The Inner Struggle

Peace on Earth to Men of Good Will …

Sacrament of Tears”, Adrian von Ziegler, from the album “Mortualia”, 2012.

Like I was saying last post, not so much upset about the politics, and the economy, and all the media shenanigans, as I once was. All these happenings … they all seem so unimportant these days … a distraction … do they spark joy? Does this (whatever I am doing, or saying, or reading) bring me closer to God?

Wrote previously about Jesus ordaining His apostles Priests, and charging them with passing on the Truth and teaching the whole world … I have an understanding that any belief outside of what Christ taught is little more than human pride … pride healing the wounds of our self love, our self worship, interpreting truth to rationalize our pride in ourself.

Sincerely believing our delusion d0esn’t make it any less delusional. We think we know but we actually don’t even know what we don’t know. Our sincerity may render us less culpable but sincerity confers no veracity on error. When discovering a different collection of “truth” than that with which we are familiar we must choose whether to reject it arbitrarily simply because it is unfamiliar, or we can choose to investigate the truth with “good will”.

The angels brought to the shepherds near Bethlehem a message of “peace to men of good will“.  Our will is “good” when it is upright, docile, and resolute. Our will is upright when it is sincerely and entirely oriented toward good; our will is docile when it is always ready to follow every indication of God’s will; our will is resolute when it is prompt to adhere to the will of God, even though difficulties and obstacles arise, and sacrifices are required.

The Lord is continually urging us to generosity and abnegation in all the circumstances of our daily life, even in the smallest events. Only rarely in history is God’s will announced with great fanfare by heavenly hosts. Most often it comes to us quietly, in the silence, from unexpected sources and new discoveries, perhaps even new discoveries about things we feel we are very familiar with. And sometimes it is difficult because habit and the world resist change of any sort but especially change of cherished thoughts and certain beliefs.

Christ either rose from the dead and everything He taught is the absolute unchangeable truth, or He did not and we are the biggest fools in history, we Christians. So what will it be? True believers of Truth, or the biggest fools in history? Christ gave us the first priests and the sacraments of his church. After the resurrection Jesus appeared to His disciples:

21Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 21 – 23).

What Christ is talking about in this passage is the Sacrament of Reconciliation, also known as Confession. And, in another passage he speaks about forgiveness and mercy, we find, according to the Gospel of John, the Pharisees, in an attempt to discredit Jesus, bringing a woman charged with adultery before him.

Then they reminded Jesus that adultery was punishable by stoning under Mosaic law and challenged him to judge the woman so that they might then accuse him of disobeying the law. Jesus thought for a moment and then replied,

“He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her.” The people crowded around him were so touched by their own consciences that they departed.”

When Jesus found himself alone with the woman, he asked her who were her accusers. She replied, “No man, lord.” Jesus then said, “Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more.” Forgiven … by Christ …

23If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”  Priests of Christ … in persona Christi… Forgiven … by Christ …

Forgiveness from a priest of Jesus Christ is necessary … In Persona Christi … if you (the priest “in persona Christi”) do not forgive them, they are not forgiven. We cannot “bestow grace on ourselves; it must be given and offered” and we cannot forgive our own sins, they must be forgiven by Christ … In Persona Christi …

It is uncomfortable to consider the Truth of this statement … to have to choose Christ’s instructions, Christ’s teachings, OR to choose our own pride, that is healing the wounds of our own self love. To choose, as my mother did, to die “unshriven” …,  means to refuse the last rites and the visit of the priest.

This was my mother’s stated choice because she refused to “confess her sins to some man” and God knew she was sorry for them, and she was sure that she was forgiven. She was not so sure about many things in life, but she was damned sure she didn’t need forgiveness, at least that is what she said. … “damned sure” …

I found this frightening because it seemed a little like treating sin and heaven like a lottery ticket – maybe she was right, but we are talking eternity here … we simply can’t know. Do we pass through the gates of death while spinning the Roulette wheel of eternity?

Likewise, only God knows where we are at this moment of death; no human creature knows. Who but God knows whether we reach perfect contrition at the moment of death or even when the moment of death is. Is a decision of such moment a reasonable opportunity for gambling?

We don’t know and certainly there is no man alive or dead who could say with ANY degree of reliability what is or is not required for forgiveness and even more importantly whether we will be forgiven or if those who have gone before are forgiven. Is this something we want to just leave up to chance?

Can we be perfectly sorry for our sins many, many times before our death? Who knows but that one might be conscious enough of our dying and asked God’s forgiveness with perfect contrition and sorrow? What are the odds that WE are that fortunate perfect soul who expresses and realizes perfect contrition for our sins and hence receives God’s own absolution and forgiveness without the intervention of a priest?

I don’t know. No one knows. This is why we continue to pray for the souls of the deceased since they are our friends and loved ones. Go to Mass often and offer the Sacrament of the Mass for those souls. Commit the souls of our loved ones to the Virgin Mother Mary and ask for her deliverance.

Take advantage of all possibilities (sacramental and otherwise) to gain a Plenary Indulgence for the departed souls. And with all this, trust those souls to the merciful arms of the Sacred Heart.

We simply don’t know how God blesses us and the departed souls. So, to me, it would appear that it is a better bet to trust Christ’s own instructions and seek out a priest in the confessional when one is confessing one’s sins and seeking absolution and forgiveness.

Cheers

Joe

Christ didn’t say “Go and try to be good.” He said “Go and sin no more.

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