Lent 2011

Lent 2013

Part 3

 

E.   Contrition and the Purpose of Amendment
F.  Reconciliation, Reparation and Atonement
G.  The Closing

 

 

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)

 

Forgiveness is a complex dynamic.  The Catholic Dictionary defines "forgiveness" as pardon or remission of an offense.  The Catholic Church teaches that sins forgiven are actually removed from the soul (Jn 20:23), not merely covered over by the merits of Christ.  Only God can forgive sins, since He alone can restore sanctifying grace to a person who has sinned gravely and thereby has lost the state of grace.  God forgives sins to the truly repentant sinner either immediately through an act of perfect contrition or mediately through a Sacrament.  The Sacraments primarily directed to the forgiveness of sins are Baptism, Reconciliation and secondarily, under certain conditions, the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, and even Holy Eucharist for some venial sins.

 

However, in this dynamic process there needs be a conviction of guilt by the conscience of the sinner through the workings of the Holy Spirit, or by some legitimate governing entity, individual or group.  Contrition or sorrow for sin is needed, thus forgiveness cannot occur in the absence of a repentant sinner.  There then needs to be an openness to reconciliation with the one injured and a willingness to make reparation and atonement for the offense.  This also involves the necessity to avoid the sin and occasions of sin in the future---a firm purpose of amendment.  Forgiveness may take the form of God's forgiveness of man, man's forgiveness of himself, and man's forgiveness of another. All of this need be accomplished without causing any lasting shame, guilt or despair.

 

A.  Forgiveness:  An Overview

B.  God's Forgiveness of Us

C.  Our Forgiveness of Each Other

D.  Our Forgiveness of Ourselves

E.  Contrition and the Purpose of Amendment

F.   Reconciliation, Reparation and Atonement

G.  The Closing

 

Prayer Before a Crucifix

 

Look down upon me, good and gentle Jesus, while before Thy Face I humbly kneel; and with burning soul pray and beseech Thee to fix deep in my heart lively sentiments of faith, hope and charity, true contrition for my sins and a firm purpose of amendment; while I contemplate with great love and tender pity Thy Five Wounds, pondering over them within me and calling to mind the words which David, Thy prophet, said of Thee, my Jesus, "They have pierced My Hands and My Feet, they have numbered all My Bones."  (Ps. 21, 17-18)

 

 

 

In this complex dynamic of forgiveness, there are several components that deserve further comment.  Both Our Lord in His Lessons and Our Lady of Emmitsburg continue their teaching on contrition and purpose of amendment, reconciliation, reparation and atonement.

 

E.  Contrition and the Purpose of Amendment

 

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me;

He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the contrite of heart,

to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners…" 

(Is 61:1)

 

The Catholic Dictionary defines "contrition" as sorrow for and detestation of  one's past actual sins, with the purpose not to sin in future.  Contrition is the principal act of the virtue of penance, and an essential element of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  To be conducive to salvation and to justification, contrition must be based on a supernatural motive.  Our Lord in His Lessons to the world speaks of the state of humanity which does not approach Him with true contrition:

 

"There are those who come to Me out of curiosity, running busily here and there, but making no effort towards true contrition….My people live in sorrow, a pain deeply embedded in their souls.  As each day goes by, their pain does not alleviate, but continues to deepen until their hearts turn cold and then to ice!  The numbness exists and they co-exist, not as co-redeemers, but as co-destructors!  They exist in the only possible way--with no love!  Their sorrow and pain are true, which cloud their hearts, minds and souls with such viscosity that they mourn.  They mourn because their souls thirst for love and honesty, but their hearts have turned to ice!  If only they would have come to Me, I would refresh them with life, the love of life and the beauty of creation." 

