Lent 2011

 

Part 1

A.  Forgiveness:  an Overview

B.  God's Forgiveness of Us

(Compiled by Michael T. Sullivan, MD)

 

God the Father,

Our Lord Jesus Christ

and

Our Lady of Emmitsburg

speak on

 

FORGIVENESS

"Forgive, forget--forever!"

(Our Lady of Emmitsburg, Sept. 11, 2007)

 

 

A.  Forgiveness:  An Overview

 

"How great is the Mercy of the Lord,

and His forgiveness to them that turn to Him!" 

(Ecc 17:28)

 

God's Plan for humanity is an eternal plan, outside the confines of human time.  It involves Creation, the battle between good and evil, man's salvation and sanctification, and finally, man's eternal glorification with his Creator.  God the Father in His "Words" to humanity through Gianna Sullivan succinctly states this fact: 

 

"I sent My Son, your Savior Jesus, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, Who agreed to humble Himself and to come and be born in the womb of a Virgin.  He agreed to become Flesh and to suffer for you so that all of the children of humanity would know that their sins were forgiven through His one redemptive Act of Salvation."  (GTF, July 8, 2006)

 

Central to this Plan is God's Mercy, without which fallen humanity would never experience that planned union with the Triune God in eternal life.  Our Lord Jesus Christ in His Lessons discusses aspects of His Mercy:

 

"I, your Lord, tell My people to have mercy on Me by having mercy on one another; and My people do not listen!  They show their love for Me by seeking revenge on one another.  They show their love for Me with anger and rage.  This is not mercy!

 

"What Is Mercy? Mercy is love and forgiveness.  It is My goodness, which flows out as a Divine blessing.  It is not having pity.  It is showing pity by loving and forgiving to the deepest level of My people's souls."  (JOM Vol 1, #35, Jan 12, 1989) 

 

 

On the Feast of Divine Mercy in 1989, one year before Pope John Paul II declared this feast to be celebrated universally on the first Sunday after Easter each year, Our Lord expounded on His Mercy:

 

"I shed My Mercy and forgiveness on My people.  To those who wish forgiveness, it shall be granted….Forgiveness and Love are upon you…. For all who ask for forgiveness, mercy and everlasting life, on this day shall receive it ever so abundantly….My Feast (of Divine Mercy) is now, and you are welcomed, forgiven and ever-so-much loved!"  (JOM, Vol I, #47, April 2, 1989)  "Be grateful that My Father is forgiving.  Be grateful that judgment is not based on man's standards.  Be grateful that He has allowed Me to save you.  Be grateful for His everlasting Mercy.  Do not grieve, but rejoice!"  (JOM, Vol II, #10, Oct 12, 1989) 

 

"My sorrow is that they (humanity) cannot accept the Truth of My words and do not believe that My Sacrifice for men was to sanctify them through forgiveness in My Blood shed (for them).    I came to do the Will of God, His Will of saving man from condemnation and sanctifying them through My Blood for redemption.  My sorrow is in viewing the many who do not wish to receive my Body and Blood…."  (JOM, Vol II, #19, Nov.7. 1989)

 

It seems that the fear of a harsh, judgmental God, and possibly the shame associated with the sin, often hinder many from seeking forgiveness from an all-knowing and all-loving God.  Even worse is the failure to even recognize the brokenness of our sin-filled condition. Our Lord Himself in His Lessons to the world explains His intent:

 

"I am not here to enslave My people, but to free them.  I died for all so that all would live.  I died for you so that your soul would never die….All I have, I give to you. There are no restrictions.  I do not wish for my people to feel guilty or have any feelings of remorse (long-lasting), because I love them and am a forgiving God.  All they need to do is come to Me and forgive themselves so that I can forgive them."  (JOM, Vol II, #27, Dec. 18, 1989)

 

"When you believe you are perfect, I can assure you that you are distant.  The pain My people have is because they deny their brokenness and do not accept the present condition of their being.  They wish to control.  When the situation does not go as desired, they deny the situation and make circumstances to justify themselves with excuses….These are people in need of joy and peace.  First, for them to recognize they are powerless and cannot control, they must accept the sin and not place guilt on themselves.  The rest is a grace I give to them for healing."  (JOM, Vol  IV, #2, Oct. 3, 1991)

