him and he with me.” (Revelations 3:20)