IT can be almost fruitless to speak of how to battle against the storms of temptation, division, confusion, oppression, and such unless we have an unshakable confidence in God’s love for us. That is the context for not only this discussion, but for the entire Gospel.
We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
And yet, so many Christians are hampered by fear… fear that God doesn’t love them “as much” because of their faults; fear that He is really not caring for their needs; fear that He wants to bring them great suffering “for the sake of souls”, etc. All of these fears amount to one thing: a lack of faith in the goodness and love of the Heavenly Father.
In these times, you must have an unshakable trust in God’s love for you… especially when every support will begin to collapse, including those of the Church as we know it. If you are a baptized Christian, then you have been sealed with “every spiritual blessing in the heavens” Eph 1:3 necessary for your salvation, above all, the gift of faith. But that faith can be attacked, first by our own insecurities formed through our upbringing, social surroundings, poor transmission of the Gospel, etc. Second, that faith is constantly attacked by evil spirits, those fallen angels who, out of pride and jealousy, are determined at the very least to see you miserable, and at the very most, to see you eternally separated from God. How? Through lies, satanic lies that pierce the conscience like fiery darts laced with accusation and self-loathing.
Pray then, as you read these words, for the grace for the shackles of fear to fall and scales of blindness to be removed from your spiritual eyes.
GOD IS LOVE
My dear brother and sister: how can you look at a crucifix upon which hangs our Savior and doubt that God has expended Himself in love for you, long before you even knew Him? Can anyone prove their love beyond giving their very life for you?
And yet, somehow we doubt, and it’s easy to know why: we fear the punishment of our sins. St. John writes:
There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love. (1 John 4:18)
Our sin tells us, first and foremost, that we are not perfect in love for God or neighbour. And we know only the “perfect” will occupy the mansions of Heaven. So we begin to despair. But that is because we have lost sight of the incredible mercy of Jesus, revealed above all through St. Faustina:
My child, know that the greatest obstacles to holiness are discouragement and an exaggerated anxiety. These will deprive you of the ability to practice virtue. All temptations united together ought not disturb your interior peace, not even momentarily. Sensitiveness and discouragement are the fruits of self-love. You should not become discouraged, but strive to make My love reign in place of your self-love. Have confidence, My child. Do not lose heart in coming for pardon, for I am always ready to forgive you. As often as you beg for it, you glorify My mercy. —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 1488
You see, Satan says that, because you have sinned, you are deprived of God’s love. But Jesus says, precisely because you have sinned, you are the greatest candidate for His love and mercy. And, in fact, whenever you approach Him asking for pardon, it does not grieve Him, but glorifies Him. It’s as if in that moment you make Jesus’ entire passion, death, and resurrection “worth it”, so to speak. And all of Heaven rejoices because you, a poor sinner, have come back yet one more time. You see, Heaven grieves most of all when you give up—not when you sin for the thousandth time out of weakness!
…there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance. (Luke 15:7)
God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy. Christ, who told us to forgive one another “seventy times seven” (Mt 18:22) has given us his example: he has forgiven us seventy times seven. Time and time again he bears us on his shoulders. No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love. With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew. Let us not flee from the resurrection of Jesus, let us never give up, come what will. May nothing inspire more than his life, which impels us onwards! —POPE FRANCIS, Evangelii Gaudium, n. 3
“But I am a terrible sinner!” you say. Well, if you are a terrible sinner, it is a cause then for greater humility, but not less confidence in the love of God. Listen to St. Paul:
I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:38-39)
Paul also taught that the “wages of sin is death.” Rom 6:23 There is no more terrible death than that brought about by sin. And yet, even this spiritual death, says Paul, cannot separate us from God’s love. Yes, mortal sin can separate us from sanctifying grace, but never from God’s unconditional, indescribable love. This is why St. Paul can say to the Christian, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!” Philippians 4:4 Because, through the death and resurrection of Jesus, who paid the wages of our sin, there is no longer any basis to fear that you are not loved. “God is love.” 1 John 4:8 Not “God is loving” but God IS love. That is His essence. It is impossible for Him not to love you. One could say that the only thing which conquers God’s omnipotence is His own love. He can’t not love. But this is not some kind of blind, romantic love. No, God saw clearly what He was doing when He created you and I in His image with the capacity to choose good or choose evil (which makes us free to love, or not to love). It is a love from which your very life sprung when God desired to create you and then open the way for you to share in His Divine attributes. That is, God wants you to experience the infinity of Love, who He is.
Listen Christian, you may not understand every doctrine or grasp every theological nuance of the faith. But there is one thing that I think is intolerable to God: that you should doubt His love.
My child, all your sins have not wounded My Heart as painfully as your present lack of trust does that after so many efforts of My love and mercy, you should still doubt My goodness. —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 1486
This should make you cry. It should cause you to fall to your knees, and in words and tears, thank God over and over again that He is so good to you. That you are not orphaned. That you are not alone. He, who is Love, will never leave your side, even when you repeatedly fail.
You are dealing with the God of mercy, which your misery cannot exhaust. Remember, I did not allot only a certain number of pardons… fear not, because you are not alone. I am always supporting you, so lean on Me as you struggle, fearing nothing. —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 1485, 1488
The only thing you should fear is finding this doubt on your soul when you die and face your Judge. There will be no excuses. He has exhausted Himself in loving you. What more can He do? The rest belongs to your free will, to perseverance on your part to reject the lie that you are not loved. All of Heaven is crying out your name tonight, shouting with joy: “You are loved! You are loved! You are loved!” Accept it. Believe it. It is The Gift. And remind yourself of it every minute if you have to.
Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet… I cannot punish even the greatest sinner if he makes an appeal to My compassion, but on the contrary, I justify him in My unfathomable and inscrutable mercy. Your misery has disappeared in the depths of My mercy. Do not argue with Me about your wretchedness. You will give me pleasure if you hand over to me all your troubles and griefs. I shall heap upon you the treasures of My grace. —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 1486, 699, 1146, 1485
And because you are loved, my dear friend, God does not want you to sin because, as we both know, sin does indeed bring us misery of every sort. Sin wounds love and invites disorder, invites death of all kinds. The root of it is a lack of trust in God’s providence—that He cannot give me the joy I desire, and so I turn then to alcohol, sex, material things, entertainment etc. to fill the void. But Jesus wants you to trust Him, baring your heart and soul and true condition to Him.
Be not afraid of your Savior, O sinful soul. I make the first move to come to you, for I know that by yourself you are unable to lift yourself to me. Child, do not run away from your Father; be willing to talk openly with your God of mercy who wants to speak words of pardon and lavish his graces on you. How dear your soul is to Me! I have inscribed your name upon My hand; you are engraved as a deep wound in My Heart. —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 1485
The greater a sinner we are, the deeper the wound we are in Christ’s heart. But it is a wound in His Heart that only causes the depths of His love and compassion to pour that much more forth. Your sin is not a stumbling block for God; it is a stumbling block for you, for your holiness, and thus happiness, but it is not a stumbling block for God.
God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath. (Rom 5:8-9)
A soul’s greatest wretchedness does not enkindle Me with wrath; but rather, My Heart is moved towards it with great mercy. —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 1739
And so, with this foundation, this context, let us continue to beg God’s wisdom in the next few writings so as to help us deal with the other storms that are assailing us in the midst of this Great Storm. Because, once we know we are loved and that our failures do not lessen God’s love, we will have the confidence and renewed strength to get up again for the battle at hand.
The Lord says to you: Do not fear or be dismayed at the sight of this vast multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s… The victory that conquers the world is our faith. (2 Chron 20:15; 1 John 5:4)
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