Why St. John Paul II Would Take Reconciliation Weekly
By: Frater Bovious
Two quick points before we dive in –
- The Catholic Church does not make anyone a saint. All that the Church does is recognize someone who has made it to heaven. How the Church figures that out is probably a topic for a different article.
- “For all have sinned, and do need the glory of God.” – Rom 3:23, Douay-Rheims translation
You may be more familiar with the version, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” I find the Douay-Rheims version captures the necessity of Christ more viscerally.
Back to Evil.
In the previous post, I put forth the idea that Evil does not exist, in that Evil is simply the privation of Good, a Fall, if you will. The consequences of a falling away from God’s glory are very real, but Evil, as something to hold or examine, does not exist per se (in and of itself). So, if Evil does not exist as a tangible something, does Sin exist?
Yes, as a consequence of the diminishment of good, sin exists. The diminishment of a good has actual material effect. The lack of food causes hunger, starvation, and death. A falling away from good, say a fire on a cold night, causes discomfort, or worse, frostbite and even death again.
Why would St. John Paul II go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation weekly? For the same reason one draws nearer to a fire on a cold night. He was a man, a sinner, and he got cold. So, he drew near the fire of God’s mercy. His was a very sane and rational response.
Every week? Every week. This speaks to the development of his conscience, and the stark honesty with which he was able to view himself.
In a Bible course that I took from the University of Dallas, we had a discussion of liminal experiences. Liminal literally means “on the threshold”. It is a point of transition. No longer outside, not yet inside. The Israelite’s 40 years in the desert was a liminal experience. No longer in Egypt, not yet in the promised land. In a no-man’s land of ambiguity and uncertainty. On the threshold.
It can be a really uncomfortable place. How uncomfortable? Enough that the Israelites said, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Ex 16:3)
Many of us think of ourselves as good wholesome people. Some of us recognize that we aren’t all we could be. Some may even recognize that we aren’t all we ought to be. Some will see that they aren’t all God wants them to be. And then there we are, no longer content with our old life, not yet sure what our new life would entail. A place of ambiguity and uncertainty. “Will I have to change?” “Will I lose friends?” “Will people think I’m a Jesus Freak?” “Do I have the courage to go forward?”
Perhaps, in a moment of desperation, we will ask for grace.
During this Lenten season, in this Year of Mercy, there is the opportunity to have this liminal experience. If we, stripped of distractions, find we are on the threshold, and we notice that we are cold, then we can acknowledge our need for the glory of God and cross over. Draw near to the fire. Go to reconciliation and feel the all-encompassing warmth of God’s Mercy.
Ask for grace.
I received the following Prayer For Grace from a good priest just the other day:
O my God and my All, in Thy goodness and mercy, grant that before I die I may regain all the Graces which I have lost through my carelessness and folly.
Permit me to attain that degree of merit and perfection to which Thou didst desire to lead me, and which I failed by my unfaithfulness to reach.
Mercifully grant also that others regain the Graces which they have lost through my fault.
This I humbly beg through the merits of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Immaculate Virgin Mary. Amen.
Ask for grace.