“How to Build a Prayer Life that Transforms” Re-blogged


How to Develop a Prayer Life that Transforms


On Ash Wednesday a wise priest said, “For Heaven’s sake, don’t give up anything for Lent, if you’re just thinking of chocolate, coffee, alcohol, or facebook. Turn your heart to God! Free yourself of the aggravation, anger, jealousy, and hatred that separates you from him. But how, you may ask? Through prayer, daily prayer.”

Lent is a time for us all to take a good hard look at our personal regimen of prayer. Do we have one? Is it stable and ordered, or merely spontaneous, whenever we happen to feel like it? Some of us might admit to ourselves that we have never really developed one. In a world filled with constant distractions of bewildering variety, in a culture passionately committed to acquisition, celebrity, entertainment, and therapy, Christians are called all the more to communion with God through prayer.

“We pray as we live, because we live as we pray.” This wise statement from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2725) is just one of many found in Part Four, which concerns Christian Prayer. In succinct paragraphs, the Catechism explains all essential aspects of what prayer is and how and why and where we should engage in it. The text, however, is more descriptive and explanatory than prescriptive, as it should be. One prayer regimen does not fit all. “To be sure, there are as many paths of prayer as there are persons who pray, but it is the same Spirit acting in all and with all.” (#2673)

If you are interested, let me suggest a basic regimen of daily prayer, especially for those who have not yet developed one.

Following one of the earliest Christian practices, try to pray the Our Father three times per day, preferably at regular times, when you can take a short break from the day’s duties and lift your heart, mind, and soul to God, if only for a minute at a time. On the basis of the daily three Our Fathers, build up to the six daily prayers outlined below. They are tied loosely to the Liturgy of the Hours, said from dawn to dusk: Lauds, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline.

1. Upon waking, get up, face east, and pray. Christians in the first centuries usually prayed facing east, which ties belief in Christ to the universe. In the east comes the dawn, the sign of hope and God’s promise to humanity. Also, the line of the horizon and the vertical trajectory of the rising sun form the Cross of Christ written in nature and the cosmos. Extend your thanks to the Lord for the new day with your whole body, heart, mind, and soul. Devote yourself, your being and your doings to God. Offer him the day. Pray the Our Father very slowly, one word or phrase per breath.

2. Mid-morning, take a brief pause from your activities. Place yourself in God’s presence, after the teaching of St. Francis de Sales. Take a moment to recall that you are God’s creation, his child, and that without him, you would not exist. Know that he is with you, above you in Heaven looking down, alive in your beating heart, and all around you in life and nature. His infinite, loving, transcendent being includes and encompasses you. Pray a Hail Mary. The Blessed Virgin is a signpost to God, and she intercedes on our behalf. Pray a decade of the Rosary if time allows.

3. At lunch, secure a quiet moment to pray the Our Father very slowly, one word or phrase per breath. Remember that the day is his, and that the goal of the Christian life is to unite your soul to Christ’s, so that he lives in and through you.

4. In the afternoon, take a five-minute break from work and pray the Angelus. If you can take a walk for fresh air and movement, pray it then. If you can pray it during the commute, do so. Detox and get ready to return to your home, the domestic church.

5. At dinner, if you have a family, be sure to pray as one, briefly, at the table. Ask everyone their favorite moment of the day. Or ask what each is most thankful for.

6. At night against face east. Examine your conscience. Be honest about your failings this day. Place your hope in Christ, the source of all hope, for tomorrow. Pray the Our Father very slowly. Make amends with all family members before going to bed.

Again, this is just a start, but it is a manageable, ordered plan to include the Lord in your day on a regular basis.

The next step is to work in lectio divina. After the six daily prayers become so natural that you miss them if you happen to skip one, add in a special time for opening your heart to God’s word. Lectio Divina is meditative, prayerful reading of Scripture, part of religious life for more than a thousand years. Once per day, pray a Psalm or read a passage from the Gospel prayerfully. You can also use the day’s Mass readings. Prepare yourself. Ask God to speak to you, “Your servant is listening.” Then read out loud or in a slow whisper, breathing each word or phrase. Free the mind to dwell on a word or image or passage. Let the inspired text speak to your soul. Mediate on the text, contemplate the scene. Be there with Christ.

Also, when you are ready, the final prayer of the day can develop into an examination of conscience. Place yourself in God’s presence and survey the day, its virtues and sins. Discern where you did what God expects of us and where you did not. Based on those observations, make a plan for tomorrow, to stay closer to God than you were today.

The regimen above does not specify times for wishes and requests to God, which Jesus encouraged us to make in a spirit of loving, filial trust. Prayers of petition can be made at any time – the Our Father includes seven – but they can be dangerous. We should not ask things of God in order to test and see if he hears and answers them to our satisfaction.  On the contrary, instead of waiting impatiently for results, we ought to consider first and foremost whether any of our prayers are pleasing and acceptable to God! He is Father and Savior, not a means for personal satisfaction.

I don’t pretend for a moment to be a spiritual authority, but I can simply say that a regimen of daily prayer has brought wondrous graces into my life, family, and work. There is no other more compelling, rational explanation. Those who readily dismiss the efficacy of prayer really ought to try it themselves, in faith, humility, and charity. They might be pleasantly, positively surprised.

Brennan Pursell


Dr. Brennan Pursell is Professor of History at DeSales University and the author of The Spanish Match (Sophia Institute Press, 2011), History in His Hands: A Christian Narrative of Western Civilization (Crossroad Publishing, 2011), Benedict of Bavaria: An Intimate Portrait of the Pope and His Homeland (Circle Press, 2008), and The Winter King (Ashgate, 2003). http://www.brennanpursell.com

“Jesus, Our Model” by Mother Angelica


Jesus, Our Model

Jesus showed us how to act and react under every circumstance. He loved us so much that He wanted to experience all the pain, joy, suffering, weakness, and the consequences of our fallen nature.

Though He was without sin, He took upon Himself our frailties and by so doing raised us up to a higher level.

Because He experienced everything we are (sin excepted), He desired that we experience everything He is.

He merited for each of us a Divine Participation in His very Nature. Through the Power of His Spirit, who pours grace into our souls, we are now sons of God and heirs to the Kingdom.

As heirs, we must resemble the Father whose children we are. As sons, we must resemble the Son whose brothers we are. As Participators, we must resemble the Spirit whose Power makes us the Beloved of Infinite Love.

This article is from “Mother Angelica on Christ and Our Lady.” Click image to preview other chapters.

His love made Him want to be like us and our love must make us want to be like Him.

