Category Archives: Spiritual Growth

How Can I Forgive

How Can I Forgive?

September 6, 2017

By Lorraine Vincent

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It’s difficult to forgive. But Jesus commanded us to forgive. He insisted. One day, Peter, puzzled by His words, asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me?” [Then Peter thought he would make a very generous offer to forgive and asked,] “Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:21, 22). Peter must have been shocked!

Why must I forgive?

In the Lord’s Prayer, we pray to God our Father: “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”. Jesus explains, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14). Tough words! We see that our lack of forgiveness prevents God from forgiving us. His mercy cannot penetrate a hardened unforgiving heart. Our Catechism of the Catholic Church, CCC, 2840, states, “In refusing to forgive our brothers and sisters, our hearts are closed and their hardness makes them impervious to the Father’s merciful love; but in confessing our sins, our hearts are opened to His grace”.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation

In our Catholic Church we are blessed to be able to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. When we are angry and unforgiving we can go to confession to a Catholic priest to be reconciled with God. We can confess our sins of lack of forgiveness for our brothers and sisters, admit our weakness in trying to forgive, and ask for God’s help. Jesus will be pleased with our good will, in that we are not refusing to forgive, but wish we could. Therefore, our hearts are not closed and hard, but open to His grace.

After making a good confession, we will receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and be reconciled with God, through the words of the Catholic priest. Our loving and merciful God has the power to forgive us and wash our souls clean of all sins. We have to believe God has forgiven us, accept it and live it, by trying to do His will. God then gives us His grace, that is, His help, so we can go forth and forgive those who have hurt us. To do this we can speak to them and tell them we have forgiven them. “Forgiveness is the fundamental condition of the reconciliation of the children of God with their Father and of men with one another” (CCC, 2844).

Forgive from Your Heart—Pray!

Jesus gave us the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant, about a good king who forgave a slave a huge debt. But this slave went and threw a fellow-slave into prison who owed him only a very small debt. The king was furious with this slave and said, “You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow-slave, as I had mercy on you? And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he should pay his entire debt. [Jesus then said,] So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart” (Matthew 18:32-35).

How do we forgive from our heart? What do we do? Jesus says, pray! “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:44, 45). Therefore, our response must be to pray daily for these souls. This is because God loves all people, including great sinners, and wants all of us to come to live with Him in Heaven. He wants everybody to repent, to work hard at changing their sinful ways and humbly return to Him, asking for forgiveness—and our prayers can help them. In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, Jesus shows us how God the Father embraced his repentant son, who had been a very great sinner, rewarded him with many gifts and took him into his house.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

To forgive from our heart is a process, a course of action. Even while we are still wounded, in our pain, we can ask God to bless those who have wronged us and make them holy. The most powerful prayer is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. During the Mass we can privately offer these souls to God. Compassionate prayer for the wellbeing of their souls is very important. We can pray for ourselves, too. However, we must not harbour feelings of resentment, anger and revenge, but rather pray with genuine sympathy for those souls that are wounded by sin. Prayer gives us spiritual strength, bringing us closer to God and our efforts will be pleasing to Him.

Jesus Prayed for His Enemies

We are called to follow Christ. Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:27, 28). When Jesus was dying and nailed to the Cross, He forgave His enemies and prayed for them with compassion: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). We should imitate Jesus and sincerely pray for the souls of our enemies. “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). He was scourged, crowned with thorns and nailed to the Cross! So what excuse do we have? Every time we look at a crucifix, we should think of this, and pray for those who have sinned against us. “Christian prayer extends to the forgiveness of enemies, transfiguring the disciple by configuring him to his Master” (CCC, 2844).

Can We “Forget” the Offense?

People around us tell us, “Forgive and Forget.” But how can we forget when we feel so hurt? Jesus did not command us to forget. He did command us to forgive, but did not tell us to forget. Our Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “It is not in our power not to feel or to forget an offense” (CCC, 2843). This teaching makes sense. For example, a woman who was raped cannot forget that traumatic experience. But it doesn’t mean she should dwell on it and relive it constantly for years and years. Common sense tells us to try to put our terrible past experiences behind us and try to move on with our lives for good mental health and for the good of our souls. Once again, prayer is the answer.

