Posts tagged forgiveness
Posts tagged forgiveness
O God, when others were ready to condemn Mary Magdalene,
Jesus accepted her with all her imperfections.
She in turn accepted Your Son as her Saviour.
It was to St. Mary Magdalene, before all others,
that Jesus committed the message of Easter joy.
Through her intercession, may we proclaim Christ
as our living Lord and one day contemplate Him reigning in glory.
Saint Mary Magdalene,
woman of many sins, who by conversion became the beloved of Jesus, thank you for your witness that Jesus forgives through the miracle of love.
You, who already possess eternal happiness in His glorious presence,
please intercede for me, so that some day I may share in the same everlasting joy.
Saint Mary Magdalene is my hero because she let go of her pride and accepted Christ’s forgiveness. Her relationship with Christ and her faith is testimony that none of us can ever fall so far away from grace that we are unforgivable. Mary, a former prostitute/adulteress, never left Jesus during His passion or at the foot of the cross. She was the first to see Him in glory after the resurrection. She represents hope and faith for all who have fallen and struggle with chastity.
DISCLAIMER: I’m not here because I’m the best. And I’d like think I’m not the worst either. I’m just here. A priest friend of mine once told me, “Just show up and God will take care of the rest.” So I’m making my guest appearance & I’m counting on our host, Jesus, to steal the show! With that said let’s open tonight with a prayer. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Tonight I want to talk to you about becoming a warrior in our world. As Christians, we are all called to be holy – imperfect as we are. Unfortunately we live in a global society that desires for us to be anything but holy, and will literally do anything to ensure we aren’t. This evening I want to particularly focus on our mission for morality. I know it sounds like a cliché but immorality is simply everywhere. We can’t turn on the TV, radio, or our computers without being confronted with the words “sexy” or “hot”. I MEAN SERIOUSLY EVEN RED MINI VANS ARE ADVERTIZED AS “SEXY” IN COMMERCIALS. MINI VANS!!! How have we been reduced to this? It seems as though this idea of immorality and comprise has slowly crept it’s way into our lives. Yes people say that God is a gentleman, but in the reverse, Satan is just as talented a conniver. As God is good, Satan is evil. We subconsciously allow ourselves to be consumed by our culture. I’m sure a lot of you have heard this example, but it’s worth repeating. A frog if thrown in a boiling pot of water will immediately jump out. In contrast if a frog is thrown in a pot of water with the heat gradually increasing over time, it will be boiled to death. The frog never even notices the increasing warmth because he has become comfortable and familiar with his surroundings. We can be a lot like frogs, but we don’t have to be. God has given us much more sense than that. And many more capabilities to jump out of that pot! We have the sacraments!
To help you understand, here’s a personal example of how the media can effect our souls without our awareness or consent. This past Lent, I decided to give up all music, save for Christian – for forty days. If you know me you know that in life there are 2 main things I live for: God & music. In that order. Music keeps me sane, it helps me cope when I’m stressed, puts me to sleep when I’m restless, helps me sort out my emotions when I’m confused, and makes me dance when I’m happy. It’s like a friend. So you can see how this was a huge sacrifice, and you can probably understand why when I told my real friends they were concerned for my wellbeing during Lent. The first week was a challenge. It felt like survival of the fittest. But after that, things got easier. Filling my days with spiritual up-lift-ment dramatically transformed my mood, attitude & demeanor. I saw my spiritual life flourish, where it had been struggling. Also it seemed outstandingly easier to fight temptation. It didn’t feel like a losing battle anymore. God was renewing my heart in ways I couldn’t imagine. It got to the point where I didn’t even miss music anymore, now you may think I’m crazy, but God so consumed my heart I didn’t want it to end.
Now people say God has a sense of humor. I can testify to that, because at the end of Lent my headphones broke (I’m also broke so I couldn’t buy a new pair) and then my iPod was lost for another 2 months. I didn’t want it to end? Apparently God didn’t either.
Before those 40 days I had no idea how my music so strongly effected me. I don’t even listen to what I consider bad music, but that isn’t the point. Maybe I’d switched up my priorities and put God at #2 on my list.
Let’s think about what we are nourishing our souls with. This past week, among the top ten singles on iTunes were “Sexy & I know it” by LMFAO (a song that clearly focuses on the virtue of humility), “Mooves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5 (3 minutes and 21 seconds of sexual innuendos & doing “what feels right”), and “Good Feeling” by Flo Rida (should be nominated for the grossest lyrics award). Now these may seem like harmless or catchy tunes when they’re played on the radio, you may claim that you don’t even pay attention to the words. Newsflash, if you can recite them, they’re imbedded in your mind. We tend to believe something if we hear it enough. This what we are feeding our hearts & minds. It might seem danceable & fun. Hey! You know better than that. You don’t treat people like that right? You don’t act on those things of course. It’s just music. It’s just a song.
