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Lourdes is not just an example of care of the sick. In looking at the Domaine in Lourdes, we have a picture of the Church which is in the world but not of it. We have a place for the sacraments, and for Reconciliation, a place for Adoration of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, a place for devotion to Mary, a place where contemplatives pray for Church members - and much mutual help between pilgrims during our pilgrimage, including care of strangers.
Just as a person who tries to clean the outside wall of a house has little success with a garden hose but amazing results from a power-hose, so a sinner who is ashamed but does not bother to go to confession remains stained with sin, whereas one who is cleaned in the Confessional in the Sacrament of Penance emerges with a soul made glorious by Divine action.
Many Confessionals are empty of penitents because many of the Clergy have failed to teach the truth about sinful behaviour, and the rewards of Heaven, and the pains of Hell. Many Catholics do as they please, without respect for God. All who say 'I have no sin' make God to be a liar, and cannot be saved.
The Lord showed me the results of the Plenary Indulgence which I had gained, by His grace, through Mass and Holy Communion, special prayers, and a sincere Confession. All my sins had been forgiven, with no punishment due. It was as though I was clothed in an unspotted white Baptismal robe, and was like a carefree child in God's presence, like the people in white in the Last Judgement painting.
There are many people who seek out counselling or therapy whose problems could be solved by the repentance that leads to Confession, and a state of grace, and the peace and freedom which came from being forgiven. Many people, Christ observes, make excuses for themselves when they became downcast through grievous sin, and a failure to repent.
The Mass is a solemn and sacred representation of the once-for-all Sacrifice of Jesus Christ: God-made-man. Yet there are people who come to Mass and Holy Communion who are still in their sins: their grave sins. It is not fitting to receive Christ, unless a person has been purified by contrition, Reconciliation, and acts of penance.
By Sincere repentance, expressed in Confession to a priest, we take such a powerful step towards the Lord that it's as if the soul soars like a rocket, into the heart of the Godhead, to be met with cries of joy amidst the glory. If everyone knew the great benefits of sorrow-for-sin they would repent more frequently and do so with gladness!
Whenever someone makes a good confession, she should be confident that she has done something which is not only important and useful for herself and her own spiritual life. She delights the Three Divine Persons of the Blessed Trinity, who gaze upon her with delight, admiring her humility and simplicity.
Christ invites every woman who has had an abortion to turn to Him, and not to lose hope. He loves her. She need only say to Him: "I did wrong, and I am sorry!" to show her regret and repentance. Christ wants the Clergy to speak more about the Sacrament of Penance, and about how the sin of abortion can be forgiven.
It would please Christ very much if priests were to say: "We all do wrong. The Church can tell us what is right and wrong, but we can be forgiven. I shall be in the Confessional at certain times, this week, and every week". Christ wants them to invite people to repent, to change their lives, and to find freedom and peace-of-soul at last.
Many people have tried to 'flush away' from their minds the memories of sins committed, and neither confessed nor forgiven - rather as tiny babies are flushed away from life, by abortion. It is better to repent now, than to look sadly upon our whole lives when we die.
A person who is brought back to God's friendship, reconciled through a sacramental Confession, and brought closer through the Mass and Holy Communion, is like a man suddenly brought back to a main road, from a far away desert country, and who now drives straight towards Heaven, as long as he does not deviate from the route.
A person who has had an abortion has only to repent, and to say 'sorry', to the Lord, and she will be forgiven. It is best if she receives the graces of the sacrament of Penance, and is thoroughly reconciled to God and the Church.
We must not allow shame and embarrassment to keep us from experiencing the joy of being forgiven, after Confession. It can be embarrassing to realise how engrossed we once were in our sins, just as children are engrossed in their ecstasy at the funfair, unable to pay attention to ordinary concerns. The time has come to make a careful assessment of how we spend our time, no longer engrossed in selfish pleasures.
We do not always feel wonderful after a good Confession, because we are like a man who has climbed out of a deep mine shaft - mortal sin - and who now sits exhausted on the ground. But within the soul the peace of Christ increases, as Christ present within the soul gives grace and spiritual nourishment.
The Father in Heaven loves all His creatures, but He looks with delight and wonder upon the soul of a person newly-forgiven in the Sacrament of Penance; and like a mother full of wonder at her new-born baby's delightful fingers and toes, God looks with wonder upon the penitent's virtues and good resolutions.
It has always been true; and it is true today: that a person who turns to God in sorrow for her sins, repenting, is forgiven. This is true even of grave sins such as abortion. People who receive forgiveness in the sacrament of Penance can be certain that their sins have been wiped away, and their souls made beautiful in God's sight.
To go to Confession, to be forgiven, and then to do the penance required by the Church, is to do what is admirable in Christ's sight as well as beneficial to the person. It is as if Heaven comes down to surround that person who has been obedient out of love for God, and who is now reconciled.
We do not need countless new, expensive projects, to achieve renewal. All that is necessary for renewal in the Church is for the Faith handed on through the ages to be preached in its fullness by the Bishops and other Clergy, so that people repent of their sins and are reconciled in Confession and live their faith fully. Then, when people are strengthened by Mass and Communion, there will be a real renewal, and many more vocations.
For peace of soul, the best means is to repent of all sin and to go to Confession. The Catholic Church offers this sacrament all over the world; furthermore, in order to reach Heaven it is necessary to be reconciled with God.
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