Friday, July 3, 2009
Feast of the Apostle St. Thomas; First Friday of July
Today is the Feast of Doubting Thomas, who became the one who made the most profound declaration of faith: "My Lord and my God!" As my middle name is Thomas, I have always been drawn to this member of the Twelve.
Today is also the First Friday of the month of July, when the image of the Sacred Heart comes to the fore. I am particularly conscious of this as I meet with the Emmanuel Community gathering in Quebec whose theme is "I promise you a future full of hope" (Jeremiah 29:11), as their centre is Paray-le-Monial where the Sacred Heart granted knowledge of the secrets of his love to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. St. Margaret Mary was encouraged in her discernment by the holy Jesuit St. Claude de la Colombiere.
The Holy Father's monthly intentions for July are:
General: That the Christians of the Middle East may live their faith in full freedom and be an instrument of peace and reconciliation.
Missionary: That the Church may be the seed and nucleus of a humanity reconciled and reunited in God's one and only family, thanks to the testimony of all the faithful in every country of the world.
Holy Father's Letter to Priests (at this point the Pope addresses priests as one of them himself "we priests"--part 6)
We priests should feel that the following words, which he put on the lips of Christ, are meant for each of us personally: “I will charge my ministers to proclaim to sinners that I am ever ready to welcome them, that my mercy is infinite”. From Saint John Mary Vianney we can learn to put our unfailing trust in the sacrament of Penance, to set it once more at the centre of our pastoral concerns, and to take up the “dialogue of salvation” which it entails.
The Curé of Ars dealt with different penitents in different ways. Those who came to his confessional drawn by a deep and humble longing for God’s forgiveness found in him the encouragement to plunge into the “flood of divine mercy” which sweeps everything away by its vehemence. If someone was troubled by the thought of his own frailty and inconstancy, and fearful of sinning again, the Curé would unveil the mystery of God’s love in these beautiful and touching words: “The good Lord knows everything. Even before you confess, he already knows that you will sin again, yet he still forgives you. How great is the love of our God: he even forces himself to forget the future, so that he can grant us his forgiveness!”
But to those who made a lukewarm and rather indifferent confession of sin, he clearly demonstrated by his own tears of pain how “abominable” this attitude was: “I weep because you don’t weep”, he would say. “If only the Lord were not so good! But he is so good! One would have to be a brute to treat so good a Father this way!”.
He awakened repentance in the hearts of the lukewarm by forcing them to see God’s own pain at their sins reflected in the face of the priest who was their confessor.
To those who, on the other hand, came to him already desirous of and suited to a deeper spiritual life, he flung open the abyss of God’s love, explaining the untold beauty of living in union with him and dwelling in his presence: “Everything in God’s sight, everything with God, everything to please God… How beautiful it is!”.
And he taught them to pray: “My God, grant me the grace to love you as much as I possibly can”.