If you’re thinking this, you’re missing the point. Have you heard the saying “cuter than sin”? There’s a reason why this saying is so common. Sin can appear satisfying, fun, enticing, thrilling and even beautiful! If it’s inherent falsity was blatantly apparent, we wouldn’t be so drawn to it.
The devil isn’t stupid. He dances in our blindsides, uses our weaknesses, and gnaws at our loose ends. Satan knows that our senses are our weak spots. So he plays upon our ears, eyes and mouths to do his will. Even sometimes without our awareness. He takes his time, slowly making his way in, before you know it he attacks & you’re trapped. He knows that like a frog if we’re thrown in at once, the boiling water will frighten us enough & we’ll jump. So he slowly turns up the heat, so we’ll roast & he’ll win.
It doesn’t matter how well you know what’s right or wrong. It doesn’t matter if you “don’t do that” if you hang with people who do “do that” or fill your head with stuff that does “support that”, you soldier, are raising a white flag & handing yourself over to the other side.
On the flipside I’ve also found music to be a great tool to defeat temptation! When I was little my mom and I would listen to a lot of Christian music & little tunes to help me learn my faith. I’m sure some of you did also. In particular there was this tune that has been implanted in my brain & it went like this: “My body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, My body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, My body is a temple & Jesus lives within it, My body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit.” Now this may seem silly but sometimes when I’m getting changed, looking at my reflection in the mirror, or “checking someone out” I’ll sing this song in my head. If my appearance or attitude doesn’t reflect this message, I’ll realize it’s time to switch gears, whether that means changing my clothes or to stop looking at that guy.
A common weapon that the enemy uses against us is how we view each other. We aren’t objects, but we treat ourselves as such. How many times do you all look at a guy or a girl and think they are “hot” or even start a conversation about someone’s “hotness” with a friend? I’m guilty of this, and I think most of us are. The only problem with calling someone “hot” is that we are only focusing on their outer shell, and as Christians we know that there is so much more beneath that. We have souls! We have depth & personality. Then there’s celebrity crushes. For guys it’s normally Taylor Swift, Megan Fox, or Jessica Alba. For girls it’s usually Taylor Lautner, Orlando Bloom or Johnny Depp. Now that’s fine & dandy, we all admire movie stars…but when was the last time you said, “Megan Fox has such a beautiful soul.” Or “Taylor Lautner is such a brilliant reflection of Christ!” We don’t. That’s the point. Do we view ourselves & others as temples of the Holy Spirit?
When my friends & I spot a good-looking guy we try to say, “Wow! Look how much effort God put into that brother in Christ!” Now this may seem totally lame, but the idea is that we are forcing our minds & hearts to acknowledge that more than a body, this guy is a child of God, and a brother in Christ.
We were created GOOD! God says so in Genesis. We were created beautifully and intricately. We were formed to be loved, and to be pleasing to the eye. After God had made Eve according to Genesis chapter 2, Adam says, ““This one, at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called ‘woman’, for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.” That’s why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two become one body.” From this it is clear that we were made for companionship, we were made for each other. Yes, we have been given urges, desires, emotions & raging hormones…but God didn’t just say, “here you go! Good luck with that!” As Christians & children of God we have the virtues. Our God knew we would always fight with evil, but God never places us in a losing battle. God is love, so whatever is done in love is done in God. Like I said, our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. We belong to God. In Galatians 2:20 it says: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” And in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 it says: “…do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” So if we are not our own, and we are God’s, whatever we engage our bodies in we engage God in. Doesn’t that make you think twice? We must respect ourselves and others. Romans 8:9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. Disrespect can be as simple as a “that’s what she said” joke, gossip, our language or even how we dress and act with our friends. We were created to be different. We are not of THIS WORLD. Saint Jose Maria Escriva once said “Many live like angles in the middle of the world. You? Why not you? ‘He did not say you would not be troubled, you would not be tempted, you would not be distressed, but He did say you would not be overcome.’” We aren’t alone in this battle. There is victory! Regardless of our vocation whether to married life, single life or a religious vocation we are all called to purity of mind in heart. It is a lifestyle. It’s not just signing a piece of paper or wearing a ring claiming, “I won’t go all the way until I’m married”. It’s about transforming our mind & hearts into love & respect. When we put on Christ & don’t allow ourselves to be conformed to our society we conquer evil. We can be a generation of triumph. We can defy all odds & stereotypes, we can prove the world wrong if we take a stand & fight for God. We all know how great the retirement benefits are! HEAVEN!
