This is exactly what God does for us. He punishes us and then comes to be with us in our punishment.
And thus the Lord’s love flows upon us from His wounded side . . .
I’m one of those people who constantly gets stuck in the rut of trying to fix myself, to make myself better, and then to approach God. Be perfect before I seek His help. Well, you can imagine how well that works out. God, in His great mercy, keeps working on changing that attitude. That’s why I love this piece by Sister Ruth Burrows. The answer is in the second to the last sentence. Read on.
Let me stress a little more the supreme importance of refusing to evade our own personal poverty, refusing to be discouraged by it. Only too easily, self-disgust and discouragement become spiritual waste. I think it is of utmost importance to use everything for loving. After all, our lives are made up of “nothings”! We can be on the lookout for the big occasions and let slip the hundreds of little opportunities when divine love is asking to be let in.
Nothing about us is hidden from the loving, compassionate eyes of God, but when we are feeling miserable within, shamed, silly, dirty even, we hide away. God isn’t in all this, we implicitly assume. But God is in all this, to us, contemptible stuff. We love very much by this lack of childlike trust.
Through what is happening to us, we are brought to face our sinfulness, our selfishness, our inadequacy or whatever it is. Yet this is God’s moment. It, I believe, in the constant, almost hourly choices that these humiliating, self-revealing experiences afford us, that true holiness and union with God is brought about. I’m sure that what God longs for us to do is never to stop looking in his compassionate eyes. Nothing is too small, pathetic or shameful to be used for love.
And what about those times when you feel like you’re just not making a good confession?
No matter how weak you are, do not think that what you need to do in order to enjoy his redemption is impossible or so difficult that you have to despair of obtaining it. It is enough for you to direct a heartfelt sigh to God, with sorrow for having offended such a Father and with the intention of amendment. Make known your sins to a priest who can absolve you. For your greater consolation, even your ears of flesh will hear the sentence of your trial in what is said to you: “I absolve you from all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Even if it seems to you that your sorrow is not as perfect as it ought to be, and for this reason you lose heart, do not be discouraged. So great are the Lord’s desires you be saved that he supplies what we lack with the privilege he gave to his sacrament of making one who is without sorrow to be contrite. If it seems to one that you are not even capable of doing this little bit, I tell you not to presume to do it on your own, but call upon the heavenly Father. Ask him, through Jesus Christ, his Son, to help you to be sorry for your past life, to propose amendment for the future, to confess well, and finally, for whatever else may be necessary. He is such that there is no reason to expect from his hands anything other than every kind of tenderness and help. Since he is the one who gives pardon, he inspires disposition for it.
If, with all this, you do not feel consolation, even though you have heard the sentence of your absolution, do not be discouraged or abandon what you have begun. If in one confession you do not experience consolation, in another or in others you will . . . . Certainly it happens that the words of sacramental absolution may not give the man such certainty of pardon that he may have security or evidence of it. But they do provide such rest and consolation that the powers of his soul, humiliated and broken by sin, rejoice. (St. John of Avila)
A very insightful comment from Fr. Cantalamessa on the real meaning of the will of God:
“People unconsciously link God’s will to everything that is unpleasant and painful, to what in one way or another is seen as destroying individual freedom and development. It is as though God were the enemy of every celebration, joy, and pleasure. People do not take into account that in the New Testament, the will of God is called ‘eudokia‘ (see Ephesians 1:9; Luke 2:14), meaning ‘goodwill, kindness.’ When we pray, ‘May your will be done,’ it is like saying, ‘Fulfill in me, Father, your plan of love.'”
Is Lent about reaching a greater level of perfection? Read on.
It does not matter what level of perfection you reach. What others think or don’t think of how much you does not matter, not does your judgment of yourself. All that matters if that mercy has taken you for ever, for the very origin of your existence. Mercy called you to love, because mercy loved you.
Holiness means always affirming–before everything else, in everything else–the embrace of the Father, the merciful, pitying movement of Christ, his gesture, that is he himself, independent of everything that stirs and has the appearance of life in us. . . .
We must become more and more aware of God’s covenant with us, of life as God’s involvement with us, and therefore of the absolute and unmistakable importance of the irrational influence of our outbursts, of our projects.
Nothingness, destruction, exile is the life proper to the world, especially our life, without this covenant, which remains in me even in the destruction and in the desolation caused by my wicked heart. Grace holds fast because God leads me to discover what he is and to understand that from my destruction he makes something new bud forth–an identification with him and the Father.
(Servant of God Luigi Giussani)