God has incredible mercy (grace) waiting for us. There are so many ways in which He desires to bless us with His unfathomable mercy. God bestows much grace upon us through our prayers, fasting, sacrifices, works of mercy, and the sacraments. But God also has an abundance of grace available to us through devotions to the scapular, the prayers of the saints, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Divine Mercy, the Precious Blood of Jesus, the Miraculous Medal, the Rosary, and of course devotion to God himself—just to name a few. The gifts and promises made to us from these various devotions are waiting for us to help guide us toward salvation. Sadly, many have been led astray believing they have true devotion and can merit the full benefits from participating in them, but they are still lacking the faith necessary to accept all the graces God promises to deliver through any act of faith because they are only willing to open up their souls so much and as a result will only accept a small amount of what God desires to give them.
So, what is this true devotion—this true faith—we need in order to receive all of the blessings God promises? Let’s take a look at what God requires of us, in addition to some of the promises He desires to bestow on us, to see if we are truly embracing God’s mercy, or rejecting some or all of His graces from a lack of adequate faith. We don’t want to be like the Pharisees and think we have the faith necessary to accept God’s blessings to save us, all the while we are still quite blind and are still rejecting His love.
“‘I will allow convents and churches to be destroyed.’ [said the Lord]. I [St. Faustina] answered, ‘Jesus, but there are so many souls praising You in convents.’ The Lord answered, ‘That praise wounds My Heart, because love [desire to suffer and obey God] has been banished from convents [and churches]. Souls without [true] love and without [true] devotion, souls full of egoism and self-love, souls full of pride and arrogance, souls full of deceit and hypocrisy, lukewarm souls [who aren’t working to sin no more] who have just enough warmth to keep them alive. My Heart can’t bear this…if they do not repent and become enkindled by their first love, I will deliver them over to the fate of this world.’” (Jesus to St.Faustina – Diary #1702).
In St. Faustina’s Diary, God is clearly telling us there are many who pray and believe they have true faith in Jesus, who have even seemingly given their lives to love and serve God, who aren’t. How deceiving the devil can be! If there are many sisters, priests, and Church members who don’t have a true faith, it would be wise for us to look carefully at our own lives to make sure we haven’t fallen into the same trap these poor souls have had the misfortune of falling into. For if they knew they didn’t truly love Jesus surely they would change, as who would willingly be delivered over to the evil one for eternity?
THE PROMISE OF ETERNAL LIFE
Let’s first look into the main promise we desire, which is, of course Eternal Life through true belief in Jesus. The Word says “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). That’s quite the promise that one statement makes. There are many who have been blessed with grace from God to understand the Bible is veiled (not understandable to everyone). They understand we can’t just read one passage and believe that is the entirety of the requirements for Eternal Life, which is, of course, the greatest promise God gave to man. Yet, many have fallen into the trap of reading this one passage—this one promise—without having looked correctly at the rest of the Word to see what else is needed.
“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 4:3).
LOVE GOD WITH ALL OF OUR HEART
Of course, someone needs to confess that Jesus is Lord and believe in His resurrection to be saved, but that is far from all that is needed for salvation. That is only part of what it takes to truly love God since only those who truly love God can spend eternity with Him and not reject Him by loving sin instead of Him. As the Bible explains, in order to be saved we must truly love God above ALL striving to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and love our neighbor as ourselves. Just looking at one verse and thinking that is all that’s needed to do to receive everything (Eternal Life) is not why God gave us His Word (directions) on how to live. No, He wants us to change and “follow Me” (Matthew 16:24) —to be “imitators of God” (Ephesians 5:1) by obeying the Word. “Be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves” (James 1:22).
“Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’[the disciples questioned]…’You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:25-28).
WITHOUT A SAVING FAITH
We have been misled by the devil into scrutinizing other people’s sins, seeing the person who does gravely evil things or those who are not in the faith, as those not in God’s Kingdom. However, simply showing up at Church and acknowledging Jesus as Lord, doesn’t mean we are with a saving faith either. The devil has tricked us into pointing out our neighbor’s sins and seeing them as worse than ours, so we can try to justify our own sins as being not so bad, and ignoring our own sinfulness, so as to prevent us from amending our ways.
“What is more unjust than to justify yourself in that wherein you condemn another, whilst you yourself are committing worse offenses?” (St. Ambrose of Milan).
We must remember to whom God has given more to—such as worldly blessings and/or understanding of the faith Christ Himself established—our offenses, that may seem little, are far greater in severity than those who have received less and have committed the same offense, or in some instances, seemingly greater sins. “A false Christian is punished more than a pagan, and the deathless fire of divine justice consumes him more” (God the Father to St. Catherine of Sienna).
“Everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required” (Luke 12:24).
OPEN OUR EYES FIRST
We can’t see ourselves correctly and our own sins, if we are busy looking and commenting about everyone else’s sins. Doesn’t the Word say to never “speak evil [negatively] of one another” (James 4:11). We are to “build up one another” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Sure we are called as Christians to “bring (s) back a sinner from the error of his way [s]” as we are called to “save his soul from death” (James 5:20). That is truly a Christian’s mission. “I will teach the wicked your ways, that sinners may return to you” (Psalm 51:15). However, if we are going to mention someone else’s sin it must be to sincerely help them to avoid it in the future and to guide them to learn the requirements of salvation. Our goal must be a goal of good, never to make idle chatter or to build up ourselves by putting down another.
“ Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).
However, how can we ever guide someone to salvation, or guide them to a better life, if we haven’t learned what it takes to save our own soul? If we don’t know how to amend our own ways, how can we help someone amend theirs? If we are still the same persons bearing the same sinful habits today as we did yesterday, we still don’t know how to follow Christ correctly. We are called to imitate Christ and follow Him to Heaven. If we aren’t becoming like Christ something is very wrong and we still lack much grace (wisdom) to be able to help ourselves or anyone, because our unchanged sins reject grace. I tell you, we must be working towards “sinning no more” or our judgement and guidance will be all a skew from our lack of God’s wisdom.
All day we make judgements on what to do, what is good, & what is bad. But without God’s helping hand, to open up our eyes and guide our thoughts, we make rash judgements and not sound ones. We “call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20) because we just can’t see correctly, and are “darkened in understanding” (Ephesians 4:18). Only God gives us correct vision from the removal of our sins. No matter how big or small our sins are, we need to be constantly removing sin and growing in the likeness of Christ to be following Him correctly. If we still have bounds of unamended sins (are repeating the same sins over and over again) no matter what severity they are, they reject grace, and we simply won’t be able to see properly, no matter how wise we think we are. The lack of effective desire–firm resolve–to sin no more renders any soul into much blindness. Of course the more the sins and the more severe our sins are the blinder we will be.
“Solomon loved the Lord [and wanted to serve Him perfectly]…the Lord appeared to Solomon…and God said, ‘Ask what I should give you’..[Solomon said] ‘Give your servant, therefore, a listening heart to judge your people [correctly] and to distinguish between good and evil‘ (1 Kings 3:3-9).
We might think we can help others, but without enough of God’s grace, we will be doing much wrong because our sins will be pushing away God’s correct logic and reasoning from our understanding. That is why the Word says to “first take the log out of your own eye” (Matthew 7:5), before we can help another. It is our own lack of grace, from our unrepented–not amended sins–that will bring destruction, not assistance to others. And the scary part is, we will think we are sincerely helping, but in God’s eyes, we are actually hurting others from our blindness.
I know it is hard for many to see our sins as the devil has trained us well to deceive ourselves so we will feel we are “good” people therefore many are unable to see their own sin. I’m not saying we are all sinister and wicked people, but we all have many sins that need to be amended as we work towards loving God with all of our hearts (perfection). The devil doesn’t want us to know of our sinfulness and has many tricked into thinking we hardly sin, but we think that simply because we can’t see our many offenses against God. Because we have been so deceived, we will need to spend much time with God examining our conscience so God can open up our heart to our sinfulness.
“My iniquities have overtaken me and I was not able to see” (Psalm 40:12).
We all, even faithful people, sin greatly…yes greatly–unless you have already converted enough to achieve perfection. But even when we grow in our conversion to where we finally hate all of our sins and are justified (forgiven), we will fall as “the just fall seven times [a day]” (Proverbs 24:16). Satan has just darkened our understanding to what those sins are. Therefore, we need to reduce our pride, and want to know our sinfulness so we can amend them and obtain God’s grace to be able to see and judge right from wrong correctly and to understand what to do and what not to do so our sins won’t block out God’s wisdom. That way, we can truly live life correctly and help others properly. This is very important. I’m not saying don’t help others, but if we are going to have a chance of truly helping others, we need to have the light of wisdom first. How many people guide others into darkness, thinking they are doing good, but they are the blind leading the blind? “O my God, give us, please, that eternal horror of sin, since it is Your enemy, since it was sin that caused Your death, since it robs us of Your friendship, since it separates us from You [and Your grace and wisdom]” (St. Jean-Marie Baptiste Vianney).
“They are blind guides (of the blind). If a blind person leads a blind person, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14).
LOOK AT OURSELVES
Anyone, from the murderer to the holy man, who still chooses to not let go of just one “small” sin, who is still OK with offending God with any sin, who still desires any sin, lacks true sorrow for his offenses against God. Therefore, he still lives in mortal sin because he loves that sin over God and rejects sanctifying grace. “There is such a thing as deadly sin” (1 John 5:16) and unless we repent of it and change from our sinful ways, we push away God’s saving love. Saving grace can’t live in a soul that loves (desires/doesn’t seek to amend) any sin. There are bounds of deadly mortal sins. The most unrecognized is idolatry. Truly, he who loves anything over God commits idolatry, whether it is loving a sin (refusing to amend), loving worldly pleasure (choosing things–attachments–people or desires over God), or loving ourselves (wanting what we want and not God’s will). All of those are serious if we don’t seek to amend them. This is what the devil doesn’t want us to know. He wants us to die without working to truly love God above all and to live lukewarm lives, saying we are “faithful” but not truly seeking to stop all of our offenses against God and living without true sorrow for our sins so our souls can’t be restored back to life. This is why “The majority of men shall not see God” (St. Justin Martyr).
If we love anything over God, we commit idolatry. We must love God above everything to avoid this deadly sin so as to obtain eternal life. As St. John of the Cross says, “How sad it is to see certain souls…full of good works, of spiritual exercises, virtues and gifts of God, which, because they have not the courage to break with certain tastes, attachments, or affections [rid the things they still love above God, they]…never reach the haven of perfect union [Heaven]….thereby [they have] lost the spirit and sweetness of God.” We must change. If we lack true sorrow for any offense–don’t sincerely hate it enough to work to amend it–meaning we still prefer anything over living for God’s will alone and won’t let go of what keeps us from loving God with all of our heart–we have not accepted the Kingdom of God yet. We might not be committing grievous mortal sins, but we are still refusing to embrace His saving mercy we received at baptism…and are technically in mortal sin since we still prefer our sin to God. If we do we are without forgiveness of our sins and are outside of the state of grace.
“Know that just as all mortal sins are very serious, so too a venial sin is made mortal if a human being delights in it [doesn’t hate it] with the intention of persevering [doesn’t intend to stop]” (Jesus to St. Bridget).