Offer Our Sufferings to God

As we offer our wounded heart and sufferings to God, we should pray [intercede] for the person who hurt us, with compassion for that person’s soul. I like this prayer: “Jesus, I offer You my sufferings to be joined to Your Holy Passion and offered to our heavenly Father, in reparation for my sins, for (name) and for all souls, in union with all the Holy Sacrifices of the Mass throughout the world today”. As we try to forgive from our heart, our memory will gradually be purified by our daily compassionate prayer. Our Catechism states, “the heart that offers itself to the Holy Spirit turns injury into compassion and purifies the memory in transforming the hurt into intercession” (CCC, 2843).

The Holy Rosary

When we persevere in daily prayer for the soul of the person who hurt us, the anger and the bad thoughts will dissipate slowly and go away. Our Church recommends the Holy Rosary. If we pray the Holy Rosary every day, we can include this particular soul in our prayers, asking Most Holy Mother Mary for Her intercession, so we can attain love, mercy and graces from God. Gradually the injury will turn into compassion and peace will flood our hearts. Don’t give up praying every day, for weeks and months or maybe even years. I did—and now I am at peace. Isaiah wrote about the love God has for us, “Those of steadfast mind You keep in peace—in peace because they trust in You” (Isaiah 26:3). We have faith that Jesus will be very pleased with our efforts and bless us.

The Divine Mercy Chaplet

The Divine Mercy Chaplet is an intercessory prayer that is prayed on the Holy Rosary beads. We can pray this Chaplet for our enemies, and for all souls. This prayer begs God the Father for graces for souls, based on the strength of Jesus’ Passion. Jesus is Love and Mercy itself. He is The Divine Mercy. He wants all souls to be saved. In His great love for us, God gave this prayer to St. Faustina. She wrote it for us in her Diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul, 476: “Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.” The Chaplet begins with the “Our Father”, one “Hail Mary” and the “I Believe in God”. Then the first part of the prayer, “Eternal Father…” is said on the Our Father beads of the Rosary. The last part, “For the sake of…” is said on each of the ten beads. After the five decades, the Chaplet concludes with, “Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world” prayed three times. To learn more about The Divine Mercy, check back to my previous articles on this website, entitled, “The Divine Mercy” and “Complete Pardon to Souls, Divine Mercy Sunday”.

Fast and Make Sacrifices

As we pray for a sinful soul, we can also fast and make sacrifices for that person. For instance, we can do something that is very good, but very hard to do, and offer our efforts to God for a particular soul. There is great merit in this because it is not easy. This action will also help us in the perfecting of our own souls, if we have an attitude of humility. Only God knows the state of all souls; and for all we know, the other person’s soul might be in better shape than ours! If we feel we are superior, then we must humbly remind ourselves that the more graces and gifts we have, the more is expected of us. Our Lord says, “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded” (Luke 12:48).

St. Paul, Apostle of the Gentiles

St. Paul was given many graces from God in order for him to preach the faith far and wide, and much was expected of him. His letters show us the great number of people he forgave and prayed for, so that their souls would be saved. He wrote, “Five times I have received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. …on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from bandits, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers and sisters… And, besides other things, I am under daily pressure because of my anxiety for all the churches” (2 Cor 11:24-28).

St. Paul, in some ways, imitated Jesus as He prayed for His enemies while on the Cross; because despite all Paul’s extreme sufferings, wounds, and trials that he endured, He prayed for those that hurt him and for the salvation of all souls. He wasn’t angry or bitter about the terrible way he was treated. Instead he wrote to sinners, “Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31,32).

Persevere in Prayer

Compassionate prayer attuned to God’s compassion unites us to Him. Our daily prayers for souls open our hearts and other people’s hearts to God’s graces, giving all of us consolation and heavenly light. Let us try to do God’s will, persevere in prayer and trust in Him. God can do all things. With His graces we can forgive from our heart and be filled with the peace of God in the depths of our soul!

 

Lent, Loving Sacrifices for Souls

Lent—Loving Sacrifices for Souls

March 9, 2017

By Lorraine Vincent

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During the Season of Lent our Holy Mother Church encourages us to do penance and make sacrifices to try to purify ourselves and become more holy. Lent is the time to take stock of our lives and determine where we need to change. It is very important to go to Confession in Lent to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Jesus acts through the Catholic priest. If we are truly repentant and want to depart from our sinful ways and do penance, we will be absolved of our sins and our souls will be washed clean. We will be reconciled with God and renewed and strengthened spiritually. Filled with the grace of God we can start anew. Each one of us has a mission here on earth. Every one of us affects the whole Body of Christ here on earth, either in a positive way or a negative way. By earnestly striving to be holy, we strengthen the Church, and more souls will be saved throughout the world.