Our individual personalities must be enhanced by those parallel qualities in Jesus. If we are kind by nature, then that kindness must take on Divine Kindness by Grace, which goes beyond our natural capabilities.

Those qualities of soul that do not resemble Jesus must be changed and transformed into Him. We shall all resemble Him in different ways and this variety will glorify the Father and be an unending source of joy for all eternity.

The Christian’s goal in life is to be a perfect image of Jesus, as Jesus is the perfect image of the Father. The beloved features of the Master are ever imprinted upon the Christian’s mind. The words of the Master burn in his heart as they did in the hearts of the disciples going to Emmaus. The Christian reaches up to his Savior in an increasing act of prayerful thanksgiving for his redemption and sonship.

He looks at Jesus in His strength and tries to be strong. He sees Jesus gentle to the crowds and he controls his anger. He admires the Mercy of Jesus and he forgives seventy times seven.

He feels the Compassion of Jesus and he becomes sensitive to the needs of others.

He is humbled by the humility of Jesus and he conquers his pride.

He sees Jesus heroic, courageous, and unafraid and he is assured.

He watches Jesus as He answers His enemies in a serene tone of voice — truthful, without human respect, with perfect self-control — and he tries to be like Him.

He imitates the Master’s sense of loyalty, zeal, simplicity, nobility, and loving qualities to the best of his ability. This becomes a way of life for a Christian, for he is not satisfied with giving his God thanksgiving, he desires to give Him perfect praise by imitation.

Most of all, he imitates the Master’s way of loving — with­out counting the cost — even unto death.

“And we, with our unveiled faces reflecting like mirrors the brightness of the Lord, all grow brighter and brighter as we are turned into the Image that we reflect” (2 Cor. 3:18).

Editor’s note: This article is from Mother Angelica on Christ and Our Ladywhich is available from Sophia Institute Press

Today’s “Re-blogg”


As a child, I thought Catholics weren’t Christians. Then my mother gave me some wise advice

How my boyhood anti-Catholicism came to an unlikely end

It is embarrassing to recall that I didn’t think my grandparents were Christians. They were Catholics, you see, and so I believed that they worshipped the chipped statue of Mary that stood atop their China hutch. I must even have thought that they intended to hoist themselves into heaven with the rosaries that hung on their bedroom mirror. As an earnest young Evangelical Protestant, I set my faith against theirs.

I only realised how stark this opposition must have been in my mind when I stumbled last week across the testimony that I read out when I was baptised at age 13. Here is what I told the people who assembled on the river bank to see my immersion:

I am a second-generation Christian, and was therefore taught the truths of the Bible my entire life, but it was not until I was three years old that I entered into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. My mother was tucking me into bed and listening to my prayers. She was pregnant with my little brother Joseph, and it was this fact that sparked my interest in the Lord. “Mom,” I said, “Can I have Jesus come into my tummy, too?” My mother then led me in prayer as I accepted Jesus into my heart – or tummy, as it were. In a way, I was led to Christ by my unborn sibling.

I was a “second-generation Christian”. An unborn brother might play an unwitting role in a faith like mine, but aside from my Evangelical parents (one a former Catholic, the other a lifelong Methodist) I had no forebears in faith. Generations of Christians, my grandparents included, were neatly excluded.

When I became a Catholic, I did not cease to be susceptible to such unjust renunciations. If before I stood at risk of erasing my Catholic grandparents from my spiritual autobiography, I now faced the same risk with my parents. How could I be a good son despite the action of Christ’s dividing sword? In my journey from anti-Catholic to Catholic, I have tried to keep two things in mind: many criticisms of the Church are valid, and my reasons for becoming Catholic, whatever their merits, were based on lessons taught me by my Protestant parents.

Along with a whole generation of altar boys raised in the post-conciliar church, my father felt that drawing near to Christ meant walking away from Rome. In this or any age, the Church, however spotless, looks to human eyes like an unattractive bride.

No one knew this better than Boccaccio, who in the second tale of The Decameron describes a Catholic merchant who tries to convince his Jewish business partner to be baptised. The Jewish merchant decides to humour his friend by travelling to Rome and there see for himself how the leaders of this supposedly superior faith live. Upon his return he tells his Catholic friend what he’s seen: “It seems to me that your chief pastor and consequently all the others endeavour with all diligence and all their wit and every art to bring to nought and banish from the world the Christian religion, whereas they should be its foundation and support.”

Yet he nonetheless wants to convert: “I see that this for which they strive does not come to pass, but that your religion continually waxes ever brighter and more glorious.” This must be because “the Holy Spirit is truly the foundation and support thereof”.

Roland Barthes called this form of paradoxical persuasion “operation margarine” after an ad campaign that loudly repeated the objections to margarine, all the better to overcome them. Yet no such pitch, however clever, can really cover up the scandal of the Church’s faults. In our own time, the Church has failed to wax “ever brighter and more glorious” despite spiritual rot. Instead, child abuse settlements and closed parishes, bad catechesis and empty churches have come hand in hand. It was in this context that my father rather understandably found his way out.

Nothing about my childhood made me think that I would one day reverse his course and seek a way in. The reasons against the Church looked too great and overwhelming to be transformed even by the alchemy of operation margarine.

After all, boys who taunted and pushed were the first Catholics I knew. We lived parallel lives, theirs based around St Mary’s and mine around the state school. I would see them on the football field or railway tracks, where we would race down the rails, seeing who could go farthest without falling off. They didn’t like that I was bookish or that my favourite book was the Bible, and so they would come up and call me “Jesus boy” as they shoved me into the gravel.

I was not surprised that the Catholic boys mocked my faith. I had been taught to believe that they did not share it. Unlike the Catholics, I was a Christian. My job was to introduce them to Jesus, a man they could not see through the thicket of saints and popes thrown up by centuries of superstition.

Perhaps this attitude is what got me in trouble with the Catholics. Anyway, one day I must have come home bruised, for my mother told me that the next time one of the boys teased me, I should punch him as hard as I could. To my nine-year-old self, this was confusing. I knew that Jesus had told us to turn the other cheek, and I didn’t see how this could be squared with my mother’s advice. “Jesus wasn’t a doormat,” she said in reply to my objection. “Look at the moneychangers in the Temple.”

I didn’t think that the most natural reading, but she was my mother, so I decided she must be right. I punched the ringleader, a doctor’s son named Travis who was too surprised to hit back.

I now look back on that as the moment I became a Catholic. Rather than persist in my own reading of Scripture, I assented to the judgment of an authority I knew to be loving and gentle. The experience of that quarrel did not exactly overthrow my old prejudice and replace it with warm feelings towards every Catholic or every aspect of their church. Something more important had happened.

