Saturday, February 26, 2011

Apostolic Exhortation on the Sacrament of Penance Part 3. - Pope John Paul II

Longing for Reconciliation

3. Nevertheless, that same inquiring gaze, if it is discerning enough, detects in the very midst of division an unmistakable desire among people of good will and true Christians to mend the divisions, to heal the wounds and to re-establish at all levels an essential unity. This desire arouses in many people a real longing for reconciliation even in cases where there is no actual use of this word.

Some consider reconciliation as an impossible dream which ideally might become the lever for a true transformation of society. For others it is to be gained by arduous efforts and therefore a goal to be reached through serious reflection and action. Whatever the case, the longing for sincere and consistent reconciliation is without a shadow of doubt a fundamental driving force in our society, reflecting an irrepressible desire for peace. And it is as strongly so as the factors of division, even though this is a paradox.

But reconciliation cannot be less profound than the division itself. The longing for reconciliation and reconciliation itself will be complete and effective only tot he extent that they reach-in order to heal it-that original wound which is the root of all other wounds: namely sin.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Apostolic Exhortation on the Sacrament of Penance Part 2. - Pope John Paul II

A Shattered World

2. These divisions are seen in the relationships between individuals and groups, and also at the level of larger groups: nations against nations and blocs of opposing countries in a headlong quest for domination. At the root of this alienation it is not hard to discern conflicts which, instead of being resolved through dialogue, grow more acute in confrontation and opposition.

Careful observers, studying the elements that cause division, discover reasons of the most widely differing kinds: from the growing disproportion between groups, social classes and-countries, to ideological rivalries that are far from dead; from the opposition between economic interests to political polarization; from tribal differences to discrimination for social and religious reasons. Moreover, certain facts that are obvious to all constitute as it were the pitiful face of the division of which they are the fruit and demonstrate its seriousness in an inescapably concrete way. Among the many other painful social phenomena of our times one can noted.

    * The trampling upon the basic rights of the human person, the first of these being the right to life and to a worthy quality of life, which is all the more scandalous in that it coexists with a rhetoric never before known on these same rights.
    * Hidden attacks and pressures against the freedom of individuals and groups, not excluding the freedom which is most offended against and threatened: the freedom to have, profess and practice one's own faith.
    * The various forms of discrimination: racial, cultural, religious, etc.
    * Violence and terrorism.
    * The use of torture and unjust and unlawful methods of repression.
    * The stockpiling of conventional or atomic weapons, the arms race with the spending on military purposes of sums which could be used to alleviate the undeserved misery of peoples that are socially and economically depressed.
    * An unfair distribution of the world's resources and of the assets of civilization, which reaches its highest point in a type of social organization whereby the distance between the human conditions of the rich and the poor becomes ever greater.(2) The overwhelming power of this division makes the world in which we live a world shattered(3) to its very foundations.

Moreover, the church-without identifying herself with the world or being of the world-is in the world and is engaged in dialogue with the world.(4) It is therefore not surprising if one notices in the structure of the church herself repercussions and signs of the division affecting human society. Over and above the divisions between the Christian communions that have afflicted her for centuries, the church today is experiencing within herself sporadic divisions among her own members, divisions caused by differing views or options in the doctrinal and pastoral field.(5) These divisions too can at times seem incurable.

However disturbing these divisions may seem at first sight, it is only by a careful examination that one can detect their root: It is to be found in a wound in man's inmost self. In the light of faith we call it sin: beginning with original sin, which all of us bear from birth as an inheritance from our first parents, to the sin which each one of us commits when we abuse our own freedom.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Apostolic Exhortation on the Sacrament of Penance - Pope John Paul II




1. To speak of reconciliation and penance is for the men and women of our time an invitation to rediscover, translated into their own way of speaking, the very words with which our savior and teacher Jesus Christ began his preaching: "Repent, and believe in the Gospel,"(1) that is to say, accept the good news of love, of adoption as children of God and hence of brotherhood.

Why does the church put forward once more this subject and this invitation?

The concern to know better and to understand modern man and the contemporary world, to solve their puzzle and reveal their mystery, to discern the ferments of good and evil within them, has long caused many people to direct at man and the world a questioning gaze. It is the gaze of the historian and sociologist, philosopher and theologian, psychologist and humanist, poet and mystic: Above all, it is the gaze, anxious yet full of hope, of the pastor.

In an exemplary fashion this is shown on every page of the important pastoral constitution of the Second Vatican Council Gaudium et Spes on the church in the modern world, particularly in its wide-ranging and penetrating introduction. It is likewise shown in certain documents issued through the wisdom and charity of my esteemed predecessors, whose admirable pontificates were marked by the historic and prophetic event of that ecumenical council.

In common with others, the pastor too can discern among the various unfortunate characteristics of the world and of humanity in our time the existence of many deep and painful divisions.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Prayer for Gods Mercy - St. Claude de la Columbiere

Despair Prayer (Prayer for God's Mercy and Pardon for Sin)

Lord, I am in this world to show Your mercy to others. Other people will glorify You by making visible the power of Your grace by their fidelity and constancy to You. For my part I will glorify You by making known how good You are to sinners, that Your mercy is boundless and that no sinner no matter how great his offences should have reason to despair of pardon. If I have grievously offended You, My Redeemer, let me not offend You even more by thinking that You are not kind enough to pardon Me. Amen.

~Saint Claude de la Colombiere

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

80 Years Ago, Today on 22nd February 1931 Jesus revealed to St. Faustina the Image of His Divine Mercy

Saint Faustina was in her room in the convent in Plock, sometime late in the evening of 22nd February 1931. Her description of the momentous event is recorded in her diary of that day. She said, in the evening she was suddenly aware of a figure appearing in her room, she recognised the figure as Jesus, dressed in a white garment. (Diary No.47)

His right hand was raised in the gesture of a blessing, the left one was touching His breast where two bright clusters of rays starting from His heart and spreading out as they descended to the floor - one cluster was red, the other pale, showing as pale blue in the original painting, as described by her to the first artist who painted this image

On this first of many appearances of Jesus the Son of God to Sr.Faustina He requested her to have an image painted as she then saw Him. An image He told her that would be a means for great graces to be bestowed to all who prayed before it and asked for mercy for themselves and others. He told her it should have the signature "Jesus I trust in You" which implied, this should be repeated meaningfully by all who seek graces from it.

Jesus wanted this image of Himself as Divine Mercy to be honoured, throughout the world. And the importance of this was repeated again and again during His visits to Sr.Faustina. He also added some extraordinary promises connected with the worship of the image.

Wherever you are, perhaps try to venerate an Image of Divine Mercy today in thanksgiving for such a great gift to all of us.  We must always listen and do what Jesus asked us to do in humility and obedience.