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My Heart is the place of refuge for sinners. As often as any
one flies hither with a contrite and humble heart, I will
neither cast him off, nor will I despise him.

There the dead return to life, and the living live more fully.

Photo of Sacred Heart of Jesus Statue


1. The voice of the Jesus.

My child, My Heart – knowing that the frailty of mortals is of such a nature, that, whilst on earth, they cannot live without sin – has devised a saving means, whereby, if it is rightly used, they may not only obtain the remission of their sins, but also receive an increase of grace.

God is faithful, and, according to His word, He forgives their sins to those that confess them; and He gives grace to those that pray for it, and seek to live better. (I. John. i. 9, and v. 14.)

What would become of most men, if there were no Confession? How few should be saved! And how many of those who now rejoice in heaven, or shall possess it hereafter, should be lost!

 

2. Therefore have I given power to the Church, that whose sins she shall forgive, they be forgiven them; and whose sins she shall retain, they be retained. (Matt, xviii. John, xx.)

“If, then, either hatred, or infidelity, or any other sin, have secretly crept into the heart of any one, let him not be ashamed to confess the same, to him that presides, that, through the word of God, and through wholesome advice, he may be healed by him.” (St. Clement of Rome. I. Century.)

“But, if thou wouldst withdraw thyself from Confession, meditate in thy heart on hell, which Confession will extinguish for thee. Therefore, knowing that against hell, after that first safeguard of Baptism, there remains still this second help in Confession, why dost thou abandon thy salvation? Represent first to thyself the greatness of the punishment, and thou wilt not hesitate to take the remedy.” (Tertullian. II. Cent.)

“For there is a remission of sins, although a toilsome one, through Penance, when the sinner moistens his couch with his tears, and when he is not ashamed to make known his sins to the priest of God, and to seek a remedy.” (Origen. III. Cent.)

“This remedy of Confession is eagerly to be desired by all, since the soul is harassed by greater danger than the body; and the healing for hidden diseases must be applied as soon as possible.” (Lactantius. IV. Cent.)

“Confess, then: let all corrupted matter come out, and flow off in Confession: what remains, shall be easily healed. Dost thou fear to confess, when, by not confessing, thou canst not remain concealed? God, Who knows all things, requires Confession, that He may free the humble: for this He condemns him that does not confess, that He may punish the proud.” (St. Augustine. V. Cent.)

“But confess thou, in such a manner, that thou do not again turn to thy sins: for then is the Confession of sin profitable, when the sinner, who confesses, does no more, what he had wickedly done.” (St. Fulgentius. VI. Cent.)

“Man ought to abstain from sin, when he has confessed: Confession goes before, remission follows.” (St. Isidore. VII. Cent.)

For “the Church, which is founded on Christ, has received from Him the power of freeing men from their sins.” (Ven. Bede. VIII. Cent.)

“If sinners are unwilling to confess their sins, God Himself, who is now the witness of their sins, shall, also, be the avenger of their sins.” (Haymo. IX. Cent.)

“Sins should not be repeated publicly: it is sufficient to make known, to the priests alone, by a private confession, the faults of conscience.” (Luitprand. X. Cent.)

“Therefore, reason moves, and God impels the sinner to confess.” (St. Peter Damian, XI. Cent.)

“Confession is necessary to the sinner; and is no less proper for the just. (St. Bernard. XII. Cent.)

“Confession should be made, in a threefold manner: without palliating, without excusing, without delaying.” (St. Bonaventure. XIII. Cent.)

“Let the penitent, therefore, accuse himself before the priest, with a lively feeling of sorrow, with a firm purpose of amendment, and let him perform the works which may be enjoined.” (Thauler.XIV. Cent.)

“Penance is a Sacrament, the matter of which consists in the acts of the penitent, which are divided into three parts. The first is contrition of heart: the second is the oral Confession: the third, satisfaction. (Council of Florence. XIV. Cent.)

Behold, child, how, from the beginning, the faithful of all times, and of all parts of the world, have regarded and esteemed this sweet and saving Sacrament.

 

3. What can be more advantageous than rightly to confess? Through confession, man is freed from faults; he returns into favor with Me, he receives peace of heart; so that he, who before felt himself tortured with anguish, now finds himself calm and happy.

The Sacrament of Penance is the medicine of the soul, whereby vices are healed, temptations put to flight, the snares of the devil destroyed, new grace is imparted, piety increased, virtue rendered more and more solid.

