Grace to you!
I apologize for not providing you with my daily reflections for three days in a row. I had an unpredicted, unusually hectic schedule that affected my productivity level. Hope you understand.
In today’s reflection, I share the sentiments of true love that arises from perfect contrition.
Perfect contrition is a technical concept in our Catholic moral theology. It means that kind of remorse or feeling of guilt which arises from a deep love for God who loves us so much, and we failed to return the love. It is also called a contrition of charity because one feels sorry for hurting oneself, who deserves better; and more importantly, for not reciprocating God’s love.
In perfect contrition, the sinner isn’t repenting for fear of eternal punishment. The sinner is repenting because they are in love with God and in gratitude to the unimaginable grace of God which is lavished on them despite their unworthiness. Such remorse is the best of all. Such a contrite heart is pleasing to the Lord. It’s justified.
In the Gospel of Luke 7:36-50, I see an example of a person who is drawn to the feet of the Lord with contrition of charity. The sinful woman who has been shown much love and mercy and forgiveness by the Lord comes kneeling at the Lord’s feet. She bathes the Lord’s feet with her tears and wipes them with her hair. She has received so much from the Lord. In gratitude and love, she demonstrates her love to the one from whom she has been healed of the wound of sin.
The Lord uses her gesture to teach us the truth worth spreading. To the critical onlookers, such as Simon to whom the Lord directly addressed, the Lord says: “I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Lk 7:47).
I ponder why here the Lord makes a connection between forgiveness of sin and increased love. Consider that if there is no vulnerability, or realization of incompleteness, one would hardly need another person. We respond in love because we feel we are not utterly complete. We feel some incompleteness. Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen would suggest that in our heart, God has left a hole to be filled in Him. This is similar to Saint Augustine’s idea that we find rest in God.
The need for community, friendship and relationships relate to this incompleteness. In that incompleteness too is sentiment of gratitude when we find it. In it is also sentiment of love when we are taken and welcome in a lovefest despite our weaknesses.
I have never seen where love grows when the lover feels they are utterly perfect. I have never seen the depth of love in the heart of a person who feels he or she is superior to the other whom the person loves. Rather, I see formalistic, one-sided relationship in which the person takes the so-called loved one as a tool or an instrument at his or her service.
The woman in the gospel demonstrates that true love grows because the lover is a humble disciple of the blessings of love. The lover knows he or she isn’t perfect. The lover knows he or she is in need of the grace coming from Divine Love. That grace is expressed in forgiveness of sins. It is expressed in salvation. Such is a welcome healing, satisfying the heart.
I pray that like this woman, we learn the healing grace of contrition of charity. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Thursday Week 24 Ordinary Time: 1 Tim 4:12-16; Lk 7:36-50]
Grace to you!
When Padre Pio (St. Pio of Pietrelcina) was alive, many people traveled to Pietrelcina, Italy in long queues to meet with the Saint. His ability to discern hidden thoughts and have a clarity concerning complexities around people’s lives marveled many.
Among his gifts included what is called the “power of reading souls.” This isn’t to be confused with mind reading when, through some magical ploys and new age rituals, people claim mystic insights and knowledge into people’s minds.
For Saint Pio, the clarity from God penetrates the hearts and reaches far deeper into the meaning of life. St. Pio was not the only one with this kind of gift. Many Saints, such as Ignatius of Loyola, Catherine of Siena, Anthony of Padua (of Lisbon), Francis Xavier, Teresa of Calcutta, etc., had similar gifts. There are many holy men and women today, some of whom I know who, from time to time, manifest the same discerning gift.
You may wonder how this happens? First is that it is a gift. It’s one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. God gives it to whom He pleases, depending on the need and the disposition of the receiver.
It could manifest through purity of heart and spirit also. Events around us, and the deep thoughts of human hearts are not hidden from the Spirit of God. Sometimes, God reveals future things to his loved ones. In the prophesy of Amos, the prophet says that the Lord reveals what will happen to His prophet (Amos 3:7). The more spiritual we become, the clearer we see things and interpret reality in the light of the Spirit of God.
Those who are in the Spirit do things that please God. They tend to have unique clarity about life and the world. They easily see things in the light of divine plan because the Spirit of God leads them. Discernment is difficult for many. However, those in the Spirit tend to have easier ways of discerning things and events.
Consider someone from the Old Testament, Daniel. We read he had the power of interpreting dreams, as well as the gifts of wisdom and vision. We learn from the Book of Daniel chapter two, how he was the only one to tell King Nebuchadnezzar of the dream the king had at night, as well as interpret the dream to him. None of the astronomers, seers and magicians of Babylon could do so.
When the news came to Daniel about the king’s frustrations and decision to execute his seers because they couldn’t tell him his dream when he asked them to do so, he prayed to God who revealed the dream to him.
Daniel’s first words to the king before he revealed and interpreted the king’s dream were insightful: “No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers can show to the king the mystery which the king has asked, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries…” (Dn 2:27-28). God reveals hidden things and the future if He pleases.
Do you want a clearer insight into the events around you, or better discernment regarding the future? Closeness to God opens the spiritual eyes in ways more than you could ever know.
Praying for the gift of discernment. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Tuesday Week 34 A: Dn 2:31-45; Lk 21:5-11]
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.