This, true love and true sorrow that is needed to accept God’s free gift of Eternal Life which we received at baptism, is what the saints labored to achieve. They knew of the limited time we have on earth to obtain it and how each moment is so valuable, which is meant for us to work towards truly despising our sins and developing a true love for God. We need to come to a living, saving faith following the saints’ examples. We don’t have a saving faith the instant we understand Jesus is Lord. Conversion to a saving faith, for most, takes time…a life time for some. “I’m am coming to the living faith,” as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, says. The saints knew of the deception that lives in our hearts and how we must constantly convert to come to know ourselves so as to honestly gain sorrow for each and every sin and truly work to live the Word. Our will must be to truly abstain from sin (all sin).
Sadly, our hearts are deceived much of the time into thinking we possess true sorrow, and we don’t sincerely wish to sin, when our actions, which prove our real intentions, prove we aren’t quite there. The devil, as St. John Bosco tells us from one of his dreams says, “I [the devil] make them confess without true sorrow…I keep them from making a firm resolution [to stop sinning] and [keep them from] carrying out their confessor’s advice.” We can’t tell God we are sorry for any sin, if we don’t sincerely desire to stop committing it and expect to receive grace. For most, true sorrow doesn’t happen over night nor without great effort, because we have to learn how to see the sins we have become blinded to in which we love and learn to hate the sin we have grown to desire. And this takes time.
“This people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes” (Acts 28:27).
Yes, the devil works hard to keep us blind and deaf so we stay in our sinful ways, giving us countless reasons to not amend our sins , and countless reasons to not despise offending God. In confession, the devil distracts and confuses the pennant (person confessing their sins) and the confessor (priest). He makes us think lightly of sin so as to not truly hate the sin. The devil fills the pennant with shame so he will conceal his sins, and removes their true desire to stop sinning. He convinces the priest to say words that have nothing to do with actually helping the pennant to avoid recommitting their sins. The devil wins many souls because we have lost the infinite value in confession and the grace it delivers, as many have abandoned the sacrament all together or make poor confessions and receive no grace or forgiveness.
“The want of [lack of] proper examination, true contrition [actual sorrow], and a firm purpose of amendment [the desire to change–sin no more], is the cause of bad confessions, and the ruin of souls” (St. Benedict Joseph Labre).
LIVE FOR SALVATION
From the time we recognize Jesus as Lord, we are to be GROWING into a saving faith so we can accept God’s free gift of Eternal Life that we lost through committing mortal sin. Practically everyone from the time they gain full knowledge of right from wrong, love themselves (their will) over God and loose their saving grace. Very few sincerely strive to stop sinning, and without this desire we prefer to sin over living to love God with all of our hearts. The purpose of faith is to leave our lukewarm/sinful life and grow into a burning passion to love God perfectly, work to stop sinning and achieve salvation. By nature we love ourselves above God and reject God’s mercy. But we can learn, through God’s grace, to hate the sins we have grown to love and “deny ourselves” and choose God (cf. Matthew 16:24-25).
“You [who are working to obey the Word] are achieving faith’s goal; your salvation [true faith in Christ]” (1Peter 1:9).
Obtaining salvation is what we are supposed to be living for; that is the reason for our existence. The entire teachings [doctrine] of the Catholic Church is written to guide us in “The way of Christ “leads to life”; a contrary way [that of sin] “leads to destruction” (CCC #1696). We must follow the Way. There is no other way to Life. God didn’t give us our lives to live for ourselves and our desires. Yet, sadly that is what we do as we seek personal comfort and success. We are alive so we can learn to choose Him and to serve Him so we can spend Eternity with Him. We need to come to know, love and serve Him properly…not love everything else that has distracted our minds away from God. What do we turn to for happiness…if it isn’t God it is keeping us from knowing, loving and serving Him. What ever keeps us from God and pulls our heart away from Him, is an attachment (a love) that will lead us to our doom. It is our true belief that will accept God’s Mercy. Belief that God alone will bring us to real happiness on earth and for eternity, if we follow Him.
For most of us, it takes much time to convert enough to where have learned how to truly hate the sins we have made a part of our lives, that are habitual–that we still love. Many of them we are still blinded to and only with time and grace can we come to truly reject them all and sincerely love God above all.
“From now on [at the end of my life, after I have final found and can maintain a saving faith] there is reserved for me [Paul] the crown of righteousness [Heaven], which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day [because I persevered in longing for Him]” (2 Timothy 4:8).
MOST ARE OUTSIDE OF GRACE
Yes, devastatingly, most people live with mortal sin on their souls and don’t even know it. They aren’t striving, like an athlete for God, to obtain the crown of life, seeking to learn the sins they love, and working diligently to abolish them. Years ago souls who found Christ, converted to Christianity, wanted to learn to live His Word and gave their lives to strive to love God perfectly. But today almost nobody is willing to sacrifice the world and suffer for God. We want the relaxation, the vacations, the parties, the praise and attention. We want the TV, the internet, the constant stimulation from worldly things. We want the money, the comfort, the finer things. Yet to stomp out the devil and his control in our lives, we need to become disciplined like an Olympian and abandon the desires of this world. We can participate in “worldly” things if need be, but we simply can’t desire them to bring us happiness–as God needs to sought as our source of true happiness. This is hard work, as we love our dining out and sports, fine wine and cigars. We love our sitcoms and reality TV. Oh, we love much, so much. We would much rather live for personal comfort than the Way, which is the cross (self-deinal and suffering). All of those worldly things, that we think about instead of how to love God perfectly, have and are keeping us from loving God with all of our heart and leading us on the path of doom. We love them and prefer them to loving God, and unknown to many, that is a great sin. We can’t love (desire) anything over God.
We need to seek to one by one, with God’s grace, to over time remove those worldly desires from our life. We need to return to the days of old and slowly remove them from our life, and desire to live like the saints have guided us to live. The devil is trying to win us over at every moment thriving on our weaknesses through all of the temptations/distractions in this world. Horribly, the devil has even tricked so many into thinking mortal sin is only murder, robbery and such…making us forget completely about idolatry, leaving countless people to believe they are saved and don’t even need to concern themselves with salvation, when they are far from having true contrition for their all of their sins.
“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved [after he has received and maintained a saving faith], he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who [truly] love Him” (James 1:12).
HIDDEN MORTAL SINS
Any sin someone is OK with committing, justifies committing, doesn’t desire to amend, continues to commit with no effort to correct, is mortal…even the smallest venial sin is mortal if we don’t desire to stop it. Don’t allow the devil to deceive anyone. Any command of God we choose to not fully comply with, with no desire to really fulfill, is mortal of course as well. If our hearts aren’t open or interested in amending any sin, it is mortal. We cannot be OK with offending our Creator at all…we must HATE all sin.
“A great many persons live constantly in the state of damnation!” (St. Vincent De Paul).
All mortal sins reject God’s sanctifying grace, the grace we need to be welcomed into Heaven that came from God’s death and resurrection. Mortal sins, as St. Alphonosus says, are “easily committed.” Someone has to sincerely desire, with a true working effort, to “sin no more,” to strive to become a saint, to be free from them or not be with a sound mind to have “full knowledge” of their choices. There are bounds examples of easily committed mortal sin, but here is one: complaining or worrying when things don’t go as someone wishes. Most think of those sins as a venial sins (not deadly), if a sin at all.
Well, it can be a venial sin if we don’t repeatedly complain or worry when things don’t go as we like. If we have already worked with God and removed those sins from our life and we just slipped outside of trust in God this one time, or if we hate that we complain and worry and are actively working with God and progressively removing it, then it is venial. But if we complain or worry, when seemingly “bad” happens or something we don’t want to do occurs, if this is a habitual characteristic, a sin we aren’t seeking to remove, it is mortal. Yes, if we aren’t successfully removing that sin from our life, choosing to stay blind to that offense, or have little to no desire to rid it, that venial sin is mortal. If we aren’t trying, with God’s grace, to amend our sins, our sins won’t change. We have grown lukewarm and love our sins over God. How much do we love God, if we have become complacent with wounding Him by any of our sins and don’t sincerely want to stop offending Our Lord? If it isn’t love, we need to amend it. Someone has to have a real resolve, so to progressively remove their desire to have things go according to their desires (complaining) and seek to remove their lack of trust in God’s will during trials (worrying) for those sins to be venial. Simply thinking this is how I am and being OK with offending God over and over again, with any sin is always very serious. We must be horrified if we offend God, but not in despair as we trust in God’s mercy, and wholeheartedly strive to love God with all of our heart.
“We shall find out at the day of judgment that the greater number of Christians who are lost were damned because they did not know their own religion” (St. John Marie Vianney).
But most people don’t even see complaining or worrying as sins. But that isn’t what the Word says. That isn’t obedience to God. “Don’t worry about anything” (Philippians 4:6-7) “Do everything without grumbling” (Philippians 2:14). Are we really obeying? Do we say we love God but we aren’t honestly working to obey? Do we read the Word but not really to pay attention to what it says so to live it? Most continue that sinful behavior day in and day out. If we do recognize complaining and worrying as sins, many won’t see them worth removing, never mind recognize them as idolatry (loving our will over God). But if we read the Word with a true desire to live it, we will see.
“I am the Lady of the Rosary, I have come to warn the FAITHFUL to amend their lives and ask for pardon for their sins. They must not offend Our Lord any more, for He is already too grievously offended by the sins of men” (Our Lady of Fatima).
People simply aren’t thinking that all sin hurts God, who they are supposed to be living their lives to love, so they aren’t honestly focusing on trying to stop sinning. The devil has us concerned about a billion other things. Therefore we don’t see our horrible sinful habits as sins, and continue our life with the same wrong behaviors year after year after year, never realizing we are constantly offending our God without even caring to stop. Someone might not like how we complain and worry, but disliking a sin and hating it are two greatly different things. When we truly hate something we do, we see to it that we change. In God’s eyes, we must “hate what is evil [sinful]” (Romans 12:9), “put away the old [sinful] self of your former way of life” (Ephesians 4:22) and be “imitators of God” (Ephesians 5:1). Anything else is still choosing our sin over loving God and leaves us in mortal sin.
“You who love the Lord, hate evil [sin]” (Psalm 97:10)
TRUST IN GOD
“Jesus, I trust in You.” We pray words of faith and trust, but sadly most still haven’t opened up our souls to receive God’s grace to actually live the very words they pray. We are devastated when bad happens and live well outside of peace and most don’t realize it that it is from our lack of trust. Then sometimes, from our lack of faith, we even spread despair, anger or hatred to others, as we rant and rage about horrid atrocities in great distress. This, being dissatisfied, with what God allows—His will—is again the devil at work in our hearts. The evil one is confusing us into wanting things our way…not wanting the cross or what God has allowed, causing us to think “bad” things are not God’s will. God of course doesn’t want sin and we shouldn’t either, but He will allow it, and if we or others bear the burden of the cross from the sins of others or from our own sins, God plans to use it to help us grow in greater faith—greater trust in Him and to teach us His blessed ways, if we trust in Him.
