Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Pearl of Wisdom...

Have you ever gone to Confession, listened to the priest's words (as Christ Himself) and then, at the Holy Mass, find yourself hearing the same exact words spoken to you, just as if they were meant for you and you alone? This is exactly what happened to me yesterday afternoon. It has happened many times in the past, but sometimes it hits me harder than at others. I have met many people who said they didn't believe in coincidences...and I must say, most of the time, neither do I. Especially where God's Word is concerned ~ all things come together in such a way as to make perfect sense to the listener, if that listener is TRULY listening...and all in His good time. One way to tell the fruits of a good Confession is to see how well a person stays away from a sin committed over and over again ~ habitual sin. If I receive this Sacrament and make no progress in my spiritual life, my Confessions become redundant, routine and even a waste of time...there is no purpose of amendment and no amendment made. As I understand it, there are two types of prayer: prayer that we say (or do) and prayer of the Sacraments. We can say a formula prayer, such as the "Our Father" or "Hail Mary", and then we can practice a prayer, as we do when we receive Holy Communion, or when we go to Confession. The graces we receive are already set aside for us especially by Our Lord Himself...and if we neglect these prayers, He grants the graces to another soul. When Solomon became king in the Old Testament, God appeared to him in a dream and asked him what he would wish ~ He would grant anything asked of Him. Solomon replied that he wished for great wisdom so that he could rule well, knowing always the difference between right and wrong. Since God was well pleased with this request, He granted it, assuring Solomon that no one before or after him would ever be known for such wisdom as was his...and even tho' I don't pretend that I have any great wisdom, I do know one thing: as Fr. Francis tells me, no one can be holy without a good prayer life. We cannot keep up our virtue without God's help; without His help, we cannot even begin to get out of any bad habits we have acquired during our lifetime, sinful or not. And each night, as one says evening prayers, there are only two questions that need to be asked: How did I love Jesus today? and ~ How will I love Him better tomorrow? The Gospel tells us of a Golden Rule that Our Lord preached to us over and over again: Do not do to others what you would not want done to yourself. And there are more Sacraments where the Golden Rule is practiced, that form of prayer that brings His life into our souls in a very practical way...not just in Confession and Holy Communion, but also, for example, in Matrimony ~ between two people. Today in the homily we were told about the reasoning behind and the circumstances surrounding the writing of Humanae Vitae. The Church was being told by modernists to change Her ruling concerning birth control. His Holiness, Pope Paul VI wrote this wonderful letter to re-iterate the reasoning behind the 2,000 year old teaching. This is, without a doubt, one of the greatest encyclicals ever written, and as luck would have it, one of the most well-known, even tho' it is not always followed by Catholics who profess to know their Faith and who don't seem to know the real difference between right and wrong, the openness to life in marriage...which is one of the most important reasons it is a Sacrament. As each husband and wife gives of self to the life of the other, making each other holy in the process, as they actually require one another to practice virtue. Jesus tells us of the "pearl of great price," that holiest of souls which hears and obeys His Word. "If you are My friends," He tells us, "then you must keep My commandments. If you love Me, you must be perfect, even as My heavenly Father is perfect." The pearl is white to show purity and innocence. Jesus says a "pearl of great price" is the soul, kept free from sin.
Yesterday, in the Confessional, Fr. Francis told me that to read and learn the ways of His Truth and to practice what He preaches is to reach a state of spiritual wisdom ~ as in the old expression, "a pearl of wisdom" ~ that "pearl of great price" that Jesus talks about, our souls being raised to a state of great grace.
Only in His Word, with His grace, will we ever reach that state.

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