“The human heart is heavy and hardened . . . God must give man a new heart . . . It is in discovering the greatness of God’s love that our heart is shaken by the horror and weight of sin” (1432).
[The Holy Spirit is] the Consoler who gives the human heart grace for repentance and conversion . . . spiritual strength for the Christian battle” (1433) (1446).
With windblown hair, a disheveled mom, looking troubled and weary, hurriedly opens the church door. She enters, blinking to adjust to the dimly lit church, scanning the foyer for the Lenten confession schedule. Not looking to see if there was a line, she asks a gentleman, “Is Father John hearing confessions?” She actually didn’t mind which priest – any priest would do, really. “Yes,” the gentleman answered. She scarcely took the time to mumble a “Thank you,” as she dipped her hand in holy water and made her way to the green light awaiting her above the confessional door. It wasn’t one big thing; it was so many little things weighing her down. She carried a heaviness from the daily wounds – the wounds she had so excruciatingly received and the wounds she had unconsciously inflicted on those she tried so hard to love. After a lengthy spell in the confessional, she appeared back in the sanctuary, finding a quiet pew for prayer. Already the distraught, gaunt, listless oppression had lifted. She cried, but the tears were relief for a newness of heart. She was unbound, freed by mercy. Waves of Holy Spirit strength began to return her heart to vitality. She discerned a readying for the battle to continue in the purity of intention that leads to authentic joy – the joy she knew Jesus gave her. Without rushing, she passed the gentleman in the foyer as she left, and this time she fluidly and full-heartedly thanked him with the appreciation of one who had just been handed a “get out of jail free” card.
Will you join me in making time for a personal encounter with Jesus? Will you lay it all down and find joy in his merciful presence? This is a love-exchange, a continual conversion that never grows old.