“With great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.” (Divine Mercy)
This is belief in God. Belief in God is: believing God loves us and wants us in Heaven. Therefore, He will use all circumstances in our life–the good and the bad–to not only help us with this life’s problems, but most importantly to guide us to grow into a saving faith for those who trust in Him. If we are willing to wait, learn and change, God will make everything good. Everything, even seemingly tragic events, all of them, God allows and will make good IF WE TRUST IN HIM…so worrying and complaining should be a forgotten behavior for the true Christian. Everything is God’s will. There is no need to despair or become angry. But only through God’s grace can we be able to truly live His Word and trust in His will.
LIVE FOR GOD’S WILL
We need to learn to let go of our will, and accept and love God’s will as best for our souls. Then learn from every circumstance, and change. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:1). God want us to do His will. This lack of accepting what God wills is what causes our despair. We think, from our self-love, self-will, that we know better than God and what He has allowed. Then we reject God’s plan for our lives and push away His grace.
We need our suffering to be saved. Suffering isn’t bad, as the cross is the way to Christ, which sadly many of us refuse to accept. We beg God for His mercy to heal us, which is fine and much of the time healing is what God wills for us. But what happens if God doesn’t choose to heal us, are we in peace trusting He knows best? If we aren’t trusting in God, willing to carry our cross and believing God will make any bad into good, we still lack a saving faith and desire our will over God’s. We have to be OK with what ever God allows. He knows best and allows everything to teach us, guide us and help us remove our sins and grow in greater faith for the salvation of our souls.
“[When] we have been justified by faith [have a saving faith], we have peace [not despair] with God through our Lord Jesus Christ [because of our trust in Him]” (Romans 5:1).
LACK OF PEACE
Every moment we are outside of peace, God is letting us know we have sinned. The consequence of sin is our unloving, untrusing emotions of anger and worrying we have and respond with to life events. We seek out a wonderful life and to have things go well, but we lack vision and don’t see the cross as wonderful nor good. This lack of understanding of the cross leads to great distress, as with any sin since our disobedience to the Word keeps us outside of peace and away from God. Our sin is what produces our anxieties and anger, not God’s grace. How can we expect God’s hand to guide us, if we allow our sins to reject His help? “The Lord is far from the wicked [those who don’t seek to love/obey]” (Proverbs 15:29). And we don’t need huge sins to reject God’s grace, what we think of a “little sins” rejects plenty of grace too.
If we look into why we have fallen outside of peace, God willing, we will see our sins that brought us to that thought or response. Then we can get to the root of our sinfulness and repent, receive grace and learn how to trust in Him and desire so suffer (if it is His will) so we can do the will of the Father and embrace a saving faith. How can we get to Heaven if we can’t trust in His mercy to bring us there? We can only obtain eternal life if we trust in Him. If we can’t trust in God with our every day life events how can we honestly trust in Him to save us…when we can’t even trust He will bring us to Heaven through our life circumstances. We need to learn how to really trust in God. Everyone, even the worst of people, are happy when others are doing what they like and things are going their way. But the test to see if we have Christ within us, is how we respond to life’s challenges. Are we in peace or frustrated, angry, in despair, anxious, etc.?
“Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves.” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
Who wants to be introspective and know our sins? But when we come to know how much we need to see our sins, so we can amend our ways and stop hurting the One we are supposed to love, we can obtain a life of great peace. We will crave enlightenment to our misery. However, our nature is to blame others for our sins, see no fault in ourselves as we try to justify our errors. Most even declare others prideful and self-righteous if they were to dare point out our failures as we become angry at their audacity to tell us what to do or correct us. Yikes, we do this. Oh, how common is this. But this behavior is that of those who are suffering from blindness who don’t understand the wonder and joy of self-knowledge. When we truly desire to amend our ways we will delight in the correction of others not become angered at it. When we are outside of peace that is a great place to start. It is our unloving responses to life circumstances that enlighten us to where we are failing to love as we ought, so we can change.
To see our hidden faults, we need to even give ourselves challenges to see how we respond when we aren’t at our peak (hungry, tired, sick, running late) to see if we respond like Christ. Yes, when we have much grace no matter how we feel or what has happened, we respond like Christ. There are no excuses for sinful behavior. God’s grace is greater than any temptation. To test ourselves to see if we are living in the faith, we can do something intimidating, something we don’t want to do, to see our response, to see if we are truly living in Christ. That will help enlighten us to the reality of who we are, if we are truly accepting God’s will or not. Are we full of inordinate fear or do we have courage for God? How do we respond with problems? Are we just like everyone else or are we like Christ? Do we put on a show on the outside but inside we are frustrated and irritated? Are we happy and grateful for our difficulties and joyfully offering them up for souls or wishing things were going our way? Are we full of pity for people who insult us or are we full of pity for ourselves being mistreated? If we are blessed to see our errors, we need to one by one amend them. Remember our minds are deceptive, we need to look for our sins. We may think we have a saving faith and are following Christ correctly, but we need to test ourselves to know the truth. Remember, if “we have been justified by faith [have a saving faith], we have peace [not despair, anger or possess any other untrusting quality]” (Romans 5:1).
Now this topic of being forgiven (justified) through true contrition and how it brings a life of great peace, is a dynamic topic. It is confused by many because someone can have true contrition at the moment of their death, but live a life outside of peace, and someone can have true contrition during confession, but loose their contrition the moment they love anything above God or commit a mortal sin. And the devil will have many thinking they are living life in the state of grace (forgiven) when they are far from hating all of their sins for the correct reason, because they have offended God. Some can also hate their sins, but for the wrong reason, because they are worried they will perish into eternal fire if they don’t, which is imperfect sorrow, not true sorrow and only forgives someone of their sin in confession from God’s gift of mercy given through His priests (cf. John 21-23). Of course, the moment after confession, they loose their saving grace since they are more worried about their soul suffering in Hell, than how they have offend God by their sins (love themselves over God). At least they received bounds of grace for the momentary restoration of their soul. Yes, this topic is a great one and the devil has done his best to confuse us on many sides. However, Lifting Our Values has done their best to produce a book “Perfect Contrition” to help guide souls into removing the deception of the evil one has laid into our minds so we can obtain perfect (true) contrition from God so as to remain in saving grace. Also, Lifting Our Values has a chart that shows the progression from no faith to a saving faith to help us understand the steps involved in our conversion process. Click here to view chart.
The devil is so tricky, we can be so unaware of ourselves, as the devil will actually have us believing we are in peace even when we aren’t, so as to convince us we are on the path of life. This is what he lives for and is very good at doing. Some can’t admit we are outside of grace, from great denial that dwells within ourselves, even though we suffer with much stress and anxiety and all sorts of other untrusting, out side of peace, issues. There are still others who are constantly filling themselves with worldly pleasures so as to remain satisfied and greatly blind to their need for God and lack of grace from the constant high’s they receive from the devil. Sometimes God’s holy servants, who are on the correct path, experience a removal of their peace, for brief a moment, so they too can see the errors of their ways in order for them to become enlighten so they can change and work towards perfection. Even souls who have experienced the dark night (the loss of feeling God’s presence) would remain in peace, through their suffering, as they waited for the presence of God’s to return after He purified their soul.
It is our lack of peace that lets us know if we desire our will and not Gods. If we are aware of any unpeacefulness in our life, we are blessed. That is a gift from God. Who wants to be blind and happy and die for eternity. Or blind and miserable in this life and miserable for eternity. It is all horrible. We want to spend eternity with God. We need to open up our eyes. We need to come to pay attention to our feelings as they will bring us to the light of understanding. If we recognize our sins, and are working to amend them, we are doing just fine, If we persist, since God wants us saved, if we trust in Him, we will find true sorrow and the path of life. However, the only proof we are truly following Christ and have His grace within us is in how we live and respond to life’s challenges. If we are in consistent peace, happy with our cross and removing more and more sin, growing into a greater image of Christ…then we are most likely following Christ properly and will one day obtain the crown of Life.
“The pride of your heart has deceived you” (Obad 1:3).
Being able to properly examine our conscience is a gift from God and an “art” of sorts. There is much more than can be written in this blog which is necessary to really open up our souls to see who we really are so as to gain humility (knowing our true sinfulness). And Lifting Our Values has a book, “Remove the Obstacles” to correctly guide someone to come to know the bounds of sins we love and have been blocking from the forefront of our consciences. We can truly come to know God, His plan for us, so we repent and change to live it.
PAY ATTENTION TO OUR FEELINGS
All of our despair and anger means we love ourselves and what we think is best and what we want, not what God has allowed for the good of our souls. Every snap of impatience, every glare of dissatisfaction, every wallow in self-pity, are all signs of our self-love. “People will be lovers of themselves…lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the outward form of godliness [appearing holy] but denying its power [rejecting God’s grace]” (2 Timothy 3:3-5). We are simply seeking things our way, and become frustrated when things don’t workout as we desire but the devil has us still going to Church thinking we are just fine. But most of us have great intolerance for any inconvenience, any mistreatment, or any cross. Through our selfishness and pride, we have developed sinful personalities and habits when things go opposed to our will and for most we just brush them off as “who we are.” We reject the cross, embrace our sins, and want to be served and not serve. This must change so we can learn how to reject selfishness and pride and turn to embrace God and His heavenly will for us, so we can be in wonderful peace in this life and find Eternal Life with Him.
“He [God] is patient with you [trying to show you the way], not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance [true sorrow for their sins]” (2 Peter 3:9).
LACK OF DESIRE TO STOP SINNING
Devastatingly, even with God’s wonderful patience, love and guidance most still don’t truly desire to strive for perfection (to not sin)—to become a saint—most of us are still OK with many, many of our offenses against God as they lack motivation to change. The devil has convinced most we are doing just fine. This lack of contrition (lack of sorrow), is what keeps us outside of God’s grace. If we truly hated our sins, we would certainly strive to “sin no more” (John 1:8) and from God’s grace, we would be wonderfully changing into the image of Christ. We would want to become saints.
“Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness [to be a saint] without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
BECOME A SAINT
Saints are simply people who loved God so much that they sincerely didn’t want to offend God by their sins (hated all of their sins), and have worked hard to strive to sin no more (have true contrition) and in the process of seeking to love Him perfectly, they have atoned (payed the price) for their sins they committed after their baptism and went straight to Heaven upon their death. Shouldn’t anyone who claims they love God, want to stop offending Him? Of course, therefore, everyone who desires Eternal life needs to strive to become a saint. Why would anyone not what to become a saint? Is there some sins we don’t want to remove? Is there some attachment to the world or some way of life, which is opposed to following [imitating] Christ, simply not what we desire to surrender to love God? Thinking becoming a saint is impossible, as we deny God’s abilities, or a horrible life is not going to obtain for us Everlasting Life.
Are we changing our entire life to become a saint, progressively removing one sin, one attachment, one instance of self-love, at a time towards perfection? If not, now is the time to change and really live all of our life for the Lord. God is waiting for us. We can’t ever obtain true sorrow for our sins, unless we desire to stop committing them. We can tell God we are sorry for our sins, but if we aren’t striving to sin no more…that is false sorrow and rejects God’s gift of eternal life. And God who reads our hearts knows the truth that lives within.
