Sunday, April 23, 2006

Divine Mercy, Divine Judgment

I learned something very important today about sin. It's deadly.

"No kidding, Kelly!"

Wait. I don't mean what we — or at least I — consider grevious or mortal sin. I mean any sin.

Lemme explain, or at least try to.

Today, Exposition and the Divine Mercy Chaplet preceded Mass. Now, it'd been about a week since my last Confession, and, as far as I could remember, I hadn't done anything awful.

But as I began to lose myself in adoration, something I did today began niggling at me. I tried to shake it off, but nothing doing. God, evidently, wasn't having any. At the conclusion of the chaplet and Benediction, I realized I had about 25 minutes before Mass began. There were still a few priests waiting to hear confessions. Plenty of time, I decided, to confess my one, itty-bitty sin, pray the expected Hail Mary or two, and get a decent seat for Mass.

My confession lasted maybe 30 seconds, tops.

My penance? A Rosary.

The priest, without mincing words, told me to immediately pray the five Glorious Mysteries after making my Act of Contrition. Dazed, I walked into the Blessed Sacrament chapel and began to pray.

An amazing thing happened as I ended the first decade and began the second.

While contemplating the Ascension of Jesus, the sorrow for my sin began to build. I threw myself upon His mercy, and that of the Holy Spirit as I began the third mystery. As I reflected on the Assumption and Queenship of Our Lady, I found myself begging for her intercession...and begging the Triune God for the grace to never commit that sin again.

By the time I'd finished my penance, I knew I was forgiven. I also knew that God had changed me...that He'd shown me that what I'd considered a "minor infraction" wasn't minor at all. It was a sin.

And sin is deadly.

God's love is everlasting. His mercy endures forever. But — as Bishop Allue reminded us in his sermon — the judgment of Jesus is just.

Do you think the unexpected penance had anything to do with this revelation?

I do. Oh, I know that I'd have been forgiven for my sin no matter how small my penance had been. But I somehow don't think my sorrow would have been as profound...nor do I think I would have begged so fervently for the grace to renounce that particular sin. (Which I realize now is — please God, had been — a fairly habitual one.)

"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is Good"

And His Love is everlasting. Once again He proved this to me reminding me of something important Saint John, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote in today's second reading:

"For the love of God is this,
that we keep His commandments."