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This is How Mercy Triumphs Over Shame

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By Bryan Thatcher, MD (Dec 8, 2011)
I was told by a psychologist recently that "the rigidity of the Catholic faith is a major cause of shame and psychological duress among members," and I found that comment disturbing, untrue, and in need of a response.

I told the therapist that the comment did not follow Church teaching and was not based on Scripture. The Gospel writer St. Luke, for example, speaks of the Prodigal Son and calls for the reader to identify with Jesus who is tender and loving to the sinner, the poor, and the outcast.

We must make a distinction between guilt and shame. One feels guilt after making a bad choice; the choice was poor but that does not make the person bad. Some guilt is healthy if not carried to the extreme. The extreme would be to believe that the bad choices we've made serve as proof that we are bad! Such thinking leads to despair and frustration and deep emotional problems. It calls to mind the difference between St. Peter and Judas. Both denied our Lord, but one asked for forgiveness and became the first Pope, while the other ran off and hung himself.

Are you having trouble forgiving yourself and accepting God's mercy? You're not alone.

There was a nun in St. Faustina's convent who had doubts that the Lord had forgiven her for all of her past transgressions. Saint Faustina wrote in her Diary:

On the evening of the last day before my departure to Vilnius, an elderly sister revealed the condition of her soul to me. She said that she had already been suffering interiorly for several years, that it seemed to her that all her confessions had been bad, and she had doubts about whether the Lord Jesus had forgiven her. I asked her if she had ever told her confessors about this. She answered that she had spoken many times about this to her confessors and "the confessors are always telling me to be at peace, but I still suffer very much, and nothing brings me relief, and it constantly seems to me that God has not forgiven me." I answered, "You should obey your confessor, sister, and be fully at peace, because this is certainly a temptation."

But she entreated me with tears in her eyes to ask Jesus if He had forgiven her and whether her confessions had been good or not. I answered forceful, "Ask Him yourself, Sister, if you don't believe your confessors!" But she clutched my hand and did not want to let me go until I gave her an answer, and she kept asking me to pray for her and to let her know what Jesus would say about her. Crying bitterly, she would not let me go and said to me, "I know that the Lord Jesus speaks to you, Sister." Since she was clenching my hand and I could not wrench myself away, I promised I would pray for her. In the evening, during Benediction, I heard these words: "Tell her that her disbelief wounds My heart much more than the sins she committed." When I told her this, she began to cry like a child, and great joy entered her soul. I understood that God wanted to console this soul through me. Even though it cost me a great deal, I fulfilled God's wish (Diary of St. Faustina, 628).

Do you think that you have committed so many sins that God could never forgive you. The Lord told St. Faustina, "Remember, I did not allot only a certain number of pardons" (Diary, 1488).

Do you think that you have committed the unforgivable sin? Jesus told St. Faustina, "The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to My mercy" (Diary, 723).

Just accept God's unfathomable mercy in your life. Do as He told the woman caught in adultery:

Has no one condemned you? She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again" (Jn 8:10-12).

Dr. Bryan Thatcher is the founder of Eucharistic Apostles of The Divine Mercy (EADM), an apostolate of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception.

Learn how to start a Divine Mercy cenacle in your area.

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Be a part of the discussion. Add a comment now!

Mabel - Dec 13, 2011

Thanks Dr. Bryan. A great insight into the mercy of God's immense love for us. Truly indeed a beautiful article.

God Bless.

Bill EADM Manila, Philippines - Dec 12, 2011

Thanks for this article Dr. Bryan. The statement between Peter and Judas helps to enlighten me more. I will share this article to our cenacle group and the other cenacle here in manila.

imma EADM ,Cebu Philippines - Feb 28, 2011

Thanks Dr. Bryan we could used your write ups in our Basic Orientation Seminar On Mercy an example taken in the dairy of St. Faustina. Sins are forgiven when we confess..

J - Feb 5, 2011

Thank you for this article. Beautiful.

Mary - CRE - NYC - Nov 18, 2010

This is a wonderful lesson on the mercy of God's love for us. I will share it with the parents in our parish CCD program over the Thanksgiving weekend as I remind them to be thankful for the great gift of Penance through the Sacrament of Confession/Reconciliation.
Thank you.

maryS - Sep 16, 2010

this gives a clear understanding God bless.

Agnes B N (EADM-Uganda) - Sep 11, 2010

Dr. Bryan thank for you for the write-up it shows us how merciful Jesus is. And He is there waiting for us. He does not mind whatever state we are in. It's us to look into ourselves with our guiltiness and helplessness and go to him. Knowing that we are going to the fountain of mercy to become clean and after peace and love will flow into us. We only fail to have peace after when we doubt this sacrament and what brings this is our distrust of God. Mary Mother of Mercy help us to go to God for the sacrament of reconciliation with an open heart so that we have peace and love and this will help us to to fall into the same temptation. Amen