There I stood, outside the confessional, glad I had made it in time and reflecting on the wrong I had done. For a moment I said to myself, “Lord, I hope you do not get tired of me making the same silly mistakes, over and over again.” Then out came a very familiar face from the confessional. She looked about a bit then she said to me, “Chris, thank God for the Catholic Church!” As she said that, a joy and a peace came over me and immediately drove away the guilt that I was feeling. She went on to explain, “I cannot understand why people will not want to go to Confession. “ I think I received absolution there and then.
As I waited on the person who had just gone in to finish, I stood there with my heart filled with praise for this One Holy Roman Catholic Church, and I praised and thanked God for the Church and for making me Catholic. I mean, where else will you find the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where a broken soul weighed down by the guilt of sin, can go with a sincere heart and hear the words, “I absolve you of all your sins in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” And again, where else can you go, as often as every day, and come face to face with God who loves us and wants so very much to be with us, that He makes Himself available to us in the form of bread and wine. What a powerful experience we are meant to have each time the priest pronounces those words, “This is My Body broken for you”, and “This is My Blood poured out for you.”
I am really thankful to God for the Catholic Faith and for the Sacraments of the Catholic Church. If one were to seriously look at the sacraments of the Church, especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist, it will become quite clear that they are all built on one central truth – GOD LOVES US! I think all of us know that God loves us; but then we stop there. I challenge you to think about His love. Really think about it. Not just that ‘God loves me’, but the whole truth; that ‘God loves me so much that He came and bore the cross, the mighty cross for me; that He came and took my place; that I’m the one who should have died but HE died instead of me; that God loves me so much that He gave His life for me’.
But wait up. Let us scrutinize this some more - GOD the CREATOR loves you and me, creatures HE made. GOD who has no beginning and no end, GOD who is OMNISCIENT, GOD who is OMNIPRESENT, GOD who is OMNIPOTENT and who created this world, every star, every sun every moon, GOD who meticulously placed each in their place; GOD who is the SOURCE of all LIFE; GOD who is so MAGNANIMOUS, not only loves you and me, but HE died for me and for you. HE took our place. We are the ones who should have died - every one of us, but HE is so in love with us that HE took our place. It may sound insane, but it is all completely, 100% TRUE! I challenge you to say it, to saver it and to let the words you say gravitate from your head to your heart –" Yes God loves me so much that He gave His only Son in my place so that if I believe in Him, I will not perish but will have everlasting life." Understand with your heart, the extent to which God loves you. Now look at the sacraments again – especially the Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation and you will see that they are consistent and are an extension of God’s love.
When you come to understand with your heart, the extent to which God loves you, it will become a lot easier to understand why in His wisdom, Jesus initiated both these sacraments and more importantly, why we desperately need them.
The purpose for our existence and GOD'S plan for us is to be with HIM for ETERNITY. In spite of our sins and our wretchedness, GOD'S plans have not changed. He offers us HIS Body and Blood in the form of bread and wine in the Holy Eucharist. That way, when we partake of this banquet, we are united with HIM and HE with us. So every weekend MASS is an invitation from GOD HIMSELF to join with HIM at the banqueting table.
GOD also knows that in spite of all that HE did, we will still fall short, we will still sin. So to make sure that sin does not keep us HIS beloved from HIM anymore, JESUS initiated the sacrament of Reconciliation. That way, broken and tarnished sinners can go and have their sins forgiven and be made clean again.
As someone who is very serious about my Catholic faith and about following JESUS, I cannot imagine getting to know GOD better through JESUS CHRIST His SON, without getting to know me better.... And I cannot seriously imagine getting to know me better and not seeing the faults, the failings, my sinfulness, the wretchedness that dwells in me, and how it impacts on others....... And when I come to this reality, then I must know that it was for this, for me, for my sins, that GOD had to sacrifice HIS ONLY SON to suffer and die in my place, so that I may live with HIM forever! Now why, ... why, ... why would I not want to go to the Sacrament of GOD'S great love and mercy that HE Himself initiated when HE filled His disciples with the HOLY SPIRIT, and said to them, "Those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven, for those whose sins you retain, they are retained." An abundance of GOD'S mercy is there awaiting all who will seek it with sincere hearts.
We have a serious identity crisis in our world today, where so many people want to be someone else. Some want to be pop stars like the deceased Michael Jackson or Elvis Presley. Some want to be sports stars like LeBron James or Messi from Barcelona. Many would go as far as to do make-overs to actually look like that person. Some would wear sporting attire with the person's name and number on it. I have yet to see someone wear a jersey with something like "JOHN - 3:16" on the back. The Eucharist is GOD'S love extended to us. It is GOD through JESUS CHRIST His SON, who wants so much to be a part of our existence, that HE makes Himself available to us in a simple and ordinary form - bread and wine. And every time we worthily receive JESUS in the Holy Eucharist, we become more and more like HIM; which is far better than being like any of the worldly stars.
Each time we attend the Holy Eucharist, we have the opportunity to become one with JESUS. In John chapter 6, verse 56, JESUS tells us, "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in him." Just before that in verse 55, HE says, "For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink." So it is quite clear that JESUS was not playing around with words. HE meant exactly what HE said! The Eucharist is therefore a foretaste of, or even better, a passport to Eternal Life. Why would I not want to be a part of this? Why would anyone for that matter, not want to be a part of this? Even if it means swimming against very strong currents - and often times it is exactly that - what awaits us at the end is far far greater than any suffering we may encounter in getting there. So why would I not want to earnestly try to live a life that is pleasing to GOD?
My sisters, my brothers in CHRIST, I am truly grateful for the Catholic Church and for the great blessings that She has and will continue to pass on to us. GOD has been soooo good to us by blessing us with the Holy Roman Catholic Church, and the graces that flow from Her. I urge you to make maximum use of the blessings that She provides and allow the grace the love and the mercy of GOD, through JESUS CHRIST His Son to dwell in you. Do not conformed to, nor be confused by the world, but rather, allow the truth of JESUS CHRIST to find it's roots and foundation deep within you. If you do this, you will find a joy and a peace that this world with all its pump and pageantry, will never ever be able to give, nor will it ever be able to take it away.
So Susan Dor of the Living Water Community here in Trinidad, I thank you for the acclamation. It really, really lifted me. Indeed, "Thank GOD for the Catholic Church!"
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