Through Confession, the soul regains her rights, which she had lost by committing sin; and recovers her beauty, which unrighteousness had disfigured.

 

4. But it sometimes happens that the sinner, when he approaches this Sacrament of divine mercy, impelled either by shame or fear, throws himself into the abyss of sacrilege; so that, now, he is not simply a sinner, but becomes a frightful monster of sin.

Art thou able, wretched man, to hide thyself from Me? Art thou able to hinder Me from thrusting thee down into that lowest depth, which thou thyself hast dug?

Dost thou sacrilegiously conceal thy sins from a Confessor, who, by the strictest laws, human and divine, is bound to an everlasting and complete secrecy? I will make them known before thy face, not to one man alone, not to one nation, but to Heaven and Earth, to all that shall ever have existed.

Then, in the excess of thy confusion, thou wilt call upon the mountains, that, covering thee, they may screen thee from shame; yea, thou wilt wish to hide thyself in hell; but thou shalt not be able: thou shalt stand and undergo, publicly, thy whole confusion and deserved ignominy.

Foolish man! thou wast not ashamed to sin to thy disgrace and perdition; why dost thou blush to confess for thy salvation and glory?

But, consider: why shouldst thou hesitate to unfold thy conscience before him, who is appointed by Me, and holds My place in thy regard?

When thou presentest thyself, as a penitent, before him, thou oughtest, indeed, to look upon the Confessor even as upon Myself; for he verily represents Me, and possesses My power.

Yet, he also is a man, and has his own miseries; and he too, as well as thyself, is obliged to make Confession: which is all the harder for him, as, by reason of his elevated condition, he ought to be more perfect.

Thus has it been ordained from heaven in a most wise and holy manner, that all priests no less than laymen who desire to be freed from grievous sin, should be obliged to confess: and that it be especially proper that the priests, whose sacred employments demand a greater holiness, should cleanse themselves, by frequent Confession, even from slighter trespasses.

Hence, laymen confess, with greater freedom and confidence, to the priests; and priests learn, by experience, to feel compassion for their miseries, to be weak with them that are weak, and to weep with them that weep.

 

5. But there are those that confess their sins candidly enough, and yet are not improved. And why? Because they do not strive with a sincere heart to correct themselves.

Some approach the Sacrament of Penance from necessity, others through human respect, others again from a certain custom. Why wonder, then, if they that approach in this manner derive from it but little or no fruit?

Do thou, My child, having ever thy own salvation and My good pleasure before thy eyes, make each Confession, as if it were to be the last of thy life: thus wilt thou experience sweet and wonderful effects.

 

6. Yet, know thyself, My child, and learn, that thou shalt often be tempted to do again those things over which thou hadst wept, and which thou hadst resolved to shun.

Do not, on that account, lose courage, child, nor be thou saddened overmuch. These will be the effects, not of malice, but of frailty; being involuntary, rather than deliberate transgressions.

Thence, learn thou the goodness of My Heart, ever ready to pardon thee; and, in like manner, the pitiful condition of thy heart, which is ever inclined to evil, and frequently betrays thee.

Beware, however, lest, on account of this thy great frailty, thou neglect Confession: but the weaker thou feelest thyself, the more frequently have thou recourse to it.

 

7. Some hold Confession in dread, and do not approach it without trembling.

Behold, the greatest sinners, as well as the greatest Saints, find consolation therein: and art thou tormented with anxiety!

There the dead return to life, and the living live more fully. Why, then, tremblest thou, as if thou wert going to death, or to the rack?

Thou errest, My Child, thou errest; this most wholesome Sacrament was not instituted for torturing, but for solacing the heart.

 

8. Cast aside, therefore, all uneasiness and anxiety. I am not a God of agitation, but of peace; I find My delight, not in the commotion, but in the good will of the soul.

Do what thou canst, and confess with as sincere a heart as thou art able to do: after that, remain in peace, nor be thou disturbed by the suggestions of the enemy, or of thy own imagination.

My Heart is the place of refuge for sinners. As often as any one flies hither with a contrite and humble heart, I will neither cast him off, nor will I despise him.