 

"Man will not be able to exist much longer with icy hearts because the soul will die.  Love and openness to receive love through the heart nourish the soul. If you do not wish My Love and gifts, your hearts will freeze and your souls die.  Do not allow the glamour of evil to hypnotize you.  Evil will mesmerize you, and then deceive you.  Your oxygen of life will be depleted and your hearts will grow cold until final damnation freezes them and the soul mourns for all eternity."  (JOM, Vol II, # 19, Nov. 7, 1989) 

 

"It grieves Me that these are My people who have allowed such degrading evil to possess them.  They have no sense of dignity, and do not even know the value of dignity.  These are the people who need to learn what pure love is.  These are My people who need to forgive and love themselves." (JOM, Vol II, #38,  Jan. 16, 1990)

 

In both somber, yet encouraging words to all her children, Our Lady of Emmitsburg also warns of a time of accountability due to the lack of true contrition, but a time of opportunity, growth, resignation and purification--all leading to true contrition and the strength to become pillars of Light:

 

"The world is no longer good.  The world is existing only because God continues to allow it.  His Justice is inevitable.  His Mercy will continue to redeem those who are serious and authentic, those with contrite hearts, and those motivated to know the narrow path and to live it.  I am afraid to tell you that we are entering a period no longer of grace, but a period where each person's soul must account for itself."  (Private OLOE, Oct. 30, 2004)

 

"Calm your anxieties through love and acceptance of yourself, and meet each frustrating circumstance with an open heart.  See each element of your life's experience as an opportunity to grow in love and humility.  You will master your difficulties through a resigned and contrite heart."  (Public OLOE, Feb. 22, 1996)  "It is not sacrifice Jesus desires, but a humble contrite heart, a heart which loves and then can be merciful."  (Public OLOE, June 10, 1999)

 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that our first parents, Adam and Eve, transmitted to their descendants human nature wounded by their own first sin, and hence deprived of original holiness and justice; this deprivation being called 'original sin.'  As a result of original sin, human nature is weakened in its powers; subject to ignorance, suffering and the domination of death; and inclined to sin.  This inclination to sin is called 'concupiscence.' (CCC 417-18)  Our Lady of Emmitsburg comments further on this 'original sin':

 

"Because of original sin there will be the imperfections; but through the grace of God, you can rise above all challenges and be made whole again.  It is the walk of life, not to be discouraged and not to succumb to self-pity, but to meet your challenges and your sinful ways face to face, and then to be purified through the grace of God with contrition for your sin."  (Private OLOE, Jan. 11, 2006)

 

"What would have happened if Peter, who denied my Son, could not have forgiven?  And yet, in his bitterness, he was able to change.  Fear, pride, righteousness, one's reputation and other elements can dissuade someone; but in the end, an Act of Contrition and a heart willing to serve will always be at the forefront and make someone stronger, so as to be a pillar of Light."  (Private OLOE, May 12, 2008) 

 

To "amend" means to improve, to change one's conduct, to remove one's faults.  The Catholic Dictionary defines the "purpose of amendment" as the firm resolution required of a penitent to receive valid absolution in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  He/she must resolve to avoid, by the grace of God, not only the sins confessed but also the dangerous occasions to sin.

 

"Therefore, amend your ways and your deeds;

listen to the voice of the Lord your God,

so that the Lord will repent of the evil with which He threatens you." 

(Jer 26:13)

 

Unfortunately, it is far too often easier to confess one's sorrow than it is to avoid the occasions of sin in the future.  God the Father, in His Words to the world through Gianna Sullivan, warns humanity that now is the time to make amends, while there is still time, or to be prepared for the consequences of Divine Justice.  Amending one's life, however, is a free will decision--that being the power of the will to determine itself and to act of itself, without compulsion from within or coercion from without; and the Father acknowledges that free will surely can reject the Truth: 

 

"I wait; I watch; I listen; and My Judgment is a judgment of Justice.  You, children of humanity, know not the day, the hour nor the time, not the place nor the event.  Perhaps then, it is time for you to amend your lives and to be enlightened, as if today was your last.  Perhaps, it is time for you to love, as if today was your last opportunity to love; and perhaps it is time for you to be grateful, as if today was your last chance to give praise and thanksgiving to Me for your life."  (GTF, Jan.8, 2006)  Think wholeheartedly now; and if there is any doubt, then perhaps you should make your amends now, For only those, who can rejoice in My tremendous glory, can survive forever.  Those of you who desire to live your lives in your own way now, instead of as your soul was created to be, enjoy it; but do not ask why the Truth was not presented to you, for I have outlined the entire Truth.  It is your free will that has rejected it."  (GTF, Feb. 8, 2007)

 

“…You will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.”