If you don’t think purity applies to your life…fast forward a few years. Imagine God has called you to a beautiful marriage with an amazing man or woman who has been destined just for you & you alone. Now imagine you found out that your amazing new spouse had the worst reputation in high school & college. Pretend that they gave up on the battle when they hit puberty. Not so perfect huh? Wouldn’t you feel slightly jealous? Or paranoid? Hurt? That past history whether you wanted it to or not would taint the incredible gift that God wanted to give you. See you would understand that every time you unite your body with another, you give away not only a piece of your heart but also part of your soul. Knowing this you realize that your beautiful or handsome new spouse has very little to offer you, because they didn’t save or prepare their heart for you. It wasn’t important to them at the time. So they went with the flow & did what everyone else was doing. Even if they repented, it would still hurt you & them. Can you imagine? Now tell me again that purity doesn’t apply to you!
If you wouldn’t want to be in that situation, don’t create it. Think of it this way. Would you rather get a whole freshly baked cookie or half of one? I think we all can agree on an answer. Now think would you rather save your entire being for one special person to love eternally or give them a broken, used, and ashamed fraction of yourself?
This is one of the many reasons why I love being Catholic! When we go to Confession we receive a tangible & real sign of God’s forgiveness. Our Maker has given us an infinite restart button! One of my favorite quotes goes like this: “it doesn’t matter how many times you fall, as long as it’s the struggle you love and not the fall.” Isn’t that amazing?! Even if we fall, we can get back up again. The beauty of confession is once it has been confessed we aren’t bound to our sin, though we may have to pay the consequences for our actions. Even so, are we so uncontrolled & impatient that we cannot eagerly await our future vocation? Nothing will quench that thirst if it contradicts our purpose.
Don’t doubt that God has an amazing vocation in store for you! It fills me with so much joy when I look at my purity ring because I know that through this decision I am already becoming the best spouse (earthly or spiritual) that I can be! That’s an amazing thing.
It is our duty to lift one another up. Whether you’re currently in a relationship or you’re single, it’s our duty to help defend our fellow warriors. We cannot do this alone, and we aren’t supposed to. If you want to be treasured & treated like a temple of the Holy Spirit to have to treasure & treat others like a temple of the Holy Spirit. It’s kinda like the golden rule.
Is any of this easy? No. I would be lying to you if I said it was. But what is the joy in overcoming small odds? What’s so victorious about winning a war that wasn’t worth the fight? I wouldn’t lie to you, and neither would God. This isn’t an easy mission, but it’s important. It’s something that our world wants to forget. Don’t give into the lies. God didn’t give us a spirit of fear. Like Mary said to Joseph when they traveled to Bethlehem, “we have no cause to worry, for God will be with us.” This is true today & each day as well. In fact in the Bible it says “be not afraid” 365 times. That’s one “be not afraid” for each day of the year. So literally we have no reason to fear or worry ever. Yes this is a war, but we have the weapons & power to win!
Now right here in front of you all, I’m not too proud to admit I’m a fallen solider. I’ve failed on missions, directly defied my Commander & even fought for the enemy. Luckily my God, our God, leads an army of tainted heroes, comeback kids, & 2nd chances. Somehow he takes our rugged souls & makes them incredible to behold.
I’m not the chastity police, and it wasn’t my goal to preach your ears off. I’m quite familiar with the confessional, & honestly I’d love to go again right now. I’m simply here because I feel that God wanted me to tell you this. Don’t be afraid to fight. Don’t be afraid to be different or take a stand.
To sum this all up I want to read you a letter written by Saint Anthony of Padua:
Everyone longs to give themselves completely to someone, to have a deep soul relationship with another, to be loved thoroughly and exclusively.
But to a Christian, God says, “No, not until you are satisfied, Fulfilled and content with being loved by Me alone, with giving yourself totally and unreservedly to Me. With having an intensely personal and unique relationship with Me alone.
Discovering that only in Me is your satisfaction to be found, will you be capable of the perfect human relationship that I have planned for you. You will never be united to another Until you are united with Me. Exclusive of anyone or anything else. Exclusive of any other desires or longings. I want you to stop planning, to stop wishing, and allow Me to give you the most thrilling plan existing…one you cannot imagine. I want you to have the best. Please allow Me to bring it to you.
You just keep watching Me, expecting the greatest things. Keep experiencing the satisfaction that I am. Keep listening and learning the things that I tell you. Just wait, that’s all. Don’t be anxious, don’t worry. Don’t look around at things others have gotten or that I have given them don’t look around at the things you think you want. Just keep looking off and away up to Me, or you’ll miss what I want to show you. And then, when you’re ready, I’ll surprise you with a love far more wonderful than you could dream of.
You see, until you are ready, and until the one I have for you is ready, I am working even at this moment to have both of you ready at the same time. Until you are both satisfied exclusively with Me and the life I prepared for you, you won’t be able to experience the love that exemplified your relationship with Me. And this is perfect love.
And dear one, I want you to have this most wonderful love, I want you to see in the flesh a picture of your relationship with Me. And to enjoy materially and concretely the everlasting union of beauty, perfection and love that I offer you with Myself. Know that I love you utterly. I AM God. Believe it and be satisfied.