|Eastern Icon of Divine Mercy.|
It depicts today's Gospel.
Sunday in White (Low Sunday) - I Class
Feast of Mercy
Missa Quasi Modo
Epistle: I Jn. 5:4-10 [Whoever is of God conquers the world because God is greater than the world.]
Gospel: Jn. 20:19-31 [Institution of Confession & Doubting Thomas]
Full Latin-English propers here.
Today has more names than just about any other day on the Church calendar. It is The Octave of Easter, Sunday in White (after the baptismal garments worn from the Easter Vigil until today), Low Sunday (last Sunday being High Sunday), Quasi Modo Sunday (after today's Mass-and yes the hunchback is named after today as in the story he was found orphaned on this day), Doubting Thomas Sunday and the Feast of Mercy (both based off of the Gospel). That might be all of them... Incidentally, this is also the 600th post for this blog.
When we look at a sinner, what do we see? We see a person who lives as if she either hates God or thinks God doesn't exist. Sometimes she isn't sure which. She lives this way because she grew up into this life. In the days of her youth, she gained whatever graces she had. She tried being Catholic. It was fun for a while. Then she got bored of it and had her fill. It was too hard to live the "right way". She ran off into the world, since life there was easier. We can take St. Margaret of Cortona, as her example is typical. She was raised in the faith, as all Italian girls. As a teenager, she became rebellious. She wanted to live life her own way, without her parents holding her back. She was strong-willed and wanted to live life by her own rules. That is a lethal combination that, without confession, will always lead to Hell. She didn't want anyone, especially her parents, to force her to live a certain way. She wanted to "get away from her parents". They were "too restrictive" and wouldn't let her "live her own life". It's as if they don't trust her at all. She found a boyfriend and cohabited with him, or to put it more precisely, became his concubine.
This didn't come about all at once. It started when she was young, in her early teens, wanting to do things her own prideful way for her own enjoyment, in spite of the self-control her parents wanted to instill in her. It started with small things and grew to big things. First she wanted to go out with her friends or speak to that boy she liked or whatever. As things escalated she wanted to be alone with the man she was dating at the time. Her parents would have to have been complete imbeciles to leave two young unwed lovers together alone. Eventually she ended up moving in with that man. She bore him a son in sin. She cohabited with him and was his concubine for nine years before his murder (probably by his family's political enemies) freed her from her life of sin. It was a sudden conversion much like St. Paul or fellow penitent St. Pelagia of Antioch, who was converted by the sermon of St. Nonnus. So here she was, having wasted the prime of her life in sin. When she was young and beautiful, she gave her body and her life to be degraded by sin and used for pleasure. Her dignity was degraded for pleasure that passes like a cloud.
She could have stayed in the practice of the faith, found a better man, a man that would have respected her body as the masterpiece of the Divine Artist and not seen it as something to be used for pleasure, a man that would have loved her and wanted to give his whole life to her and wanted her as his companion in life. A man with whom she would have been called to Holy Matrimony-not someone who wanted to have fun with her and then be made to take care of the ensuing baby, and have her constantly wanting to have the relationship go to the "next level". She could have had that never-ending joy with a man in the Church that wanted her good, but she chose passing pleasure with a man that wanted good times with her. We look at St. Margaret's situation and think that it is too late to do anything. She already lived the prime of her life in sin. She will never get those years back. She will never be able to re-live that part of her life, the good years of her life, and do things right this time. She will never get a second chance. She went out looking for good times and life passed her by. If she looks inside the Church, the little kids are grown up now. Life has passed by and she still hasn't set up a lasting and satisfying relationship, because she was looking to receive romantic and carnal pleasure in this relationship instead of giving herself for his good and wanting his companionship in life. That's the difference between infatuation (the former) and love (the latter).
Now, she isn't a virgin, is alone, has a bastard son, and is past the prime of her life. To us it seems to late. God cannot undo this. The prime of her life has passed her by, she wasted it, and will never get it back. She can't get a second chance. That would require time travel or something. She only had one chance at life and she failed miserably. She can't regain her virginity and preserve it unto marriage or join a convent to preserve unto death. She can't re-live her prime, this time with a good man. That's not how God sees it. To us, sins seem so great and too big to be destroyed. To God sins are nothing. They are minuscule. They are easily destroyed as if they never even happened. St. John tells us today that whoever is of God conquers the world because God is greater than the world. She lost the graces she had and went after an evil life. Now she realizes what she has done. It seems as if life is over and she has lost. However, today we see the Risen Christ. Today we see new life. Through Confession, God can give her graces back. The life she lost can be restored. Paradise lost becomes paradise regained. Eden becomes Heaven. She can live in that same grace and everlasting joy she could have had. The same tranquil paradise becomes open to her again through Confession after the blackness and empty pleasures of sin (both carnal and emotional) destroyed and wasted her life, preventing her from having that never-ending, tranquil, joy that leaves her being feeling complete. She will never have that part of her life back, but that would have passed anyway. Even if she spent it with a good man instead of that man, that long, happy, chaste, and saintly marriage would have ended and given way to Heaven anyway. O the joy she must have felt at hearing those words said over her:
Dominus Noster Jesus Christus te absolvat; et ego per auctoritate ipsius te absolvo ab omni vinculo ecommunicationis, et interdicti, in quantum possum, et tu indiges. Diende ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis in nomine Patris, et Filii, † et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.She decided to join the Fransiscans as a tertiary. She became a famous mystic. She is a saint in heaven. From the blackness and selfishness of sin to the brilliance and joy of Heaven. How many teens today live like St. Margaret? How many in their 20's are just like her? Pray for their conversions. Trust in Jesus that He will convert them and wash them more and more from their sins. Jesus, I trust in You that you will give them tears of compunction and regret for their sins. Jesus, I trust in You that you will wash them and make them whiter than snow. Jesus, I trust in You that you will come down in the form of the Host to be intimate with them. Jesus, I trust in You that You will be the Burning Sun over them, illuminating their darkness and burning off their impurities. Jesus, I trust in You that You will be intimate with them forever in Heaven. Amen. Alleluia.
Our Lord Jesus Christ absolves you; and I by His authority absolve you of all stain of excommunication and interdict, insofar as I am able and you have need. Therefore I absolve you of your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.