(Jn 8:32)

 

F.  Reconciliation, Reparation and Atonement

 

"And all this is from God,

Who has reconciled us to Himself through Christ

and given us the ministry of reconciliation;

namely, God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ,

not counting their trespasses against them,

and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation."

(2Cor 5:18-19)

 

The Catholic Dictionary defines "reconciliation" as the act of reestablishing friendship between God and a human being or between two persons.  Reconciliation with God is necessary after a person has lost the divine friendship through grievous sin.  It requires repentance on the part of the sinner and forgiveness on the part of God or the other person.  The willingness to be reconciled with another person is a necessary condition for obtaining God's Mercy.

 

Our Lord in His Lessons to the world helps us understand our own gift of "conscience," which the Catholic Dictionary defines as an act of the virtue of prudence by which the intellect makes a judgment, dictating what is to be done as morally right or what is to be avoided as morally wrong, in the particular circumstances in which one is now placed:

 

"Do you have a clear conscience?  Are you filled with anger?  Have you sought reconciliation with your fellow brothers and sisters?  Have you allowed Me to love you so that you can have a clear conscience?  Are you ready to receive My Mercy?  Are you ready to allow My Mercy to flow through you?…Look at yourselves, your conscience!  Reconcile with your brothers and sisters!  Accept My Mercy with certainty, and receive My Peace."  (JOM, Vol I, #58, June 12, 1989)

 

"If it is necessary for you to commence the reconciliation process….then do so!  Take the first step!  Seek courage and strength from Me, but do not delay.  Each moment you delay, you deny yourself My grace of freedom and peace….If you wish to be glorified in Me, you must reconcile and forgive.  Do not take lightly My words on forgiveness and reconciliation….Allow Me to destroy your pride so that you can live in freedom and happiness by forgiving.  Stop thinking you are far better than your fellow brothers or that it is belittling to forgive."  (JOM, Vol I, #65, June 26, 1989)

 

All humanity has been reconciled to the Father through the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ; however, having received this grace of reconciliation, there comes a responsibility to live with charity towards others or one runs the risk of insulting God.  Our Lady of Emmitsburg goes on to explain this debt:

 

"If you abuse the graces of my Son, your guilt will be grave because you have received more through the redemption of His Blood.  My Son reconciled you by means of His Blood and confounded falsehood.  He destroyed death and darkness….If you receive His grace and abuse it by not responding with acts of charity toward others, you will end up harming yourselves.  The Mercy of my Son disposes you to perform acts of love for one another….If you insult God the Father through selfish uncharitable acts, your debt incurred will be great!"  (Public OLOE, Aug. 24, 2000)

 

The Catholic Dictionary defines "reparation" as the act of making amends, as opposed to the purpose of amendment, which involves making a change.  Reparation implies an attempt to restore things to their normal conditions, as they were before something wrong was done.  It applies mainly to recompense for the losses sustained or the harm caused by some morally bad action.  With respect to God, it means making up with greater love for the failure in love through sin; it means restoring what was unjustly taken and compensating with generosity for the selfishness that caused the injury.

 

Reparation need be accomplished with the right disposition of heart.  Our Lady of Emmitsburg expresses the various modes of reparation--prayer, fasting, penance, suffering and the Sacramental life--all much needed to atone for the outrages against both the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary: 

 

