"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,
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 to
This message, these words, are for each and 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 now, in
this present moment God wants, desires, cries out for
your love; listen to Him
calling, "come back to Me, return to Me."
Jesus is 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, 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
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 you 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!
souls have been rescued from despair, hopelessness, suicide, revenge,
insanity itself; how many of our human passions and weaknesses have
been corrected, 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
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.
Hearken, 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:
"Do whatever he tells
IV. INTERIOR PENANCE
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
1431: 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 of heart).24
1432: 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
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 repentance.
1433: Since Easter, the Holy Spirit has proved
"the world wrong
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
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 Colettine
Printable PDF Version