We can make loving sacrifices for souls. In this way we will follow Jesus and do what He did. Think of all the wonderful acts of mercy that Jesus did for the suffering people that He encountered! How hard He worked for souls despite all the rejection He experienced and angry comments said to Him. Jesus said, “Whoever wishes to come after Me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me” (Mark 8:34). He made loving sacrifices!

The greatest loving sacrifice was made by Mary, the Mother of Jesus. She stood at the foot of the Cross, looking with great love and compassion at Jesus, sharing in His suffering, trying to comfort and console Him as He died. She joined Jesus in His loving sacrifice because she loved souls. “There she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of His suffering, joining herself with His sacrifice in her mother’s heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this Victim, born of her…” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 964).

In our journey in this life, we will constantly experience trials, tribulation and suffering. Jesus often spoke to St. Faustina Kowalska, who wrote His words in her Diary. He said to St. Faustina, and thereby to us, “Do not be absorbed in your misery … be merciful to others” (Diary, 1486). Jesus is Love and Mercy. We can try to imitate Him and His Mother Mary. Being merciful to others changes our focus from all our problems to something positive. We could plan to accomplish some difficult good deed in a loving manner. We could go to visit and help the sick and the elderly. They really need us! But we have to go with the determination to be kind and loving, and try to help them. It feels good to help others and see them smile in gratitude. Our problems won’t necessarily disappear, but we will be filled with the love of God, set on fire and full of zeal to do His will. Jesus said, “…unite, in a special way, even your smallest deeds to My merits, and then My Father will look upon them with love as if they were My own” (Diary, 1543).

Loving sacrifices for souls are accomplished when it is not easy or convenient. Here is an example. I know a lady who drove for 7 hours to another city to visit a person in a nursing home. She did this every 6 weeks for years until the death of the sick person. A nurse approached the lady, amazed at her continual acts of mercy, saying that people in the same city do not visit their sick and suffering family members as often as she did.

We too can perform a difficult act of charity and mercy for someone in need. Remember that what we do for the least of our brothers and sisters, we do for Jesus. Making this great effort will not go unnoticed by God and He will bless us. Our loving sacrifices for souls will draw us more closely to Jesus, and we could make significant progress in our spiritual life.

If we are not well and cannot go to visit ailing friends, we can phone these people often and try to cheer them up. Our calls could really brighten their days! We can also pray for our sick and suffering friends and offer Masses for them. Another way for us homebound sick people to make loving sacrifices for souls, is to offer to Jesus all our pain and sufferings for these souls. Jesus said, “Join your sufferings to My Passion and offer them to the heavenly Father for sinners” (Diary, 1032). So with each agony during the day we can bring this prayer to mind for a certain soul. Then we can experience with a sense of relief that each pain and agony of ours will have great spiritual value.

St. James wrote about spiritual care for the sick: “Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders [priests]of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil [the Sacrament of the Sick] in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven” (James 5:14,15). The Sacrament of the Sick is wonderful for the sick and the dying. We can make the time and effort to arrange for a priest to come and administer the Sacrament of the Sick, also called the Last Rites, for a very sick Catholic friend or loved one. What a great act of charity that would be! Such a loving sacrifice would certainly be well received by Jesus, as we try to imitate Him more closely for the good of souls.

Our Lord Jesus Christ asks us to embrace the cross He gave us in this life, the cross of suffering and trials. This Lent we are to endure our cross with patience as we make loving sacrifices for souls. We could attend any special Lenten programs held in the parish, particularly the Stations of the Cross, or pray the Stations privately at home. We could spend more time daily in prayer, even to the extent of praising and calling upon Him in prayer every moment of every day. Our loving sacrifices and prayers for souls conquer the evil one. Therefore, this Lent we can make significant progress in our spiritual life, drawing closer and closer in union with God, and praise and thank Him for His loving presence in our lives.

 

 

Complete Pardon to Souls

Complete Pardon to Souls

Divine Mercy Sunday

Lorraine_columnist

By Lorraine Vincent

March 27, 2016

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The Divine Mercy

Our Lord Jesus Christ is The Divine Mercy. Jesus wants His message of mercy to be spread throughout the world. We have a tapestry of Jesus, The Divine Mercy, at the front of Blessed Sacrament Church; and there is a picture of The Divine Mercy near the front of St. Mary’s Church. Jesus spoke to St. Faustina many times about His Sacred Image. Jesus said: “I am offering people a vessel with which they are to keep coming for graces to the fountain of mercy. That vessel is this image with the signature: ‘Jesus, I trust in You’” (Diary, 327). The rays of graces streaming from His Heart represent the love and mercy that Jesus has for us, and His great desire to save souls. Jesus said, “By means of this image I shall grant many graces to souls” (Diary, 742).

