Todays Readings: Feast of the Chair of St Peter
“..You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church; the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” Mt.16 13-19
In today’s Gospel, God the father establishes His Church on earth through His Son Jesus Christ, by means of anointing Peter as its head. As members of the Catholic Church we are blessed through the Sacrament of Baptism, to be brought into the Body of Christ, the Church, which sanctifies us and allows us to receive the Holy Spirit within our souls. The Spirit dwells within us and His presence is strengthened throughout our lifetimes as we receive the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist.
While this is the truth of our faith, it still remains that we are human beings by nature and blessed by God with the gift of free will. This gift allows us to make our own choices and oftentimes those choices lead us away from the path set before us that will bring us to the eternal Kingdom of God. But in His wisdom and mercy, God has given us the way to pick our fallen selves up again and again and return to the glorious path leading us to Heaven. The Church through the Sacrament of Reconciliation gives us the opportunity to free us from our sins and re-unite ourselves with our loving God and receive Him into our souls – everyday!! – if we so choose.
“… the gates of the netherworld will not prevail…”
There is no sin that God will not forgive. Even the sin of abortion. As strange as this may sound, my awful sin of abortion was transformed into my greatest blessing by way of Jesus’ unimaginable mercy and His gift of Reconciliation. It took a long time…I walked away from the Church immediately following my abortion, and stayed away for 25 years knowing that I was “excommunicated” and feeling too unworthy and too proud to go into a confessional and ask for forgiveness.
Much of the reason for my wandering for so many years in “…the valley of darkness..” was that I didn’t know that God would forgive that kind of sin until by the grace of God, I found Entering Canaan…a loving, welcoming ministry which directed me back to the roots of my faith and enlightened me to the mystery of God’s “unfathomable Mercy” as revealed by Jesus to Sr. Faustina Kowalska and presented to us in her “Diary”
Our Lord tells Sr. Faustina, (“Diary” Notebook V section 1452) Do not fear My little child…fight for the salvation of souls, exhorting them to trust in My mercy, as that is your task in this life and in the life to come.” and Sr. Faustina says “After these words, I received a deeper understanding of divine mercy. Only that soul who wants it will be damned, for God condemns no one.”
But in order or us to obtain God’s forgiveness and mercy we must humble ourselves and not shun the confessional because for our pride and unwillingness to speak with a priest. Jesus tells Sr. Faustina ( from her “Diary” Notebook VI, section 1602) “Daughter, when you go to confession, to this fountain of my mercy, the Blood and Water which came forth from My Heart always flows down upon your soul and ennobles it…further along in this section, Jesus tells Sr. Faustina, ” When you approach the confessional, know this, that I myself am waiting there for you. I am only hidden by the priest. But I Myself act in your soul…..Tell souls that from this fount of mercy souls draw graces solely with the vessel of trust. If their trust is great, there is no limit to My generosity. The torrents of grace inundate humble souls. The proud remain always in poverty and misery, because My grace turns away from them to humble souls.”
Prior to my journey along the path of healing from the soul destroying effects of abortion, I chose to follow a path of self-centered, worldly pursuits, enjoying life for a time without a thought of my abortion or the Godless path I pranced upon. I developed a sense of pride in my own personal accomplishments (and they were very minimal by any measure!) but then, by God’s grace, slowly my heart turned to the question “is that all there is?” and very gradually, my journey back to my Catholic faith began. Yet still, I held a strong sense of resistance to seeking forgiveness in the confessional…I had stopped going to confession when I was 16 –and held the idea that there was no need for me to tell my sins to a priest-a mere mortal like myself. I could talk directly to God. But then, after sitting on many occasions in front of the Blessed Sacrament seeking peace, the gently call of Jesus brought me to the realization that He established his Church and instituted the Sacraments through Peter for us to come into his Kingdom, especially for souls like mine.
On that healing journey, I have heard many women say with deep, soul wrenching sadness ” I could never be forgiven – this sin is too great.” We are blessed by His revelations to Sr. Faustina, to know that it is up to us to seek his forgiveness and not allow the deception of the evil one to keep us from His glorious gifts of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.
With each day, and passing year I enter deeper and more fully into finding the promises of Jesus. It is a life of constant attack and requires continual prayer to keep firmly focused on the path toward Heaven. I invite you to open your heart to Jesus’ mercy. Sit before the Blessed Sacrament whenever you can and when unable to get to a church, use a prayer card with the image of Divine Mercy. Meditate upon the image of Divine Mercy brought to us by Jesus himself, through Sr. Faustina and repeat the simple words He gave us “Jesus, I trust in You.”