In talking to my Protestant mother, I had come to accept the principle of my grandparents’ Catholic belief. One cannot really know how to live by Scripture when there is no authority competent to interpret it. My mother may not have been that authority, but by listening to her I learned to listen to a mother Church which fully and finally is.

Matthew Schmitz is literary editor of First Things. This article originally appeared in the Christmas issue of the Catholic Herald. Subscribe here.  END QUOTES

“The Transforming Power of Grace Today” Re-blogged


The Transforming Power of Grace Today

It is the Lenten season once again, the season of conversion and repentance and sincere turning back to God, aware of His undying love for us, His constantly straying sheep.  There may be lurking in our thoughts the idea that this is just going to be another Lenten season in which we will be left unchanged. We have had many of them, begged for God’s grace to change us and still we find ourselves struggling with the same sins and failures of the past years. Does grace still change us? What does that change look like?

I recently came across the interesting conversion story of Fr. Juan Jose Martinez. As a child and during his adolescence years, his heart was filled with hatred for priests and the Catholic Church. On Sunday mornings, he would look out of the balcony of his house at people going to Mass and spit at them, insult them, and tell them that the Church was just “a sect that wanted their money.” He blatantly refused to receive any religious upbringing and his parents were not believers. His friends relentlessly invited him to join them in their Catholic Charismatic Renewal prayer group sessions at their parish each Thursday. He went with them one day just to mock and make fun of them because he believed that they were stupid and dumb people. He described the devotion of this group to be Blessed Sacrament rather humorously, “They were all looking at a golden box at the back of the church. I didn’t know what it was, but I thought it was where the parish priest kept the money.”

Strangely, he found himself coming back every Thursday to sit still in front of the Tabernacle. In his words, “Little by little, the love of God was penetrating my heart: I was 15 years old and I started to sing at Mass, which meant I would attend Mass on Saturdays. I liked being in front of the tabernacle and little by little, I realized that God existed and He loved me. I felt the love of God. The Charismatic Renewal group, which I had come to make fun of, helped me a lot.”

He would eventually receive the Sacraments of Initiation and begin to attend daily Mass. In the course of his slow conversion that led him to shed many of his earlier ideas about God and the Church, he made a commitment to God in these words, “Lord, I am yours for whatever you need.” God took him at his word.

He later sensed God inviting him to enter into the seminary at the age of 17 to become a priest. His father was infuriated at his request to become a priest and beat Juan severely. His father was more willing to pay for his studies in the United States than to let him become a Catholic priest. But Juan bid his time and patiently waited and continued to nurture his vocation till his father finally gave him permission to go to the seminary in May 1999. He was ordained a priest in 2006 and had the great privilege of administering the Sacrament of Holy Anointing to his father who passed away a few years later.

The young Juan who hated priests and the Church, who used to spit on worshippers and who came to Church just to mock worshippers is now Fr. Juan Jose Martinez of the diocese of Almeria, Spain. His story is a testament that the grace of God can and still changes us completely, heart, mind, body and soul, but only on one condition – that we are ready to belong to God completely and to do only what pleases Him. For grace to transform us completely from the inside out, we must have the same attitude and sentiments towards God that we find in the words of the young Juan, “Lord, I am yours for whatever you need.”

In the Second Reading, St. Paul reminds St. Timothy that, in Jesus Christ, God offers us all the graces that we need, “The grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began.” He also mentions how this grace can affect our lives. Divine grace transforms us from weaklings to persons with such inner strength that we can “bear our share of the hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.” Grace also enlightens and moves us away from sinful lives towards love of God and neighbor as His children and to participate in the very life and love of God, “He saved us (by grace) and called us to a holy life.”  The story of Fr. Juan, the sufferings that he was ready to endure for his vocation, and his readiness to embark on a new life in the service of God and neighbor are testaments to the transforming power of grace today.

The Transfiguration of Jesus in today’s Gospel is not Christ Jesus showing off His divine power or majesty; rather it is the Father revealing to us a brief glimpse of the abundance of grace that He has offered to us in Jesus Christ. This grace in Christ is the seed of glory. When the amazed disciples indicate their awe at the change of Jesus’ face and their desire to remain with Him on the mountain, the Father responds by pointing to Jesus as the way of transformation, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, listen to Him.” To be transformed from the inside out, they must unite with Jesus and imitate Jesus who belongs completely to the Father and who always acts to please the Father; not Himself. As Jesus’ clothes and face are transformed, we are divinely assured that more deeply will we be transformed by divine grace if we are willing to belong to Him and to allow Him to use us and all that we are and have as He wills.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, our desire to change for the better is a sign that we are made by God and for God. It is also a sign of God’s presence in our lives and our call to surrender to Him completely. We want to have strength in our battles and hardships, to be saved from our sinful addictions and to live holy lives and thus to enjoy the peace and joy that comes from such authentic interior change. Let us not be fooled – nothing from outside can change our hearts for the better if it is not inspired and infused with the grace of God and accompanied by our sincere desire to belong to Him for His good pleasure.

We see here in the Philippines a certain futile tendency to bring about change in drug addicts through threats, warnings, fear of death penalty, etc. Many of these our brothers and sisters desire to change for the better but they just cannot do so. True interior change comes about only through the grace of God and that willingness on our part not to live for ourselves alone but for Him who “for our sake died and was raised,”(2 Cor 5:15) and our willingness do only what pleases Him.

Yes, God’s grace will and can transform us completely when we are willing to say sincerely from our hearts, “Lord, I am yours for whatever you need.” Let us surrender all that we have and are to Him through Mary, the Mother and Mediatrix of all Grace. She through whom the Author of Grace, Jesus Christ, came to us, also obtains for us all the graces that we need from Jesus and helps us to open our hearts to the transforming power of God’s grace. Mother Mary had no greater desire than to belong to God and to be completely at His disposal for whatever He willed for her, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word.” Divine grace transformed her from a chaste virgin to the worthy Mother of God.

Fr. Juan looked intensely and continuously at the Tabernacle and he was transformed because he encountered the sole Author of grace, Jesus Christ, sacramentally present in the Tabernacle and he (Juan) was tired of living for himself. As we encounter Jesus in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass today, let us remember that grace is given to us so that we belong to God as His children who are ready to do only what pleases Him. The grace of God always has the power to transform us and make us strong in our difficulties, save us from our sins and sinful tendencies, and make us holy like Jesus. Will the grace of this Eucharist change us completely today? It all depends on our willingness to say from our hearts, “Lord, I am yours for whatever you need.” END QUOTES

Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!