CHANGE INTO THE LIKENESS OF CHRIST
We need to be CHANGING, running to God for grace, to become “holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:14) if we want to be on the correct path of life. “This is the will of God, your holiness” (1 Thessalonians 4:1). If we really listen to the Word it is clear what God expects of us. Even though God put the knowledge of right from wrong into the conscience of His children upon creation, from our sinfulness, we have darkened this understand from the forefront of our minds, so if we want to truly obey God and become “the very holiness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21), we need to read His Word, follow His Church’s (Catholic Church) doctrine (teachings in the Catechism) and the saints, who found Heaven, to be on the correct path. It is in reading the ENTIRE WORD, one small passage at a time, listening for God to speak to our hearts with the desire to learn something new each time we read it, that we will come to know right from wrong, our sinfulness and what God desires us to change so we can learn how to properly love Him the way He deserves. I mean we will really need to live the Word…not a watered down version, but the real Word to its fullness.
People have forgotten the reason God came to earth was “so that in Him [from His grace] we might become the very holiness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). God didn’t come to give us a free ticket to Heaven so we can abuse His mercy, no He came to transform us into holiness. God tells us, to become like Him, to allow Him to send us grace, so we might become perfect saints…not stay as sinners. If we believe in the Word, becoming a saint will become our life’s goal. God wants us to be holy. Seeking to become a saint is obedience to Him. This is how we love God by striving to not offend Him from our sins. Therefore, to truly be with Christ, to sincerely accept His Kingdom, takes truly living His Word and striving for sanctity.
God especially want us to love Him in the most difficult, sinful of people, the people who cause many problems in our life. If we choose to become angry, revengeful, jealous, offended, intolerant and not show mercy–forgiveness and understand–to our neighbor when he sins, from his lack of grace, we don’t love our neighbor the way Christ loves us nor forgive the way Christ forgave us on the cross of our billions of sins. We then prove our lack of grace to live like Christ. We prove we are not a true follower of Jesus. Christs’ followers, those with a living faith, imitate Him.
“Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love [for one another], love one another deeply from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22).
To grow into a living faith, we need to be truly sorrow for not living how Jesus has called us to live, repent, seek grace, and work towards stopping that behavior–and with God’s mercy, we will. However, if we don’t repent and change, we make our hearts miserable as we dwell in anger and self-pity because we allowed the devil to reign within us and not God’s love and mercy. Remember everyone acts good when things go well, but the true Christian acts like Christ especially under trial. The devil is very deceptive; we need to always be on guard. If we want Eternal Live we will strive hard to love everyone, especially those harming us, because God dwells in all of His children, even the most wretched of children. God lives in everyone underneath all of our sins. And since loving everyone no matter what we do, is what God does for us every day, and God calls us, to “do as I have done” (John 13:15), we have to live the Word and love everyone to find a saving faith. Remember to tell God we are sorry for our sins, and receive grace we need to resolve to not commit them again.
“Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (John 13:34).
REALLY LIVE THE WORD
God has high goals for us…perfection. “Be perfect” (Matthew 5:48), Our Lord commands. Do we tell our children, who are in school to just pass the class? No we say, “Do your best to get an A.” Why would we encourage anything less as an A which is possible if enough effort, help and time was put into learning the material–unless of course there is some mental handicap. We don’t teach our children half of their vocab words, saying “oh, they are hard…don’t bother trying,” that’s enough to get you a D. With that attitude, they will surely fail. Low standards doesn’t lead to success but to laziness and failure…certainly not success.
We do our best to teach our children hoping for the A. If they don’t succeed, that is ok, but we do look at what we can do better, and modify our studying to see if we can obtain the goal. We make realistic expectations for our children, based on their abilities, to obtain the goal of academic success–not failure. Our best is what we expect of our children. And God has the same expectations of us. He expects us to make the goal of perfection…using realistic intermediate goals to move towards the goal loving Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, knowing He will provide us with the grace obtain it, if we allow Him. If we create realistic intermediate goals, and build upon them we will be pleasing to God, from our sincere desire to love Him perfectly.
We have figured out how to learn in the class room, but haven’t figured out how to learn to please God. What a great life we would have, if we had the same attitude for obtaining a saving faith as we do with academic success. If only we prioritized correctly, studded well, planned properly, worked hard, got help (God’s grace), learned well, and changed to grow into a saving faith, how wonderful life would be. Sadly however, we seem to give our education towards worldly gain a higher value than our pursuit of Eternal Life. Yet, “Education of children [is] to procure their sanctification” (John Baptist De La Salle). Everything we do needs to be to obtain the end…our salvation. Imagine, if we sent our children to school to mainly learn how to become saints so they can obtain everlasting life. If we placed learning how to love/obey God as first priority and included that goal in every subject of our scholastic work as well, how different would life be. Imagine if we continued that goal of becoming a perfect saint until death, wow, the world would be a much different place. Wouldn’t it? But we work diligently, planning and study for years to obtain intellect to achieve the goal of a “well paying job” for some worldly gain or some other success in life, like with sports or hobbies. But we work and plan little giving little effort to what will last for eternity. How much do we love God?
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments [the whole Word].” (John 14;15).
When reading the Word we will see everything is written to guide us to perfect love of God in our neighbor. But we have allowed the devil to trick us into taking God’s Word and finding it acceptable to live a watered down version of it. The easy way. But the road to Heaven is hard to travel (cf. Matthew 7:13-14). For example, how many of us are truly blessing those who intentionally harm us or say insults to us? Are we really praying for someone who curses us? Or are we immediately angered, and offended offering harm and insult in return? Are we really praying for our neighbor who offers us a complaint or is malicious against us? Are we really loving for someone who is lazy and as a result we have to do their work? Honestly look into our responses and see if they are of love, like Christ. Oh, there are countless, mistreatments we receive. Are we really trying to obey the Word and blessing and praying for those who do us harm? Are we running to God for grace when we fail, through repentance and changing to see we sin no more? Or do we try to justify our actions by saying, “I’m just a sinner and can’t change” or “they deserve my mistreatment in return” and continue life just the same living how the devil wants us to live.
“Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:28).
How many of us have done what Christ expects of us and have worked to expel anger and have developed pity for those who don’t know how to love like Christ loves, and look at our offender in great sadness for their hurting soul as they abuse us and pray for them…for they don’t know what they are doing? If we can’t do that yet, because it does take much grace to respond with love like Christ, how many of us are seeking out God for forgiveness of our sins, embracing God’s mercy and changing? We can’t tell God we are sorry for our sins, and expect grace, if we aren’t truly trying to stop. How many of us are willing and happy to suffer at the hands of another, like Christ has done for us? Is really obeying the Word our true goal in life? Or do we respond with evil for evil, justifying why we have the right to be angry, gossip, complain and shun certain people for the injustices done to us. Did Jesus do that? God happily suffered for the salvation of our souls; we are supposed to do the same if we want Eternal Life. This is obedience to God. Yes, this is the true Word of God that, if we love God, we will call out to Him for His grace so we can obey. And work diligently to live all of it to God’s highest of expectations. Who wants to live their life being angry when things go wrong, rejecting the cross? God’s Word, if lived, brings a life of wonderful peace.
“Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).
GODS MERCY IS ENDLESS
God has shown His wonderful love countless times. If we just look around it is everywhere, from His death and the sacraments to His healings and help, which should empower us to truly love and obey Him in return. He has healed many, transformed countless lives and done wonderful works though so many of His children. Wonderfully, some people have seen His goodness and have responded with gratitude and changed their lives to grow into becoming saints. They truly don’t want to offend Him any more. But most have taken His Divine Mercy, given some thanks but still continue to live life without desiring to sin no more. They haven’t grown in love. If we really loved God how could we be OK with offending Him. For many, we change some what, obtained some love, but not enough as we still cling on to many sins.
There are many who have come to know God, even serve Him and have a developed prayer life, and daily God is wanting for them to grow to a saving faith and then to perfection. Sadly, many have let their fire burn so low and they aren’t continuing to developed their relationship with God at a rate that will lead to a true faith since they think they have true faith…when they hardly have faith at all. Many have only grown so far and then they have fallen into the devils trap of complacent lukewarm life. And even some have allowed their fire to burn completely out. They are no longer growing in their faith and have succumbed to a completely lukewarm blind life.
“My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls” (Jesus to St. Faustina – Diary #1228).
Please understand, no matter how much God has done for us, no matter how much knowledge we have, or how much God is doing through us, if we still haven’t converted enough to where we honestly hate each and every one of our sins…meaning we are firmly resolved to not commit them and are daily working hard towards becoming a saint–we don’t have a saving faith yet. We will still reject God’s mercy. We haven’t converted enough to love God above our sins. We have to sincerely be working towards sanctity to embrace God’s mercy and not reject it. But God, in His great mercy, has not abandoned even the most lukewarm of souls and is calling them to repent and change. He wants them saved.
“Oh, if sinners knew My mercy [so they can obtain the grace they need to develop true sorrow for their sins], they would not perish in such great numbers. Tell sinful souls not to be afraid to approach Me [I want to help and forgive them]; speak to them of My great mercy [as I desires to assist the most sinful of souls to great sanctity]” (Jesus to St. Faustina – Diary # 1396).
STRIVE TO BE PERFECT
If we really understood the consequence of sin and the anguish we cause God, we would be sickened by every sin we choose to commit against our perfect most merciful Lord. Yes, it is true God still loves us even when we sin grievously, and He still desires us to change so we can be with Him for eternity, but that doesn’t make the sin any less horrible. God tells us to strive to become “perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48) and true obedience to Him is actually working to do this. Like I said, we are “called to be saints” (Romans 1:7). This kind of saving faith, a faith that really strives to obey God and loves God above all, that truly hates all of our sins, and works to stop sinning is what the entire Bible guides us to obtain. That is God’s directions for us. And like I said, for most it takes time to let go of—to truly hate—all of the sins we love, the sins we simply don’t desire to amend, the sins we commit over and over again with no change. This is why “There are a select few who are saved” (St. Thomas Aquinas). We must love God above all to accept His promise of salvation, which is from the forgiveness of our sins. If we don’t, we reject God’s free gift of Eternal Life we received at baptism.
“Become sober as you ought [not taken away by the passions of this world] and stop sinning” (1 Corinthians 15:34)
SIN RUINS IT ALL
“He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him” (Hebrews 5:9). Why is it so hard to believe the Word? We must obey. That is loving God. That is what someone does who has true faith in Jesus. And we can do it without God’s help. Wonderfully, God has provided us with countless ways to receive fantastic grace so we can “rejoice in our suffering” (Romans 5:3), embrace every cross and live His Word. But we can’t receive the grace, if we are disobedient and pushing away His love with our sins? There are so many sins that we ignore. God want us to remove all of them. That must be our goal. To come to a saving faith, at first all God wants is our desire for His help to stop sinning. That is it. That alone will be sufficient to accept some grace to help us move forward towards perfection. Then we must begin to remove sin; then remove the temptations that lead to sin; and then rid our desire for sin. To become a saint all someone needs to do is let go of loving their sins and embrace God’s mercy. It is truly simple but a lot harder than we might understand. But we must always remember, It is our sins that keep us from everything. Yes, our sins push away much actual grace (God’s help) and most importantly, like I said, reject God’s sanctifying grace. They keep us from receiving all the promises God has waiting for us.
