Sunday, April 12, 2015

Enemies of Contrition

The Mercy of God cannot be praised, worshiped, honored or exaggerated too much. As children of wrath, inheritors of that first sin of Adam we are hoping in the Lords mercy to avoid the just punishments which we all have merited through our daily sins and negligence.

"The effect of the divine mercy is the foundation of all the divine works." St Thomas Aquinas Summa ,Q. 21, A. 4

If one has the Passion as the chief wellspring from which one drinks when one thirsts for righteousness, then you drink also from the well of mercy, for as St Thomas Aquinas teaches:

“But by suffering out of love and obedience, Christ gave more to God than was required to compensate for the offense of the whole human race. ” Summa Question 48

But, perhaps you, dear reader cringe at the mention of the Lords mercy. The Fear of the Lord, one of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, the beginning of wisdom, and a great gift to restrain vice and sin today seems to be despised by many, and if they do grant the idea of it they are quick to dismiss any ideas of a wrathful God (which one would get even from an elementary reading of Scripture). 

In fact to them fearing God is the exact opposite of what we should do, and it is certainly nothing we should ever preach or teach, as that might turn people away they say. People might feel that they are being condemned, and not realize how merciful God is.

The problem with this line of thinking is simple: the entire human race save those who have been regenerated in baptism are condemned! Anyone who has ever committed a mortal sin after baptism, without repentance is also condemned. And you know what, the fact that they feel condemned is actually a good thing! Our Lord explicitly teaches “and He (the Holy Ghost), when he is come, will convict the world in respect of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgementJohn 16:8

I hope no one actually believes they are doing Gods work when they present God to the world as some sort of cosmic muffin man who does not even get the respect you might give to an officer when getting a speeding ticket.

We spend a lot of time discussing what the enemies are of Tradition, but these attitudes come from the enemies of Contrition. Would you agree that it is too common that many of our brethren forget that our Lord cares for how he is approached? 

There is only one way for a sinner to approach the Lord, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Psalm 51:17

Isn't that the whole root of the problem with giving adulterers holy communion? These people may very well be sorry for their situations, but they are not broken hearted enough, not contrite enough to stop breaking the 6th commandment and remove themselves from occasions of sin. 

“For, whilst the sinner is in a state of mortal sin, his back is, as it were turned upon God; but when he is in a state of grace his face is joyfully turned toward God. Now, this change, namely, the sorrow of heart, and detestation of sin, is necessary; as, otherwise, the sinner would be and would not be, at the same time, turned towards God. If there were no contrition, no change of heart required, the sinner could be, at the same time, both the friend and enemy of God, which is absurdFather O’Keefe from  "Contrition" on Alleluia Audiobooks

“A Christian in mortal sin may be saved without confession or absolution, but he cannot be saved without contrition.”  Father O’Keefe from  "Contrition"

Without contrition, without sorrow for our sins, without detesting our sins and turning away from them, without amendment of life we cannot be forgiven. It cannot be any other way.

However, once we have turned our back on sin, once we have sorrow for them, once we have received absolution and have resolved to make amends to the extent of our power for evil done, we can and should hope in obtaining pardon, satisfaction, and that our fall was a means of obtaining greater grace.   To not hope and have confidence in the mercy of God when we have done what he has asked of us, that is repent of our sins, is to insult Him.

“Of true contrition and humbling of the heart, arises hope of forgiveness; the troubled conscience is reconciled; the grace which was lost, is recovered; man is preserved from the wrath to come; and God and the penitent soul meet together with a holy kiss.

Humble contrition for sins is an acceptable sacrifice unto You, O Lord giving forth a savor far sweeter in Your sight than the perfume of frankincense.” Thomas A Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

You think such a thing is obvious? I assure you it is not. How do I know? Because God has to keep sending us reminders of these fact through his servants, confirmed by miracles, and spread by ecclesiastical mandate. We all know that we fail to trust our Lord when we prefer our own will to His when we disobey the commandments, when we think we can find some shortcut to happiness other than walking in His ways. So, let us approach our Lord with a broken and contrite heart this Divine Mercy Sunday, and trust that God will not only pardon us, but renew our baptismal garments completely pure in that blood which he shed for us on Calvary. 

Jesus I trust in you. 


Anonymous said...

Perhaps it does originate with the devotion of Divine Mercy itself, and instead with some of its promoters, but my experience with this devotion has sometimes been precisely this image of God as a cosmic muffin man, where God's goodness is somehow so overwhelming that it is impossible to be separated from Him. It's very confusing to me and I can understand why some may have some reservation towards this devotion due to the way it is presented.