“Dealing with adversity” Re-blogged


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New post on A Safe Harbor is Jesus

Dealing with Adversity!

by Jesus is a safe harbor

Either we are in adversity, just getting over it or about to go into it, or perhaps, all three at once. Living in this world is not easy and trouble comes with it. The issue is not whether we will experience it, but how we will respond to it. There are a number of reasons why you or I will experience adversity during our lifetimes. Some segments of the church today have been wrongly taught that adversity is a sign that God has removed His blessing. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Scriptures clearly teach us that trials are a part of a walk with God.

“If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength.” – Proverbs 24:10

No man or woman who has achieved much in the kingdom has been spared some form of trial or adversity. God gives specific reasons for some of our trials. Other times the purpose is to identify with the cross of Christ. We must view adversity as God does–as a means to conform us to the image of His Son. Making us more Christ like is the ultimate goal of all of our experiences with God.

Adversity is God’s workbench where He conforms us to His image.  No matter what God does in our lives as believers, we know that nothing happens without His foreknowledge and His planning. Sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking that God is not aware of our circumstances. Suffering and adversity are parts of our heritage as sons and daughters of God. They come with the territory as parts of God’s refining process for every believer. Consider every major character in the Bible, and you will see that their lives had adversity. God never said we would not suffer as Christians.

Throughout Scripture God encourages us not to put too much emphasis on the here-and-now life, but to emphasize our future life in heaven. Whatever trials we will encounter here will not compare to the glory He will reveal when we get to heaven. Earth is a mere watering hole on the way to eternity. Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him (James 1:12).

Jesus is a safe harbor | March 14, 2017 at 10:46 am | Categories: Uncategorized | URL: http://wp.me/p3mVVp-VW

“Martin Luther: Defender of Erroneous Conscience” Re-blogged


ce for the Faithful Catholic Laity

Martin Luther: Defender of Erroneous Conscience


Two trials, two appeals to conscience.

Trial 1: I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen.

Trial 2: If the number of bishops and universities should be so material as your lordship seems to think, then I see little cause, my lord, why that should make any change in my conscience. For I have no doubt that, though not in this realm, but of all those well learned bishops and virtuous men that are yet alive throughout Christendom, they are not fewer who are of my mind therein. But if I should speak of those who are already dead, of whom many are now holy saints in heaven, I am very sure it is the far greater part of them who, all the while they lived, thought in this case the way that I think now. And therefore am I not bound, my lord, to conform my conscience to the council of one realm against the General Council of Christendom.

What is the difference of these two quotes?

The first, from the friar Martin Luther, asserts the primacy of conscience over the universal consent of the Church and the tradition.

The second, from a laymen Thomas More, notes the agreement of conscience to the faith of Christendom, the history of the Church, and the saints of Heaven.

Why are these appeals to conscience significant? I think Belloc is fundamentally correct in his assessment of the nature of Protestantism as a denial of religious authority, resting in a visible Church:

The Protestant attack differed from the rest especially in this characteristic, that its attack did not consist in the promulgation of a new doctrine or of a new authority, that it made no concerted attempt at creating a counter-Church, but had for its principle the denial of unity. It was an effort to promote that state of mind in which a “Church” in the old sense of the word-that is, an infallible, united, teaching body, a Person speaking with Divine authority-should be denied; not the doctrines it might happen to advance, but its very claim to advance them with unique authority.

The individual quickly emerged to fill the vacuum left by the Church, as the dominant religious factor in the modern period.

Martin Luther: Revolutionary, Not Reformer
In this year of the five hundredth anniversary of the Reformation, we have to take stock of the legacy of the renegade, Catholic priest, Martin Luther. What were his intentions? It is commonly alleged, even among Catholics, that he had the noble aim of reforming abuses within the Church.

In fact, Martin Luther discovered his revolutionary, theological positions about a year before he posted his 95 theses. Probably in the year 1516, while lecturing on Romans at the seminary in Wittenburg, Luther had a pivotal experience, which shaped the way he viewed the Christian faith. Essentially, his “tower experience,” resolved his difficulty of conscience. He saw God and His commandments as a moral threat:

But I, blameless monk that I was, felt that before God I was a sinner with an extremely troubled conscience. I couldn’t be sure that God was appeased by my satisfaction. I did not love, no, rather I hated the just God who punishes sinners. In silence, if I did not blaspheme, then certainly I grumbled vehemently and got angry at God. I said, “Isn’t it enough that we miserable sinners, lost for all eternity because of original sin, are oppressed by every kind of calamity through the Ten Commandments? Why does God heap sorrow upon sorrow through the Gospel and through the Gospel threaten us with his justice and his wrath?” This was how I was raging with wild and disturbed conscience. I constantly badgered St. Paul about that spot in Romans 1 and anxiously wanted to know what he meant.

Reading Romans 1, while in the tower of his monastery, Luther suddenly saw the resolution of his troubled conscience through faith: “All at once I felt that I had been born again and entered into paradise itself through open gates. Immediately I saw the whole of Scripture in a different light.”

As we see in Trent’s teaching on justification and the Joint Declaration of Faith, there is nothing wrong with the realization that righteousness (same word as justification) comes through faith alone, moved by the grace of God. The problem is the re-reading of Scripture and all of the Christian tradition in a different light through this realization. Luther’s troubled conscience and experience of faith led him eventually (as it took him a while to work it out) to reject many of the Sacraments, books of the Bible, and the Church’s authority all in the name of liberty of conscience. A great schism would follow from Luther’s personal experience.

The Significance of Luther’s Teaching on Conscience
No doubt reforms were needed in the Catholic Church in 1517. Contrary to popular opinion however, Luther primarily sought to spread his understanding of the Gospel, not to correct abuses. Catholic practices became abuses precisely because they contradicted his tower experience of 1516.

One of Luther’s early tracts, Appeal to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation (1520)lays out the implications of his view in more detail:

Besides, if we are all priests, as was said above, and all have one faith, one Gospel, one sacrament, why should we not also have the power to test and judge what is correct or incorrect in matters of faith? What becomes of the words of Paul in I Corinthians 2:15: “He that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man,” II Corinthians 4:13: “We have all the same Spirit of faith”? Why, then, should not we perceive what squares with faith and what does not, as well as does an unbelieving pope?

All these and many other texts should make us bold and free, and we should not allow the Spirit of liberty, as Paul calls Him, to be frightened off by the fabrications of the popes, but we ought to go boldly forward to test all that they do or leave undone, according to our interpretation of the Scriptures, which rests on faith, and compel them to follow not their own interpretation, but the one that is better….

Thus I hope that the false, lying terror with which the Romans have this long time made our conscience timid and stupid, has been allayed.