“Do you not know that the unjust [those with unforgiven sins] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators [sexual contact outside of marriage] nor idolaters [loving anything above God] nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites [homosexuals] nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
THE PROMISES FROM DEVOTIONS
Just like with obtaining the promise of Eternal Life, there is much more needed than most of us understand, or want to understand with obtaining the promises that come from the different devotions. We make the mistake of reading or hearing of a promise God makes if we participate in a devotion, and then believe that is all we need to do to obtain everything. Like wearing the scapular, for instance, Our Lady promised, “Those who die wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire.” Well, to many of us that sounds like a sure hit for salvation. In other words, live life however we want, only change what we wish to change, and scourge God with rest of our sins, but wear that piece of cloth before we die, and we win the prize of eternal life without even having true sorrow for our sins or a true love for God. Sadly many actually believe that. Many don’t have true contrition for their sins and still expect Eternal Life. That is why “many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). Only a few have eyes to see, along with a heart willing to change, to truly love God. Regrettably, most of us don’t really want to love God; the sacrifice is too great. Working to gain courage, discipline and a willingness to deny ourselves of much worldly pleasure so as to carry our cross isn’t something we want to do. But to gain the crown of life we need to be willing to suffer, dredge through great challenges, endure pain, bear ridicule and even humiliation for God. Yet, is something most run from. The devil has us trained well to run from any possible cross. God calls us to change and serve Him. We hear Him, there is a spark, but sadly most don’t do what is necessary to kindle their fire into a burning flame and continue to live life just the same or only with little change that won’t amount to a saving faith. Therefor, we horribly prefer to love our sins and protect our hearts instead, and we wind up forfeiting the priceless graces we could be receiving from these devotions (acts of faith).
Horribly the devil sneaks in and gets many to believe only doing one simple request or just saying some prayers from a devotion and doing nothing more will obtain from God the full promise. For some people, wearing the scapular can bring the fullness of the promise, but their hearts have to be properly disposed to receive everything God wishes to give them. However, for most of us—and I mean most of us—we simply haven’t learned how to let go of our sins, our wills, and our attachments to the world so we can fully embrace God and all of the heavenly gifts He has for us. We change “from one idol [love of something over God] to another, as each successively fails [to bring us true joy]” (St. John Henry Newman)…and we don’t even know it. Through our pride, we mistakenly feel we are devout enough, but lack a sincere desire to continue progressively work toward becoming a saint (sinning no more). Much of the time our pride will also have us craving knowledge of the faith–the truth–for the sake of knowledge alone not so we can live it. However, as we know, God wants us to love Him enough to work toward the goal of loving Him perfectly. That is what someone with a contrite heart does. At the very least, God surely deserves for us to desire to stop offending Him and be willing to change so He can transform us. When we have a lack of true love for God, lack sincere desire to obey, or lack of contrition, we forfeit the gift of receiving the fullness of any of His promises, through any devotion, because we are still rejecting His grace when we love our sins more than we love Him.
“Do not deceive yourself about your love…If your love for anything does not lead you to greater love for God, you do not yet love Him with your whole heart” (St. Bonaventure).
DISTRACTIONS AWAY FROM GOD
Oh, how many things do we choose to do in our day that doesn’t lead us to a greater love for God. Yikes! We need to one by one remove them all. That devil is stealing our heart from God. There are countless things our heart desires over God. But when grace comes, what was once countless sins we were committing, at the breath of God, will be removed. We simply won’t desire them any more. We won’t be “perfect” but most of our life’s distractions away from God won’t fill our mind any more. How to love God perfectly will consume our thoughts. But until we receive enough grace to hate the things of this world, we will need to work hard to remove those distractions/attachments from our life as they are killing us because we can’t love any thing (attachment/worldly pleasure) above God and they reject the blessing from our devotions.
“For he lives with the delusion [that he is holy]: his guilt will not be known and hated” (Psalm 36:3).
LIE TO OURSELVES
Are we deceiving ourselves? Is our love true? Maybe some of the time we might have a true love…as our heart can sometimes be moved to never want to hurt Our Lord. But do we really love Him, all of the time with a true love that embraces all of His grace at all moments? Or do we only partially love Him, not really with all of our heart. We want to get to the point in our faith to where we love God all of the time. Maybe our hearts still only know how to take God’s love (mercy). Perhaps, as many don’t know how to give God love (suffer and sacrifice for Him) as the devil has us asking for this and that to fulfill our desires, to remove our crosses,so we can obtain our own will? Or perhaps we think we are holy enough and don’t need to do anything differently than what we are already doing. The cunning devil has deceived us in so many ways. He wants us to become complacent and in denial so we will never learn of our sinfulness, so we will never change. The evil one doesn’t want us to learn how to deny ourselves and carry our crosses, he doesn’t want us to really trust in God so we will reject the grace from our devotions. Then we will become like the sisters, priests, and the faithful that Jesus spoke about to St. Faustina, who were full of pride instead of a saving faith and spent their life in praise to God that actually wounded God’s Sacred Heart instead of loved Him.
“Very pleasing to Me, dearest daughter, is the willing desire to bear every pain and fatigue, even unto death, for the salvation of souls, for the more the soul endures, the more she shows that she loves Me; loving Me she comes to know more of My truth, and the more she knows, the more pain and intolerable grief she feels at the offenses committed against Me” (God the Father to St. Catherine of Siena).
FALSE LOVE OR FALSE SORROW
The devil wants us to believe there is no need to truly amend our lives, no need to suffer or serve God all the time, because he knows that in order to stop sinning and be a perfect servant it takes great continuous effort, and full trust in God. The devil also knows most of us want to avoid any kind of work or discomfort whenever possible. So he leads us astray, convincing us we can live our lives as we wish—without a full working effort to love God—letting us think we can somehow accept God’s mercy from halfheartedly participating in devotions. Like I said, a soul who sincerely loves God, has contrition—hates all of their sins and is firmly resolved to become a saint (to stop sinning) (CCC#1451). We can’t really love God if we are still okay with some of our sins. That is both false love and false sorrow. How can we be okay with offending God, even a little? When someone has true love for Our Lord, they also possess true contrition (despise their sins) and won’t reject the grace (the promises) God desires to give them—they will, instead, embrace them.
GOD’S MERCY CAN DO ANYTHING
When we aren’t willing to try our best to love God and do what is necessary to allow God to transform us into His image, unbeknownst to most we reject God’s mercy. The devil has many of us believing we can’t become saints as if we are too sinful. That God’s grace is not able to do such wonder and convert such souls into sanctity. How untrue it that! Such denial of God’s mercy is what wounds God’s heart the most. If we deny that His mercy isn’t great enough to convert us, we subsequently reject God’s love and in a big way. God’s mercy is unfathomable, how can we doubt it. That crushes God’s heart. He died for us to show us His mercy. Truly His mercy is endless. He wants us saved. Why are we rejecting Him? Everything God allows is to help us poor wretched souls. Our God is a God of love. He wants to help everyone from the most holy to the most wretched finally let go of their sins and live for Him. We must trust in Him. “How painfully distrust of My goodness wounds Me! Sins of distrust wound Me most painfully” (Jesus to St. Faustian – Diary #1076). We must firmly believe God’s mercy can do anything. We can’t receive the fullness of God’s promises if we still don’t have the faith to accept them. As Jesus said, “…from now on do not sin again” (John 8:11). Now is the time stop rejecting the Word and live it by trusting in Jesus’ grace to help us do it!
YOU CAN BECOME A SAINT
How many people are convinced becoming perfect isn’t even possible? The devil has been busy giving us this, “Nobody’s perfect, so why bother trying” attitude. What a shame! In saying that we are actually telling God His Word is a lie. God tells us to be perfect, He tells us to stop sinning, and we tell Him what He is asking of us isn’t possible. Yikes! Does God lie? Does He tell us to do things we can’t? Of course not. He really wants us perfect and He can do it…if we let Him. I can’t even count how many times in the Word God tell us to amend our ways? But our lack of faith and sincere efforts produces a lack of change. Some will change only so much thinking we are good enough…then becoming complainant with offending God with the rest of our sins. Many are tricked into telling God, “no I can’t change, I’m a sinner.” Yes, we are sinners. And we, by ourselves, can’t do anything good. However, God didn’t ask us to change on our own. No, it is “the Lord [who] is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped” (Psalm 28:7). We are sinners who need God’s grace so we can CHANGE, and God will make it all happen, not us in our misery, but through His infinite goodness.
“Do not sin any more” (John 5:4).
Therefore, of course becoming without sin is possible. God told us so. How much have we been deceived? What greater lack of motivation for someone to strive to love Him with all of our heart than to tell someone it isn’t possible! The saints aren’t lying in their writings when they tell us—over and over again—that becoming without sin and striving for perfection is the way to salvation. Perfection (without sin) is most certainly possible! Of course there are several degrees of perfection and some of them aren’t possible until Heaven but for those who strive for perfection we will obtain it in Paradise from God. And we know this because “among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of Heaven is greater than he” (Matthew 11:11). That is because after one dies, before he enters into Heaven, he is perfected to a love of God that is so great, even greater than the love John the Baptist had for God, who became “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:41) in the womb of his mother and lived his life without sin (as God the father told St. Catherine of Sienna). But surely we too can “sin no more.” Yes, it is true very few obtain such incredible grace, but don’t believe the lie, it is most certainly possible.
“Let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and of spirit, making holiness perfect in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).
We can become just like St. Steven, a regular man like you and me, who as the Word states obtained enough grace to where he became “full with grace” (Acts 6:8) before his death. Just wonderful! He obtained so much grace, he wasn’t capable of sinning. Don’t ever be discouraged. If we don’t think we can become without sin, how can we ever honestly strive to do what we don’t believe is possible? That attitude is enough to snuff any fire out of anyone. It is possible. Believe! Strive to become a perfect saint. God would never tell us to “be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48) if He wouldn’t provide us with the means to do so. The problem is when we simply don’t allow God’s grace to change us. If we did allow Him, He most certainly would because “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 29:26). God wants us to sincerely love Him and put our trust in Him.
“Be holy yourselves in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1:15).
God tells us to be holy in all circumstances of our lives yet, most of us aren’t sincerely trying to do that. We have become confused and our goals are not directed toward obedience to God’s Word. This is the reason so few are saved. We want God’s grace from our devotions, but we don’t really obey or seek to obey. The Word also tells us to, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:16), yet we think being holy means praying twice a day, so we make that our goal—only that isn’t obedience to God. We need to work towards understanding what unceasing prayer is so we can obtain that goal as well as all of the goals God has given to us. Sure, we need to start small like we would with any other goal we desire to obtain. But in time, with God’s grace, we can obtain it.
