Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Womb of the Confessional

"For a priest to restore a soul to grace from mortal sin in the sacrament of confession is a greater miracle than the creation of the world at the beginning of time." St Augustine

The death of a soul is a horrible thing. We act in ways which are "unbecoming". We regress into an endless cycle of self, solipsism ad nauseam. We literally turn away from God and try to run to whatever will satisfy the whim of our appetite next.

If you want to see the effects of sin: on your soul, and consequently on Jesus Christ, look at a Spanish crucifix that shows every stripe, wound, and drop of blood. It resembles an abortion, which is what mortal sin does to a soul--it aborts the soul. There is a miscarriage of innocence, goodness, truth, beauty, and justice.

"Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Is. 53:4-6).

Only by the one acceptable sacrifice of the perfect, unblemished, pure, Lamb of God, can our sins be taken away. Jesus Christ came that we might have life and have it to the full. He came to give His life as a ransom for the many. Through His Life, Death and Resurrection we have Eternal Life and share in His Resurrection.

In the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, God became a man. In that Holy of Holies was formed the marriage of God and Man. Once more God and Adam walked and conversed in Eden without shame between them. The radical friendship of God to man His creation was restored in the Incarnation, Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus.

Jesus was first born of the Womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Next He rose from the dead and was born from the Womb of the Tomb. Now especially in the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist, He rises in us as He raises us from the life of sin we led (or death of grace in our souls). Jesus calls to our inmost selves and cries in a loud voice stricken with grief over what has happened to us, "Lazarus, Come out!"
He says to the Community of Believers, "Unbind him!" God gives us each other in the family of the Church to help one another come into the life of grace and away from a life of deadly sin.

At the Creation of the cosmos, the Spirit hovered over the waters and God spoke His Word and all that is came to be by the power of that Word. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the Holy Spirit hovers over us and the Father speaks His Word Jesus Christ deep within the womb of our being and we are born again in Him as He is born again in us.

"For a priest to restore a soul to grace from mortal sin in the sacrament of confession is a greater miracle than the creation of the world at the beginning of time." St Augustine

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Temptations and the Womb of the Heart

In the first chapter of the Epistle of James, the Apostle tells us that the man who endures trial will be rewarded with a crown of life. He warns us that the temptations we endure are not from God, who never tempts people or can be tempted.

"... But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death " (Js.1:14-15).

Within the womb of a man's heart is where evil desires conceive and give birth to a sin which in turn gives birth to the death of our souls. James enjoins us submit ourselves to God in humility and to resist the devil and he will flee from us (Js.4:7). In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus says that it is not what goes into a man that makes him unclean but what comes out of him. "What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander" (Mt. 15:18-19).
Everything in us which is not of God must be renounced and given up. "Every plant which my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up" (Mt. 15:13). When we allow evil desires to take root in our minds and our hearts, we are only a short way from committing the act. Jesus said that it is not enough to refrain from committing an act of sin, but the thought being carried out in our heart is enough to make us guilty of the sin. He said this explicitly in regards to anger and hatred against our brothers and lust against our sisters (see Mt 5:17ff).

Jesus advises it is better to pluck out our eyes and cut off our hands and enter the Kingdom of Heaven blind and lame than to be tossed whole into the fires of hell (Mt. 5:29-30). Practically what this means is that if you have a problem with pornography throw out the television and computer, or at least don't have these things in your bedroom with closed doors and hearts closed to God's grace.
If you have a problem with anger ask God for the grace to forgive those who have injured you and say a prayer for them. It is also helpful to say nothing unkind about them, and if possible say something nice about them or do something kind for them. Chesterton said the reason God tells us to love our neighbors and our enemies is because often times they are the same people.

God's Word must be planted in our hearts and bring forth the fruit of the Good News, Jesus Christ. If we are pure of heart, we shall see God because we will be open to God and closed to the world (open only to the Life of God). God's Holy Spirit overshadows us and brings us forth as adopted son's and daughters, because the Holy Spirit always conceives God's Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ within us.

"Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures"(Js. 1:17-18).

If Christ is truly within us, we are driven by the Spirit to the wilderness of our hearts. Temptations come to us from the evil one who seeks to sow weeds in us among the wheat sown by the Spirit. If we resist him and submit ourselves to God the devil who also believes in God trembles in fear of our faith and will flee from us. If Christ is truly within us we are driven by the Spirit to act as Christ acted becoming "doers of the Word".

"Therefore put away all filthiness and rank growth of wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
...he who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer that forgets but a doer that acts, he shall be blessed in his doing.
If any one thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this man's religion is vain. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world" (Js. 1:21-27).

Jesus said the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed; even though it is the smallest of seeds, it grows into the largest of plants.

May our roots be deep and our branches wide!