St. Faustina

Jesus chose Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938) to write down all His words in her Diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul, and requested that she promote His message of Divine Mercy (see Diary, 1142). Jesus said to her, “I desire that the first Sunday after Easter be the Feast of Mercy” (Diary, 299).

Therefore, when Saint John Paul II canonized Saint Faustina on April 30, 2000, he stated during his homily: “The Second Sunday of Easter (which is the first Sunday after Easter) from now on throughout the Church will be called ‘Divine Mercy Sunday.’” Also, through Jesus’ words to St. Faustina, our Holy Catholic Church has promoted The Divine Mercy message and devotion including works of mercy, throughout the universal Church.

St. Faustina wrote this prayer: “O most sweet Jesus, who have deigned to allow miserable me to gain a knowledge of Your unfathomable mercy; O most sweet Jesus who have graciously demanded that I tell the whole world of Your incomprehensible mercy, this day I take into my hands the two rays that spring from Your merciful Heart; that is, the Blood and the Water; and I scatter them all over the globe so that each soul may receive Your mercy and, having received it, may glorify it for endless ages” (Diary, 836).

Our Time in Purgatory can be Cancelled

Divine Mercy Sunday is a very special day.   If we follow the directives of our Catholic Church we can have all our sins forgiven, and our time in Purgatory cancelled. Jesus said, “I want to grant a complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My Mercy” (Diary, 1109, 699).  On all other days of the year the Sacrament of Reconciliation forgives sins, saves us from Hell and reconciles us with God so we can receive His graces; but it does not take away our time in Purgatory. Our Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1472, 1473, states: “Every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory”This suffering in Purgatory cleanses the soul completely and prepares the repentant sinner to go to Heaven.

Divine Mercy Sunday is the greatest day of the year for us sinners. On this day Jesus has promised to totally forgive all sins and take away all punishment in Purgatory—“complete pardon”—for those who “go to Confession and receive Holy Communion” worthily, free from mortal sin, and with a humble heart on this special day. During the Divine Mercy Sunday Mass we should pray for the intentions of Pope Francis. We should also admit we are sinners, have the determination to start anew, and make a commitment to continuous conversion.

Therefore, having fulfilled the Church’s directives, all our sins and punishment in Purgatory are removed on this day, from when we were born up to this point in time. However, it also means that from this day on, we will have to suffer in Purgatory for any future sins, until we go to Divine Mercy Sunday to Confession and Holy Communion the following year. So every year on this special day, we can be wiped completely clean.

Pope Benedict XVI stated that we can go to Confession in Lent, and during the week before Divine Mercy Sunday; because a priest cannot cope with 500 people all wanting to go to Confession on that one day.  So let us fulfill the conditions set by our Church, receive Holy Communion on Divine Mercy Sunday, and take advantage of this marvellous offering.

The Divine Mercy Novena of Chaplets

Jesus requested that we prepare for Divine Mercy Sunday by reciting His novena of Chaplets of Divine Mercy (on the beads of the Rosary), beginning on Good Friday, and continuing for nine days until the first Sunday after Easter. In this way we can offer our intentions to The Divine Mercy and pray for souls.

St. Faustina heard these words: ‘This prayer will serve to appease My wrath. You will recite it for nine days, on the beads of the rosary, in the following manner: First of all, you will say one OUR FATHER and HAIL MARY and the I BELIEVE IN GOD. Then on the OUR FATHER beads you will say the following words: “Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.” On the HAIL MARY beads you will say the following words: “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion have mercy on us and on the whole world.” In conclusion, three times you will recite these words: “Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world”’ (Diary, 476).

Jesus gave us His intentions for His novena of Chaplets of Divine Mercy. St. Faustina recorded His words for each of the nine days of the novena; and added a prayer for each day focusing on each intention. This special novena of Jesus’ intentions can be found in her Diary in numbers 1209 to 1229.