"I welcome you with Love.  My Son welcomes you with Love.  Love and compassion overflow from the Covenant of Our Hearts.  Learn the spirit of Love and forgiveness that the Gospel prescribes.  When you do reparation, you are disposed to allowing Our Hearts to be united with you."  (Public OLOE, Nov. 3, 1994)  "Be 'little' children of God.  To be 'little' is to avoid focusing on yourself, but to focus on God and to be dependent and confident in His Love.  True joy can be masked through the resistance of the intellect.  Be little joyful children and join me in prayer and in love as reparation for the many sins against the Sacred heart of Jesus."  (Public OLOE, June 15, 1995)  "Do not fear.  God is merciful, especially to the repentant sinner….Jesus accepts your suffering in reparation for the continual outrages he receives."  (Public OLOE, Oct. 10, 1996)  "Unless prayer, penance and fasting are done in reparation for the many outrages against His Most Sacred Heart, this world will suffer tremendously from its lack of gratitude, its pompous righteousness and lack of mercy.  People, who are not interested in hearing the words of Mercy and Love now, will crave to hear them later; but will not because it will be too late."  (Public OLOE, June 12, 1997)

 

"There is no quick fix for what took years to destroy, namely the family bond, morality, peace, simplicity, and the treasures of prayer, sharing, love and unity.  God has been offended, and He desires reparation and penances for the sacrileges and outrages against His Most Sacred Heart.  You must learn to ask and receive in humility, not demand or spurn His Mercy.  It takes time to change a world focused on materialism, self-image and the power to rule.  It can only change with the grace of God, with His Mercy, and with the willingness of His beloved ones to surrender to God's Way, to accept His desires, to become 'little,' to pray, and perhaps even to suffer;  if that is what God asks in order to soften the direct attacks against the Blessed Trinity."  (Public OLOE, Jan. 28, 1999)

 

"Join me in cooperating with God's grace, leading you towards the Holy Sacraments, which will cleanse you and make reparation for sin against my Divine Son."  (Public OLOE, May 11, 2000)

 

It had been in Fatima on July 13, 1917, that Our Lady had first given the plea for the Communion of Reparation on First Saturdays for the thorns with which humanity pierces her Immaculate Heart by their blasphemies and ingratitude.  Our Lady of Emmitsburg later reminded us of the same:

 

"I requested, over 80 years ago at Fatima, sacrifice for sinners' conversion in reparation for sins against my Immaculate Heart." (Public OLOE, July 13, 2000)  "It was the Child Jesus who later encouraged my little daughter Lucia from Fatima to spread the First Saturday devotions in reparation for sins against my Immaculate Heart."  (Public OLOE, June 29, 2000

 

The Catholic Dictionary defines "atonement" as the “satisfaction of a legitimate demand.  In a more restricted sense it is the reparation of an offense.  This occurs through a voluntary performance that outweighs the injustice done.  If the performance fully counterbalances the gravity of the guilt, the atonement is adequate; and if the atonement is done by someone other than the actual offender, but in his stead, it is vicarious."  (souls in purgatory).  Applied to Christ the Redeemer, through His suffering and death, He rendered vicarious atonement to God the Father for the sins of the human race.  His atonement is fully adequate because it was performed by a Divine Person.  In fact, it is superabundant because the positive value of Christ's expiation is actually greater than the negative value of human sin.

"What must I do for you and how must I make atonement,

that you may bless the inheritance of the Lord?" 

(2 Sam 21:3)

 

Our Lady of Emmitsburg minces no words as she emphasizes the need in our world for atonement:

 

"I cannot mince the Truth….Humanity has drifted.   As much as I have invited them to come back to my Son, they have initially come back; and then, because of their own ways and indifferences and many other incidences in their lives, they have become distracted, and now seek other means to enlighten themselves and to satisfy their own likings.  Because of this there is need for atonement."  (Private OLOE, Feb. 24, 2003)  "What God gives you in life is the Truth, and you are responsible to live the Truth through your Baptism and the oath you have given to Him.  So all shall have to atone for their lack of commitment and their lack of faithfulness to their Baptismal promises."  (Private OLOE, Mar. 19, 2003)

 

Our Lady of Emmitsburg goes on to speak about what happens at the time of death when atonement is not optional, and then she warns of the impending time that has been prophesied when many will experience physical death and face the truth of their relationship with their Creator:

 