Luther never condoned license (though he did condone Philip of Hesse’s bigamy), as he said his conscience was captive to the Word of God, but he did separate the decision of his conscience from the authority of the Church. This proved absolutely foundational for Protestantism and modern, religious experience.

Father of the Modern World
The claim that Luther stands at a crucial moment between medieval Christendom and the modern world is not contentious. This is need for care, however. His separation of faith and reason and insistence on the spiritual nature of the Church, in my opinion, did quicken the advance to secularism. However, Luther did not directly intend the creation of the modern, secular world as know it. Yet his stand on conscience and his individualistic interpretation of faith did lend itself to modern individualism, which I would even say is the heart of modern culture.

Cardinal Ratzinger suggested that Luther stood at the forefront of the modern movement, focused on the freedom of the individual. I recommend looking at this piece, “Truth and Freedom” further, but his central insight on Luther follows:

There is no doubt that from the very outset freedom has been the defining theme of that epoch which we call modern…. Luther’s polemical writing [On the Freedom of the Christian] boldly struck up this theme in resounding tones…. At issue was the freedom of conscience vis-à-vis the authority of the Church, hence the most intimate of all human freedoms…. Even if it would not be right to speak of the individualism of the Reformation, the new importance of the individual and the shift in the relation between individual conscience and authority are nonetheless among its dominant traits (Communio 23 [1996]: 20).

These traits have survived and at times predominate our contemporary religious experience.  The sociologist, Christian Smith, has noted in his study of the faith life of emerging adults, Souls in Transition, that an evangelical focus on individual salvation has been carried over into a new religious autonomy. He claims that…

the places where today’s emerging adults have taken that individualism in religion basically continues the cultural trajectory launched by Martin Luther five centuries ago and propelled along the way by subsequent development of evangelical individualism, through revivalism, evangelism and pietism….  Furthermore, the strong individualistic subjectivism in the emerging adult religious outlook—that “truth” should be decided by “what seems right” to individuals, based on their personal experience and feelings—also has deep cultural-structural roots in American evangelicalism.

Luther’s legacy clearly points toward individualism in religion, setting up a conflict with religious authority and tradition. The average Western Christian probably follows his central assertion that one must follow one’s own conscience over and against the Church.

Luther’s View of Conscience in the Catholic Church
The key issue in debating Luther’s legacy on conscience in the Catholic Church entails whether the teachings of the Church are subordinate to one’s own conscience or whether conscience is bound by the teaching of the Church.

I know an elderly Salesian priest who told me with all sincerity that the purpose of Vatican II was to teach us that we could decide what to believe and how to live according to our conscience. This is clearly the “Spirit of Vatican II,” as Gaudium et Spes, while upholding the dignity of conscience, enjoins couples in regards to the transmission of life: “But in their manner of acting, spouses should be aware that they cannot proceed arbitrarily, but must always be governed according to a conscience dutifully conformed to the divine law itself, and should be submissive toward the Church’s teaching office, which authentically interprets that law in the light of the Gospel” (50). Dignitatis Humanae, Vatican’s Declaration on Religious Liberty, holds together two crucial points, stating that one cannot “be forced to act in a manner contrary to his conscience,” (3) as well as that “in the formation of their consciences, the Christian faithful ought carefully to attend to the sacred and certain doctrine of the Church” (14). The Council upheld the dignity of conscience as well as its obligation to accept the authority of the Church.

The misinterpretation of the Council’s teaching on conscience as license found its first test case just three years after the Council closed in Humanae Vitae. Theologians such as Bernard Härring and Charles Curran advocated for the legitimacy of dissent from the encyclical on the grounds of conscience. The Canadian Bishops, in their Winnipeg Statement, affirmed: “In accord with the accepted principles of moral theology, if these persons have tried sincerely but without success to pursue a line of conduct in keeping with the given directives, they may be safely assure that, whoever honestly chooses that course which seems right to him does so in good conscience.”

Conscience also stands at the center of the current controversy over the interpretation of Amoris Laetitia. I’ve already written on how Amoris stands in relation to the Church’s efforts to inculturate the modern world in relation to conscience. Cardinal Caffarra claimed that the fifth dubium on conscience was the most important. He stated further: “Here, for me, is the decisive clash between the vision of life that belongs to the Church (because it belongs to divine Revelation) and modernity’s conception of one’s own conscience.” Recently, the German bishops, following those of Malta, have decided: “We write that—in justified individual cases and after a longer process—there can be a decision of conscience on the side of the faithful to receive the Sacraments, a decision which must be respected.”

In light of the current controversy on conscience, it is troubling that Luther is now upheld as genuine reformer. The most troubling is from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in its Resources for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and throughout the year 2017: “Separating that which is polemical from the theological insights of the Reformation, Catholics are now able to hear Luther’s challenge for the Church of today, recognising him as a ‘witness to the gospel’ (From Conflict to Communion 29). And so after centuries of mutual condemnations and vilification, in 2017 Lutheran and Catholic Christians will for the first time commemorate together the beginning of the Reformation.” The Vatican also announced a commemorative stamp (which to me sounds like the United States issuing a stamp commemorating the burning the White House by British troops).

Pope Francis has spoken of Luther several times in the past year, including in an inflight press conference returning from Armenia: “I think that the intentions of Martin Luther were not mistaken. He was a reformer. Perhaps some methods were not correct.” In response I ask, what did Luther reform? Francis pointed to two things in his journey to Sweden. The Reformation “helped give greater centrality to sacred scripture in the Church’s life,” but it did so by advocating the flawed notion of sola scriptura. Francis also pointed to Luther’s concept of sola gratia, which “reminds us that God always takes the initiative, prior to any human response, even as he seeks to awaken that response.”

While the priority of God’s initiative is true and there are similarities to Catholic teaching in this teaching (that faith is a free gift that cannot be merited), Luther denied our cooperation with grace, our ability to grow in sanctification and merit, and that we fall from grace through mortal sin. Francis also noted, while speaking to an ecumenical delegation from Finland: “In this spirit, we recalled in Lund that the intention of Martin Luther 500 years ago was to renew the Church, not divide Her.” Most recently he spoke of how we now know “how to appreciate the spiritual and theological gifts that we have received from the Reformation.”

It is true that Martin Luther did not want to divide the Church. He wanted to reform the Church on his own terms, which was not genuine reform. Luther said he would follow the Pope if the Pope taught the pure Gospel of his conception: “The chief cause that I fell out with the pope was this: the pope boasted that he was the head of the Church, and condemned all that would not be under his power and authority; for he said, although Christ be the head of the Church, yet, notwithstanding, there must be a corporal head of the Church upon earth. With this I could have been content, had he but taught the gospel pure and clear, and not introduced human inventions and lies in its stead.” Further he accuses the corruption of conscience by listening to the Church as opposed to Scripture: “But the papists, against their own consciences, say, No; we must hear the Church.” This points us back to the crucial issue of authority, pointed out by Belloc.