First we need the desire to change. Then we need to implore God for grace to develop a good foundation and the discipline needed to pray well, read the Word correctly or do anything the saints and the Word say is necessary to develop a true love for God. For example, we can start with the discipline to pray for just 30 seconds a day, at 3:00pm, the holy hour Jesus died, which is the hour of great mercy, and we need mercy. Then, we need to grow and grow into more and more prayer until we are in compliance with God’s Word and in constant prayer. That is what someone does who really desires to love God perfectly, they work towards perfect obedience to every command.
“Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer” (Romans 12:12).
They make a plan and gain the discipline to obtain the goal and work hard while succeeding and failing along the way, learning and growing from God’s mercy. We need to really seek to obey Him; the true Word. And once we do strive to honestly obey/love Him, even if we are only starting out and praying once a day and that is our first step, if we truly desire to love Him perfectly and honestly hate our sins when we fail, we will accept God’s saving grace and continue to grow and change into a life of wonderful joy. We don’t have to be in perfect compliance with God’s word to be saved, we just need to be honestly striving to perfectly comply. Sure honestly striving to obey is hard since we lie to ourselves thinking we hate sins we love, from the deception within ourselves, but once we can honestly gain enough grace to truly understand our wretchedness (gain humility) we will be able to embrace grace and not reject it even if we are far from perfection. Someone doesn’t need to be a saint or perfect to accept saving grace, they just need to have true contrition (true sorrow). And in time, with perseverance, wanting to know our sinfulness, and doing our best to seek to become one of God’s saints, we will.
“This will of abstaining from sin [no matter how sinful of a life someone has lead] leads her toward Heaven” (Our Lady to St. Bridget of Sweden).
GROW IN SORROW
After we first obtain true sorrow for our sins and sincerely desire to not sin again, from our efforts to become a saint, it might not be a continuous desire. Our desire to strive for perfection needs to grow from a weak desire, with few efforts, into a strong desire to do whatever it takes to not offend Our Lord again so as to not continue to fall into temptation and then finally obtain continuous perfect contrition.
“No matter how slight contrition may be, provided only that it is genuine, and especially when it is joined to the power of the sacraments [reconciliation & Communion], it cleanses us sufficiently from sins…when a penitent hates sin with only a weak but still genuine contrition he truly resolves never to sin again [strives to become a saint], but when he hates it with a strong, active contrition [will do all he can to not sin] he not only detests sin but also the affections, connections, and occasions that lead to it….we must increase our contrition and repentance as much as possible [so as to not fall into temptation and sin and work towards perfection]” (St. Francis De Sales).
Even though there are some who think they hardly sin, like I said, we all struggle with much sin, unless of course you have grown so much spiritually you are already at perfection. But for everyone else, there are a magnitude of sins we commit daily. Some are more aware of our sinfulness than others. But coming to this kind of humility, to where we understand our gross wretchedness, is a blessing from God. This is what anyone needs to grow towards sanctity as pride rejects mercy and keeps us blind.
“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).
LOW SELF-ESTEEM IS NOT HUMILITY
Many of us have low self-esteem, and that is self-deflating negativity from the evil one, not humility from God. Knowing of ones sinfulness shouldn’t bring upon self-bashing or anxiety, but rather great sorrow for losing the relationship with God we should have and causing countless injuries to Our Beloved Lord. A holy self-hatred of ones sinfulness is good too, but don’t become confused and think anxiety and despair over one’s sins is holy. It isn’t. Knowledge of our sinfulness should lead us to loving and embracing God’s mercy even greater. No sin, no matter how horrid it is can keep God’s mercy from filling a soul with true contrition. God came for the sinner. If we only knew how unworthy we all are for God’s love our hearts would explode in love for God and all He does for us. It is so sad so few even see a trifle of His love…but His love is beyond our comprehension.
The devil will get some to confuse self-bashing with developing contrition for one’s sin. But self-bashing is rooted from self-pity and contrition is from sorrow for offending God. Those who get caught in the trap saying, “I will never stop sinning. I can’t do anything right. I’m so stupid,” that mind set is one of a lack of trust in God…for God is the one who is going to do the converting and God is the one who will wrap us in His mantle of love when we fail. Making the claim that we are too stupid to accomplish what God desires is another distraction from the devil to cause us despair. Why do we think we have to be anything to serve God? We need to be nothing…and let God be everything. We don’t have to worry about being smart or anything at all. We need to allow
God who is everything be everything in us. All of this despair is a lack of trust in God–a lack of faith. Remember God made us good, with our shortcomings and all. He didn’t make a mistake with any of our features and qualities. If God created us slow to learn, disfigured, handicapped, what ever quality it is, don’t run from who we are. Praise God for how He made us! He made no error. However, we shouldn’t allow any imperfection to define us and limit our ability to change and grow. How many people do the best they can with what God gave them, and then eventually God chooses to heal them of that infirmity…many, many souls.
“You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works!“(Psalm 139:13-14).
TRUST IN GOD’S PLAN
Even if our sin has caused our disability, God will use that consequence and make it good if we trust in Him. We don’t know what God’s plan is but we do know everything God allows is for the good of our souls. God will heal us of any imperfection if He wills–if it is the greater good for our soul’s salvation. Perhaps the greater good is to remain with that challenge for a moment, but after time with that cross, God finds it best to alleviate our burden. Who knows what God wants, but it is all good for those who trust in Him. Remember we are good and perfect the way God made us. Of course our sins aren’t perfect, and need to be amended but our shortcomings are just wonderful. Much of the time the “perfections” we see others have, are only great distractions for them, and work to as hindrance towards a holy life as they are a great source of pride. Yes, being smart and beautiful…the qualities most desire, are burdens as they cause great pride and vanity. It is the learning difficulties and unattractiveness that are the blessings…they help us to remain humble. But if we do have the preferred qualities in life, in which God expects more of us, even with the horrible pride building evils that often accompany those benefits, God will provide us with the grace to banish our pride so we too can become saints. We will just need to work harder to obtain then from our constant temptations with will attempt to impede us. We must believe whatever God allows is good. Always remember the cross, staying with the infirmity, much of the time, is most certainly the greatest good for our salvation. We need to trust in God.
“In humility regard others as better than yourselves [never loosing sight of your deep misery]” (Philippians 2:3).
Those with true humility are full of self-value, because they don’t rely on themselves to do anything. They trust in God. They know they can’t do anything good on their own because of their misery is so great. Yet, they are full of joy because they allow God to work wonders through them and are happy with whatever are the results of their efforts. All depression is lost. The truly humble surrender all wants and just become God’s instruments doing whatever He pleases using whatever gifts God has given them to the best of their ability, learning, changing and growing. They don’t want all of those things our pride tells us we must have, praise of others, compliments for our talents, love of friends, success in our work,etc. Now there is nothing wrong with receiving those things but if we think those empty compliments/love from others is going to give us real self-value, we have been deceived. They can cause us to perk up for a moment but the devil uses them as food to satisfy ourselves so we won’t turn to God who gives true joy.
“For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.” (Ephesians 2:10).
DESIRE NOTHING BUT TO LOVE GOD
The truly humble don’t want to be anything except a servant of God, they don’t want to be loved but to love as God has loved, nor do they desire to succeed in anything except for living for God’s will alone. They can be beat down by the world, but they don’t run to man for comfort, “who can trust in man,” even though God might speak to them through man, they run to God and He fills them with everything. Even when their sins ruin God’s plan, and they hurt their Lord, who they want to love, they rejoice in His never ending mercy, learn from their errors and grow in greater faith. They are truly happy with failure as well as success. It is all God’s will and a time to grow. They despair no more.
“Turn away from mortals, who have only breath in their nostrils [lack much wisdom who help correctly], for of what account are they? (Isaiah 2:22).
LET GO OF YOUR WILL
The truly humble know they are nothing and simply want God to be everything through their nothingness. If God wills them to scrub floors all day, they praise God. If God wills them to convert 1000’s, they praise God. Whatever God wants is wonderful.There is no greater way to self-value and peace as surrendering to God’s will through our nothingness. Knowing we are nothing is wonderful…all of this deception and false pride building we do to try to gain self-esteem, thinking mentioning our sins is the cause of despair and only building up our pride boasting of our skills and gaining praise from others thinking it brings value, is destructive. It puts value in our abilities and not God’s ability to do good through us and steers us away from the Light. It throws out trust in God and puts trust in ourselves causing us to actually feel we need to have “talents” to be successful, which is a lie too. We can be a paraplegic with a mental handicap and be just as “valuable” in God’s eyes as the successful CEO who has made his millions. We are nothing but sinners. It is God who has wonderful plans for our lives, to do good through us…not for us to boast in ourselves but for us to boast in God’s miracles. If God gave us gifts and talents that are tangible and visible, it surely isn’t for us to boast so we can give ourselves false esteem. It for us to praise God and humbly use them for the purpose He gave us such skills, for His Honor and Glory.
“Let not the wise boast of his wisdom, nor the strong boast of his strength, nor the rich man boast of his riches” (Jeramiah 9:23).
Once we say yes to God and do what He wills no matter if we think we have the skill, talent or intellect everything will change. We simply have to let go of what we think is necessary in life to be successful or to serve God and just do it. Fall if God wills to be crippled, praise God! If He wills us to humiliate ourselves, praise God! If we allows us to fail, praise God and learn, change and grow. Don’t run from the cross. Don’t run from God’s plan. This is trusting in God. Why are we only willing to say yes and serve Him unless we think the outcome will be what we want…be ok with failure and criticism. Failure should be expected and criticism comes with the life of the cross. All servants of God are criticized and misunderstood if you are serving Him properly and really doing what Jesus would do to save souls, as we will get the suffering Jesus had as well. Tough to do, yes, but this is the way to God and humility. Please understand we don’t need to be perfect…we just need to strive to be. Don’t wait to become perfect to serve God, start today. God will make every sin and error good if we trust in Him.
“Do not lose your peace, but humble yourself profoundly before Me and, with great trust, immerse yourself completely in My mercy” (Jesus to St. Faustina – Diary #1361).
GOD LOVES THE WRETCHED
Even in our incredible sinfulness God can do wonders through our wretched soul, which produces such a great love for God, a great gratitude for God’s gifts, with a profoundly understanding of God’s mercy along with a life of wonderful joy. To gain and maintain this kind of humility takes time and effort. Half of the time we will think we have humility, but we are still quite full of pride. But not to worry, those who want to know their sinfulness, God will give them plenty of opportunities to see their hidden misery. Uncovering the devils lies to reveal our “real” self is done as a work of love for God so we can cease offending Him. Developing true humility never ends as there is continuous growth possible. Humility is a gift from God, but there is a truly correct way to approach God and life and a wrong one. To learn more on how to have a real life of joy in all circumstances, to loose depression, and gain true self-value, read Lifting Our Values book “A Life of Joy is Waiting for You.”
“Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God” (1 Peter 5:6).
