The Prodigal Son, by Liz Lemon Swindle
AFTER reading the merciful invitation from Christ in “To Those In Mortal Sin” a few people have written with great concern that friends and family members who have fallen away from the faith “don’t even know they’re in sin, let alone mortal sin.”
It brings to mind the words of Pope Pius XII who said,
The sin of the century is the loss of the sense of sin.
And John Paul II:
Vast sectors of society are confused about what is right and what is wrong. —World Youth Day, Denver
As I wrote in The Restrainer and Trumpets of Warning — Part III, it’s as though a “wave of deception” is sweeping over the earth. Somehow, wrong is now right, and right is now intolerance. The reversal in “spiritual poles” is mostly a phenomenon that has arisen in the past generation or two. And once again, we see in nature a parallel: scientists say the north and south magnetic poles are now in a process of reversing with uncertain consequences.
The question is, can our loved one’s who’ve gone off in the wrong direction find True North again?
THE EYES OF HOPE
I made a purchase last evening at a store. When the clerk, a young man about 20 years old, saw the name of our record company on my credit card, his eyes lit up as he blurted out, “I want to bring truth and beauty back to music!”
It was not the kind of thing you expect to hear from a man his age—a generation which is consuming and seems consumed by the violence and distorted sexuality of pop culture and rap music, or what I call the “anti-psalm.”
He continued to explain how he felt that music was something written deep within the soul. But that the expression of it in words should bring hope and healing, contributing to the power of truth, and helping to restore beauty to song.
He asked me what kind of music I sing. I explained to him my mixture of love and life songs with spiritual songs… He suddenly interrupted me.
“Do you sing about Jesus?”
“Yes, I love to sing about Jesus.”
“That’s wonderful. God is so wonderful!”
No, this wasn’t your typical North American male. He then he told me how he had been in utter darkness; that he was having some kind of “seizures,” and that this had led him to the brink of suicide.
“Then God saved me,” he said.
It’s a familiar phrase, one I’ve heard before from once-rebellious souls who realized, as we all must, that they did not deserve mercy nor love—but that God gave it to them anyway, pouring upon them His healing and blessing like “the prodigal son.” This realization of God’s inexhaustible generosity has in turn brought them to a state of utter gratitude. And zeal. And burning love.
I asked him what denomination he belonged to. And with no hint of bias or judgment, and with childlike innocence, he replied, “God. I belong to God.”
“But… did someone tell you about Jesus?”
“You might think I’m crazy,” he said unapologetically, “but God told me about Himself.“
I looked at him intently and said, “You mean… He infused you with Himself, didn’t he…”
“Yes,” he nodded. Indeed, he seemed to be learning of God from within…
We exchanged a warm handshake. And as I turned away, he said with utter joy and anticipation, “I’ll see you in Heaven.”
HOPE FOR THE HOPELESS?
God is at work, even in places where we cannot go or do not know how to go. Of course, I pray in the moral turbulence and confusion of our day, that this young man finds his way to the safety of the “rock of Peter”, the Church, where he will receive even more and more of the love of Christ. Yes, the Lord is moving in hearts, even when we perceive no evidence of it.
God can work for our straying family and friends in ways beyond our strength or understanding. What He asks of us simply is our prayers, sufferings, rosaries, chaplets, and devotions offered for them. Most of all, He asks us to love them and be merciful to them, as He is to us. For we must be the face of Christ into which they look—even if they reject it, as He too was rejected. Wasn’t the centurion in charge of crucifying Christ, in turn, converted by the merciful response of this God-Man?
Do not think that a prayer of yours, not a single prayer, is wasted for those souls… as not a single drop of Christ’s blood was wasted in the mystery of redemption.
When I shared my story on the phone with my wife, she began to read to me the calendar entry for the day from Catherine Doherty:
…it was a thief who first came into Heaven as the first fruit of Redemption; it was a prostitute whose gesture of repentance Christ said would be remembered until the end of time; and it was a woman taken in adultery who was so gently forgiven. We have to always keep an open heart for all. —Moments of Grace, a desktop calendar
With God, there is always hope—most especially when hope seems extinguished. Was this not the message from the tomb on that third day?
…the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned. (Matt 4:16)