"Know that when each soul goes to my Son Jesus, it first rests in His Most Sacred Heart.  Then, that evening each soul reflects on the good as well as the mercy and love they have shown during their lives; after which the soul must atone, as it goes to the proper place to do so, with the hope of seeing God face to face, and with all the angels praying and rallying them on.  Many people on earth are praying for their souls, and even I their Mother am visiting and comforting them with just a smile or a tear from my eyes which would quench their thirst to see God."  (Private OLOE Jan. 6, 2004)

 

"I am afraid to tell you that we are entering a period no longer of grace, but a period where each person's soul must account for itself.  And if you are not already united as a family, it will be most difficult to join.  Few will survive; and many, many will come to know the Truth and pay the price of atonement through God's Mercy."  (Private OLOE, Oct. 30, 2004)  "When you meet your Creator, each of you will have to atone for all of your sins; for He is Just, and His Divine Justice will unfold."  (Private OLOE, June 24, 2006)

 

In our humanness we are not only vulnerable to temptation and sin, but also procrastination and presumption.  Although all may have till their very last breath to say "yes" to God, Our Lady urges her children not to knowingly wait until that last moment to discover God's Mercy, or it may be His Justice which awaits them.  However, in the end, the Truth will be made known, and all must be reunited and be made new.  Our Lady of Emmitsburg talks of that time when every knee will bend as redemption becomes more fully understood and all made new: 

 

"As a human being, due to original sin, you have sin.  But when my Son sees how you strive to give Him the greater glory and to be with Him, to love Him and to atone, He then uses all of your prayers; and He cleanses you, He comforts you and He is most merciful.  It is good that you do not wait until your last dying breath to repent your sins.  That presumption would be a grave mistake!  But as you regularly and in an ongoing way ask for God's forgiveness, then you are made whole and you become holy through your desire to be like Him."  (Private OLOE, Jan, 23, 2007)  "There are quite a number who will find out the Truth and are able, at their last breath, to say 'yes' and to atone through the Mercy of God.  In His Justice, they will be purified."  (Private OLOE, May 9, 2007)

 

"God the Father has given humanity the great blessing of its salvation, one that the world up until today does not understand.  Truly the redemption is not understood fully; because if it were, every knee would bend, every creature would join in union and every joy would be given to God in a merciful sacrifice, praising Him.  There would not be division; there would not be controversy.  Only the Truth would be known.  This was the way in the beginning before the fallen angel.  Once again all must be reunited, and the world must know and be purged and atone for the sinfulness against God.  But in His Mercy and in His Love, through your penance, all shall be made new!"  (Private OLOE, May 14, 2009)

 

 

Prayer

 

"Pray without ceasing!"

(1Thes 5:17)

 

One only has to look around the world on a daily basis to find new tragedies and devastation, both human and natural, and to see that something is changing, prophesies are being fulfilled, humanity is being held accountable for its sinfulness--sinfulness due not only to human weakness, but especially to human arrogance.  Even so, Our Lady of Emmitsburg expresses her amazement at how often prayer is left out of the conversation, as well as any supplication for the protection by the Precious Blood of Jesus and for the Holy Souls in Purgatory--both, in spite of the tremendous eternal value, so often not only forgotten, but totally absent from the awareness of the secular, modern world:

 

"In all the events that happen in the world, whether good or bad, it amazes me how the focus of conversation is on the event instead of on prayer.  When good things happen, all praise and thanksgiving should be given to God immediately.  When other events happen that are not so good, then the topic should be that of imploring God's intercession, pleading for His Mercy, trusting in His infinite goodness, thanking God the Father, and presenting Him the Precious Blood of Jesus in atonement of your sins and for the souls in Purgatory.  This would blanket you with tremendous protection."  (Private OLOE, Feb. 6, 2010)

 

"I am amongst all of you, and God has allowed me in a special way to come here, to the Center of my Immaculate Heart, to thank God the Father through the Precious Blood of my Son Jesus for the atonement of all of your sins and for the sins of those in Purgatory; and I come to be a refuge for all children, those who are childlike as well as those who are truly young of age."  (Private OLOE, Feb. 7, 2010)

 

"Never forget these words--in the morning, in the evening, whenever you need us, whenever you are in danger, at any time of joy, and any moment when you need to discern--always say these same words, and you shall have an answer:

 

"Eternal Father, I offer you the Most Precious Blood of Jesus

in atonement for my sins

and in supplication for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.