Pray The Divine Mercy Chaplet Daily

St. Faustina also wrote about the value of The Divine Mercy Chaplet when prayed throughout the year: “I heard these words in my soul: “Say unceasingly the chaplet that I have taught you. Whoever will recite it will receive great mercy at the hour of death. Priests will recommend it to sinners as their last hope of salvation. Even if there were a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite this chaplet only once, he would receive grace from My infinite mercy. I desire that the whole world know My infinite mercy. I desire to grant unimaginable graces to those souls who trust in My mercy (Diary, 687). Through the chaplet you will obtain everything, if what you ask for is compatible with My will” (Diary, 1731).

Jesus said, “Oh, what great graces I will grant to souls who say this chaplet; the very depths of My tender mercy are stirred for the sake of those who say the chaplet … let all mankind recognize My unfathomable mercy. It is a sign for the End Times; after it will come the Day of Justice. While there is still time, let them have recourse to the fount of My mercy; let them profit from the Blood and Water which gushed forth for them” (Diary, 848).

We can pray The Divine Mercy Chaplet at three o’clock, the time when Jesus died on the Cross. St. Faustina wrote: “During Holy Mass, I saw the Lord Jesus nailed upon the Cross amidst great torments. A soft moan issued from His Heart. After some time, He said, “I thirst. I thirst for the salvation of souls. Help Me, My daughter, to save souls. Join your sufferings to My Passion and offer them to the heavenly Father for sinners” (Diary, 1032). Jesus said, “At three o’clock, implore My mercy, especially for sinners; and, if only for a brief moment, immerse yourself in My Passion, particularly in My abandonment at the moment of agony [death on the Cross]. This is the hour of great mercy for the whole world. I …will refuse nothing to the soul that makes a request of Me in virtue of My Passion” (Diary, 1320).

Continue to Go to Confession Once a Month

Having received the gift of “Complete Pardon to Souls” on Divine Mercy Sunday, we have to be careful not to lapse into complacency, and old sinful habits. It is a good idea to go to confession once a month, whether we have to confess a mortal sin or not. Besides the wonderful graces we receive from God, we also receive a wealth of spiritual guidance from the priest in the confessional. The experience keeps us on the right track and renews our commitment to continuous conversion.

Jesus spoke to St. Faustina Kowalska about the Sacrament of Reconciliation. She wrote in her Diary that Jesus said to her: “Pray for souls that they be not afraid to approach the tribunal of My mercy [the Sacrament of Reconciliation]. Do not grow weary of praying for sinners. You know what a burden their souls are to My Heart. Relieve My deathly sorrow; dispense My mercy. …Write, speak of My mercy. Tell souls where they are to look for solace; that is, in the Tribunal of Mercy [the Sacrament of Reconciliation]. There the greatest miracles take place [and] are incessantly repeated. 

“To avail oneself of this miracle, it is not necessary to go on a great pilgrimage or to carry out some external ceremony; it suffices to come with faith to the feet of My representative [a Catholic priest] and to reveal to him one’s misery, and the miracle of Divine Mercy will be fully demonstrated. Were a soul like a decaying corpse so that from a human standpoint, there would be no [hope of] restoration and everything would already be lost, it is not so with God. The miracle of Divine Mercy [the Sacrament of Reconciliation] restores that soul in full” (Diary, 975, 1448).

Jesus spoke these words to St. Faustina: “Have confidence, My child. Do not lose heart in coming for pardon, for I am always ready to forgive you. As often as you beg for it, you glorify My mercy (Diary, 1488). I cannot punish even the greatest sinner if he makes an appeal to My compassion, but on the contrary, I justify him in My unfathomable and inscrutable mercy (Diary, 1146). Know that as often as you come to Me, humbling yourself and asking My forgiveness, I pour out a superabundance of graces on your soul, and your imperfection vanishes before My eyes, and I see only your love and your humility. You lose nothing but gain much (Diary, 1293).

“I cannot love a soul which is stained with sin; but when it repents, there is no limit to My generosity toward it. My mercy embraces and justifies it. With My mercy, I pursue sinners along all their paths, and My Heart rejoices when they return to Me. I forget the bitterness with which they fed My Heart and rejoice at their return… Tell sinners that I am always waiting for them, that I listen intently to the beating of their heart. When will it beat for Me? Write, that I am speaking to them through their remorse of conscience, through their failures and sufferings, through thunderstorms, through the voice of the Church” (Diary, 1728).

“In the Old Covenant I sent prophets wielding thunderbolts to My people. Today I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to My Merciful Heart. I use punishment when they themselves force Me to do so; My hand is reluctant to take hold of the sword of justice. Before the Day of Justice I am sending the Day of Mercy” (Diary, 1588).