Do, then, frequently resort to that divine bath, wherein My Heart will wash thy soul with My Blood, and wash her yet more, until she be wholly pure and stainless.*

* This may be explained by a truly wonderful and consoling fact, related in the life of St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi. When, on a certain day, in the Church of her Convent, where Confessions were being heard, this holy Virgin was pouring forth her heart before our Lord, present in the Tabernacle, and whilst she was rapt up by divine communications, she perceived that the spiritual world became, in some manner, unveiled before her. For she saw the souls, such as they were, of each one of the penitents, whilst they were confessing. And, at the moment when the Sacramental absolution was given, she beheld the divine Blood of Jesus mystically poured upon each of them, and washing them, so that they became exceedingly pure and fair. Now, if such be the effect of one Confession, what must be the effect of frequent Confession? If the soul becomes so pure, so beautiful, when washed only once in the Blood of the Heart of Jesus, which is applied to us in the Sacrament of Penance; how pure, how beautiful must she become, when she is thus cleansed frequently! Brown and soiled linen is not only made clean by frequent washing, but is made as white as snow. Shall not then a soul, often washed in the divine Blood of Jesus, become, at last, perfectly pure and unutterably beautiful? This most joyous thought may, at least, serve to increase your love for the holy Sacrament of Penance; and whilst you receive it actually, ought sweetly to occupy your mind, and greatly to console you.

 

9. The voice of the Disciple.
O most benign Jesus, how wholesome, how consoling a device of Thy Heart, is the Sacrament of Penance! How astonishing a condescension, how wonderful a sweetness, that of the Blood of thy Heart Thou makest a bath, wherewith Thou mayst cleanse us from our sins!

Had not Thy Heart found out this secret, so full of all consolation, who could have thought of it? And hadst Thou not made it known, what should have become of us, what of me?

Thanks to Thee, most sweet Jesus! let the Angels, and all the Blessed, let all peoples and tongues, return thanks to Thee, for that Thou didst institute this life-giving, this sanctifying Sacrament, whereby the guilty dwellers of earth are saved, and heaven is filled with a multitude of Saints.

That, therefore, I may not misuse so great a blessing, and that I may gather from it every desirable fruit; behold, I will confess not only frequently, but also carefully: as if preparing myself for death, I will always, before making my Confession, elicit from my heart an act of true sorrow, and of firm resolve, peacefully indeed, but with the greatest sincerity as well: I will lay every fault before my Confessor, with the same candor that I would use before Thee, were I to behold Thee with my eyes: at the earliest opportunity I will perform the penance enjoined: lastly, I will strive to be grateful, and to live with a new fervor, and a purer heart.

O Jesus! what consolation, what sweetness is felt, when my soul, in this Sacrament of Thy mercy, is washed and cleansed by the most sacred and pure Blood of Thy Heart! O do Thou wash me frequently, I beseech Thee, and I shall be made wholly clean: wash me yet more, and I shall be made whiter than snow!

 


“Voice of Jesus” is taken from Arnoudt’s “Imitation of the Sacred Heart”, translated from the Latin of J.M. Fastre; Benziger Bros. Copyright 1866

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for November 26, 2020

We must live every moment of our lives, as if it were our la...

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November 26

 

We must live every moment of our lives, as if it were our last.

St. Francis de Sales


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Sylvester Guzzolini

His father refused to speak to him for ten years on that acc...

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St. Sylvester Guzzolini

Sylvester was born in 1177 to a noble and prestigious Italian family. When he was of age, he was sent to Bologna and then Padua to study law, but feeling within himself a call to the ecclesiastical state, he left off the study of jurisprudence to pursue that of theology and the Sacred Scriptures. This course of action so angered his father upon Sylvester’s return to his native city of Osimo, that it is said his father refused to speak to him for ten years on that account.

Sylvester accepted a canonry at Osimo and zealously dedicated himself to his pastoral duties. He spent long hours in prayer, pious reading, and the instruction of others. However, his efforts to rid his diocese of corruption were not always well received and he made enemies, among them, his own bishop. He had respectfully admonished his superior for neglecting the duties of his office and causing scandal and, in retaliation, the hostile prelate threatened to relieve him of his benefice.

It was not merely the threat from his bishop, however, that decided him to abandon the world. In 1227, while assisting at the funeral of a nobleman, his relative, who had been remarkably handsome in life and who had formerly been much admired for his worldly accomplishments, he looked into the open coffin. The sight of the decaying corpse brought his own certain end vividly to mind and placing before himself the thought that what this man had once been, he now was, and that likewise what his relative had become, he himself should one day be, he resolved to act in response of this spiritual awakening.

