My dear friends,I would like to share with you a little bit about the importance of Reconciliation and the mercy of God. I have come to believe that we cannot pray: “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner” with total conviction and with a contrite heart unless we have been brought, in one way or another, to our knees. It seems to me that in bitter sorrow and humility, this prayer becomes the key to the merciful Heart of Jesus, who is Mercy Incarnate. Spoken, or rather prayed, these words will pierce the very nucleus of God's merciful Heart and will become a blessing to us. With God, there is mercy – how hard it is for us to understand this concept! Perhaps, we don't pay enough attention to the fact that this is God's greatest attribute, that it is, in fact, His very essence.
I am not a scholar but I can imagine that even the Angels in Heaven do not understand why God, who has been rejected by us sinners on earth despite having been given our very lives, still has compassion on our fallen nature and extends His fathomless mercy upon us! The Saints and Angels in Heaven know very well what sin is: namely, the utterly ugly and shameful rejection of the Thrice Holy God, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Israel and the God of you and me.
Who needs it, this mercy of God? Of course, we all do! Yet, we don't deserve it; it is an absolutely free gift. There are some who think that because God is merciful, one just has to wait for Him to shower His mercy upon the soul, especially once the soul has accepted Jesus in one's life. I will say it again: Mercy is a free gift and God will grant it – but we must ASK for it! If we try to become “as merciful as the heavenly Father is merciful”, if we have been righteous, if we have accepted that His holy law must be fulfilled, then – and only then – will mercy be applied to our souls. A merciful God must also be one of righteousness and justice. A just judge can only apply a just sentence after applying the full extent of his mercy. So, my dear friends, if you live mercy, you will receive it! If you give mercy, you will be saved!
In order to blot out our transgressions, we need to confess. We need to NAME the darkness in our life if we want to be saved. The heart that recognizes its wretchedness and confesses it with its lips is the heart which will not only receive forgiveness but also the great grace of conversion. In the first two verses of Psalm 32, we read: “How blessed are those whose offense is forgiven, whose sin is blotted out. How blessed are those to whom Yahweh imputes no guilt, whose spirit harbours no deceit.” I would like to add to that: Blessed is the one who makes a thorough examination of conscience, who goes to Confession totally prepared, with a heart wrenched to tears.
Jesus told Saint Faustina that the greatest sinners have the greatest right to His mercy. Over and over again in the Diary of Saint Faustina, we hear about the importance of reconciling with the God of Mercy. Numerous entires include the words of Jesus or the reflections of Saint Faustina on God's mercy and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I would like to share just a few of those excerpts; the first one is an entry by the Lord's Secretary of Divine Mercy and the others are quotes from Jesus Himself, as recorded in “Divine Mercy in My Soul”.
“Mercy is the flower of love ... In love it is conceived; in mercy it is revealed ... Even God's very justice speaks to me about His fathomless mercy, because justice flows from love.” (Entry 651)
“I am giving you three ways of exercising mercy toward your neighbour: the first - by deed, the second - by word, the third - by prayer. In these three degrees is contained the fullness of mercy and it is an unquestionable proof of love for Me.” (Entry 742)
“... All those souls who will glorify My mercy and spread its worship, encouraging others to trust in My mercy, will not experience terror at the hour of death. My mercy will shield them in that final battle ...” (Entry 1540)
“In the old Covenant, I sent prophets wielding thunderbolts to My people. Today I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish aching mankind, but desire to heal it, pressing it to My Merciful Heart ... Before the day of justice I am sending the Day of Mercy.” (Entry 1588)
“I cannot love a soul which is stained with sin; but when it repents, there is no limit to My generosity toward it. My mercy embraces and justifies it. With My mercy, I pursue sinners along all their paths and My Heart rejoices when they return to Me.” (Entry 1728)
“The greatest sinners would achieve great sanctity, if only they would trust in My mercy ... My Kingdom on earth is My life in the human soul ... I Myself am the spiritual guide of souls – and I guide them indirectly through the priest and lead each one to sanctity by a road known to Me alone.” (Entry 1784)
Reconciliation has become a very key element in my life after the Lord of Mercy brought me back from darkness and destruction into His marvellous light. As a result of a profound conversion experience, in which I was in the presence of the glory of God, I came to the realization that I needed to make atonement for my sins. The Lord, through my spiritual director, guided me to Montreal to visit St. Joseph's Oratory and Notre Dame Cathedral. It was at the side Altar devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the latter Church that the Lord touched my soul. With the help of one of His Angels, my whole life flashed before me – everything that I had ever done against the law of God was shown to me along with the ripple effects of my sin on society. At that time of truth and shame, the Lord deposited a thorough examination of conscience into my heart. The two hour Confession that followed this experience was an outpouring of my wretched and ever so contrite heart; it set me free from all my past and started me on the Road of Light.
I have used this powerful examination of conscience on several Parish Retreats and the response has been very gratifying as the line-ups for Confession formed immediately after! Please read and make use of part two of this reflection.