 

It is humility and genuine sorrow that moves Our Lord--an honest assessment of our sinfulness, true contrition or sorrow, and a yearning to live in the Divine Will.  Our Lord continues in His discussion of sin:

 

"If you sin, mourn in sorrow.  A humble heart and act of contrition will bear the hope of forgiveness.  You regain the grace once lost and are enveloped in my holy loving embrace.  Do not allow demons of guilt, bitterness and self-pity to overpower you….All you need do is recognize My Love and My Peace, and embrace Me through love and union of yourself in Me".  (JOM, Vol IV, #57, Aug. 12, 1992)

 

"It is a humble and contrite heart I will not despise.  It is the heart that yearns for My goodness, I will not turn from….A humble heart is a heart who loves what is Heavenly in the midst of a human existence.  A humble heart is one who always wills and desires that which is most acceptable to Me, that which will please Me best.  It is one who seeks his/her will to be My Will always and follows it with a resignation of total surrender."  (JOM, Vol IV, #31, July 17, 1992)

 

Guilt and Shame

"Buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich,

and white garments to put on

so that your shameful nakedness may not be exposed;

and buy ointment to smear on your eyes so that you may see.

Those whom I love, I reprove and chastise. 

Be earnest, therefore, and repent." 

(Rev 3:18-19)

 

Too often we in our brokenness look for human support rather than to the One in Whom all support truly rests, that being Our Lord Himself:

 

"Man looks for support on his journey and acceptance from other men.  Words move them.  They either boost them in pride or offend them through insult and shame….Those who trust in Me are not moved by the offenses of man's words.  Those who are guilty mend their ways.  Those who are innocent accept the offenses against them with offering to God.  They are not moved for acceptance of man and acceptance of words pleasing to them, because they know it is I Who sees the ways of those who are guilty and the ways of those who are innocent….If you are knowingly guilty, change your ways by rectifying your behavior to reflect the goodness of God, by being faithful to the commandments.  Those who are innocent know that I am the Judge, not man.  Offer in sacrifice your crucifixion, and be at peace."  (JOM, Vol IV, #6, Oct. 27, 1991)

 

"My people with indifference and disinterest in correcting their sin continue to act like blind ones, pretending not to see their ways.  They fear the loss of their position or material goods; and they are deprived of the light of knowledge and of all grace, all because of their lukewarm hearts of indifference and disinterest.  They do not correct their faults.  They do not attempt to pray unless they receive consolation in return.  They do not stand firm in penance, so they are blind and confounded in guilt."  (JOM, Vol V, Feb. 6, 1995)

 

It truly seems that so often it is both guilt and shame, which erode the trust each of us has in our merciful Savior, that inhibit many from seeking forgiveness.  The Catholic Dictionary defines "guilt" as a condition of a person who has done moral wrong, who is therefore more or less estranged from the one he offended, and who is liable for punishment before he has been pardoned and has made atonement.  Webster's Dictionary defines "shame" as a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety; a condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute.  Our Lord addresses both of these in His Lessons to the world:

 

"I came today to talk to My beloved people about shame.  My people think they know what love is, but they do not embrace the love because they do not love themselves.  The underlying cause is shame.  Those who are sure to diagnose lack of love in their brethren are the first to have shame rooted deep within themselves disguising their own lack of love….

 

"…Man, through the venomous poison of judgment and resentfulness, places guilt and charges a victim, placing despair and embarrassment through humiliation upon the soul.  The soul flees to safety, masking its changes, whether guilty or innocent, by avoiding the accusation and placing reason on another issue or even charging another person of some guilt.  The soul is revealed without compassion or love and is buried deep, and insult topples injury; and the soul cannot love because it is faced with humiliation from lack of acceptance from mankind….Shame comes from values instilled in man by man, instead of loving.  Shame leads to chemical dependence, abuse and self-destruction because of self-humiliation, lack of acceptance, lack of love and embarrassment."  (JOM, Vol V, #7, Nov. 3, 1991)

 

It is Satan himself who imposes shame and guilt, trying to push each of us toward at least indifference, if not despair.  However, Our Lady of Emmitsburg reassures all of her children of the freedom, joy and purity which come with forgiveness and the promise of the new tomorrow:

