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Emergency Rendezvous in the Ambulatory of Grace

absolution confession contrition emergency forgiveness gift grace love mercy pardon peace penance prayer reconciliation sacrament sin sorrow surrender Dec 10, 2022

“Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful” (James 5:16).

Confessing one’s sins in the sacrament of penance is one of the most liberating acts a person can do in this life. Through this sacrament, a person is reconciled to God, to himself or herself, and to his or her fellow human beings. The priest, acting in the person of Christ, and by the merits of Christ, gives absolution to the penitent. “God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

On one occasion when I was moved by the Holy Spirit to go to confession, I was driving by myself in the car to the place of forgiveness. I found myself driving right behind an ambulance on the highway. The ambulance departed the highway at the Gratiot Avenue (M-3) exit. “Gratiot” – a name meaning “free” (related to the French words gratis and grâce) – signaled my destiny. “Michigan Highway 3” – the three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity awaited my arrival. Swarmed by my sins, I felt helpless before the fact that I could not deliver myself from them. At the same time, I felt assured by the truth that all I had to do was to surrender once again to the grace of Jesus delivered through the ministry of his Church.

I am a sinner. This much I know about myself for sure. I have failed to love as God created me to love. I have had a selfish and vicious heart. I have sinned out of fear of things going bad in the future. I have sinned out of regret for things going bad in the past. How to stop sinning? How to turn the tide? How to bring to a halt habits of damage and duplicity?

Do not live in a future that does not exist. Do not live in a past that is not wrapped in the mantle of divine mercy. I must let Jesus be Lord once again – Lord of my heart and Lord of the universe. He is God and I am not. A great paradox: that the fullest creaturely activity is at once the humblest creaturely passivity. So much humility, so much magnanimity. Jesus waits for us in all the sacraments. Even more, Jesus runs to us in all the sacraments. What graces await us there! What restoration, rejuvenation, and renewal! May we not stay away from these greatest treasures on earth – treasures more valuable than gold, diamonds and rubies.

© Donald Wallenfang, My Interior Castle, 2022

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