“Can anything restore me to hope except your mercy? That you are merciful I know, for you have begun to change me. You know how great a change you have worked in me…” St. Augustine, Confessions
“We are only the earthenware jars that hold this treasure, to make it clear that such an overwhelming power comes from God.” 2 Corinthians 4: 7:15
“Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?…Anyone who wants to be great among you must be your servant.” Matthew 20: 20-28
James – the Greater (center) accompanied Peter and John at the Lord’s Transfiguration.
Through her intercession,
may all peoples of every tribe, tongue, and nation,
having been gathered into your Church,
proclaim your greatness
in one song of praise.
“In this thou has spoken truly.” John 4:17
Artwork: Georges Rouault
In recent days we’ve seen the flattening of churches in Norcia, Italy, including the Basilica of St. Benedict — ahead of Pope Francis’ trip to Sweden to “heap praise on Luther” as one journalist put it.
Luther’s protest of 1517 began as a response to the perversion of the indulgence process, which had became ‘pay to play’ under Pope Leo X. Today we see a perversion of ‘mercy’ in the practice of letting divorced and civilly remarried Catholics decide for themselves about partaking in communion (“organic development” as one cardinal put it). To be in union with the Lord we need to not be in a structure of sin, but rather one of salvation.
“We must be able to make a distinction between self-knowledge and sin. Self-knowledge will help one to rise up, whereas sin is a weakness that leads to repeated sin and despondency. Deep confidence and trust will come through self-knowledge. Then you will turn to Jesus to support you in your weakness whereas if you think you are strong, you will not need our Lord.” Mother Saint Teresa of Calcutta, Meditation for 5 September from The Joy in Loving (Penguin, 2000)
“Only thanks to a constant process of conversion and renewal, will the person move forward on the path of self-knowledge, the control of their will and the capacity to avoid evil and do good…In Confession, we live at first hand the essence of the love of God. He comes to meet us in the most fitting way, which is that of mercy. By this I do not mean the way of conversion is easy…The most important sign of the capacity to love like God is forgiveness. God loves us and for this he forgives us constantly.” Holy Father Saint John Paul II, March 26, 1999
“If however, you warn the upright man not to sin and he abstains from sinning, he shall live, thanks to your warning, and you too will have saved your life.” Ezekiel 3:21
Today, in a special way, the Church recalls St. Mary Magdalene, depicted here in the art of Guercino (1622).
One commentator noted “that Guercino painted Mary Magdalene repenting her vanities and errors: the saint kneels on the hard ground and laments her faults, , while one of the angels assisting in her penitence presents her with the nails with which Christ was crucified; the other points to heaven to indicate the true hope for her salvation, comforting her.” The Vatican Collections (Abrams, 1983)
On June 29 the Church celebrated the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul.
“He fell down at Jesus’s knees, saying , ‘Depart from me for I am a sinful man, O Lord’ and Jesus said unto Peter: ‘Fear not, from hence forth though shall catch men.'” (Luke 5: 1-11)
“He has redeemed us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace…” 2 Tim 1:9
St. Paul’s declaration of justification by faith recognizes that God created and redeemed us without our help, but our ultimate salvation requires a response of faith, which includes obeying our Lords commands, the central one being to “love one another as you love yourself.”
“My life is already being poured away as a libation, and the time has come for me to be gone. I have fought the good fight to the end, I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith.” 2 Tim. 4: 6-8. 17-18
Artwork: Top: The Miraculous Draught of Fishes, Pieter Van Aelst (c. 1532) Bottom: St. Paul on the Road to Damascus (9th Century)