 

"You are called to a life of purity, a life free of sin, a life filled with joy, happiness and peace. Satan would like you to dwell on your sins.  He would like you to live in shame and guilt and to be unforgiving to yourselves and others.  In prayer you will realize that Jesus loves you and is calling you not to sin, shame or guilt, but to freedom, joy, purity and forgiveness."  (Public OLOE, Dec. 8, 1993)  "So I know you shall respond gallantly, with courage and a spirit of the tremendous promise for a new tomorrow which will invite those who have sinned to once again be renewed, refreshed and forgiven."    (Private OLOE, June 29, 2003)

 

A common excuse for not seeking God's forgiveness, and especially for not frequenting the Sacrament of Reconciliation, is that of not being aware of one's own sins.  We can easily examine our consciences with such blurry glasses that we fail to see what is most likely so apparent to others, and most especially to God Himself.  Our Lady of Emmitsburg addresses this with her children and points to her Son's Cross and to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass: 

 

"You cannot say that you are free from the guilt of sin.  If this is what you believe in your heart, then you are deceived.  Look to Jesus; and see how He endured, because of your sin, the pain and suffering on the Cross for your salvation."  (Public OLOE, April 1, 2007)

 

"My Son's entire Life was one act of interior and exterior sacrifice.  His interior love and obedience for God the Father was portrayed by His exterior sacrifice on the Cross.  All of His suffering was consumed for your sins.  You can make Jesus' sacrifice your own in the Mass.  Your interior sacrifice can be expressed by an exterior sacrifice--an external sacrifice of obedience, submission to God's Will, love and praise during Mass.  Jesus' exterior sacrifice was an expression of His interior sacrifice.  It was His obedience, His submission to the Father's Will, His Love and His adoration which satisfied the Father in reparation for the sins of the world….Jesus gives Himself to you in the Mass.  He invites you to live as He lived and to join Him in His act of Love."  (Public OLOE, Mar. 26, 1998)

 

"To forgive....That is the whole essence of the Cross.  How could Jesus be crucified sinless?  'Father, forgive them.'  (Lk 23:34)  That is the whole essence of the Cross where Love is released.  And if you are forgiven, then you too must forgive.  That is not to say that it is easy, but you can.  Everyone is unique in God's Love; and truly you cannot change people, but you can love them in Jesus."  (Private OLOE, July 24, 2010)

 

We have all been taught to pray for whatever is our heart's desire; and if it is God's Will, it shall be granted.  But as we all have experienced, what we may ask is not always in God's Will, at least at the time when we ask it.  However, there is certainly one gift that God cannot refuse, that being our petition for forgiveness--forgiveness of our offenses against God.  This prayer request will allow His Mercy and Love to flow abundantly, allowing God always to reveal the Truth in His time.  Our Lady of Emmitsburg beautifully makes these connections:

 

"Forgiveness is a great gift from God….Ask Him for forgiveness….Ask Him for the strength to forgive yourself and others….Forgive all who have hurt you in any way.  It is important that you love as Jesus loves, and that you see yourself as Jesus sees you…."  (Public OLOE, Mar. 6, 1997)   "Forgiveness, Mercy and Love are necessary in order to value the dignity of each human being.  God dwells in the soul of each person….You can become One with Him and remain with Him as you embrace Mercy and forgiveness and Love."  (Public OLOE, Nov. 19, 1998)   "Forgiveness and Love must always be in the forefront, as well as allowing God in the proper time to reveal the Truth.  Silence is your shield, and Love is your sword.  Yes, there is a time to uphold the Truth; but if it is through defamation, then the Truth is not being upheld.  Revealing the Truth is something that shows love.  Even if it hurts, it shows love."  (Private OLOE, Apr. 13, 2008)

 

But there is no substitute for humility.  Without it, we can see only through our human eyes, not Our Lord's Eyes.  It is through His Eyes that we can see the good in each of our brothers and sisters, regardless of what harm they may have caused.  Our Lady emphasizes that it is only in this way of forgiveness that we can come to live in union with God:

 

"Those who are truly humble can love all, regardless of the afflicted pain pressed upon them.  Then through the Eyes of my Son, you will see a different Light.  You will see through His Eyes the Light of Love.  For those who have done wrong, even if they meant well; and for those who have done wrong, who have meant to do wrong within their heart and soul, there is still good.  With compassion and Love, God my Son forgives.  To be in union with God, the only way is through forgiveness.  For my Son has taught the prayer:  'Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.'  If you forgive, whether spoken or not, you can live in union with God."   (Private OLOE, June 28, 2010)

 

"Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell in unity!"

