Tag Archives: Penance

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