Conclusion: More Over Luther

We should not celebrate the Reformation, because we cannot celebrate the defense of erroneous conscience held up against the authority of the Church. As St. Thomas More rightly said in his “Dialogue on Conscience,” taken down by his daughter Meg: “But indeed, if on the other side a man would in a matter take away by himself upon his own mind alone, or with some few, or with never so many, against an evident truth appearing by the common faith of Christendom, this conscience is very damnable.” He may have had Luther in mind.

More did not stand on his own private interpretation of the faith, but rested firmly on the authority of Christendom and, as Chesterton put it, the democracy of the dead: “But go we now to them that are dead before, and that are I trust in heaven, I am sure that it is not the fewer part of them that all the time while they lived, thought in some of the things, the way that I think now.”

More is a crucial example of standing firm in a rightly formed conscience. We should remember why he died and not let his witness remain in vain. He stood on the ground of the Church’s timeless teaching, anchored in Scripture and the witness of the saints. If we divorce conscience from authority, we will end in moral chaos. As Cardinal Ratzinger asked in his lucid work, On Conscience: “Does God speak to men in a contradictory manner? Does He contradict Himself? Does He forbid one person, even to the point of martyrdom, to do something that He allows or even requires of another?” These are crucial questions we must face.

Rather than celebrating the defender of erroneous conscience, let’s remember and invoke the true martyr of conscience, who died upholding the unity of the faith.

Editor’s note: This article first appeared February 25, 2017 in Catholic World Report and is reprinted with permission.


By R. Jared Staudt

  1. Jared Staudt works in the Office of Evangelization and Family Life Ministries of the Archdiocese of Denver. He earned his BA and MA in Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN and his PhD in Systematic Theology from Ave Maria University in Florida. Staudt served previously as a director of religious education in two parishes, taught at the Augustine Institute and the University of Mary, and served as co-editor of the theological journal Nova et Vetera. He and his wife Anne have six children and he is a Benedictine oblate. END QUOTES

“Jesus LOVES You! With an intense thirst” Re-blogged


BLOGS  |  MAR. 10, 2017

Jesus Loves You With an Intense Thirst

“No matter what you have done, I love you for your own sake. Come to me with your misery and sins, with your troubles and needs, and with all of your longing to be loved.”

BY Amanda Evinger

“Jesus is God, therefore His love, His Thirst, is infinite. He, the creator of the universe, asked for the love of His creatures. He thirsts for our love… These words: ‘I Thirst’ – do they echo in our souls?” —St. Teresa of Calcutta

During the years I spent living with the Missionaries of Charity, St. Teresa of Calcutta’s spirituality felt like anything from the most gorgeous spiritual revelation to the most biting poke in the spine of my soul – it was, clearly, a spirituality born from the deepest, most entangled roots of Catholicism. To this magnanimous Saint and her followers, serving Christ meant answering His cry of Thirst from the Cross – even if it meant laying down one’s very life in the most grueling fashion. In honor of this message, Mother Teresa made sure that in every one of her convent chapels, the words “I THIRST” would be posted next to a bloody crucifix, in bold black, serving to remind all of God’s most extraordinary love. Years after her death, these words continue to show her religious Sisters and co-workers, as well as the poor they serve, that God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, is parched with thirst, longing for the simplest acts of love.

As I witnessed, each day the Sisters would seek to quench the parched thirst of Christ as they visited the bottomed-out homes of the poorest of the poor, cared for them in their emergency night shelters and soup kitchens, and befriended them when they were in the lock-down section of the prison. And, fascinatingly, they would turn to the poor to ask them to quench the thirst of Christ as well. Often when they would encounter a suffering person – whether it be because they were behind bars, or because they were breathing their last in a hospital bed – they would beg them not to waste their suffering, but to offer it to quench Christ Crucified’s infinite thirst. Suffering, to them, was as gold. The one who suffered and made at least some attempt to offer it to God was laden with spiritual jewels that freed their soul and drew it towards eternal life. I remember watching the faces of the suffering and poor – most often fallen-away Protestants who had never even heard of “redemptive suffering” – as they told them this. Their words would often give them a sense of dignity and purpose, helping them to understand their part in God’s mission to bring hope to the world.

“I Thirst,” a meditation attributed to St. Teresa of Calcutta in which Jesus speaks to the human heart, includes these powerful words:

I thirst for You. Yes, that is the only way to begin to describe my love for you… I thirst to love you and to be loved by you — that is how precious you are to Me. I thirst for you. Come to Me, and I will fill your heart and heal your wounds. I will make you a new creation, and give you peace, even in all your trials I thirst for you. You must never doubt my mercy, my acceptance of you, my desire to forgive, my longing to bless you and live my life in you… If you feel unimportant in the eyes of the world, that matters not at all. For Me, there is no one any more important in the entire world than you.

This phenomenal meditation, which in many poignant ways holds within it the lifeblood of the Saint’s spirituality and mission, is something worth contemplating deeply. For Mother Teresa, sharing with others about the thirsting love of Christ was at the root of evangelization. To her, practicing authentic charity meant answering His cry from the Cross. “We are not social workers, we are contemplatives in the heart of the world,” she was known to say.

Years ago, a friend who had been in one of Mother Teresa’s convents for a few years told me that now, as a layperson and a mother, she had grown so out of touch with God’s love. “In the convent, we heard about God’s love all the time, and we were continually reminded of how much God loves us,” she said. After having lived in a convent for five years, and now being a wife and mother outside of the convent for nearly nine years, I know exactly what she means. This is troubling to me – we lay people, so burdened by the assaults of our post-Christian society and the culture of death, so weighed down by the trials and daily grind of life – why do we not hear of God’s love daily? What keeps us from letting His thirsting love penetrate our innermost selves? Is it the clang and clamor of the world’s ways, the demands of lay life, or is it just that we aren’t taking the time to listen? Perhaps it is all of the above. Or perhaps it is because His love is so divine it is hard to speak of and to grasp. When someone tells you that God loves you, you may feel they are stating the obvious, and go about your way. But there is far more in these words – there is the deep river of His Precious Blood, waiting to submerge your heart, and the shimmering rays of His mercy, just waiting to wash your soul and heal it of brokenness and sin.

