14 August, Friday — Contrition and Reconciliation

Aug 14 – St. Maximillian Mary Kolbe, priest, martyr

St. Maximillian Mary Kolbe (1894-1941) was known as a mischievous child, sometimes considered wild, and a trial to his parents. However, around the time of his first Communion, he received a vision of the Virgin Mary that changed his life. While still in seminary, he and six friends founded the Immaculata Movement (Militia Immaculatae, Crusade of Mary Immaculate) devoted to the conversion of sinners, opposition to freemasonry (which was extremely anti-Catholic at the time), spread of the Miraculous Medal (which they wore as their habit), and devotion to Our Lady and the path to Christ. Stricken with tuberculosis which nearly killed him, it left him frail in health the rest of his life. His insights into Marian theology echo today through their influence on Vatican II.

He founded monastries and published a magazine to fight religious apathy in Poland and Japan. By 1939, the Polish monastery housed a religious community of nearly 800 men, the largest in the world in its day, and was completely self-sufficient including medical facilities and a fire brigade staffed by the religious brothers. During his arrest by the Nazis, he volunteered to die in place of a married man with young children. He died as he had always wished – in service.

  • Patron Saint Index

Eze 16:1-15,60,63
Mt 19:3-12

And so remember and be covered in shame, and in your confusion be reduced to silence, when I have pardoned you for all that you have done – it is the Lord who speaks.

I once had a discussion with a non-Catholic Christian friend on the topic of offending God. She was surprised that Catholics have doctrines on venial sin and mortal sin, and that there are three criteria for mortal sin. It was really humbling when she told me that anything that offends God is a sin, and we shouldn’t even think twice about doing the act, if we already have an inkling that it will offend God. What she said reminded me of what a priest shared in our morality class. He said that sometimes, some couples consult him to ask how far is too far when it comes to intimacy before it becomes a sin. He said he felt like he was being asked to take a pen and draw boundary lines in the woman’s body to clearly show at which point it is a sin.

I’m very much guilty of this as well. Instead of asking if God will be happy with what I am doing, I would consider how far is too far. I run so many justifications in my head. Often, I misuse God’s gift of the understanding of venial sin and mortal sin. I think that God, in his mercy and love, revealed to us that there are sins that lead to death, and there are those that do not (1 John 5:16). It is to protect us from falling into despair. You see, the downside of not knowing that all sins are not equal is that we might lose hope that God will still love us. Even now, some of us fall into scrupulosity.

The verse in today’s first reading reminds us that we need to remember and to acknowledge what we have done. We need to develop real contrition and sadness that we have hurt our loving God with our actions. But, at the same time, we should not fall into despair because God is ready to pardon us, even if we can’t even forgive ourselves. God’s love for us is more than the love we have for ourselves.

There were times when I would go for confession and I know that I’m so ashamed of what I’ve done. And these were also the times when, after receiving pardon for my sins, I could truly say, ‘Oh happy fault.’ I am not advocating that we all sin; but while we are saddened by it, we should also be happy. Like they said, our Faith is full of contradictions.

I really wish I could remember who the author is, but I once read that God allows for us to fall into sin so we can be reminded that we need to depend on God for the graces to live our life well. Otherwise, we might fall into the more terrible sin of pride, thinking that we are already so good, and that we are capable of doing what God wants us to do without his help. When I read that, I am grateful that God is not allowing me to fall into pride.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Stephanie Villa)

Prayer: Dear Lord, I am sorry that more often, I choose what would make me happy instead of thinking what would make you happy. Please do not let me think, even for a second, that I am more capable than I really am in the face of temptation.   

Thanksgiving: Oh happy fault, Lord God. Thank you for helping me realize how much I need you in my life.

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