Boniface said...

Presentation can be a problem. But in my opinion, we follow the advice of Thomas a Kempis and pay more attention to what is being said than who is saying it. The Divine Mercy message is sound; problem is many people have not read the diaries.

Besides, if we are going to judge a devotion solely based on its adherents, Fatima would not come away very well, as some of the biggest nutcases I have ever met have been Fatina devotees.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you can help clear something up: if Divine Mercy is a private revelation and so not binding on the faithful, how has it come to be attached to a Sunday liturgy such that it is really no longer (for practical purposes) an optional devotion? Doesn't that blur the distinction?

Boniface said...


Now that is interesting. There are certainly major feasts to other apparitions - Fatima, Lourdes, etc. - but they are all movable feasts. As far as I know, Divine Mercy is the only one that is fixed on a particular Sunday. While adherence to any private apparition is optional, this kind of ensures the faithful will always be in Mass on Divine Mercy Sunday, and thus, in a backhanded sort of way, compels observance of the feast, doesn't it?
I don't know of any other private revelation that has a Sunday feast, and I can understand this objection.

That being said, simply attending Mass on that day isn't necessarily compelling adherence to it. After all, you'd have to go to Mass anyway on the Sunday after Easter inasmuch as it is a Sunday; it is not as if they created a new Holy Day of obligation. The Feast has no special liturgical prayers; Faustina is not mentioned in the preface. In short, even in the Novus Ordo, once can say the whole Mass and not mention Faustina or the devotion at all. It is still optional in that sense - as one priest told me, "I won't be mentioning this devotion".

Tom Healey said...

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart. those simple words have such great power when they reach one's heart. - I will give an imaginary example, Noah, of a guy to make my point and to support your post. This guy lacks humility hence contrition and represents many confused Catholics today. He has no trouble understanding his limitations regarding natural knowledge. It's just a fact, common sense. He knows a lot of things and lots of things he accepts he does not know or understand. Like the weather, so we rely on meteorologists

Yet he claims to know god's will regarding, for example, SSM. He sees nothing wrong with the gay lifestyle even though he professes to know that God is an incomprehensible mystery. He does not have a lot of natural knowledge, but the contradiction that he knows God's supernatural will does not bother him at all. How is that possible? Of course Original Sin has darkened his mind. He sympathizes with gays. the culture tells us it's ok to engage in sodomy. He goes his way heedlessly convinced, in some vague way, and rationalizes that there is no real conflict between God's will and his ego attitudes. He fails to see that he is trapped in self-idolization. he is in a prison from which there is no escape except by the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus, our lord and Saviour. Our first Parents, Adam and Eve went from God centred to self centred, and we are their heirs. this must be the state of countless Catholics today who were never properly catechized.

Where there is no humility, there's no contrition. Jesus said to his disciples - "...take up your cross and follow me." Matthew 16:24. that's anathema to many so called Catholics since Vat 11. that life is not fair and is full of suffering and pain. He may have some grasp of God's infinite holiness, but it's just a concept that lacks the light that comes from supernatural grace, hence the need for water baptism and formation in the Catholic faith. So we are left to our feelings, foolish hopes and endless desires and God becomes nothing more than the "Cosmic Muffin Man" I see this everywhere as I'm sure you do. The fallen self is glorified and takes priority over all other concerns. I hope this is not a too round - about -way to make my point. I know that trying to put my spiritual understanding into words isn't always successful. Great post and God bless.

Noah Moerbeek said...

Thank you Tom!

A Daughter of Mary said...

This is an old post but I do want to make a comment on Divine Mercy Sunday. I attend a FSSP parish and we do not, will not, have any special confessions, or mention of this devotion at all. The reason given by our pastor is that the Sunday in question is Low Sunday, which completes the octave of Easter. As he put it, no one denies the Mercy of God, but many deny The Resurrection. He said it is very important to celebrate the end of this crucial octave and it was imprudent of the pope to pick that particular day.

In my personal opinion, having read the diaries, I am not sure this devotion is sound. I believe the Church thought so too, but John Paul II 'resurrected' it - perhaps to have a Polish Saint?

Boniface said...

I can understand the conflict with Low Sunday. But I can't question the soundness of the devotion. If the Church has promulgated it officially, I cannot deny it is a valid devotion. St. Faustyna was no modernist; her actual diaries are very reflective of Catholic Tradition. As in the case of St. Therese, it may be that a crass and simplified commercialization of he devotion has occurred, but I've never had a problem with the devotion itself.