(Ps 133:1)

 

 

B.  God's Forgiveness of Us

 

"Ask and you shall receive…."

(Mt 7:7)

 

As a loving Mother, Our Lady of Emmitsburg wants each of her children to benefit from everything her beloved Son offers.  Even she, through her own intercession, is constantly petitioning her Son on our behalf; however, she instructs us that we too must "Ask":

 

"You most definitely need to pray….and beg God's forgiveness.  Ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten you in what areas you need to be forgiven, because there is so much damage that has come into the world…."  (Private OLOE, Sept. 17, 2009)

 

"Ask forgiveness for those areas in which you have been unfaithful and disloyal; and implore His assistance so that you may respond to His Light and inspirations."  (Public OLOE, Sep. 11. 1997)

 

"Jesus is forever forgiving.…Do not despair and never refuse to ask forgiveness from God….Neither should you be so presumptuous that Jesus will forgive you that you avoid asking for forgiveness….You need to not only ask Him for forgiveness, but you need to ask my Son for His assistance to avoid whatever is leading you to sin….It is time to reflect on the Truths of God.  It is time to do penance and ask Him for forgiveness from sins of pride and self-exaltation."  (Public OLOE, Dec. 3, 1998)

 

The Catholic Dictionary defines "sin" as a voluntary transgression of the law of God.  It is a transgression because it is an act whereby we go beyond the limits imposed on freedom.  It is a voluntary transgression because it is committed knowingly and willingly.  The law of God, which sin contravenes, comprises not only the natural and the Divine positive law, but also the just precepts of all legitimately constituted authority.  Our Lady of Emmitsburg consoles humanity in its sinfulness and directs us toward holiness grounded in humility and trust in her assistance and God's Mercy:

 

"In your humanness there can always be errors, but my Son in His Divinity has given His Life for you.  Never look toward the sinner for relief, but look toward my Son; and there you can always find forgiveness, a hundred-fold, seven hundred-fold."  (Private OLOE, Aug. 22, 2003)

 

"There is no sin that is so great that my Son cannot forgive it….It is so important for all people to know that holiness does not start or finish with knowledge, but it is completed only at the moment of true humility, which rests in the fulfillment of and union with the Divine Will.  There is always room to grow; and no one should ever speak ill of another person, especially in matters of righteousness, unless they themselves are prepared to fall."  (Private OLOE, Aug. 13, 2005)

 

"Holiness is not something you ask for; holiness is a gift from God.  It is a gracious gift.  The more you give, the more you receive.  Yet, you pray because you ask forgiveness for having offended others through your arrogance and your spiritual pride."  (Private OLOE, April 24, 2004)

 

"I am with you.  I am because you are with me.  I am with you because you desire the Truth.  I am with you because you want to be good; and even though you sometimes fail, you try.  And because you try, God forgives.  And when God forgives, He does not remember. He only desires you."    (Private Oct. 31, 2004)  "Know you are human, and God forgives your idiosyncrasies.  As you confess your sins, He blesses you even more; and the grace from heaven is upon you."  (Private OLOE, Sept. 8, 2004)

 

Sometimes it is hard to believe that, in a world with over 6 billion people, God and Our Lady are even aware of each of us, let alone love us and know us by name.  Our Lady of Emmitsburg, however, reassures us of the importance and uniqueness of each and every one of us:

 

"I love you….Yet, I will continue to challenge you to do even better.  You have always to both seek and to follow the Truth.  Each one of you knows in your heart the ways of the Truth, where you have sinned, and where you need to be forgiven by God.  With this knowledge comes the blessing from Heaven for your honesty in being genuine as a human being."  (Private OLOE, Mar. 28, 2005)

 

"Know that God knows you by name.  All your incentives, your thoughts and your desires, He knows.  He gives; He takes.  He forgives, and then He heals."  (Private OLOE. Jan. 23, 2010)

