Don’t think clouds are all cloudy: of penance, merit and sanctifying grace. Divine Mercy Sunday is upon us!

 

cloudy ridge mountains

I love to see clouds hugging the mountains as if they are drawn by some magnetism. Even better, I remember doing ridge walking (not mountain climbing) up near the Matterhorn on the Italian side in another life, watching clouds literally tumble up the valleys and in between the ridges and mountain tops, exploding in size or disappearing as I watched, taken in as I was by the power of nature as created by our good God, almost able to touch them so close were they. Watching those clouds was like sitting on the top rail of rodeo gate with an explosive animal underfoot. These clouds above help define just how many ridges there are vertically going up to the top ridge. This is why trails are either by the river below or on the very tops of ridges if at all possible.

volcano

Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano reminds us of the clouds and lightnings and trumpeting thunder and earthquakes of Mount Sinai and then Mount Calvary heralding our redemption. And the images of Hebrew Scriptures of God riding on the clouds of the heavens come to mind. Spectacular.

When I was a kid, I would enjoy reading a book at night solely by sheet-lightning light, with the interior radiance of those clouds being so bright that I could do this with ease with almost no interruption. It was actually better than this compilation of a brilliantly freaky sick editor of lightning videos. Hat’s off to him…

Clouds are not just mist and fluffiness. Clouds are tornadoes, are hurricanes and typhoons. They can bring prosperity or flooding, life or death. They can carry the voice of our dear Heavenly Father at the Transfiguration of Jesus.

But sometimes we feel a storm cloud is over our heads and it’s all bad and evil and dark and we’re doomed. Here’s a note from a reader with my [[comments]].

“One question I have on the just consequences of sin is that it seems like there’s an important sense in which any offense against God (and especially a mortal sin) is an infinite offense simply by the fact that it is AGAINST GOD. So I have the sense that suffering or penance is more of a gesture of love of God and of His justice than it is making any quantifiable headway on what I justly owe [[Yes, any penance, including one given in confession, is to begin and end with friendship with Jesus, so that if one fasts, one complains to Him about how weak one is so as to ask to be killed off figuratively speaking to self so as to only live for Him, with that friendship growing by leaps and bounds in all charity and thus covering a multitude of sins]], though by persevering to death one gives one’s personal “all” [[Don’t be like Simone Weil in doing that! Yikes!]]. Although, about some sins I have fulfilled the recommended penance from the ancient penitential manuals [[a huge accomplishment, but remember the bit about friendship with Jesus]] but whether that is theologically a lot different than “pray an Our Father and a Hail Mary” in the ability to really atone for sin, I do not know. [[There are many variables, but there is an extra help of grace, I would think, when this comes from the sacrament of Confession. Just to say, in my discussions with the Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary over in Rome as a new Missionary of Mercy, I was provided a review of the kind of penances they give out, more than an Our Father and Hail Mary!]] And I am not sure exactly how it relates to this if I gain a plenary indulgence, the temporal punishment due to sin is remitted [[from the treasury, as it were, so to speak, of the super-abundant merits of Christ and the saints]], yet the disorder in myself remains which is effects of sin and in justice must be suffered, this is a little bit confusing distinction.[[Ahh… There it is. That’s the mistake of today, confusing our psychological state and our spiritual state. We are always weak in this world because of justice for sin, and the very forgiveness and state of grace enables us to use that weakness for sanctification with the most exhilarating irony ever. Here’s the deal: the closer to Jesus we are, the more honestly we can see how far He had to reach to get us, which is the more honest we can be in thanking Him now for that salvation and then absolutely gloriously in heaven. Don’t dare think that more balanced and nice is holy. It’s in being more at ease in turning to Jesus in humble thanksgiving even while it is revealed to us just how far Jesus had to reach to get us. With this outrageous enthusiasm for love of Jesus, let the clouds blare out their trumpets and show us their lightnings. There is nothing to fear in the storms of Calvary, for it is Jesus who is drawing us to Himself across hell to Himself. If we only knew the benefit of the storms, we wouldn’t want to give them up at all until we, please God, made it into heaven. Go ahead and watch them explode or to vaporize as you make your assent up Mount Carmel. We look not to ourselves but to Him, to whom be glory and honor forever and ever. Amen.]]

8 Comments

Filed under Confession, Mercy, Missionaries of Mercy, Year of Mercy

8 responses to “Don’t think clouds are all cloudy: of penance, merit and sanctifying grace. Divine Mercy Sunday is upon us!

  1. elizdelphi

    This both makes sense and invites deeper thought and prayer, which is worth dedicating to it.

    I can of course thank Jesus for redeeming me even if objectively I cannot know if I am in a state of grace right? In trying to think how to explain some thoughts I have sometimes of confusion as to whether God’s life is in my soul, I would say I don’t want to be like the pharisee who sat in the church praying “I thank you Lord that you have put me in a state of grace, unlike this tax collector…”

    So, naturally one is curious what are the penances that the Apostolic Penitentiary gives. I assume this means for things where there was a censure reserved to the Holy See?

  2. Father George David Byers

    This is Saint Paul who didn’t dare judge Himself but leaves that for the just Judge.

    Yes, very reserved.

  3. elizdelphi

    I went over to the adoration chapel for a while and this helped me to think the person of Jesus (ie friendship with Jesus) is the best answer to my questions.

  4. Father George David Byers

    Yes, Jesus is the One. He’s the only One.
    Saint John Paul II said that we’re the question, Jesus is the answer.

  5. Gregg the Obscure

    Thanks much for this, Father. Lent this year gave me a much more intense awareness of the sin that pervades my life. Some moments the cloud is less thick. This post was like one of those moments (which happen in a desert climate) where the clouds are so low to the ground that one’s head pokes up above the clouds and one can see clearly above the clouds.

  6. Hi Father, I went to confession today for Divine Mercy and the priest looked so much like you I did a double take. He noticed and asked me if I was ok. Then it dawned on me that I have seen your picture but I have not posted mine. The priest’s advice sounded a lot like the things you say (very wise, down to earth and funny) my question – is – Were you at Holy Rosary in Baltimore today? If not, can you bi-locate – (like St. Parde Pio) ? I’m not kidding now my confessor gave me such profound advice I had to ask.
    By the way, Happy Divine Mercy day and God bless.

  7. Father George David Byers

    You are very kind. Always in my parish.

  8. elizdelphi

    Please post a “flores for the Immaculate Conception” today!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s