Last Tuesday, we celebrated a very encouraging role model for those whose faith may sometimes waver, namely Saint Thomas the Apostle, famously known as ‘Doubting Thomas’, whose story clearly demonstrates the power of God’s Grace in overcoming the weaknesses of human nature. Thomas was not with his fellow Apostles when the Risen Jesus first appeared to them. On being told of this momentous visit, he flatly refused to believe unless he could both see and touch Our Lord’s Wounds. Jesus duly granted his request, causing the shamefaced Apostle to cry out, “My Lord and My God!’ Thomas was gently chided by Our Lord for requiring physical proof of His Resurrection. Jesus praises those such as ourselves who, nowadays must, through the Teachings of the Church, believe in His Triumph of Life over death without having seen Him in His Human nature.
On Friday of the same week, we celebrated an Italian Martyr, Saint Maria Goretti, a vital role model in these times when Chastity, Virginity and Marriage are consistently denounced and mocked. When just 11 years old, she refused the advances of a young man, Alessandro, who then attempted to rape her. In resisting him, she was fatally stabbed, living long enough to forgive him for his crime. Maria defended, with her life, Virginity before Marriage. Her actions also point us to acknowledge the Sanctity of the sexual act which is reserved to Man and Wife in Marriage, in stark contradiction to what we might see and hear in the media! We need to pray earnestly for God’s Grace that we might truly love one another and resist the declining Moral climate of the present age, whatever criticisms may be levelled at us!
Alessandro, through Maria’s intercession, repented and was converted, making his peace with God and with Maria’s mother, who gave him the good news that Maria had, indeed, forgiven him. He became a Capuchin Lay Brother and, later, was privileged to be present at Maria’s canonisation in 1950.
The power of Grace over evil is limitless; Grace which is there if we should just ask for it. Morals and self - control are often not presented as 'relevant' to the modern age and, indeed, may well present challenges to our fallen nature. The modern concept of ‘freedom of choice’ does not necessarily acknowledge the rights of our Creator and our duty to inform our conscience in Truth, that we may make the correct decisions. It is crucial that, in all one’s life choices, one looks beyond the ‘here and now’ to the end of one’s earthly life and to one’s Judgement, asking oneself, ‘Am I returning Love for Love or is self-love taking me away from true Love?’
As we prayed today’s Entrance Antiphon (Ps. 47:10-11), we recalled God’s Love for us and, necessarily, His Justice. Unlike a certain revered naval hero, God cannot, in justice, ‘turn a blind eye’ to deliberate transgressions. In His Love for us, however, should we fall into sin, Christ left us the Sacrament of Penance. Through this wonderful Sacrament He restores to our Soul the Graces we have discarded and offers us His Help to pick ourselves up and continue our journey safely on to Heaven.
From St. Bart's
Thoughts on the traditional teachings, devotions, seasons and matters of the Catholic Church