BLIND TO SIN
But most of us are blind to the majority of our offenses as I’ve mentioned. The problem is most don’t sincerely try to know their misery, and the test God gives us so we can see if we sincerely wish to be enlightened is if we are offended if someone mentions a imperfection or offers us advice. If we are that proves our lack of desire to amend. Those who want to know how they are failing at perfection, knowing they are blind to many sins, delight in criticism…look for any honesty in what others have to say so as to learn, repent and change if necessary. They don’t necessarily believe every harsh or even loving words others say, since most are suffering from great blindness themselves and can’t properly guide others, but there is much truth, much of the time, in what others say. We must honestly look into ourselves and not defend our pride so to come to see our sins. If we want to know our sinfulness, to progress towards perfection and receive grace from God’s devotions, and we are willing to look carefully into our entire life, we will begin to see that we have darkened our conscience to many sins. We will see how we have failed to amend our ways and are repeating the same sins after sins after sins…year after year after year, and maybe our sins are even growing in severity and quantity. This isn’t “normal” for the Christian. No, that is only normal for those who are dying. Those, who are alive with Christ, are amending their ways.
GOD’S GRACE IS WAITING
God’s grace is waiting for us, to help us on the path of true holiness, but we must approach God for His grace through confession knowing we have sinned greatly. Then in prayer, through the devotions, and the sacraments with a heart that sincerely desires to stop all sin…not just with a heart that doesn’t want to commit the one sin we see that is wreaking havoc upon our lives, but with a true desire to hate all of our sins, approach God for His wonderful grace. Sure one should amend that one horrid sin we notice is causing much harm first, but there should always be a true desire to rid every sin in our heart. Then we will have a soul that can truly open up to obtain all the grace God wants to give us so we can sincerely repent and CHANGE and restore our gift of Eternal Life.
“We have received the grace of apostleship, to bring about the obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5).
BE HONEST WITH OURSELVES
Please understand the devils deceptions can go deep within us. We might consider ourselves holy, but if we want to know our sinfulness—by looking carefully into our lives—we will see we are failing to live like saints in so many ways and scourging God in the process. For instance, we watch TV shows Jesus surely wouldn’t watch; shows that merit nothing and most likely scourge God with immorality. We try to justify them, telling ourselves that they aren’t all that bad rating them against today’s warped sense of chastity. But if we honestly want to stop sinning, we need to ask ourselves, “Would Jesus sit next to me and watch this?” Do the shows we watch help us grow in holiness or do they put distracting or impure thoughts into our minds? “[sexual] immorality, impurity…will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).
Any and all impurity is a horrible offense against Our Pure Chased Lord. Mortal sin is gravely offensive to God and the slightest immorality, we don’t desire to amend, rejects saving grace and rejects much actual grace (help) from God’s devotions as well. The more severe the sin and more grace we lose. Many think hurting God with, what we think are our little sins, is no big deal. Truly we must desire to love God with all of our heart…never wanting to harm Our Creator, being careful what we choose to do, so as to have our focus on loving God and not wounding Him in the slightest way. How can we willingly put sin into our minds? When we do, we willingly offend God. We must desire to sin no more.
“If you wish to imitate the multitude, then you shall not be among the few who shall enter in by the narrow gate” (St. Augustine).
DON’T BE LIKE THE WORLD
When we complacently live our lives like most of the world, not working to become saints, we reject some or all of the grace we could receive from God’s sacraments, devotions or from any good work or prayers we might make. The devil has tricked us into believing that only giving part of our lives to God is enough, but that isn’t what God has asked of us, is it? That isn’t obedience to God. We have been deceived into thinking that scheduling our lives around work, TV, sports, relaxation, and a whole plethora of other things—instead of God—is acceptable. Many of us feel that even if we’ve only given a small amount of time to God that it is enough, and that we deserve to have plenty of time to pursue our own interests. As if doing God’s will is a bad thing—yikes! That’s basically like telling God that loving and serving him isn’t as enjoyable as serving ourselves and not something we really want to do. And for some of us, who are addicted to the pleasures of this world, loving and serving God, will seem like a lot less fun than all of the pleasures this world has to offer. However, in time—if we pursue a saving faith, trusting in God to bring us there, we begin to remove our attachments to worldly pleasures, people and ourselves—God will grant us wonderful joy and form within us a burning desire to truly love Him above all.
“The hope with which they have lived [to obtain Eternal Live], confiding in My providence and losing all trust in themselves, in that they did not hope in their own knowledge, and having lost hope in themselves, placed no inordinate love in any fellow-creature or in any created thing; having lived in voluntary poverty, causes them now with great delight to lift their confidence towards Me [to save them]. (God the Father to St. Catherine of Siena).
DON’T HOLD BACK GIVE EVERYTHING TO GOD
God wants us to give Him our everything; our entire heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to perfectly forgive and love others—no matter what wrongs have occurred. This is why “the righteous one is barely saved” (1 Peter 4:18). Yes, salvation is hard to obtain, especially since we’ve been trained to love everything—including ourselves—above God, but now is the time to change. Now is the time to sin no more. Now is the time to truly obey the Word.
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in a rebellion [don’t reject His Word…join Jesus, sacrifice and live His Word]” (Hebrews 3:15).
We mustn’t despair. It is true few are saved and salvation is hard to obtain, but praise God you now have ears to hear, as most never hear God’s call to change. Trust in God. Salvation cannot happen without trust. Don’t allow this fire to burn out. We must begin to do what God really asks of us and never forget why we need to change. Run to God. Visit the sacrament of reconciliation and work towards changing. Then frequently receive Holy Communion for strength to sin no more. God gave us all of these devotions out of His great love for us, because we need much assistance. This is His mercy for us. God’s mercy is much more than just physical healing…God’s mercy is mainly in the graces He gives to heal us spiritually that lead us to a life and eternity of joy. Even if we can’t receive the full benefit of grace from a particular devotion—because we’re still attached to some of our sins—that doesn’t mean we can’t receive any of God’s incredible grace. The devotions are given to us to send much grace, more to some than others depending upon a soul’s ability to reject sin and embrace grace and God’s willingness to send the grace. But all devotions are meant to help move our souls to a state to where we can receive the fullness of grace that is possible from God’s love. These incredible devotions will help us to truly hate all of our sins and put God above everything. These devotions—as well as any other means of receiving grace—are meant to build up grace within our souls to acquire enough grace to where we finally let go of this world, die to ourselves/oursinfullness, and embrace that saving grace fully becoming the “new creation” we once were at our baptism. The purpose of all the help God gives us is not just for earthly help, it’s for the grace to move our souls to accept and keep that saving grace, which brings us to eternal life—God’s ultimate goal for us.
“The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak [therefor run to God for grace to help]” (Matthew 26:41)
AT THE MOMENT OF DEATH – GRACE
Truly loving God and hating our sins is very difficult for us poor, sinful creatures. However, between the sacrament and these devotions they can greatly help move our souls to obtain that love and contrition we all should have. Wonderfully, for those of us who might not have found true love for God or true sorrow for our sins in this lifetime—in order for us to embrace God’s saving mercy at the hour of our death—God sends all the grace we are due from all the times we chose the right path in our lives like frequently receiving the sacraments correctly, serving God in others, prayers, fasting, and sacrificing for others, and faithfully participating in various devotions. So when God blesses us with grace from our good works and praise, it might just be enough grace to save our souls. It’s true. Even if we have never grown enough in our faith to have true contrition for our sins—in order to have our sins forgiven during our lifetime—and even if we lived outside of God’s grace our whole life, it is still possible we might finally be able to see and accept God’s sanctifying grace at the moment of our death from all of the grace that God sends to our souls at the hour of our death. What unfathomable mercy God has for us!
“Your reward is measured according to the measure of your love” (God the Father to St. Catherine of Siena).
NEVER KNEW GOD
Since God’s grace is not dispensed according to our merits, but rather it’s given from His love, even though, from His love, He sends us grace from our prayers and works, etc. Wonderfully, even for those who have never prayed a day in their life, they can receive an abundance of grace just like God gives to someone who has prayed fervently, with a devout faith, to help move the sinful soul to repent and change their life. Even if there is nothing truly good being done by someone, God from His mercy, according to His will, many times has sent great grace, healed and called those in great darkness to come to Him.
Much of the time it is through the different devotions that God chooses to send His mercy. For example: someone can hand us a Miraculous Metal, and God can send us wonderful grace to where we simply can’t resist knowing there is a God who loves us and wants us in Heaven. Of course some people will embrace the grace, while sadly most won’t recognize it or doubt it or forget it…but God, from His love, sends it. Therefore, if God begins to envelop us with bounds of grace, realize we surely don’t deserve any of His gifts and shouldn’t think they are from our faithfulness, but rather from God Who’s mercy is endless. The problem is the devil has many people, who still haven’t gained adequate humility to know our wretchedness, mistake God’s Holy Spirit of Love as a validation we are on the saving path when it is really God expressing His love to us, so we can grow deeper in love with Him, and be willing to seek out the truth and desire to perfectly obey His Word. Therefore, never be shocked, or doubt God’s mercy, when we see God send His Spirit of grace to those who seem far from the path of life…He is just showing His love. They deserve it just as much as anyone. He wants to save them too.
“[God] wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).
So there is always hope. Even though we might not receive the fullness of grace available from any one devotion, we do compile all the various grace we’ve obtained throughout our lives. This could move our souls into finally loving God above all else, and give us true sorrow through the realization that we never lived our lives truly for Him.
“Priests will recommend it [the Divine Mercy Chaplet] to sinners as their last hope of salvation [for it is a powerful prayer]. Even if there were a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite this chaplet only once, he would receive grace from My infinite mercy [and we never know…the sinner might see the grace, accept it and that grace might be enough to move his soul into true contrition]” (Jesus to St. Faustian). And if the sinner does obtain true love for God and true (perfect) contrition at the moment of his death, he accepts God’s sanctifying grace and is sent to the purifying fires of purgatory to remove all the consequences of His unatoned sins and purify his soul. And if he was never in the state of grace after his baptism, he will have to atone for his entire lifetime of sins, but HE IS SAVED. Praise God! That is why we pray for the dying…they need grace now more than ever. We also pray for the dead, because those in purgatory can more quickly out of their suffering in purgatory into blissful Heaven from the merits of our prayers. Prayer is invaluable. These sacraments and devotions are a fantastic gift of love from God to us. Such mercy!
“Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might [if we accept His sanctifying grace] walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).
SEE THE LOVE – GROW IN LOVE
When we see all of the incredible gifts God have given us in order to help our souls, focusing on that indescribable love should be enough for us to desire to love Him perfectly and above all else. It truly should. This is why God gave us these gifts, so we could have hearts that burn with desire to have an even greater love for Him. We’ve done nothing to deserve all these gifts—the sacraments and devotions—and God didn’t need to gift us with this additional help to save our souls, but He did it because of His infinite love and mercy for us. Becoming His own creation and dying agonizingly on the Cross to free us from our sins, that unfathomable act of love, was more than enough. So when we choose to squander the free gift of sanctifying grace—by choosing to love our sins over God (a mortal sin)—instead of loving Him above everything else, God could have easily just chose to leave us to our own devices to try to figure out how to develop true contrition in order to be saved. But through His incredible gift of mercy, He comes to our aid.
