In this time of the liturgical year, the Church asks us to consider our eternal destinies as we celebrate the feast of All Saints, commemorate All Souls, and are encouraged to remember and pray daily for those who have died.
With this in mind, I have been pondering the topic of saints and sinners; recognizing that, even the greatest of Saints have also been the greatest of sinners: St. Augustine, St. Peter, and St. Paul to name a few.
For “all of us sin and all of us fall short of the glory of God” (cf. Rom. 3:23).
So what makes one person a saint and another a sinner?
I wonder this because of my sinfulness.
Because sometimes the weight of my sin overwhelms me.
I humbly recognize all my sins, frailties and failures.
I mourn and weep for all my sins and omissions. What I have done and what I have failed to do. The words I’ve spoken and left unspoken. The things I’ve done and the words I’ve spoken that have hurt others. I beg pardon and weep for the times I have not loved generously, the times I’ve been selfish and self concerned, for the times I’ve been stuck in pain and regret, anger, pride, vanity, laziness, self-righteousness, guilt and shame. Jesus told St. Faustina that those who fail to trust in His Mercy break His Heart, so I weep also for the times I have failed to receive God’s Mercy and Grace and transforming forgiveness; and so therefore, failed to be an instrument of this Mercy and Grace to others …
For all the times I’ve failed to hope and trust in God’s Power to save “Who can do immeasurably more for us than we could ask for or imagine” (cf. Eph. 3:20), I beg for mercy!
I fall on my face in humility — knowing the depth of my sin and knowing that I should be counted as the worst of sinners.
Recognizing the truth about ourselves and repenting of our sinfulness doesn’t have to lead to self-condemnation.
God does not condemn us.
All of us sin. But it isn’t sin that keeps us from becoming saints!
It is Satan who condemns us and urges us to condemn ourselves — he is the one who tempts us to despair. Who tempts us to give up, to lose hope, to wallow in guilt and shame and regret, OR to continue to live in rebellion and unforgiveness, hatred and selfishness. Either way he wins, because his only desire is to see us destroyed, for he is the thief Jesus speaks about who “comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy” (John 10: 10).
God, on the other hand, wants to show us mercy. Jesus came to earth in order to bind up our sins and our wounds, pouring the wine and oil of loving mercy upon them — cleansing them, healing them, transforming them! God never burdens or weighs us down with the oppression of guilt and shame, rather He leads us to true repentance, which consists in true and deep sorrow for our sin – but a sorrow that is immersed and confident in God’s redeeming LOVE. Thus, it is a receptive sorrow — a sorrow that is open to receive the UNCONDITIONAL LOVE AND MERCY of our Father, Who wants to be known as our Daddy as well as our Creator. True sorrow opens us to trust and acknowledge the sacrifice of Jesus, Our Savior and Lord, who came to save us and to be the Lover of our souls! Sorrow steeped in trust leads us to greater love, appreciation and humility of this light of Pure Holiness, Truth, Sacrifice and Mercy. It is a sorrow confident in the transforming grace and power of the Cross and of the Holy Spirit, who is the Love, Spirit, and Grace who inspires, advocates for us and leads us to all Truth, Goodness and Beauty.
Satan wants us to get stuck in ourselves — our pain, our sin, our guilt and shame, our addictions, our weaknesses, our bondages. He is so good at tempting us to sin; and then, after we have fallen, he is masterful at condemning us. He convinces us that our sin is too great, that we are too far gone to ever receive mercy. He convinces us that we don’t want holiness; that his lies are truth. His ugliness is beauty. That sin is freedom.
He is the master deceiver.
God, in contrast, wants to free us! To free us from a life centered in ourselves — to go beyond ourselves to be immersed in SOMEONE — in LOVE who is so much bigger, more infinite, good, healing and beautiful than we can ever imagine! And when we receive and acknowledge this Love, by opening up to it — it changes us! It changes us because we place ourselves into our God, who is an unfathomable ocean of mercy, who has a Heart on fire and consumed with Love for us, whose Love, Grace, Mercy, and Peace washes us clean — healing us, consoling us, filling us and surrounding us! And in laying bare all our deepest sins and our most horrible offenses at the feet of Jesus on the Cross, who is Mercy Incarnate, we and our sins are transformed!
It is the attributes of God: His intimate and immeasurable Love, Mercy, Goodness, Truth and Grace that transforms us.
Satan wants us to implode us in upon ourselves; wrapped up in refusals to forgive ourselves and others, in pride, sinfulness, selfishness, despair, guilt, shame and regret.
But God wants to expand us and give us a life filled with every good thing: “I came that you may have life and have it to the full!” (Jn 10:10). When we choose to run to God in true sorrow, humbly confessing our sins, He spurs us on through, with and in love. If we acknowledge and receive His Mercy, a tremendous gratefulness, praise, and joy resonates within us and flows through us so we can’t wait to witness to the Good things He has done in our lives!
Often the world jokes about Catholic guilt. Actually Catholic guilt shouldn’t really exist. Overwhelming guilt is completely different from true humility and sorrow for our sins. True sorrow leads us to confession in order to receive the Mercy and Strength of Christ’s Love and Sacrifice through the Grace of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Jesus washes away our sins, and gives us a fresh slate, a brand new beginning!
What tremendous news! We are only a confession away from becoming a new creation in Christ!
So let us continually remind ourselves: Nothing is beyond His Power, or Goodness or Compassion to save!
And never fail to confidently run to Him, praying: Lord, in Your Mercy, make us saints!!!!
O Lord, I love You! I praise You and I thank You for You art all good and deserving of all my love!
Copyright 2014 Janet Moore