Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Mary, Angels and Human Sin, Part One

When I first began the ministry I would come home to my wife and share my sorrow over the state of the streets.  A street looks different close-up, especially when in the attitude of prayer.  There are the condom wrappers, drug paraphernalia, endless cigarette butts and graffiti, and then the advertisements that offer an easy paradise if you just buy the right product.  As I'd pass the strip clubs and sex shops I'd pray with greater fervor, and when I'd pass bars and pubs I'd marvel that they had so many customers when many of our masses and adoration chapels are poorly attended.  I would even recoil sometimes at the shabby smell or clothes or red sores of some of the people I would meet, but I soon found those things endearing since Christ yearned to dress them and bind up their wounds.  Nevertheless, I wasn't surprised when I read that it was difficult for the Blessed Virgin Mary to visit Massabielle in Lourdes.

St. Bernadette Soubirous

According to St. Bernadette Soubirous, it was a sacrifice for the Blessed Virgin to visit amidst the throng of crowds, and she would always look with sorrow and distress when she would look over little Bernadette's shoulder into the crowds. Presumably she saw their poor spiritual state, and the muddied state of their soul was a dismal contrast with the glory and perfection of heaven.  The ugliness of our sins is not a fashionable thing to reflect upon, but it only takes a moment to confirm the truth.  One need only take a close look at the crucifix: it is our sin in the bruises and gashes that cover our Lord.  Or one could read the mystics on purgatory, and consider the soul's painful journey after death to reflect the pure love of our Lord.

A few years ago our Lord twice poured his love into me, and I rejected it, "vomited it" back up after a brief moment.  The point was to show me how little room I had in my heart for divine love.  We are often very shallow vessels. Once while exiting the church after confession at The Grotto (the Shrine of or Lady of Sorrows in Portland), God gave me an interior vision of the state of my soul prior to confession.  Needless to say, it was a shock.  My soul appeared like a ship that had become unrecognizable because it had been out to sea for too long.  It had become an oblong mass that was discolored with rust and brine and covered with barnacles.  I was too long from the harbor, and after that I dedicated myself to daily mass and frequent confession.

So what is one to make of the sorry state of our own sins, how little divine love we can bear in our hearts?  Or even the sins of our communities or Holy Mother Church?  Do we give in to despair, doubt our divine inheritance or forsake the "narrow way" as unrealistic?  By no means!  To be continued in the next post...

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