I love you.  Help me now!"

(Private OLOE, Mar. 20, 2010)

 

 

G.  The Closing

 

In closing, let us join one of the Church's greatest saints, a Doctor of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas, in this timeless prayer, yet one so appropriate for today:

 

Prayer for Forgiveness

By St. Thomas Aquinas  (+1274)

 

To You, O God, Fountain of Mercy, I come, a sinner.

May you wash away my impurity.

O' Sun of Justice, give sight to the blind.

O' Eternal Healer, cure the wounded.

O' King of Kings, restore the despoiled.

O' Mediator of God and man, reconcile the sinful.

O' Good Shepherd, lead back the straying.

O' God, have pity on the wretched, show lenience to the guilty;

Bestow life on the dead, reform the impious;

And give the balm of grace to the hard of heart.

 

O' most merciful God, call back the one who flees;

Draw back the one who resists, lift up the one who falls;

Support the one who stands, and accompany the one who walks.

 

Do not forget those who forget You.

Do not desert those who desert You.

Do not despise those who sin against You.

 

For in sinning, I have offended You, my God;

I have harmed my neighbor; I have not even spared myself injury.

 

I have sinned, O' my God, against you, Almighty Father, because of my weakness;

Against You, all knowing Son, because of my ignorance;

Against you, merciful Holy Spirit, because of my malice.

Thus have I offended you most High Trinity.

 

Woe to me, a pitiful soul!

How many, how great, and how diverse are the sins I have committed.

 

I abandoned You, Lord; I question Your goodness

By yielding to evil cravings and weakening myself with harmful fears.

By such things, I preferred to lose You rather than abandon what I desired,

To offend You rather than face what ought not to be feared.

 

O' my God, how much harm have I done by word and deed,

And by sinning secretly, openly and defiantly.

 

Therefore, out of my weakness I beg you not to pay heed to my iniquity,

But rather to Your immense goodness.

And I beg you mercifully to pardon what I have done,

Granting me sorrow for my past actions and precaution in the future. Amen.

 

 

For those who cannot or will not sincerely and contritely pray these words of St. Thomas of Aquinas in this Prayer for Forgiveness, God the Father has some closing "Words" we all might consider:

 

"I am a God Who loves and continues to give and mercifully will forgive.  I will give and give, and will forgive and forgive; but what I ask for is attention and action.  If all are indifferent in their ways, then I have no choice other than to get humanity's attention."  (GTF, Nov. 8, 2007"You abuse and misuse all that is given.  You rationalize.  You are not realistic.  You try and you fail, and then you ask for forgiveness, and I forgive.  What of those who do no ask for forgiveness and only can take and take and continue to take?  What of those who continue on in an economy that is leading towards destruction, only because they cannot look to where the fruits can be found?"  (GTF, June 21, 2009"I see and cannot dismiss.  I forgive even if you cannot.  I am faithful even if you are not.  There is truly a day, when you will know; and you will miss not only this opportunity that at least my prophets before and my people believed, but you will miss the opportunity that you could have had and the graces and protection of your soul."  (GTF, Aug. 8, 2008)

 

But as a loving Mother, ever pleading at the Throne of God for all her children, Our Lady of Emmitsburg concludes this teaching on "Forgiveness" with a message of hope:

 

"A time of tribulation has erupted and through this tribulation will come a new peace.  Those who have had to suffer will have a rest and share in the new beginning and wear a crown of peace, no longer a crown of agony.  For those who have caused trouble and those who have maligned my Son, you too have a new hope because my Son is all forgiving and He loves you.  Thus, there is no guilt or shame that you must wear, but only in your hearts bear a hope for unity and an openness to follow whatever my Son desires in His Holy Will.  Together all sides can join now in unity, and with this is tremendous hope for a new peace, a new love, a new beginning, a new world and a new era."   (Public OLOE, Nov 1, 2002)

 

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,

so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

(Rom 15:13)