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Wisdom from Saint Maximus the Confessor


From a letter by Saint Maximus the Confessor, abbot (580-662)

“God’s will is to save us, and nothing pleases him more than our coming back to him with true repentance. The heralds of truth and the minister of divine grace have told us this from the beginning, repeating it in every age. Indeed, God’s desire for our salvation is the primary and preeminent sign of his infinite goodness. It was precisely in order to show that there is nothing closer to God’s heart that the divine Word of God the Father, with untold condescension, lived among us in the flesh, and did, suffered, and said all that was necessary to reconcile us to God the Father, when we were at enmity with him, and to restore us to the life of blessedness from which we had been exiled. He healed our physical infirmities by miracles; he freed us from our sins, many and grievous as they were, by suffering and dying, taking them upon himself as if he were answerable for them, sinless though he was. He also taught us in many different ways that we should wish to imitate him by our own kindness and genuine love for one another.

So it was that Christ proclaimed that he had come to call sinners to repentance, not the righteous, and that it was not the healthy who required a doctor, but the sick. Speaking more obscurely in the parable of the silver coin, he tells us that the purpose of his com-ing was to reclaim the royal image, which had become coated with the filth of sin. You can be sure that there is joy in heaven, he said, over one sinner who repents.

Again, he told of how that Father, who is goodness itself, was moved with pity for his profligate son who returned and made amends by repentance; how he embraced him dressed him once more in the fine garments that befitted his own dignity, and did not reproach him for any of his sins.

So too, when he found wandering in the mountains and hills the one sheep that had strayed from God’s flock of a hundred, he brought it back to the fold, but he did not exhaust it by driving it ahead of him. In-stead, he placed it on his own shoulders and so, com-passionately, he restored it safely to the flock.

So also he cried out: Come to me, all you that toil and are heavy of heart. Accept my yoke, he said, by which he meant his commands, or rather, the whole way of life that he taught us in the Gospel. He then speaks of a burden, but that is only because repentance seems difficult. In fact, however, my yoke is easy, he assures us, and my burden is light.

Then again he instructs us in divine justice and goodness, telling us to be like our heavenly Father, holy, perfect and merciful. Forgive, he says, and you will be forgiven. Behave toward other people as you would wish them to behave toward you.”

This Tuesday, March 19, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary. Since it is a solemnity, like all Sundays of Lent, one does not have to hold to your Lenten resolution of penance, such as giving up desserts, but of course we still need to fast one hour before receiving Holy Communion from all foods, candy (including gum), and drinks (except for medicine and water).

I want to remind you of this opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Confession from 7:30-8:15pm at St. Columbkill, with Solemn Mass beginning at 8:30pm. Dave and Irene Gottwalt will be our special cantors that night.

This is an opportunity to make a sacrificial effort to invite someone to go to confession and celebrate a Solemn Mass. We read in the New Testament, Letter of St. James: Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray… Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters (priests) of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint [him] with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person… If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed… My brothers, if anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. James 5:13-20

A beautiful reference to the sacraments of Anointing of the Sick and Dying and Confession, and the love we have for others by helping them attain heaven - the true goal of life.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Thomas McCabe

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