This Lent, as we go about our daily business, let’s take time to contemplate the thirsting love of Christ with St. Teresa. As her meditation continues:

Whenever you do open the door of your heart, whenever you come close enough, you will hear Me say to you again and again, not in mere human words but in spirit. ‘No matter what you have done, I love you for your own sake. Come to me with your misery and sins, with your troubles and needs, and with all of your longing to be loved. I stand at the door of your heart and knock. Open to Me, for I THIRST FOR YOU.’ END QUOTES

“With Relativism, There is No Right or Wrong: re-blogged


With Relativism, There Is No Right or Wrong

COMMENTARY: The modern notion of freedom supporting the relativistic outlook is simply the ability to make choices.

Ted Sri

Relativism isn’t just a bad idea. It’s ruining people’s lives. And if we’re going to be successful in motivating others to rise above the relativistic culture, we need to help them see what Pope Francis has observed: “Relativism wounds people.”

The ideas at the center of a relativistic outlook are dangerous. Just as bad math can lead to faulty engineering and unsafe buildings and bridges, moral relativism can cause harmful effects in people’s lives, encouraging people to do things that will hurt themselves and others.

We can see this especially in the relativistic culture’s view of freedom.

Authentic freedom is the ability to perform actions of high quality. It’s for something. If I possess the skills of violin playing, I’m free to play the violin with excellence. If I possess the skills of race-car driving, I’m free to race the car around the track at high speeds.

And if I possess the life skills known as the virtues, I am free to give the best of myself in my relationships and thus find happiness. Virtue gives me the freedom to love other people.

But the modern notion of freedom supporting the relativistic outlook is self-centered. It’s simply the ability to make choices. It’s merely about being free from anyone controlling me. How one chooses to use his freedom, however, doesn’t matter. There are no good or bad choices. It doesn’t matter what one chooses; all that matters is that one chooses: “It’s my life. I’m free to do whatever I want to do with my life. Don’t tell me what to do.”


A Tale of Two Marriages

A true story about two married couples who lived in the same neighborhood at the same time can highlight the world of difference between these two views of freedom. One young couple had been happily married for several years with two children when the wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She quickly lost the ability to walk and knew she’d be in a wheelchair for the remainder of her life. This wasn’t what her husband was expecting when they got married. The emotional and financial pressure was too much.

He wanted a different kind of life. So, in the middle of her battle with cancer, he left his wife and kids for another woman.

According to the modern view of freedom, we can’t say what he did was wrong because that’s his choice. There are no right or wrong choices, this mindset says. Maybe you wouldn’t do that, but we all should celebrate his freedom: He’s free to do whatever he wants. And if he wants to leave his dying wife and kids, that’s his free choice.

Just blocks away was another couple. The wife was diagnosed with an aggressive form of multiple sclerosis. She also quickly lost mobility and had to be pushed in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. But her situation was more incapacitating. She couldn’t bathe herself, clothe herself or feed herself. She couldn’t even speak.

Her husband was just hitting his stride in his business, but decided to retire early so that he could take care of his slowly dying wife. He went through practically all of his savings, fully realizing that he would not have much left for himself in his golden years. But that didn’t matter. He lovingly poured his life out for her in her remaining years, serving her, feeding her, bathing her and dressing her. Every day he’d take his wife outside for walks in the neighborhood. He constantly read to her and talked to her, telling her about the weather, their friends and family, what was happening in the world and her favorite baseball team — even though she could not say a single word back.

For years, he never had even one conversation with the love of his life. But he was always by her side, all the way to the end.


Hero of Your Life

The tale of these two couples encapsulates the main contrasts between the classical and relativistic worldviews. Both husbands saw their life story take an unanticipated turn. And at that pivotal moment, one revealed himself to be a hero, while the other walked away from love and his responsibility to his family. One lived a kind of life we might expect an individualistic, relativistic culture to produce. The other rose above the mainstream and reminds us of what true greatness is all about.

His life was not about him — it was about giving himself to others, most especially his wife.

Relativism allows people to justify selfish acts that hurt other people. If there is no right or wrong, then I am free to do whatever I want with my life — no matter what consequences there might be for the poor, the unborn and the people God has placed in my life, whether friends, co-workers, family or, in this case, a dying wife and the kids who will be left behind.

But when we fail to give people a moral compass for their lives and instead train them in the relativistic view of freedom, we shouldn’t be surprised when selfish acts like this occur and people get hurt in our culture. For relativism isn’t just a bad idea. It wounds people.

Edward Sri is professor of theology at the Augustine Institute.

This article is based on his latest book and video study program, 

Who Am I to Judge?: Responding to Relativism With Logic and Love

(Ignatius Press)END QUOTES Part #2


{Catholic} “Dogma In the Age of Anxiety” Re-blogged


Dogma and the Age of Anxiety

Rev. Jerry J. Pokorsky

It’s quite common these days to hear disparaging comments about Catholic dogma and doctrine. But the complaints about dogma are harder to accept when they come from within, from Catholics themselves.

When the Archbishop of Dublin ordained Jesuit deacons in 2015 he warned, “We will not heal those whose lives have drifted from Jesus Christ by throwing books of dogma at them.”

And the new General of the Jesuits recently said, “Doctrine is a word that I don’t like very much, it brings with it the image of the hardness of stone. Instead, the human reality is much more nuanced, it is never black or white, it is in continual development.”

Ironically, it’s precisely because human reality is not black and white that we need the rock-hard reality of dogma. Aside from the fact that the “controversial” doctrines usually have to do with the 6th Commandment (many would welcome its repeal for obvious reasons), we would do well to consider some of the “difficult” and “rigid” doctrines of Jesus.

For example, the Sermon on the Mount presents some particularly difficult teachings.  In the “Lilies of the Field” discourse, Jesus says: “Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.”  Without doubting the truth of His words, we may find ourselves struggling to put them into practice. How is it possible to dispel so many of life’s anxieties? Those very difficulties, unfortunately, sometimes lead to rejecting His teaching.

We are said to live in an “Age of Anxiety” – just like every other age, I suppose.  The media makes more money selling anxiety. Facts without anxiety are boring.  When scientists recently determined that a huge swath of molten carbon lies 200 miles beneath the surface in the American West, reporters deftly linked the story to our fears – suggesting that if a massive volcano erupted in Yellowstone National Park, it would mean the end of the world as we know it. There are many such news reports, on subjects from solar flares to low testosterone. So much to worry about, so little time.

Many anxieties, of course, are far more understandable, if not exactly “reasonable.”  Personal health – especially as we grow older – can cause worry.  But when a doctor diagnoses a malady after tests, the certainty of the diagnosis usually brings some sense of relief. The illness can finally be treated, or at least understood, going forward. The certainty of truth is a remedy for anxiety.