Renouncing the world entirely and deploring its scandals and blindness, the canon left the city quietly and retired to a secluded locale about thirty miles from Osimo. In this deserted place Sylvester lived in total solitude and utmost poverty until the owner of the property, recognizing his resident hermit, offered him a better site for his hermitage. His bodily mortification was most severe and yet many flocked to him for guidance and direction. Their numbers grew to such an extent that he eventually built a monastery to house them and when it became necessary to adopt a rule of life for the growing congregation, Sylvester chose that of St. Benedict.

Sylvester’s order was confirmed by Pope Innocent IV in 1247. By the time of his death twenty years later, the saint had founded eleven monasteries and had guided the congregation for thirty-six years.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared stan...

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The Conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne

Born in 1814, Alphonse Ratisbonne was from a family of wealthy, well-known Jewish bankers in Strasbourg, France. In 1827, Alphonse’s older brother, Thèodore, converted to Catholicism and entered the priesthood, thus breaking with his anti-Catholic family whose hopes now lay in the young Alphonse. At 27, Alphonse was intelligent and well mannered. He had already finished his law degree, and decided to travel to Italy before marrying and assuming his responsibilities in the family business. However, God had other plans for him.

While in Rome, Alphonse visited works of art, and strictly out of cultural curiosity, a few Catholic churches. These visits hardened his anti-Catholic stance, and nourished his profound hatred for the Church. He also called on an old schoolmate and close friend, Gustave de Bussières.

Gustave was a Protestant and several times had tried, in vain, to win Alphonse over to his religious convictions. Alphonse was introduced to Gustave’s brother, Baron de Bussières, who had recently converted to Catholicism and become a close friend of Father Thèodore Ratisbonne. Because of the Baron’s Catholicism and closeness with his turncoat brother, Alphonse greatly disliked him.

On the eve of his departure, Alphonse reluctantly fulfilled his social obligation to leave his calling card at the Baron’s house as a farewell gesture.

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Hoping to avoid a meeting, Alphonse intended to leave his card discreetly and depart straight away, but was instead shown into the house. The Baron greeted the young Jew warmly, and before long, had persuaded him to remain a few more days in Rome. Inspired by grace, the Baron insisted Alphonse accept a Miraculous Medal and copy down a beautiful prayer: the Memorare. Alphonse could hardly contain his anger at his host’s boldness of proposing these things to him, but decided to take everything good-heartedly, planning to later describe the Baron as an eccentric.

During Alphonse’s stay, the Baron’s close friend, Count de La Ferronays, former French ambassador to the Holy See and a man of great virtue and piety, died quite suddenly. On the eve of his death, the Baron had asked the Count to pray the Memorare one hundred times for Alphonse’s conversion. It is possible that he offered his life to God for the conversion of the young Jewish banker.

A few days later, the Baron went to the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte to arrange for his friend’s funeral. Alphonse reluctantly went with him, all the while making violent criticisms of the Church and mocking Catholic practices. When they arrived, the Baron entered the sacristy to arrange the funeral while Alphonse remained in the church.

When the Baron returned just a few minutes later, the young man was gone. He searched the church, and soon discovered his young friend kneeling close to an altar, weeping.  Alphonse himself tells us what happened in those few minutes he waited for the Baron: “I had only been in the church a short while when, all of a sudden, I felt totally uneasy for no apparent reason. I raised my eyes and saw that the whole building had disappeared. Only one side chapel had, so to say, gathered all the light. In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar. She was grandiose, brilliant, full of majesty and sweetness, just as she is in the Miraculous Medal. An irresistible force attracted me to her. The Virgin made a gesture with her hand indicating I was to kneel.”

When de Bussières talked to Alphonse, he no longer found a Jew, but a convert who ardently desired baptism. The news of such an unexpected conversion immediately spread and caused a great commotion throughout Europe, and Pope Gregory XVI received the young convert, paternally. He ordered a detailed investigation with the rigor required by canon law, and concluded that the occurrence was a truly authentic miracle. 

Alphonse took the name Maria Alphonse at baptism, and, wishing to become a priest, was ordained a Jesuit in 1847. After some time, and at the suggestion of Pope Pius IX, he left the Jesuits and joined his brother Thèodore in founding the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion, dedicated to the conversion of the Jews. Father Theodore spread his congregation throughout France and England, while Father Maria Alphonse went to the Holy Land. In Jerusalem, he established a house of the congregation on the plot of land where the praetorium of Pilate had formerly stood.

The two brothers died in 1884, both famed and well-loved for their exceptional virtues.  

By Armando Santos  

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In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar"

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