 

"The ways of God are not the ways of this world, but the ways of God will be the new tomorrow….God loves you; and even if you deny Him, He will love you as He loved Judas.  He will forgive you as He desired to forgive Judas, but you have to desire to be forgiven and seek to change to be like Him."  (Private OLOE, Apr. 18, 2009)

 

"You must look at your own self and pray in your own way for God's Mercy on you, for His forgiveness and His strength that you can carry on.  For you can do nothing without Him!"  (Private OLOE, Sept. 25, 2009)

 

 

The Sacrament of Reconciliation

 

Jesus to the apostles:

He breathed on them and said to them,

"Receive the Holy Spirit. 

Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,

and whose sins you retain are retained."

(Jn 20:22-23)

 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines a "Sacrament" as an efficacious sign of grace instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us.  Unique to the Catholic Church is the Sacrament of Reconciliation by which God, through the ministry of the priest, forgives sin as well as provides the sanctifying grace needed to be truly contrite and intent on avoiding the occasions of sin in the future.  In modern times, even in those who profess to be practicing Catholics, this Sacrament remains greatly underutilized and misunderstood.  Our Lady of Emmitsburg warns against taking forgiveness for granted:

 

"It is good that you do not wait until your last dying breath to repent for your sins.  That presumption would be a grave mistake! But as you regularly and in an ongoing way ask for God's forgiveness, you are made whole and you become holy through your desire to be like Him.  This is most pleasing to God the Father."  (Private OLOE, Jan. 23, 2007)

 

Reconciliation is the act or state of re-establishing friendship between God and a human being, or between two persons.  Many argue that they can confess their sins to God.  "Why do I need to tell them to a priest," they ask.  Our Lord Himself in His Lessons answers this question:

 

"When My people come to Me to receive Reconciliation, I ask that they see Me in their hearts.  I wish for them to pray to My Spirit to guide them in what needs to be asked in forgiveness; and then, in repentance, see Me in their hearts.  A true confession will result from My Spirit's guidance, and from their sincerity and humbleness….I assure you that in this Sacrament, it is I you see, not My priest.  It is I to whom you are announcing your sins, asking Me for forgiveness….It is I with whom you reconcile, not my priests! See Me in your hearts.  Know it is I, and personally I, listening and granting you forgiveness.  My priests are My instruments….They bless you in My Name, and affirm My forgiveness."  (JOM, Vol I, #73, July 29, 1989)

 

"When you sin, allow My Spirit to truthfully guide you to honest reconciliation; and your soul will be nourished.  Once absolution of your sin is completed, you become virginal in purity….Since man is free, he has the freedom of choice at all moments to select good or evil.  Once sin has been committed, and I dwell in you, My Spirit will cause conflict with the evil until reconciliation has commenced.  That sin will continuously stain the soul until you allow forgiveness both from Me and yourself.…The conflict and separation of your inner being will exist until you allow My goodness to prevail.  However, once I have entered your soul, the conflict cannot last long because no evil can exist very long when I possess the soul."  (JOM, Vol II, #12, Oct. 18, 1989) 

 

It has been said that the grace received from a repentant sinner seeking forgiveness from God, rising up with a firm purpose of amendment, and determined to even help others avoid the same pitfall, is even greater than the grace God gives to the one who had not committed the sin.  Whether this be true or not, it certainly underscores the fact that there is no room for self-pity, shame or despair.  Our Lady warns against these feelings of negativity as she encourages the use of the Sacrament:

 

"Never in your sinfulness should you seek self-pity; but remember that because God is so great, He forgives you.  You too must forgive yourselves and forgive others.  Do not continue to hold yourselves accountable in those areas that harm you; but remember that through the gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, you can rise above those areas and help others.  This is the beauty, that God chooses those who are weak and makes them strong."  (Private OLOE, Jan. 14, 2006)

 

"God loves your sorrow and your sacrifice, and He replenishes you with grace.  He forgives.  Because you recognize Him, you are renewed.  But you must always use the Sacrament of Reconciliation for your protection and your continual growth."  (Private OLOE, July 16, 2008)

 

"But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness,

but is guilty of an everlasting sin."

(Mk 3:29)

 

 

End of

Forgiveness, Part 1