Before Jesus came to save us—to take away original sin, sanctify our souls, and open the gates of Heaven—those who were faithful to God needed to obtain a true love for God above all, with truly contrite hearts for their sins (just like us) in order to not go to Hell, as they were sent to the “bosom of Abraham” (Luke 16:22) instead of Hell when they died. Horribly only one man during the time of the flood—Noah—obtained this kind of heart (cf. Genesis 6:9-15). But then God sent Moses and the prophets to help us, as He wants all of His children with Him instead of perishing in the fires of Hell. After the law was introduced through Moses—given from God’s infinite love to help us love Him correctly—more people became righteous and were able to love God properly.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who [truly] believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Of course, all of God’s children—those who lived before the time of Christ, as well as those who lived after—have the same requirements of salvation. We must love God above all and be sorry for our sins when we fail to: “love the Lord, your God, with your whole heart, and with your whole being, and with your whole strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5). That will never change. God has placed such knowledge in our hearts from the beginning of time. “The demands of the law are written in their hearts” (Romans 2:15), so that anyone can be saved. Therefore, loving God and having contrition for our sins is still needed to not reject God and to acquire eternal life. The laws are there to help us learn how to do that. Unlike us, however, the people who lived before Christ didn’t have the gift (grace) of Jesus’ sacrifice that we receive at baptism, nor did they have the Gospel—our clear directions on how to love God. Nor did they have the sacraments—especially confession and Holy Communion to help restore and strengthen their souls, nor any of the graces dispensed from the devotions God has made available to us after Christ’s death. How blessed we are! What mercy He has for us! What endless adoration God deserves!
“Praise the Lord, for he is good; for his mercy endures forever” (Psalm 136:1).
GOD IS PATIENT AND MERCIFUL
In His infinite love for us poor, wretched souls who just can’t seem to learn how to love Him, God has displayed His divine mercy in an even greater way. Our Lord, in His most kind, understanding, and merciful heart has sent a super abundance of outstanding ways in which to receive so much direction and grace so we won’t be lost for all of eternity. Praise God! Tragically, despite all of this love, many of us still reject these gifts from god. But we can change by looking, learning and changing to obtain all of that wonderful grace God has waiting for us through His infinite love, and let it take effect in our souls so we can truly love Him above all else. God is waiting to restore our souls. He delights most wonderfully at the return of a soul who has abandoned Him the most, and hurt Him the greatest. Yet tragically, most of God’s children won’t change and return to Him. Even though we all have ears, so few of us can hear correctly enough to kindle enough of a fire to repent and change and subsequently reject His love. This crushes God’s heart.
“My son, do not think that my agony lasted for three hours. No. I will be in agony until the end of the world on behalf of the souls that have been most blessed by me [who reject my love—the lukewarm ‘seemingly faithful’ souls]” (Jesus to St. Padre Pio).
Realizing all of the great mercy God has given us, since the time He came down from Heaven and became man—including all these wonderful sacraments and devotions He has given us—we should be even more than willing to open up our hearts with a burning desire to love God perfectly. How can we not make it our life’s goal to remove all of our sins? We don’t want to offend God’s tender Heart by our rejection of Him any more. He longs to help us and will joyfully assist us in this endeavor. We just need to be to be willing to work hard towards change.
“[You say] sin is nothing. You, then, have become nothing; it has deprived you of life, and given you death” (God the Father to St. Catherine of Siena).
PRESUMPTION OF SALVATION
The promises God makes through these devotions aren’t meant to give us false hope, or a presumption of salvation. These promises are not put forth so we won’t have to work to become saints because we think we have it all, when we don’t even honestly desire to “sin no more.” If we feel complacent in our faith—and aren’t continuously working towards perfectly loving God (not sinning), and aren’t trying to transform ourselves into a greater likeness of Christ (which gives evidence that our efforts are true), then our goal is not to honestly love God above all. The devil has deceived countless people—even very faithful people—into thinking they are on the path of life when they are still being led astray. Even if we think we love God, it is our responses to life’s trials that clue us into the reality of our faithfulness. All our responses to mistreatment, suffering, and disappointment should be that of love and trust in God. Truly, all of our responses should reflect holiness. That must be our working goal. Every time we fail to pray for those who do us wrong, or we fail to love our crosses, we need to examine where we are actually going wrong, confess our sins, and CHANGE. A continuous growth toward acting like Christ, especially in suffering, is what God expects from us. We must strive hard to become more and more like Christ, and not let ourselves be deceived by believing the lies of the devil who wants to own us.
“The greater part of men choose to be damned rather than to love Almighty God” (St. Alphonsus).
GOD WANTS QUALITY
If we run to God with a sincere and contrite heart, through prayer, the Bible, works of mercy, fasting and sacrificing, the sacraments, and of course through devotions, God will send us the grace we need to learn how to properly reject all sin and truly love Him. That doesn’t mean the more devotions we participate in the better, although this can hold true for some souls. But for most of us, we can lose the meaning of the devotion if we think God wants quantity. No, God is most certainly not looking for quantity; He desires QUALITY.
We can sometimes be so focused on praying more vocal prayer with our devotions that we forget we are also supposed to do works of love. God wants us to serve Him through serving others. He wants us to love Him through both prayers and works of love. Plus, if we think we can rattle our way through the Rosary, or the Divine Mercy, or any other prayer where we are just merely uttering the words but thinking about something else entirely—hoping we will get personal benefit from God for it—we need to think again, as we will receive little if any merit (grace) with such empty prayers.
PRAY IS LOVING GOD
Vocal prayer involves delighting in the moment we have the opportunity to offer God words of love. It isn’t necessarily done to gain grace, even though God lovingly delivers us grace when we pray wholeheartedly. Correct prayer is a passion of the heart to love God and each word is said with true meaning. It needs to grow from being a mere utterance where we plead for selfish motives, or only say out of obligation, into a love, a joy as we embrace God’s will and adore God. In time, with proper persistence from a heart that truly wants to know, love, and serve God, it most certainly will.
If “your [our] faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you [us] for one another is increasing,” (2 Thessalonians 1:3), we on the path towards Eternal Life. If we aren’t growing in our prayer life nor our faith (trust) in God, we are doing something wrong and need to figure out where we are failing in our intentions to love God, so we can change. Of course, there will be highs and lows as God works to transform us, but we will be changing. No matter where we are in our prayer life, we should be praying well and our prayer life should be growing. Prayer is something that is learned and brought forth from God’s grace, if we are praying for just 30 seconds a day, or praying constantly throughout our day, if we are growing strongly in our faith, we are doing something well. To pray vocal prayer well, we need to focus on each and every word we utter—meaning each word from the heart, adoring God with every utterance. This is what is pleasing to God and will produce change.
CAN’T ABUSE MERCY
The biggest problem with devotions and the promises God gives us through those devotions, is when the devil sneaks in and gives us the hope of obtaining a “Get Out of Jail Free” card. Many of us want to rely on a devotion forcing grace into us and not from our faith accepting God’s grace to save us. God doesn’t force himself upon anyone, so we need to honestly want Him and let go of all our sin in order to accept Him. Many of us can’t see the great love God has for us through these devotions–gifts of grace, because we’ve been tricked by self-love into only seeing self-gain in God’s promises, and so we lose the full benefits of His love. That is the devil’s deception. And from our blindness we fail to burn with an even greater desire to pray better or work harder to love God in the way He deserves. Sadly, we end up staying lukewarm, presuming we are saved, but in reality have very little hope of salvation since if we don’t seek to amend our sinful ways, and we end up losing everything.
“The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John2:3).
FEAR OF THE LORD
We need to see the urgent necessity to change, by gaining motivation to change “fear of the Lord” which is as the Word says “the beginning of Wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). Yes, for most, fear begins a true desire to amend. It is our lack of belief in our eternal damnation that keeps us in our sinful ways. Of course, if we really believed we would reject God and spend all eternity away from God and in great anguish, we would change…but there is obviously a great disconnect with reality and what we believe, since most, even who read this, won’t have enough fire kindled within them to learn how to live to love God above all. We don’t really have “fear of the Lord” and His just punishments. But remember it is our lack of peace, the stress and despair we have in this life that lets us know we are doing something very wrong and need to seek the truth so we can change. We want to find and live the Way of Peace.
“The way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes [therefore, no desire to amend their ways]” (Romans 3:17-18).
It would be ideal if we could amend our lives for the love of God, but until we really come to know God we won’t burn to give up everything for Him. We have to know God first…really know God. And then we would rather die then commit a single offense against Him and will give Him our all. But until then, we can burn with a desire to change out of fear of going to hell if we don’t and then little by little grow into a true love for God. After some grace, we will begin to seek out how to sincerely love God, and grow in our relationship with Him and eventually we won’t want to waste our time with anything else. Soon we will have that real relationship with God we desire and our life will be filled with wonderful peace.
Once we truly hear, once our eyes can finally see God calling“the kingdom of God is at hand, we will “repent, and believe [live] in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Then we will finally see what it truly takes to be saved and we will actually peruse it. We will finally truly understand we are “called to be saints” (1 Corinthians 1:2) and what it takes to get there. Then we will want to give ALL of ourselves to obtain that goal. I mean we will literally sell all we have that is keeping us from loving God with all of our heart and preventing us from imitating Christ, which for most, is a lot of stuff as we will come to realize just how much stuff we crave that consumes our minds and pushes away God. We will be like the merchant in the Gospel, who after spending his life looking for God, sells all he has when he finally finds the “pearl of great price,” (finds the true way to Heaven) so as to obtain it (cf. Matthew 13:45-46).
“Praise the Lord! Happy are those who fear the Lord, who greatly delight in his commandments” (Psalm 112:1).
CATCH ON FIRE
When we finally hear correctly, we will feel an excitement and a fire will burn within us. Don’t let the fire burn out! That is the devil’s plan…to strip away our desire to amend our life, to cause us to forget all God has enlightened us with so we will die. Horribly this has happened to so many people. However, if we are vigilant, we will grow, and our desire—our fire—will grow, little by little from our improved: reading of the Word, prayers, fasting, sacrificing, works of mercy, correct frequenting of the sacraments, along with participating in God’s devotions and most importantly from gaining humility from obtaining an awareness of our sinfulness and ridding more and more sins from our developing hate for them. Then we will grow and grow into the saving faith God wants us to have.
“Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.” (Romans 12:11-13).
Now if you read this entire blog, praise God! You must feel God calling you in a big way to be with Him in Heaven and now feel that burn to change so that you too can be counted amongst the “few” who are saved. I sure hope that is why you read it. Believe it or not there is even more involved in obtaining a saving faith, in which the devil has confused us with, much more than I can write in this blog. You can obtain it all from God, through the Word. However, the devil can trick us causing us to loose correct sight and we might not understanding God’s Word correctly…so as you read the Word always check to see if what you are understanding is in accord with the Catechism of the Catholic Church (the teachings from Jesus to the apostles, to God’s Church) and the saints (the only ones with correct enough sight to find how to obtain eternal life on earth). Also, Lifting Our Values has a book “Out of Darkness into Light” that was written to guide anyone no matter what amount of love they have for God into truly loving Him with all of their heart. Of course, even better, are many wonderful books written by the saints, that can lead any wanting soul towards perfection, to a truly devout life. Then, after you have learned how to give your life to God, you will receive the fullness of every promise God has in-store for you from your true devotion to Our Lord.
(click here to see recommended book list)
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