“Even now, says the
LORD, return to me
with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and
mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return
to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is
he, slow to anger, rich in kindness.”
the Lord is crying out to you from the depths of the Divine Heart,
“Come back to Me ...!”
With your whole heart, with all your being, return to me, and be
Mine! God in His great love and mercy speaks to us through His Bride
the Church in today's liturgy, and He cries out, sings out, “Return
This message, these words, are for every human heart, for sinner
and righteous alike, and are a call from a loving Father, Who would
gather His children in His arms and fill them with joy beyond measure.
It is the cry of a Divine Lover, of Jesus Christ Himself, a Lover
Who recognizes the unfaithfulness of the beloved, and yet cries
out nonetheless, “Come back to me, return to me ...!”
Let this day be the beginning of a spiritual journey through Lent
with Christ. Leave aside emphasis on the externals and look within
your heart, look honestly within yourself, and recognize your tepid
response to the love of God and implore His grace, for He alone
can transform you and re-create you anew.
All of us deeply long, so desperately desire, to be loved, to experience
ourselves as loved — and so often ...
so often ... we seek it in the wrong place, with illusive expectations
and insatiable demands. Yet, here God is waiting to lavish His Divine
love upon us.
Even now, says God! Now! Not tomorrow, next week
or at some future date, but
in this present moment God wants, desires, cries out for
your love; listen to Him calling, “come back to Me, return
not asking us to rend our garments, He is not asking for external
expressions of penance alone, for fasting without attention to His
voice, He is asking us to rend our hearts. Rend means to
tear open: we must do violence to ourselves, die to our
desires for comfort, ease, and euphoria. We are called to open our
hearts, to rend them, bare in them His presence, and then, into
that wound, God can — and will — pour His healing love and mercy.
Why do we hide?
God knows all that we are, totally, utterly, more than we will
ever even begin to glimpse ourselves. He knows everything that ever
passes through our minds, our souls: why hide in vain and to no
good end? He wants us to show our love, our trust in Him
that we bare open our wounds, our heart and surrender all that is
within us to Him.
All too often we are tempted purely to make Lent a time of giving
up specific foods,
but God is not
interested in your diet, He is interested, passionately in your
heart; it's your heart,
your love, that He wants.
God calls us to fast from sin, to weep tears of sorrow for our waywardness,
and to mourn the pain our sins have brought to others, and then
to return totally to Him. “Come back to Me!” It is the
cry of a Lover.
Prepare your hearts for this Lenten journey:
Jesus Christ awaits you in the great Sacrament of Penance; He awaits
your coming, to welcome you back from that pestilence of sin that
has wracked your body and soul. Sacramental Confession is nothing
less than the source of life and restoration to true sanity, of
hope and numberless blessings ... for so, so, many it is the road
back to spiritual and emotional health, to an abiding inner joy.
We cannot long live a divided existence without becoming fragmented
ourselves. How often we fail to realize that our sinfulness makes
its visitation not only upon our souls but plunders our very bodies
as well, manifesting itself in physical illness. We are not, like
the angels, pure spirit, but possessed of mind, body, and soul,
and what afflicts the one inevitably affects the other. The Confessional
should be seen as the vestibule to healing, a seat of Mercy, for
such it is!
Countless souls have been rescued from despair, hopelessness,
suicide, revenge, and insanity itself; how many of our human passions
and weaknesses have been corrected, and amended, through this beautiful
Sacrament? It is not, or should not be, an occasion when we allow
our fears to subdue us, keeping us in bondage to sin. It is a temptation
when we regard the Confessional as anything less than a divine institution
divinely ordained. It
is Jesus Christ Himself Who sits there
waiting to forgive us through the pronouncement of that
absolution and the blessing of His Priest.
Fear is a cowardly counselor, and we must recognize that the Confessional
will always be a battlefield where the evil one will crouch
in the pew beside us and try by any measure, through any device,
to prevent our going — for our going is his defeat.
then, to God's call: “Come back to Me, return to Me.”
The following is an extract from the Catechism of the Catholic
Church; here you have the very mind of Christ, the mind
of the Church, and also you have the mind and heart of our Immaculate
Mother Mary, for she is the very Mother, the life giver of the Church,
her total being is perfectly one with her Son, as that of no other,
this is also what she would have for you, what she would have you
choose. Remember her words from the wedding at Cana:
he tells you.”
IV. Interior Penance
Jesus’ call to conversion and penance, like that of the prophets
before Him, does not aim first at outward works, “sackcloth and
ashes,” fasting and mortification, but at the conversion of the
heart, interior conversion. Without this, such penances remain sterile
and false; however, interior conversion urges expression in visible
signs, gestures and works of penance.23
Interior repentance is a radical reorientation of our whole life,
a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin,
a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions
we have committed. At the same time it entails the desire and resolution
to change one's life, with hope in God’s mercy and trust in the
help of His grace. This conversion of heart is accompanied by a
salutary pain and sadness which the Fathers called animi cruciatus
(affliction of spirit) and compunctio cordis (repentance
The human heart is heavy and hardened. God must give man a new
heart.25 Conversion is first of all a work of the grace
of God who makes our hearts return to Him: “Restore us to thyself,
O LORD, that we may be restored!” 26 God gives us the
strength to begin anew. It is in discovering the greatness of God’s
love that our heart is shaken by the horror and weight of sin and
begins to fear offending God by sin and being separated from Him.
The human heart is converted by looking upon “Him whom our sins
have pierced.” 27 Let us fix our eyes on Christ’s blood
and understand how precious it is to His Father, for, poured out
for our salvation it has brought to the whole world the grace of
Since Easter, the Holy Spirit has proved “the world wrong about
sin,” 29 i.e., proved that the world has not believed
in Him whom the Father has sent. But this same Spirit who brings
sin to light is also the Consoler who gives the human heart grace
for repentance and conversion.30
May this be for each and every one of you a time of returning
more totally, more completely to Christ Jesus the Lord; may this
time of Lent be a time of grace, truth and love.
Let us pray for one another and for all who struggle with sin, both
their own and that of others, we need the support of each other
within the mystical body of Christ, let us pray for each other,
offer sacrifices for each other.
The following of Christ will involve deep suffering ... but also
great joy, and a love that exceeds all that you have ever experienced
or will ever experience this side of Heaven; the depths
and the heights of His love are beyond all human comprehension,
for His love is greater than all things.
It is this love
that He wants to give to you ... return to Him with all your heart.
A Poor Clare
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