Wednesday, November 09, 2022

In the Father's Hands

Machado de Castro National Museum, Coimbra Photo: Manuel Mira Godinho (2014).*

When I feel quite lost and alone, I remember that I am not out of the Father's hands.  This image reminded me of paintings of the Father holding the dead Christ, and today it suddenly became for me my assurance and my peace.  Although all seems lost and things seem to be collapsing around me and I feel utterly alone, this image reminds me that I - we - are held (together) in the Father's embrace.  "...and the gates of the nether world shall not prevail against it." (Mt 16:18)

God is our refuge and our strength,

an ever present help in distress, 

Therefore, we fear not, though the earth be shaken

and mountains plunge into the depths of the sea. - Ps 46

*The image is actually a detail of a Pieta - the Mother of Sorrows holding her Son. When I first viewed this particular image, my mind immediately went to the image of the Father receiving the Body of Jesus which is often portrayed in images of the Blessed Trinity. 

Monday, November 07, 2022

This is the best.

 This is such an important message.  I've seen unforgiveness online among Catholics, some who have even left the Church - we all need to forgive.  Over and over if need be - just as much as we all need to ask for forgiveness, especially in the sacrament of Penance - over and over and over.


Believing in the Power of Forgiveness

When I forgive somebody, one of the things that allows me to forgive is faith.

God can convert something good even out of evil. Let’s say I’ve lived through an evil; I have suffered, I was wounded, but I believe that God is powerful enough to bring goodness out of everything, even the evil committed against me. In the Gospel reading for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the angel tells Mary that nothing is impossible for God. If we have faith that God can convert a good thing out of evil—an evil that we’ve suffered through—then God can heal our wounds, and forgiveness is easier. In the world today we have a hard time forgiving, and one of the reasons is our lack of faith. We are convinced that our wounds are definitive and will never be healed; we think there is no remedy for evil.

Forgiveness is also an act of hope. When I don’t forgive, I’m condemning someone. That means that I’m identifying the person with the evil he or she has ­committed. I see the person as guilty and bad. I don’t want to forgive him or her. I have no hope for the person; I don’t think he or she can change. On the contrary, forgiving someone is a very beautiful act of hope. This person did something bad, he or she committed a wrong act, but I don’t want to identify the person with the bad action because God still loves this person who has done something bad. God is working in that person’s heart. Perhaps the person will convert. The person I’m judging and condemning will perhaps one day be a great saint. When we look at the lives of the saints, there are assassins, adulterers, criminals—but grace changed their hearts….

When we forgive someone, we set that person free of revenge or judgment. But it’s not only the other person we set free; it’s also ourselves. Every time that I forgive somebody, I set myself free…. Be encouraged to ask for the grace of forgiveness and practice it.

Father Jacques Philippe

Father Philippe is a French priest, a member of the Community of the Beatitudes, and a renowned spiritual director. / From Real Mercy: Mary, Forgiveness, and Trust, Maria Masterson, Tr. © 2016, Father Jacques Philippe, Scepter Publishers, Inc., New York, NY. Used with permission.