Praised be Jesus Christ! If you attended Mass in the Diocese of La Crosse last weekend you heard something about Safehaven Sunday. As a follow up, I’d like to share a short scene from the book The Hiding Place: The author of the book is a little girl (10 or 11 years old) at the time of this scene (her name is Corrie Ten Boom – she’s the author of the book). She and her Dad are riding a train to Amsterdam and she had recently come across a word about human sexuality in a poem they read in school and she asks her father about it. Here’s the rest of the scene: He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case from the rack over our heads, and set it on the floor. “Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?” He said. I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning. “It’s too heavy,” I said. “Yes,” he said. “And it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.” And I was satisfied. More than satisfied – wonderfully at peace. There were answers to this and all my hard questions – for now I was content to leave them in my father’s keeping.” Now I found this to be just about the best explanation for preserving the innocence and wonder of our children. And that’s why pornography and its relatives are to be avoided and maybe even someday banned from our world. Recently Pope Francis spoke about the antecedents to child abuse, and pornography is almost without exception a constitutive part. Not everyone who looks at pornography abuses children, thanks be to God. But just about every abuser has indulged deeply in pornography and crossed the terrible threshold of realizing that just seeing such images was no longer enough. Pope Francis went on to point out how the devil is craftily leading us away from God by attacking the purity of our hearts. But God is never outdone. In fact, we must always remember that Jesus wins – He did at Calvary, He does in the confessional, and He will when Satan tempts us for the last time. Lent is a beautiful time for us to honestly approach God’s tender mercy and experience His relentless love. God never gave up on any sinner, and anyway, struggles with sins of the flesh are as old as the world. In the confessional we engage the spiritual battles that continue to rage in our time and place. An old priest once said, “A saint is just a sinner who loves God more than his sins.” And that is the key – plus priests who are available for confession and kind to people who struggle with habitual sins. Saint John Vianney was arguably the finest confessor of all time, and a story that appeared recently gave some insight as to why this was true. Young Vianney was to report for military duty, but somehow got lost on the way. When he came home his Dad was so angry at him that he would not allow him to enter the house. It turns out that while Vianney was lost, his brother had to take his place in the army and died on the German front. Vianney’s Mom, having thought that both of her sons were lost to her forever, died of grief. John Vianney was crushed by this and wrote many letters to his Dad begging for his pardon. Is it any wonder that once he became a priest Father John Vianney was so sensitive to the suffering of penitents who came to him filled with shame and guilt? And just like that, God drew a greater good from a sad situation than He would have had it never happened at all. God will do that with your sins if you trust Him enough to tell Him where it hurts.
May God heal our world of the sins that cause us the deepest shame and guilt so that we might know His joy!
Your friend in Christ,