The firm certainties of life vary depending on context.  On the one hand, our personal history is certain because events have taken place (even if memory fails) and simply become facts of our life. We were born; we grew up and were educated; we found jobs; we loved; we’ve suffered – the factual certainties are endless.

On the other hand, when we look to the future, humanly speaking, there is only one certainty: death.  No matter how certain we think our day planner is, we may not wake up tomorrow. Consequently, the uncertainties of the future are unlimited and can be very unsettling. As any parent knows.

Yet Jesus teaches us not to be anxious about tomorrow. He wants us to look at the facts of life – the lilies of the field, etc. –trust in God’s loving providence.

We know from our childhood catechisms that the dogmas and doctrines of our faith console us with certainties that we’d never have without God’s revelation. Here’s one:  “Can a woman forget her infant, so as not to have pity on the son of her womb? And if she should forget, yet will I [the Lord God] not forget thee.  Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.” (Is. 49:14-16)

Another dogma needs no comment, and directs us on our way with certainty:  “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (Jn. 14:6).  If you’re worried about the state of your marriage, Jesus says, again with unequivocal dogmatic certainty:  “Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.” (Mt. 19:6)

Without such dogmas and doctrines of faith, there would be no clarity for the future except the certain prospect of death.  As Flannery O’Connor writes, dogmas are true “windows to the infinite.”  As in: “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.” (Rom. 6:8)

But even as we strive, with God’s grace, to believe all that Jesus teaches through His Church, we continue an ongoing struggle against anxiety. We are to live in the moment and that’s difficult to do in a fast-paced world.  God provides grace, if we’re open to Him, and when we need it, moment by moment, day by day.  This is why it is so necessary to repeatedly encounter Christ in prayer, the Sacraments, Sunday Mass, and the certitudes of Catholic dogma – God’s revelation of His plan for us. But God does not grant His grace in advance.

Hence there is sinful hubris in presuming to tinker with the teachings of Christ or to disparage Catholic “dogmas” and “doctrines” by suggesting they are subject to constant change. Those who do so become agents of confusion and anxiety, truly undermining Christ. Members of the hierarchy of the Church are not above the firm teachings of Christ.

Church doctrines – regardless of their perceived “rigidity” – are good because through them we encounter Christ and the providence of God.  The firm certainties of the teachings of Christ not only direct us, they help relieve the anxieties that plague us daily.  After all, “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (Jn. 8:32)  Not a bad dogma to reflect upon. END QUOTES


Are My sins too Many & too bad for God’s forgiveness? re blogged

Are My Sins Too Many & Too Bad for God’s Forgiveness?

by John Clarke {re-blogged}

John Clark reminds us that our sins are never too many or too bad for the mercy of God and their forgiveness will only cause a greater Heavenly celebration.

“My sins are too many and too bad.”

Sadly and mistakenly, such is the thought process that will keep many people away from the Sacrament of Confession this Lent, just like many years of Lents before it.

We live in a world that often underemphasizes the badness of sin—there’s not much doubt about that. However, it is also possible to overemphasize the badness of sin. How can that be? How could you ever overemphasize the badness of sin? When could that ever happen?

When you claim that your sins are so bad that God cannot forgive them—that’s when.

When you suggest that the badness of your sins is greater than the love of God—that’s when.

When you act as though the Passion of Jesus is not enough to overcome your sins—that’s when.

To that last point: if you think that the passion and death of Jesus was not enough—that it was somehow lacking—you would do yourself a huge favor this Lent by meditating on the Passion of Jesus. We tend to sanitize our conception of the violence that Jesus suffered at the hands of men, but the truth is that Jesus’ scourging, crowning with thorns, carrying of the cross, and death were extraordinarily and shockingly violent.

The private revelations given to Venerable Mary of Agreda recounted in The Mystical City of God and given to Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich recounted in The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ attest to that fact.

When you read these revelations, it is worth noting that most Catholic theologians agree that the totality of Jesus’ sufferings were not required for the atonement of all sins, but that the slightest suffering of Jesus would have atoned for all the sins of humanity. Rather than failing to atone for all the sins of the world, the truth is that the passion and death of Jesus amount to what Saint Thomas Aquinas called a “superabundant atonement.” Thomas explains:

“He properly atones for an offense who offers something which the offended one loves equally, or even more than he detested the offense. But by suffering out of love and obedience, Christ gave more to God than was required to compensate for the offense of the whole human race. First of all, because of the exceeding charity from which He suffered; secondly, on account of the dignity of

His life which He laid down in atonement, for it was the life of one who was God and man; thirdly, on account of the extent of the Passion, and the greatness of the grief endured, as stated above.

And therefore Christ’s Passion was not only a sufficient but a superabundant atonement for the sins of the human race; according to 1 John 2:2: “He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”

Sin is an offense against God. Sin is terrible. But when you act as though the Passion of Jesus and the love of God are not enough to forgive those sins for which you seek forgiveness, you are gravely mistaken. What part of the Passion, what part of the love of God is not enough for you?

When Jesus was on the cross, He was thinking of you and me: desiring not to condemn us, but to forgive us. God, The Father of Mercies, wills to forgive us—for original sin,{through Sacramental Baptism} for venial sins, for mortal sins,{Through Sacramental Confession}  for many sins. For all our sins.

Can you commit sins so bad or so many that God cannot forgive them? Of course not. Even if your sins are many and mortal, even if you really are as bad as you think—even if you are one thousand times worse than you think—the merciful God awaits you in Confession.

Jesus revealed to Saint Faustina that even if you had more sins than the grains of sand in all the oceans of the world, you should still approach Jesus with confidence of His forgiveness and mercy.

Why? Because God loves you.

If you have been away from the forgiveness of God, come back home where you belong. This year, this Lent, come to Confession and experience the loving mercy of God. Whatever your sins might be, your sacramental repentance will be the cause of a huge celebration in Heaven.

And they’ll keep that glorious party going until long after you arrive. END QUOTES

{Inserted by PJM}

This then is precisely WHY Jesus Instituted Sacramental Confession for ALL sins; Hid {GODS} way:

1John.1 Verses 8 to 9 “[8] If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. [9] If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1John.5 Verses 16 to 17 “[16] If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin which is mortal;{unto spiritual DEATH} I do not say that one is to pray for that. [17] All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not mortal.

This is GOD’S Way for HIS sin forgiveness

John.20 Verses 19 to 23 “[19] On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” [20] When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.  [21] Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” [22] And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. [23] If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

QUESTION: If it’s NOT done GOD’S way; can one have confidence that their sins ARE actually forgiven? …..